Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Lucky One: Shrimp and Grits

Now that the film version of Nicholas Sparks' The Lucky One is out, it's time to have a go at the food in the book! Reviews for the movie are mixed, and nobody is saying it's great; I keep reading things like "predictable," "syrupy," "lazy," (ouch), "dull;" but I've also seen "sweet," "sentimental," "solid," and "beautifully shot." This is the best review I've seen so far, and even that one isn't all that great. Ah, well, we Nicholas Sparks fans will see the movie anyway. Nick writes his stories for a specific audience, and we eat them up. And there are lots of us. Those Nick-haters, well, they just don't get it. (That said, I will admit that there are one or two Nicholas Sparks books that I've found a little too bland and predictable, and I didn't care for them much; but do you think I'm going to tell you what they are? Not a chance.)

The Story:  Logan Thibault (pronounced "Tebow," like the football player. I think. But I haven't seen the movie yet...) is an Iraq war veteran who shows up in Hampton, North Carolina--which doesn't really exist, although according to Nick's official website, it's somewhere in the Blue Ridge mountains. (The site says "Blue Mountain Region," but that must be a typo. They mean "Blue Ridge," surely.) Have you ever been to the mountains in North Carolina? Beautiful. I spent two summers during college as a camp counselor near Brevard, about an hour's drive from Asheville, and I still have dreams at night about going back to Camp Gwynn Valley. Truly a piece of Heaven.

(Please pardon the interruption; I will now share some photos from our 2005 summer vacation in the North Carolina mountains.)

(And now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.) 

 Anyhow, Logan has walked to Hampton with his German Shepherd, Zeus, all the way from his home in Colorado.  He's carrying a picture that he found in Iraq, of a beautiful young woman.  He carries this photo because it seems to have kept him safe from harm when his buddies were getting killed in war and accidents and such.  He's decided to track this woman down because a friend convinced him that she must be his good-luck charm.  He finds Beth, who lives with her ten-year-old son, Ben, and her grandmother, "Nana."    Beth is a teacher; Nana owns a kennel.  Logan gets a job at the kennel, and befriends Beth, Nana, and Ben; and eventually develops a romance with Beth.

One evening during dinner, Nana announces that she's going to visit her sister in Greensboro.  Logan is going to drive her there and oversee things at the kennel while she's gone.  Nana had a stroke a few years back, and naturally Beth is concerned.  Once Nana makes up her mind about something, though, that's it.  The conversation takes place over a meal of shrimp and grits.
I found several recipes on the Internet, and here's the one I picked.



1 cup stone ground grits
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup butter
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, left whole if small and roughly chopped if medium or large
6 slices bacon, chopped into tiny pieces
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts
1 large garlic clove, minced

1.  To make shrimp and grits recipe, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the grits and salt and pepper to taste.  stir well with a whisk.  Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cook the grits until all the water is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese.  Keep covered until ready to serve.

I thought it needed a little cayenne pepper, too.
2.  Rinse the shrimp and pat dry.  Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned and crisp, then drain on a paper towel.  Add the shrimp to the bacon grease in the skillet and saute over medium heat just until they turn pink, about 3 minutes.  Do not overcook!  Immediately add the lemon juice, parsley, green onions, and garlic.  Remove the skillet from the heat.

I think I might have forgotten the lemon juice...
3.  Pour the grits into a serving bowl.  Pour the shrimp mixture over the grits.  Garnish with the bacon bits.
(Source:  Leite's Culinaria)

I doubled the recipe; I was lazy and bought two pounds of frozen shrimp, already peeled and deveined.  The boys wrinkled their noses at the thought of shrimp on top of grits.   They'd never heard of such a thing.  But guess what?  They loved it.  It was delicious, and next time maybe I'll get fresh shrimp, and remember the lemon juice.

Logan drives Nana to Greensboro, fixes the brakes on Nana's truck, and spends more and more of his free time with Beth and Ben.  Still, he doesn't tell anyone about the photo of Beth.  He wants to, but is struggling to find the right timing and the right words.  Will the truth finally come out?  Will Beth be pleased that he has come so far to meet her?  I'm not telling.  You'll have to read the book.  Or watch the movie; although I suspect the book is better.

My camera is in the shop.  It suddenly developed this annoying black shadow across the top of every photo I take, no matter what lens or what setting I use.  Worse, when I try to take indoor photos, they're way too dark even though the flash seems to work.  It will be two weeks at least before I get it back.  Fortunately I have two more food projects I did over spring break; one from The Lucky One, and one from the first Lemony Snicket book.  I hope I get my camera back soon, because I don't want to rely on my phone to take food photos for this blog.  (I suppose I could use my old point-and-shoot camera, the one I used for my 2005 vacation photos, but that one isn't working properly either.  Probably because I let the boys use it.  *sigh*)  I'm praying for a speedy recovery for my trusty Canon EOS Rebel.

Next Up:  Taco Night!

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