Hominy was adopted from the Indians and became an important basic food for American pioneers. It is, simply, hulled corn—the pioneers removed the hulls by soaking the grains of corn in a weak wood lye. Washed and boiled until it was tender, hominy was often served in place of potatoes. It was ground, too, into grits—fragments slightly coarser than corn meal—which have become closely identified with the South. Grits are traditionally eaten for breakfast with butter and milk, or made into breads and puddings. G. W. Featherstonhaugh, an Englishman traveling in the South in 1837, wrote: "Our breakfast was admirable, excellent coffee with delicious cream, and that capital, national dish of South Carolina, snow-white homminy brought hot to table like maccaroni, which ought always to be eaten, with lumps of sweet fresh butter buried in it! this is certainly one of the best things imaginable to begin the day liberally with."
1 cup hominy grits 1/2 cup light cream
5 cups boiling water 1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Stir grits into boiling water. Cover and cook over a low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. Then measure exactly 2 cups of the cooled grits into a bowl and beat until smooth. Beat yolks soundly and stir into grits. Add cream, salt, and pepper. Beat egg whites until they stand in peaks and fold into grit mixture, lightly but thoroughly. Spoon into a well-buttered 1-quart casserole and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 40 minutes or until surface is golden. Serve immediately to 4.