It has been over a month since my last post. I am a relatively new blogger and jumping head first into this new adventure was such a fun thrill ride for me! So much that I ate, drank, slept, and dreamt blogging. Annoying my friends and family with blog talk was obviously going to happen, but I always knew how to take it to the next level. I wrote, cooked, created, ate, and took pictures. I spent my free time staring blissfully at a computer screen, fading deeper into the blogosphere as the world around me continued to buzz about. All this being said, why on earth would I suddenly stop blogging?
Well, folks, I got pregnant!
This was a GINORMOUS surprise for both my husband and I as we were told having a baby was going to be a slim possibility. After many, many years of infertility, imagine our surprise finding out we were expecting only AFTER selling our home, moving in with family and starting the building process. Our plans have changed a little (as plans do) and we are now house hunting to have a place ready before the little one arrives. To say we are thrilled is an understatement! Each week brings new, fun changes and fortunately, this past week brought one of my favorites: an end to my morning sickness and food aversions. YAAAAYYYY!! Do you know how hard it is to cook, much less think about food in the first trimester? No thank you. Sorry blogging, you just weren’t something I could handle – or stomach.
Kevin and I took a trip last week to Charleston just to get away and the low country was a saving grace my taste-buds desperately needed. Of course, one of the most popular local dishes is shrimp n grits, so I knew I needed to at least TRY it. Funny…there was no trying…I sucked down that meal like I hadn’t eaten in weeks. Which I guess technically I hadn’t if you don’t count Luna bars, peppermint lifesavers, and saltines.
While I am not sure what exact ingredients were used to make the meal, it appeared to consist of a simple stack of grits, topped with a tomato gravy and juicy grilled prawns. We dined at this awesome restaurant called Lo Country Bistro on South Market Street which I would highly recommend trying if you are in the area. Kevin had a sweet potato bacon waffle topped with fried chicken and sweet brown butter that he swears is the best waffle ever. Ever. Ever. Ever!
In re-creating southern style shrimp n grits, I turned to a few of my favorite things. Grits are a staple in my kitchen, with a simple yet pertinent rule that they must be creamy and swirled with goat cheese. I have them often for breakfast with fresh fruit on the side. I also make a mean tomato gravy (using a family recipe featuring canned tomatoes) for Christmas breakfast that sits atop the annual Ho cake and often gets swirled into the salt pork gravy sitting on the other half my biscuit slice. Combine these elements with some grilled prawns that happen to conveniently be in season along the southern coast – this dish is seasonal heaven!
I was lucky enough to score some awesome tomatoes that happened to be in season as well before we left Charleston. Boone Hall Plantation, one of the oldest working, living plantations in the country, still sells seasonal crops. They happened to have delicious tomatoes on sale for 69 cents a pound. I literally paid $1.27 for like 10 tomatoes. I am still in shock! The biggest regret I have for the whole trip was not buying more to bring home. The flavor is incomparable to any tomatoes I have had in years. This recipe calls for cooking them which is super awesome because tomatoes that have been broken down contain higher doses of lycopene, a phytonutrient great for a healthy heart, bones and cancer prevention. It is one of the very few members of the produce family that actually do more benefit by being cooked than eating raw. After using fresh picked tomatoes packed with delicious bacon goodness in my gravy, I fear the canned version will have to go bye-bye.
I hope you enjoy this little taste of the low country as much as I do! Looking forward to sharing blog creations spurred by my cravings with all of you for the 5 remaining months of craziness ahead ;)
Southern Style Shrimp n Grits with Tomato Bacon Gravy
- Tomato gravy
- 4 large tomatoes
- 2 slices nitrate free bacon diced
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup yellow grits
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- 4 oz creamy goat cheese
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 16 large prawn Shrimp
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
To make gravy: Roughly chop tomatoes in food processor leaving them slightly chunky, but broken down (see picture above). Set aside. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté bacon for 3-4 min, until brown and crispy. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
To make grits: Bring water to a boil. Add salt and grits. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, add ghee and goat cheese. Stir until melted. Add cracked pepper and mix well.
To make Shrimp: Remove shells, but leave tails attached. Toss with olive oil, and garlic powder. Grill (I use a George Foreman) for 3 minutes, until shrimp turn pink.
To serve: divide grits among 4 plates. Top with tomato gravy and 4 shrimp per plate. Serve warm and enjoy!