Place the water and salt in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Cover the pot, and let the water come to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, slowly pour in the corn meal while whisking constantly. Whisk for about three minutes (the mixture should thicken a bit.) Lower the heat until the polenta bubbles every few seconds and partially cover the pot by propping a wooden spoon on the pot and resting the lid on it.
Stir the polenta vigorously every five minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot. If the polenta seems like it's scalding on the bottom, lower the heat a bit. Continue cooking it in this manner, for 20-25 minutes. (Taste it after 20 minutes to see if it is smooth enough for your taste.)
Turn off the heat and add the butter and cream cheese, stirring until they're melted and blended well. Stir in the Parmesan, pepper and garlic powder. Then add the milk, starting with 3 tablespoons and adding more if needed to achieve the consistency you like.
Serve the polenta immediately, as it will begin to firm up as it sits. Spoon polenta into each plate or bowl and top with your entree and vegetables. Refrigerate leftover polenta for up to five days.
If you use coarse, stone-ground cornmeal, your polenta will be slightly grainy, compared to using regular cornmeal.You can cook the polenta for a bit longer to get it more smooth. I used the coarse one for the photos but usually make it with regular cornmeal.