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Sunshine Seniors shed light on what makes grits good
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Sunshine Seniors serve breakfast at the Gainesville-Hall County Senior Life Center. From top are Elizabeth Westbrooks, Marion Willis, Eunice Harbin and Belinda Dickey. - photo by Tom Reed

The Sunshine Seniors brought their culinary skills and old-style Southern cooking to the Gainesville-Hall County Senior Life Center on Friday.

Lillian Barlowe, a regular at the Senior Life Center, said she enjoyed the home-cooked breakfast since she isn't able to cook for herself anymore.

"It was delicious," she said. "It was cooked like my mama made it. It made me remember how I used to cook."

The group promotes healthy living through partnerships in the community, which is where the idea came from to serve breakfast to about 40 other seniors.

The Sunshine Seniors whipped up homemade scrambled eggs, grits, biscuits, sausage and added fresh fruit on the side for nutrition.

"Praise the Lord, it was so good, I got a real blessing from it," said Lorene Eickenberg, who enjoyed the meal at the Senior Life Center.

Merry E. Howard, senior center manager, said she loves having the Sunshine Seniors at the center for any reason.

"They come and do stuff for us all the time," Howard said. "They'll come over and sing and we go visit them at their farmers market, we take our seniors over there ... we love them."

Elizabeth Westbrooks, a Sunshine Senior member who recently celebrated her 80th birthday, said she arrived at the center at 7:30 a.m. and "we started rolling."

Westbrooks said this was a special breakfast for her too, because she has been instructed by her doctor to only have oatmeal for breakfast.

"That's what my doctor said and that is usually what I eat now," she said. "But in the day I would have all of this. Now that I got 80 years old I have to slow my roll."

Beatrice Hailey, who has been a member of the Sunshine Seniors for about eight years, said she has to eat oatmeal for breakfast most days but her favorite is grits and eggs.

Grits are a tricky breakfast dish for some, but Hailey's daughter, Belinda Dickey, has some advice for the novice.

"They are creamy and I just love the taste of grits," she said. "Sometimes I like them plain with just butter and a lot of times I will put cheese in them. For supper on Fridays a lot I make the cheese grits casserole with my fried fish ... and that is a big winner. We have made it and people think it is a corn pudding."

Dickey explained a couple ways to be sure your grits are perfect.

"Cook them a long time, cooking them and stirring them," she said. "The secret also is put a little evaporated milk and butter and salt ... serve the grits piping hot."

Hailey and Dickey both agreed grits should be made from scratch and that it is a Southern sin to use the instant variety.

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