It's fine with me that so many of y'all don't like grits, or think they're some kind of bad country joke. It just means more grits for me!
An interesting use of grits is in the signature dish of "Low Country" cuisine, from the South Carolina coastal region: shrimp and grits. It's sauteed shrimp in a roux or gravy poured over a dish of grits. The grits should be very creamy and somewhat fluffy, if you can ever call grits that.
Several people have asked me, as a member of the Southern diaspora, to comment on quick grits and instant grits. Everyone I know cooks quick grits, which cook in 5 minutes. What I guess you'd call 'normal' grits take 45 minutes to an hour to cook, and they're barely distinguishable, in my experience, from quick grits. If I were making shrimp and grits for someone I wanted to impress, I might use slow-cooking grits. But when I cook grits for breakfast, it's 5 minute quick grits.
Instant grits are an abomination. They are packaged in little single-serving envelopes, are manufactured in all sorts of strange flavors, and are supposedly suitable for human consumption less than a minute after you've added boiling water. I guess instant grits might be acceptable as camping food, but barely. Can't you spare 5 minutes to cook some quality quick grits? If you like instant rice (the stuff that cooks in 1 minute or 5 minutes or whatever), you might like instant grits. I think both are pale imitations of the real foods.
Typical, I suppose, of most middle class white Southerners, my family finds it strange when people put sugar, or anything sweet, in their grits. Salt, pepper, tobasco sauce, butter, cheddar cheese, and maybe crumbled up bacon are the only things we traditionally stir into grits. Of course any eggs or sausage sharing a plate with some grits will get mixed up in there as well. When I fix grits at home for breakfast, I usually just use butter, black pepper, and lots of salt. Sometimes I stir in a little chunk of cream cheese, which is very un-Southern. No one in my family eats grits for lunch or dinner, unless we're having cheese grits on the side with batter-fried fish.
In response to request for instructions on cooking grits:
Buy any brand of Quick Grits (Quaker® brand is popular, but store brand is usually fine). Cook according to instructions on package (usually: bring 3 to 4 parts water to boil; stir in 1 part grits and some salt; reduce heat to low/simmer; cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often; salt and season to taste and serve hot). Grits can absorb incredible amounts of salt. It is very important to stir as you are adding grits to the boiling water and to stir every minute or so during cooking, to avoid lumpy grits. Enjoy!