For those of you that might not know, my name is Mike Ragland, and I live in Cave Spring, Georgia, which is in the Northwest part of the State and ain’t close to nothing but Alabama.
It’s a peaceful town that takes a back seat to no one when pretty little towns are being discussed. The Cave is real, and the City reportedly has the second best water in the state pouring out of it. There are absolutely no additives in this water. It’s as pure as the driven snow. There is a good sized creek flowing from the cave which will turn you blue in August if for some reason you get in it, and lots of folks, especially kids, do just that.
A couple of weeks ago, I meandered down to one of the restaurants in town for some breakfast. I used meander on foot, but now a lot of my meandering is on a golf cart. My little Dachshund Lucy jumped up beside me and rode along. She likes to meander with me. I wrote a book about living with her. She may be my best friend. She is fluent in German, French, and English, but will talk to no one but me. One thing about Lucy is that she is extremely smart, and loves Cave Spring.
We got to the restaurant and got a table right outside the door, so that Lucy could stay with me. I ordered something to eat, with extra bacon for her, and got a paper to read so I could find out what was going on in the world.
A couple of tables over this Yankee couple was ordering breakfast. I figured they were Antique buyers. Cave Spring is noted for its selection and shops that sell antiques. Or maybe they just got lost trying to find Florida.
Lou Ellen, the waitress asked if they wanted grits with their bacon and eggs. The couple turned up their noses and the man that was ordering said that he had rather eat mud. Lou Ellen kind of recoiled at the statement, and I had to put my foot up against Lucy to keep her still.
I finished my breakfast and was almost through with the paper when I spotted this article written by some professor who now was teaching at an Ivy League University. He was originally from an Eastern European country, from which he couldn’t return for fear of being arrested.
I glanced over at Lucy. She was engaged in doggie conversation with Maverick, Cave Spring’s giant English Mastiff that roams the town. They have become pretty close friends since ‘Mav’ saved her from being eaten by ‘Roscoe’ the Coyote.
Returning to the article, the professor was stating that if he could start a country from scratch, he sure wouldn’t use the United States as a role model. He believed that we should do with-out for a while. We, according to him were too interested in material goods, like nice homes and motorcycles.
After finishing the paper, I left a nice tip for the waitress and started home. Like I said earlier the place is beautiful, nice green hills surround the little city with a gorgeous creek flowing through its heart.
It reminds me of the Scottish city of Brigadoon that appeared out of the mist for one day each hundred years. It was a gorgeous place. But we have our little city every day.
I watched hard working people just heading to a day’s work. One pick-up truck stopped at the red light. On the back was a bumper sticker that said “America—Love it or Leave it.” I began thinking about the professor’s comments, and wondered where would you go?
I retired to my Veranda for a little chat with myself. I was still aghast at how Yankee’s had turned up their noses at the mention of Grits. And I know for a fact the restaurant does a decent job in preparing theirs.
I thought maybe these northern folks, and it shames me to say this, but a lot of Southern folks just don’t know how to cook them.
When I was writing “Bertha,” there is a scene in the book where she is preparing grits for the jail population when she was doing the cooking.
Now there are a lot of variations I’ll admit, but the recipe I used in the book was based on my Grandmother Green’s recipe. Then you can adapt if you wish.
First, never use instant grits. Go to the store and get some old fashioned Aunt Jemima’s. I don’t know who the fellow was that invented instant grits, but somebody needs to speak to him.
Cook them bad girls slow, and stir every chance you get. If you don’t they’ll get lumpy, and then they’re not fit for folks. Salt and Pepper come next.
Then you have to make a decision. If you’re going to use butter, use the real stuff, not the imitation stuff that won’t even melt if you set it outside. Bugs won’t get on it either. That ought to tell you something. If you do decide on butter, put enough in your pot to choke a horse.
The young kids like it better this way, but a lot of purist don’t. Next fry up some bacon or sausage and crumble that in your pot and season with some of the grease. The crumbled up Bacon or sausage is optional, the grease ain’t.
A lot of folks these days like cheese in their grits. And I got to admit, they ain’t all bad with cheese. So if you’re going to use it, the amount you use is a matter of taste.
One of the most important things to remember is this. Grits should not run out of the pot. They need to crawl, and don’t eat them cold. If they get cold they’re harder than a ten ply radial.
You follow my recipe and you’ve got the makings of some fine Southern Ice Cream.
That afternoon, Lucy and I were headed downtown to the park to get in our daily walk. I heard the Yankee couple had strangely had two tires go flat on one side of their car. Somebody in the park said that it looked like something with a huge bite and sharp teeth had bitten the tires while they were having breakfast. They had actually gone flat right in front of Dewey’s tire shop.
But everybody felt better when we understood that Dewey was going to make them a real good deal. After all, he was Lou Ellen’s brother in law.
I must admit, I was a little suspicious. Several thoughts went through my head, and I looked over to where Lucy was walking along on her leash, and Maverick was lying over by the cave.
She looked up at me and said she figured they ran over an Armadillo.
Mike Ragland is a historian and local author of several books including:”Bertha”, “A Time to Gather Stones”, “The Legend of the Courage Wolf”, “Living with Lucy”. To learn more about Mike Ragland, visit http://www.mikeragland.com/