GRITS: Girl Recovering In The South

As I was sitting here pondering over what to write this week the thing that kept coming to my mind was Minden. The town of Minden that I live in. I say that I am an outsider looking in.  But I have been here for 26 ½ years.  I have lived in Minden longer than I lived in Maine. So I consider this home now. I will always have roots in Maine but Minden is considered home now.

I have to say I wasn’t very keen on moving to the south. We married without even knowong each other for a whole year. Then 3 months into our marriage  my husband was swept away to Desert Storm to serve for seven months. He came back and they decided to close the base and the next place we were going to be stationed was just as cold as Maine. He wasn’t having any of that. You see before he went into the service he lived in Florida for a bit. Talk about a culture shock. He said it was time for him to get out and go back home where it was warm.

At 21 years of age we packed up our stuff and moved to Bonifay, Florida, where his dad owned a paper. I thought I died and went to hell!  You see I have a huge family and have never been too far away from home.  This town was small. I came from a small town. But the things I saw and they way they acted was a culture shock to me. No cell phones to call home everyday and it was too expensive to call home so I would only call once a month. I cried most days and ate  for comfort.

After living here for a couple of years we were asked to move to Minden. I said yes before Dave’s dad could get it out of his mouth. It had to be better than where we were. I didn’t make many friends. I was the outsider and I was the one that talked funny.

In the meantime I just found out I was pregnant with my first child. So we packed up and off we went.  When we got there, I talked his dad into to letting me have a job at the paper. People in the south weren’t too keen on hiring a yankee. What they don’t realize is yankees are hard working people and get things done.  I had a hard time making friends. But working at the paper helped me make friends fast. I am really shy to those who don’t know me.  I know it is hard to believe but it is true. I am working on that.

It took us a few years, but we finally found a place to call home and a great church family. You see when you move so far away from home you have to make your own friends to which after 7 years they are considered family. The people in this town are the most generous and kindest people I know. If you have a need they are right there helping in any way.  Be careful what you ask for because you are going to get it.

I have raised my kids in this town and I am proud to say I have had help along the way. They said it takes a village to raise your kids and that is so true. This town looks out for one another. When I couldn’t be around they took over for me and made sure my boys did right.

I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Though I would love and will travel a lot someday this is now considered home to me. I have planted my roots. Thanks to all who have embedded things in me along the way.  

The south was a culture shock to me. It took a bit to get use to. The food was too spicy, and people were so different than what I was familiar with. The language was hard to understand for a while. As I am sure people had a hard time understanding me also. The north pronounces things so different than the south. So though I was born a yankee and lived there almost half of my life I now say I am a recovering yankee. 

Crawfish and Grits

Everything is hot, spicy, and ready to eat!

Ingredients

1 lb crawfish, peeled, rinsed

1/2 cup beef broth, low sodium

1/2 cup bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup white onion, diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1/4 cup green onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon creole seasoning

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoon butter, unsalted

extra virgin olive oil

For The Grits:

1 cup grits

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 cup beef or chicken broth, low sodium extra to thin grits as they cook

1 stick of butter

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 teaspoon creole seasoning

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

hot sauce to serve

Instructions

Prepare the grits first.

In a large pot bring all liquids to boil, add butter and seasonings.

Slowly stir in grits while whisking nonstop for about two minutes.

Reduce heat to low and cook grits, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.

Adding extra broth as needed to keep the grits thin.

Add cheese and whisk well, add more broth if needed.

To Prepare the Crawfish:

Rinse crawfish, drain, pat dry.

Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and saute for about 5 minutes, add 1/2 the spices and garlic, mix well and cook 1 minute more.

Add crawfish and remaining spices, cook for about 5 minutes, add broth, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes on low.

Serve over hot cooked grits.

Tina Specht is co-publisher of the Minden Press-Herald. She shares her thoughts and recipes each Thursday.