creamy grits with corn, bacon, and tomatoes

I’ve been playing stay-at-home-mom this week. School starts next Monday, so I took this week off to spend with my kids before the fall chaos begins again. My week has been filled with sticker art, the new Winnie-the-Pooh movie, moving Oliver into his first real bed (a bunk bed!), thoughts of Jennie and her girls, breaking up arguments, donating to the Goodwill, lots of snack time, a little bit of pool time, many time outs, building forts out of cardboard boxes, making pancakes, listening to whining and bickering, organizing and cleaning, lots of cleaning.

These are the little ones who have kept me on my toes all week:

And this little girl has gotten into her fair share of mischief, too. But she’s so cute, it’s hard to get mad at her.

Though the new school year will bring homework, probably more than last year, it will also bring some semblance of routine back into our lives. I’m looking ahead to some busy weeks for all of us in this house but I think we can handle it all. Besides the homework issue, swimming lessons for both kids will resume. I’m headed out of town at the end of next week for a few nights (I’m speaking at a conference), and then I’ll start a busy 2-week stretch of call in the hospital on September 1st.

I wasn’t ready for fall when I posted this a couple of weeks ago, but I think I’m ready now. The summer’s stifling heat and humidity have chased me off my front porch, and I’m ready to get back to my early evening habit of sitting in my rocker with my iPad and a glass of something cool and refreshing, listening to the neighborhood noises.

Though autumn doesn’t technically begin until late in September, I consider this the last week of summer. And to celebrate the arrival of fall – or perhaps to mourn the end of summer – I made a dish combining my favorite comfort food – grits – with fresh tomatoes and corn. A bowl of this is all I need for a complete meal, but it could just as easily be a savory side dish.

What matters most is that there are grits, and grits always make me happy, regardless of season.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Creamy Grits with Corn, Bacon, and Tomatoes

These grits make a great savory side dish or a simple and comforting main dish.


3 cups water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup white stone ground grits
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels (approximately 1 ear of corn)
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced
2 slices crisp-cooked bacon, chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Kosher salt

Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)


Bring water and milk just to a simmer in a heavy saucepan. Meanwhile, cover grits with water in a large bowl and whisk vigorously. Let stand for 30 seconds, then, using a fine-mesh sieve, skim off any chaff that has floated to the surface. Drain grits well in the fine-mesh sieve and whisk into the simmering milk.

Reduce heat to low and simmer grits, partially covered, stirring often with a heatproof rubber spatula, about 1 hour, until grits are tender and thickened to loose-oatmeal consistency. Stir more toward the end of cooking to prevent scorching.

While the grits are simmering, heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add corn, tomato, bacon, shallot, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of kosher salt. Stirring occasionally, cook until the shallot is translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the grits are tender and done simmering, stir in cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir the corn and tomato mixture into the grits, garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and serve.

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12 Responses to “finding balance and a blueberry buttermilk tart”

  1. Macaroni Mama — April 27, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

    It warms my heart that your children associate baking with love, warmth, and hugs. We won’t take up much of your time this weekend for this very reason. XXXOOO

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 28th, 2012 @ 7:37 am

      Any time we spend with you is time well spent, Mom. You and Dad are our priority, too!

  2. Liren — April 27, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

    That balance that we all aim to achieve is definitely more challenging at times than others. Thank goodness for baking, it really is a comforting therapy. I know a slice of this tart would bring peace and satisfaction. Hope this weekend brings more time with the kids in the kitchen.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 28th, 2012 @ 7:38 am

      Thank you, Liren. Yes, baking is such a great thing, especially when I can do it with the kids.

  3. Thyme (Sarah) — April 28, 2012 @ 8:32 am

    Your words hit the spot with me. I am the complete opposite of your world but the same in so many ways. I am a stay at home mom with 2 teens (one off to college in the fall) and I have homeschooled for the past 6 years. That “guilt” word often has me analyzing my decisions off and on. Yesterday was one of those days. I clenched my hair yesterday and yelled “I can’t take 3 more years of school!!” and…”I’m not even getting paid!!” I felt horrible after that and spent the rest of the day in shame. Apologies went around. I follow your blog andy you are doing the best job! Good luck with everything!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 28th, 2012 @ 10:00 am

      Guilt really can get the best of us, right? I think the work-life balance challenge holds true whether your work is outside the home or INSIDE the home, as yours is. And thank you for being a reader — I’m so glad you’re here!

  4. Beth (OMG! Yummy) — April 28, 2012 @ 10:32 am

    Nice post Merry-Jennifer – so honest and revealing in a conversation starting, endearing way. Guilt pervades my life and I’m Jewish, so it’s a long-standing joke in the family too. As for the balance, I commented on Twitter to Rebecca Subbiah yesterday that I take life one hour at a time these days – a whole day overwhelms me. Since I’ve become determined to reinvent a career for myself while still managing a complicated household, I’ve both improved the balance and thrown it way off. But I remain determined to forge ahead and hope that the decisions I make hourly are for the most part, good ones.

    Love that your kids want to bake with you – that is a priceless memory that will stay with them forever. The fact that you are mentally or physically gone occasionally will, on the other hand, melt away.

  5. Paula — April 29, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

    Your parents, friends, co-workers, patients, spouse and especially your children are so very blessed to have you in their lives and so cognizant of their needs. Guilt always invades our thoughts when time for everyone seems at a minimum. When your children go to sleep each night they know that they are loved so every second that you spend with them or do for them, while to you may never seem enough, really and truly is.

  6. Amy — May 2, 2012 @ 8:33 am

    It seems I will never fully master the art of balance. But I’m trying.

    I want this now. For breakfast. ; )

  7. Tickled Red — May 18, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

    Sometimes I come across a post after it has been written and I realize now that it’s for a reason. I need to read this today because the past month and a half has been topsy turvy for me. My balance had been whipped off the map. Love this post!! And yes baking does seem to do just that ;D

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