Welcome to Memphis Y’all.


I just returned from a trip to the most Canadian place in America. Only friendlier and with a lot more shot glasses for sale. Memphis, Tennessee even looked like Canada. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but once we got off the plane and were heading to the hotel, everywhere I looked seemed just like Ontario, Canada. The buildings, plants and trees were all the same. Everyone said thank you, you’re welcome and I’m so sorry every chance they got. The only difference between someone from Canada and someone from Memphis is the person from Memphis apologizes with a southern drawl while wiping away some breakfast BBQ sauce from their cheeks.

Memphis, home to Elvis, BBQ and deep fried everything.

Bless their hearts.

Not one to miss an authentic food opportunity I enlisted the help of my southern readers and a professional BBQing acquaintance to help me decide where we should eat over our 4 days in Memphis. I got a lot of suggestions and after cross referencing with Google I decided that the two must hit spots were The Rendezvous and Gus’s.  I was hoping to get Central BBQ in as well or Corky’s but we didn’t make it.




The Rendezvous was recommended by everyone except my professional BBQing friend, who is on Team Canada’s BBQing team.  He said the ribs there were good, just not what they once were.  ( He’s the one I got the beautiful, glazed smoker I use to make bacon and ribs in my backyard from. )  He’s also the one who taught me most of what I know about smoking ribs (along with another professional, competitive BBQer, DivaQ).  So I was curious about what the ribs were going to be like.




Their smoked beans were absolutely fantastic, and the ribs were really good, but they weren’t great.  I don’t know how it’s even possible, but I didn’t see any smoke ring on the ribs and they were a tiny bit dry.  For anywhere else they would have been great ribs, but for a place that’s made it’s name as the GO TO place for ribs, they could have impressed me more.  I’m sorry.  Like I said, the beans were really great though and I’m going to smoke a pot of my own in the near future.




In a bizarre twist of fate the restaurant right across from our hotel was the Kooky Canuck.  A restaurant owned by Montrealer Shawn Danko specializing in Canadian food and specifically fantastic hamburgers.  We ate there at around noon and by 9 p.m. we all decided we’d just forget about having dinner that night because we were still full.  Of meat.  We were all still full of meat.  I’m still full of meat.  In my belly at this moment there is meat.

Which is why the morning after the meat belly we ate this.



In this photo from top left: eggs, grits, biscuits, corner of oatmeal bowl, sausage gravy.

The beige breakfast.  Let’s talk about the beige shall we?  Beige would imply boring.  Bland.  Blech.  But in this case beige is BISCUITS!!!!  I’ll tell you I have NEVER had a biscuit  like a southern biscuit.  It was SO unbelievably delicious I can’t even talk about it.  I’ve been silenced by a biscuit.  Feel free southern readers to take this opportunity to give me your biscuit recipe.  I almost feel like this one was made with Bisquick. Is that possible?

From there we did some touristy stuff that I can’t remember because it didn’t involve food.  After doing those things I don’t remember we headed to B.B. Kings for some dinner.




The great thing about eating at B.B. Kings on the world famous Beale Street is you can go upstairs to eat and look right down on at the band playing downstairs.




There I had to get catfish because when in Memphis …  This will come as a shock to you but the catfish bites were deep fried.  And came with a dipping sauce that was actually a BBQ sauce in disguise.  Again, weirdly.  By this point in the trip I could not possibly eat another bit of deep fried food so for dinner that night I ate a blackened chicken caesar salad, which isn’t worthy of a photo when you’re posting about the food of Memphis.  It’s an embarrassment really.  I’m so ashamed.

Finally, I’ve saved the best for last in terms of our food tour of Memphis.  Every SINGLE one of us agreed this was the best meal we had on our trip.  It was in a slightly dodgy area of Memphis where the cab driver dropping us off told us to stay safe and keep away from any dark portions of the street when we were walking home.  In broad daylight.  What was it that had us venturing out to the south side of Beale?



