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I haven’t set out to win the Nobel Peace Prize, mind you. (Although if it’s thrust upon me, I will follow President Obama’s example and accept the honor with humility.) But it’s come to my attention that Kraft Foods has ignited a brouhaha by discontinuing production of its processed garlic cheese roll, the key ingredient in the classic recipe for cheese grits casserole otherwise known as “World Peace Grits.” Thus, I throw myself into the breach to do whatever I can.
Longtime readers of this column will recall that a few years ago I discovered a correlation between international harmony and the consumption of this old southern potluck favorite. Everyone from my Yankee son-in-law Tim (who thought Kentuckians were infidels before he married into our family) to the Dalai Lama (who runs around setting up World Peace Institutes and urging everybody to get along) loves this recipe for cheese grits casserole. People grow mellow and conciliatory whenever it’s served, and I’ve been lobbying the United Nations to make it mandatory on its cafeteria menu. Now, due to a vast right-wing conspiracy or a socialist take-over or perhaps a terrorist plot, Kraft has stopped manufacturing the essential ingredient in World Peace Grits. The security of future generations hangs in the balance.
The roly-poly tubes of processed garlic cheese have always been hard to find north of the Ohio River – an idiosyncrasy we southerners never understood but vaguely attributed to the arrogance of Ulysses S. Grant. Last holiday season, however, a shortage swept the entire nation. At the time, I dismissed the rumors that the food conglomerate had dropped this revered item from its lineup. Kraft would not be that nonchalant about peace in our time, I insisted. Alas, I have now confirmed that the rumors were true. The last little cylinder, frozen in somebody’s freezer, has been thawed and consumed, and there is not another one left in America. Food snobs will insist, of course, that garlic cheese grits casserole (if they condescend to eat the dish at all) can be whipped up from all kinds of cheese, usually exotic ones from unpronounceable sources that I can’t find at my Kentucky supermarket. The foodies even insist on using fresh garlic buds pressed by hand. Good grief. But a true American knows there is no substitute for the right stuff.
And so I have gone undercover and located a formula similar to Kraft’s that can be processed in our own kitchens. I’ve tried it, and it works. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am also compelled to share (though I loathe sending any business to them) that Kraft says their squirt-can product called “”Easy Cheese Garlic Cheddar” flavor is the same recipe as their old cheese roll. One can equals one roll, they say. Somehow, though, the image of world diplomats like the Dalai Lama and me squirting an entire can of cheese into a boiling pot of grits doesn’t seem, well – dignified.
Garlic Cheese Roll Substitute
1-1/2 pounds sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound of Velveeta
3 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
Drop of liquid smoke, or to taste
Warm ingredients over a double boiler or low heat, until cheeses have melted and ingredients are well combined. Put into storage container to cool and set. Portion as needed. The cheese rolls were 6 ounces I believe – this recipe would be four of those rolls.
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
– Luke 2:14
Christmas greetings, gentle readers, from me to thee.