By: Debbie Dance Uhrig
In a salute to the southern states I’m featuring my tomato grits this week. There’s
nothing more southern than a plate of delicious grits. However there are many
people who have a very ‘tainted’ look at this little jewel. Sometimes I think folks
just don’t know how to eat them properly. ‘Usually’ a pat of butter with salt and
pepper are necessary to make grits savory. However others will enjoy them with
cheese and all kinds of additions like jalapenos, meats, and additional spices. I
like to bake them and then use them as a base for loads of appetizers.
One other philosophy is that some restaurants just don’t know the proper
consistency for grits. I’ve received them running all across the plate. Or as stiff as
paste! What I do know is they need to be gussied up before they are consumed.
Our family just returned from a brief trip down to Louisiana. We started out in
West Monroe visiting the Duck Dynasty restaurant and warehouse. Can you
believe as we were leaving the restaurant ‘Willie’ was walking in? They were
having a family & friends gathering in the back room. Our meal was delicious and
every Cajun & creole delight could be found on the menu. Basically speaking our
short adventure was an eating frenzy! If someone wanted a ‘What a Burger’,
which they did, we fulfilled the request. Personally I was there for seafood; we
even brought five pounds of shrimp home in the spare cooler.
After West Monroe we darted over to Shreveport for about 36 hours. We
checked out the local pizza chain called, “Johnnie’s”. Normally you wouldn’t find
me stepping foot inside a pizza restaurant on my vacation. However we had 2
teenagers with us so it was a fair deal. The pizza was good and we even took
home a box of leftovers.
I couldn’t leave the state without pulling a few ‘one-armed’ bandits. Last time I
spent a few bucks on the slots there were no handles to pull. I didn’t lose
anything, but I’ll squeal on Ervin, my husband, who lost $10.00! It was pretty
inexpensive entertainment for two greenhorns like ourselves. I told everyone
that if I won I’d buy everyone new cowboy boots. So much for new boots!!
We did learn a valuable lesson. Rainy weather is not such a good thing when
you’re on vacation. It means you go shopping! After all my little excursions plus a
few by the guys we came home with a van full of treasures.
It was wonderful to get away and it was good to come home. We never met a
rude person on the entire adventure. In fact I would say the people in Louisiana
are extremely friendly folks.
Like I said in the opening paragraph everywhere we went there were grits. I was
surprised to find them on our hotel’s breakfast buffet. Needless to say the
teenagers didn’t partake, but I sure did. My simple tomato grits do not have any
heat added. This leaves the door wide open for you to add cayenne pepper, chili
powder or other hot spices. I’ve also found that bacon pieces are good inside
When I had just started teaching in Platte County, Missouri, Terry Durand would
invite me over to her house for sloppy joes and baked grits following the winter
concerts. (Remember, I’m a retired music teacher.) So, if you’re wondering what
you can serve grits with besides breakfast that’s an idea. Speaking of Terry, she
will be knocking on my door in the next 24 hours, I can hardly wait!
What I did see at every turn was not just catfish but fried chicken. We enjoyed a
meal in West Monroe at a restaurant called the Cheniere Shack. That’s
pronounced ‘Shinny Shack’. Our son, Phillip, ordered chicken strips. I don’t think
I’ve ever sampled a more tender and moist presentation. Oh yes, some of you
will be interested to know that I stumbled onto another restaurant that tells
whoppers about their pies. So, I ask: “Are your pies made fresh here at the
restaurant with homemade crusts?” “Of course”, they state. Ervin ordered
coconut crème and I ordered southern pecan pie. UG, it was all pre-made
Another thing I noticed was lots of banana puddings, banana crème pies and
lemon ice box pie. I tried to keep my head on a swivel and observe everything I
could about the mid-Louisiana cuisine.
Have a terrific week and try a batch of grits! Simply yours, The Covered Dish.
2 bacon slices, cooked & chopped
2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick cooking grits
1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups diced American or Velveeta cheese
Cook the bacon in a heavy saucepan until crisp, reserving drippings in the pan.
Gradually add broth and salt and bring to a boil. Stir in grits and diced tomatoes;
return to a boil; stirring often. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring often, 14-20
minutes. Stir in the cheese; cover and let stand 5 minutes until all the cheese is
melted. Stir until blended and serve. I usually use a 1 1/2 quart vegetable oil
sprayed baking dish. This will serve 4-5 people.