If I gave you the choice between cornmeal mush, grits and polenta, which would you choose? Polenta, or as my dad would call it, Cornmeal Mush or Grits, are the exact same thing. Cornmeal made for mush is ground a little finer. Do some things not translate? Is it fancier to call something by a foreign name even though it’s the exact same thing you grew up with? When I was a kid, my dad would request cornmeal mush for breakfast. Am I guilty of a little snobbery here? You noticed I labeled this post polenta, not cornmeal mush or grits, so I’m just as guilty. I wanted you to look.
In this era of gluten-free everything, why aren’t we using cornmeal more often? My dad grew up in Idaho. Until the day he died, he said it was a good place to be from. Mush was a part of his daily meals, if he was lucky. Poverty was the norm in Depression era Idaho and yet dad had nothing but good memories of cornmeal mush.
This wasn’t a staple in my mom’s Minnesota home, so we all had to learn from dad. He liked it formed into a loaf to firm and then sliced and fried. He then liked it served with syrup. And not maple syrup, but dark Karo syrup or molasses. Or along side pork chops with gravy. He liked it in a bowl with milk and sugar. It’s a different taste if you aren’t used to it, but on a cold winter day, it might be worth a try.
3 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese if you are using this as a side dish
Bring the water and the salt to a boil in a saucepan. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and cornmeal to a smooth paste. Slowly add the cornmeal to the boiling water. Return to a boil and then reduce to low. Stir almost constantly for about 15 minutes until it thickens to a consistency you find pleasing. Serve it warm with a little more cheese sprinkled on top.
and remember what my super amazing Nina Simone had to say: It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feelin’ good. Big kiss, Lynn