At Gus’s you’re asked if you’d like chicken or chicken.  After a bit of bickering we went with the chicken.  The spicy, crispy, as hot as condensate chicken, comes with a serving of coleslaw and beans for about $7.  I also ordered a side of mac & cheese because again … when in Memphis.




This trip was proving to be a real workout for all my coronary related parts.  Memphis food … exercise for your arteries.

Not wanting to end on a healthy note, we left Memphis with this Southern classic that I had not only never tried, but had never heard of until someone commented about it on my blog a few years ago.




Chess Pie.  Chess pie is a custard pie made with eggs, butter, sugar (often brown), vanilla and … cornmeal.  That’s a cornmeal crust on top of that pie that you see.  The cornmeal is mixed in with the rest of the ingredients but apparently magically floats to the top of the pie while baking, forming a crust.  I was quite surprised to see it didn’t come with a side of BBQ sauce, but I’m sure we could have got one from the waitress without so much as a raised eyebrow.

Bless her heart.

We managed to waddle our way around to a few sites in between wiping grease from our face and grits from our laps.  We went to all the typical spots like Beale Street which had an alarmingly large police presence and people drinking out of buckets.  I’ve not experienced drinking out of a bucket but I do see the practicality of having a bucket handy right after you’ve consumed a bucket of alcohol.




Beale Street is hugely historically significant not only for Memphis but for the rest of the world in terms of music.  The street was originally created in 1841. By the 1860’s black travelling musicians started to perform on Beale Street and by the early 1900’s African Americans turned Beale Street into the birthplace of the Blues as we know it today.  (the history of the Blues is way more complex than that, but that’s the story in a nutshell)  Today the almost 2 mile long street is closed off every night to cars and bar after bar after bar offers live music, most of it revolving around the Blues.





Walking along the sidewalk you’ll find musical notes in honour of all the greats that played on Beale including one of my favourites R.L. Burnside. Even if you don’t think you like the Blues (whaaa???) you might like this album “Come on In”, a remix version of R.L. Burnside’s songs done by music producer Tom Rothrock.  Or, like one reviewer of the album says, it might make you puke.

Which won’t be much of a problem if you have your drinking bucket handy.

Another historical site we visited was the Lorraine Motel. The place where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  The motel is now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.  That seems fitting, right?  We thought so.  And then we talked to Jackie.



Jacqueline Smith can be found outside the Lorraine motel on any given day, protesting the closing of the motel and turning it into a museum courtesy of an 8 million dollar renovation in 1988.  You see, after King was assassinated, the motel started to decline.  The rooms were changed from regular motel rooms to single occupancy rooms.  Housing for the poor.  Jackie worked at the motel and was also a resident.  She lived at the Lorraine for 15 years from 1973 to 1988 and refused to leave when they shut it down to turn it into a museum.  For 50 days Jackie stayed in the motel until she was finally forcibly removed.  Everyone else went quietly.  Jackie did not.



You can read a great article about her protest here  but the short version is, Jackie believes the museum isn’t in keeping with what King would have wanted.  What he stood for.  His philosophy.  She believes the motel should be used to help the poor, to educate them and house them among other things.  Her point is that Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t have approved of the cost of the project or the eviction of the poor and powerless from the motel to turn it into a museum. He wouldn’t have approved of the gentrification of the neighbourhood and the loss of the affordable housing in the area.

We met Jackie as we were walking to the motel to tour the museum.  We didn’t go in.  Even though we were all really interested in the museum and what it might have offered, after talking to Jackie we all just kept walking past the doors.

This post just took a serious turn didn’t it?

I can fix that.




Please enjoy Betty in a chicken mask. One of the many interesting things we found in Memphis.




I came very, very, surprisingly close to purchasing this artifact necklace.  The carving is an antique encased in a massive locket on a chain with turquoise beads.  It was wearable art that I would have put on display when I wasn’t wearing it but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money.  How much you ask?  Almost as much as the entire trip cost.




