Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Eats

It's the holiday season so my traveling and dining has been more limited than usual. It does give me a chance to spend a bit more time in my own kitchen, which generally has the best cooking and food around our area. I think I naturally tend to be biased to my own cooking as I cook what I like, the way I like it cooked. I completely cook the onions, well all the veggies for that matter, and do not care for this "tender crisp" stuff that restaurants try to tell me tastes better. I know what my taste buds like and those unnaturally green things are not it.

I'm breaking out the cookbooks and recipes I've wanted to try lately to make a few holiday goodies to share. I get a chance to taste something that looks interesting, yet not keep an entire desert setting around the house to taunt me into the guilty pleasure of eating it all in one calorie laden feast. My friends get to sample the results of my kitchen time without over-indulging as well. Since I enjoy cooking, it ads up to a happy day for all involved.

Over the past year I've worked to develop a little better sense of self control when it comes to what I eat. (I say this after scarfing down vast quantities of chips & dip at dinner.) I love to cook and I love to consume and offer no apologies for that. I do not love what it does to my hips when I over-indulge. I flat refuse to live on some bizarre restricted diet to look like what TV and magazines promote as attractive. I'll take the healthy body of a woman from Runner's magazine over Cosmo any day. When it comes to the holidays and the plethora of food choices constantly presented, one of my personal trainers really summed things up nicely. "Everything in moderation, even moderation." Take a bite, maybe even two. This year I might even try to make those holiday treat eaters feel a little less guilt by including some homemade breakfast granola in the mix. Hopefully they won't take it as an insult but rather a helpful gesture. I like getting a nice homemade batch of cookies just as much as the next gal, but I appreciate the baker providing a healthier option for when I'm consumed by the guilt of eating the entire plate of cookies first.

Best gift to yourself during the holidays? Don't give up on exercise and eating healthy. I'm glad I have held it together so far, just don't let me back in the kitchen tonight. There's these Peanut Butter Cream Brownies in there ready to be sacrificed, all in the good name of hip expansion.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Best Fried Chicken, Round 2

Lots of restaurants claim to be famous for their fried chicken. The vast majority of such places serve as proof that their patrons simply haven't tasted really good fried chicken. I found one this weekend where that isn't the case. Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken in downtown Memphis is best described as "joint." It's one of those small, rough around the edges sort of restaurants that appears even a bit rougher from the outside. Inside, food is served on disposable plates, with limited utensils and cups of cheap disposables too. It's all about the chicken, and they focus on it. So many restaurants try to broaden their appeal too far and lose their focus. What put them on the map can keep them there if they don't stray too far or neglect their claim to fame.

Choices of side dishes at Gus's aren't plentiful, but they do offer some interesting cajun fried rice and good french fries. (If I'm going fried, might as well go all the way.) It seems a bit odd that two best fried chicken restaurants I've been to skip the mashed potatoes; They both serve some form of cajun or dirty rice. According to my husband, they go together like salt & pepper, something is missing without the mashed potatoes. We didn't seem to have trouble eating the chicken regardless of the limited cooked potato choices.

My overall rating: 4.5 stars
Cons: Limited parking and since I was there at 3:30 pm on a Saturday I can only imagine the line to get in at noon. Very limited selection of side dishes. This location can be quite noisy, so it's not a great choice for those with hearing problems.
Pros: It's the second best fried chicken I've ever had, but a close second (Old Country Store in Lorman, MS is the best so far.) It's spicy chicken and they wisely focus their energies on their main dish. The slightly dive type feel of the place gives it great character.