I had made a batch of grits for breakfast yesterday morning, and it was only as I

was set to dish them out that I remembered that in a few hours I would be undergoing gum surgery -- no point in obscuring the dentist's vision with a haze of garlic breath. So, into the refrigerator they went. I breakfasted instead on a next-to-odorless bowl of muesli.

When I make grits for breakfast, I start them the night before, and it rarely occurs to me to make some extra for pan-fried grits some other morning. So this was a rare treat. I melted a pat of butter in the skillet and just scooped the cold grits out of the bowl, flattening them out with a spatula. Besides the garlic, these are seasoned with mi).nced onion, Crystal hot sauce, coarse-ground black pepper, and chopped bits of country ham fat and rind trimmings. (If you look close, you can see a chunk of the fat at the front edge of the grits cake in the photo.)

The trick with these is not to hurry them -- in fact I vacuumed the living room while I waited, getting my morning chore out of the way before sitting down to eat. I was going to fry some eggs to go with them, but I ended up just topping the cakes with shavings of butter and scarfing them down straight. Crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and packing a solid garlic punch.

For the record, these are white speckled grits from the Nora mi).ll Granary in Helen, Georgia, coarsely ground by their water-powered mi).llstones. I buy them in five-pound cloth sacks -- $5.95 plus shipping. Good price, great grits!