So many birthdays in August that it seems as if we have been celebrating and traveling all month! Actually, we have traveled to thirteen states in thirty days!

A couple of weeks ago we were back in North Carolina.

We were met in the driveway by Nate, one bad-ass southern cat.

Visits with family seem a more precious now that we live further away. Whether taking a dip in Steve and Fran’s pool, Steve treating us to the latest “granola” coffee-house (he thinks I’m a little, um…earthy?), or the larger gatherings with the kids playing badminton in the yard and food and drink flowing freely, I cherish these times.

Sitting in Charlotte’s kitchen sipping a cup of French pressed coffee while watching her prepare a big spread for a big family birthday celebration. She and her husband Bob, her sous-chef, didn’t need my help so I enjoyed the southern hospitality, kicked back and relaxed.

One of my favorite southern dishes that I look forward to while visiting Charlotte are the divine grits she cooks up.

Over the top rich and creamy, this is not something I would indulge in often, but as I am a believer of all things in moderation, I enjoyed this tasty treat without guilt.

GARLIC GRITS (Recipe given to Charlotte by her Grandmother Bruton, Christmas 1963)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups grits (I love Bob’s Red Mill Organic Corn Meal)
1 1/2 quarts water
1/2 cup milk
3/4 of a 16oz block of Velveeta cheese(12 oz), cut into small cubes*
1/8 tsp garlic powder
4 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, cut into small cubes*
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

* See chef’s notes at bottom of post.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring water to a boil. Slowly, add grits to boiling water and cook until thick. Add milk, Velveeta, and garlic powder until combined. Mix in eggs and butter, season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Pour into a buttered 9 x 13 casserole dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 35 minutes.

8-10 servings

Notes: Trying to cut down the fat in this recipe, I made it with half of the butter and used a mixture of cheddar and colby/jack cheese (1-1/2 to 2 cups of grated cheese) instead of Velveeta. I also added a couple of tablespoonfuls of diced green chiles.

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