Breakfast,  Recipe

Kya’s Tumped Grits

The Yankee made grits.

What would a food journey around “Where the Crawdads Sing” be without grits??They have a star appearance at the beginning of Kya’s story and they stay a comforting lifelong companion throughout the book. Our lives are at times defined by food, or sometimes as in Kya’s case, lack thereof.  When we are ill, we all have a comfort food that comes to mind. Our holidays are stacked with memories of Grandma’s turkey or auntie’s pies. Birthdays come with cake. Funerals come with casseroles. When times are hard, there is often a consistent food. College days with little cash bring lots of ramen noodles, rice, cereal or- in the south especially- grits. So here we are. This story must have grits.

I am a born and raised Midwestern Yankee. I have never eaten grits, let alone made them. But don’t leave yet! My very good, very Southern friend Nick helped me along the way. I made these grits 3 times just to get them right. Basically, lots of liquid, lots of salt and lots of cheese. Also, texture and consistency is vital. The first batch I made was way too solid and had no seasoning. The next batch I got the flavor right but the cakes themselves were too thick. Third time’s the charm! I hope you enjoy and I would love to hear some feedback. 


  • 1 cup grits
  • 4+ cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 cup flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • butter or vegetable oil for frying

Bring 4 cups of milk to a boil.  Whisk in the grits. Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, adding water when the grits get too thick. You want a mush consistency. Take off the heat and add salt, garlic powder, butter and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Pour into a 13×9 pan and let cool to room temperature, then put in refrigerator. Let the grits harden at least an hour. I cut out biscuit sized circles. You can also easily cut squares. 

Mix salt and pepper into the 1 cup of flour on a plate. Over medium heat add oil or butter to a frying pan. Tump the grit cakes into flour mix, coating both sides. Add to hot oil. Fry until golden brown.

Nerdy tips

  • slowly whisk grits into boiling milk. Keep whisking for 30 seconds to avoid clumping. 
  • you can add any flavoring you’d like. Grits are a clean slate. Try a dash of cayenne or Worcestershire sauce. Or boil chicken stock instead of water to give it a great flavor. 
  • I tried frying in both butter and oil. Oil gave the cakes a better golden color but the butter left a nice nutty flavor behind. I vote for butter but to each their own. Honestly, if I had any bacon grease on hand I would have tried it- that just sounds super yummy.

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