Stock and Belle is  one of the stores we all loved.  It was a combination grocery, salon, vintage clothing and furniture store with a lot of original art pieces thrown in. I’ve honestly never been anywhere like it.  Everything was really, really well priced, especially the original art like these robot pieces.




And thanks to a couple of readers including Jenny, we learned there was a Southern Junkers event  going on in town!  The only thing my family likes more than junk is foreign junk.

It was a laneway filled with junk, repurposed junk, better than junk junk and more junk.  In a bit of a fluke we ran into Ruth, the organizer of the event in her booth and when we told her we were there from Canada she grabbed her camera, told us to smile, then screamed THEY’RE HERE FROM CANADA!

Ruth was kind enough to give me a Junk Drunk tshirt, which were for sale in her booth which you’ll be seeing on me in future posts I’m sure.




Walking into the very first booth, I knew this was my kind of place.  The ReNewed Intent booth was like home for me.  Scary for someone else I’m sure but like a warm hug for me.




I bought a piece of ironstone at the sale; a platter. I only have 700 ironstone platters, so it was very important that I buy another one.  But I think my favourite thing at the show was this handmade dresser from The Junkin’ Jones Gang.  It’s a family business and the dresser was designed and made from wood and old dresser drawers by the father, Gene Jones.

I think it was only around $450 which was a great price and if I could have figured out a way to get it home I would have.  I would have put it in my front hall and stared at it all day while listening to my arteries.

It would have been great.





After the junkers market we headed to America’s largest (I’m totally making that up but I cannot imagine it isn’t true) Bass Pro Shop.  But we didn’t go because of the Bass Pro Shop, we went because it’s housed in a GIANT pyramid in downtown Memphis with a restaurant on top.



It was at said restaurant that Betty got carded.  The poor waitress had to ask her 10 times to see some I.D.  Betty just kept laughing and laughing until I finally told her I think the waitress is serious.  Betty stopped for a second, looked blankly at me, then kept laughing and laughing.

Turns out it’s the state law.  If you order a drink, no matter HOW old you look, no matter what, you have to present I.D. And by the way, just LOOK at the smile on that waitress. That’s another thing.  People in the south smile a LOT.  Every single person we encountered was insanely nice.

In fact the only unlikeable person we met the whole trip was (ironically) a Canadian who was acting like a douchebag in the duty free shop on the way home.



I posted this picture of all of us at the top of the Bass Pro Shop and an astute reader let me know that behind and below us, isn’t the Mississippi as I said, but the Wolf River.    Betty bought the retro cat eye glasses at the Junkers Market by the way.

The other highlight of the trip was the tour of Sun Studios.  The birthplace of Rock and Roll.  You can learn all about it here on Wikipedia or at the Sun Studio site.



Sun Studio really is where Rock and Roll was invented by producer and label owner Sam Phillips. Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and my personal favourite, Johnny Cash all came to you through Sun Studio.




Even the coffee bar where you wait to go through the tour is cool, tended by cool people. Including our tour guide Lahna (who isn’t in the photo) who is a musician herself, part of the band Deering and Down.




And this place right here?  This is the studio.  This is the actual spot where Elvis first sung into a professional microphone with his band. Yeah.  Elvis was the lead singer of a band.  An unassuming little room that changed the world.

It’s at this point I was going to show you pictures of our trip to Graceland.  But it’s now almost midnight and my post is supposed to be published in 2 minutes.  Sorry about that.  No photos of Graceland for you.  Not today anyway.

If I can fit time in between making biscuits, listening to the blues and convincing Betty she doesn’t actually look 21 I’ll have a Graceland post up for you tomorrow.

Pfttt.  21.  Bless her heart.



  1. Alan says:

    Awesome post

  2. Jamieson says:

    Looks like fantastic fun for all of you, lucky ducks!

  3. Lynn says:

    Sounds like you all had a blast on your trip . The glasses look fantastic on Betty . Great pictures Karen.

  4. Jani says:

    Sounds like you all had a fun trip!! Need to start planning a vacation for next year!

  5. Helen Schmidt says:

    Please post the best southern biscuit recipe when you find out! Thanks

  6. Madison says:

    I am so happy you had a taste of America (literally and figuratively). I enjoyed reading about your food posts since I come from a very American point of view, and having someone else give their thoughts is always refreshing. I have a great biscuit recipe in one of my cookbooks that I’ll share with you once I find it. Like you, I love junk, so I have to search for my book! Thanks again Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Madison. I’m here ready and waiting for everyone’s biscuit recipes. And this is just my most recent trip to The States. I’m only 45 minutes away from the border so I’ve actually spent quite a lot of time there. Also New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Detroit, Florida … 🙂 ~ karen!

  7. j says:

    Welcome Home-glad you had fun and didn’t have any bad experiences on dark alley’s during the day–but really, fun, food, more food, it’s all good! Can’t wait for your next vacation adventure! Wish you got that bureau thing for your front hall-you could fill it with recipes-that I’m sure you will share with all your fans, soon as you post more photos!!! Missed you like, a lot!

  8. Cynthia Jones says:

    Oh, I am so glad ya’ll had such a lovely time.

    I think that chicken head would have been great perched on the roof of the hen house. Wish you had bought it.

    What are grits? How and when is it eaten?

    Biscuits look a lot like scones. Scones are a afternoon tea thing eaten with jam and butter or cream and are quite doughy. I have heard of ‘biscuit’ eaten with gravy or stews. Are they like bread?

    I will try one of the recipes when you get them.

    I am sure you could make that dresser reallly well if you ever run out of project ideas.

    Off now, to google grits and biscuits. I also ponder over pokesalat and black eyed peas. All only heard of in folky songs.

    • Sherry in Alaska says:

      You’ll have better results looking for poke salad….. than pokesalat……

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cynthia! Scones are much heavier than these biscuits. These were light as air, flakey and almost fell apart. They were just plain good! ~ karen

    • Tommy says:

      It’s “poke salad”. They are a leafy plant that grows wild in the South. Most folks just pick them from the ground while walking through the woods or countryside. We had some that grew in our backyard. You cook them like turnip greens using pork for seasoning purposes. They sort of have a bitter taste but we splash a bit of vinegar on them to make them more palatable. And yes, you must try some black-eyed peas. The canned variety is acceptable in a pinch but the best way is have them cooked fresh with a bit of pork, like ham hock. They are also sold dried, like white beans. You soak them over night then cook them. Hope any of this was helpful.

  9. Kathleen says:

    Sounds like you had a blast. Cannot lie… I missed not reading a post on Monday, however it was worth the wait.

    Gotta go now… have many links to click on to learn more… already found a biscuits and sausage gravy recipe I’m going to try this weekend. And discovered that grits is/are the American equivalent to mielie meal in South Africa. See… you’re never to old to learn.

    Have yourself an awesome day.

    Waiting with bated breath for the follow up post.

    Catch you on the flip side.

  10. Grammy says:

    I grew up on Southern Fried Chicken, biscuits, white gravy, catfish (we dredged ours in cornmeal and fried it in a skillet), ribs, cole slaw and beans. I’m about your size and I’m close to Betty’s age and healthy as hell. Don’t pay any attention to the fact that I had to have my gallbladder removed when I was nineteen. Neither of my sisters have their gallbladders any more, either.

    If you only eat those wonderful foods rarely, like once a year or something, it’s great. A beige breakfast for, say, a birthday celebration would be so good. Then wait till Arbor Day to have ribs. Fried Chicken for 4th of July. Like that. Right now all I can think about is biscuits and gravy. Thanks. My birthday was two months ago.

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post. It was so fun to see you girls gadding about Memphis doing all the fun things and eating all the fine food and Betty could record a country song titled, “I Got Carded in Memphis” and it could be a best seller. You took pictures of all the right things. Now you need to get to work figuring out how to make a dresser like the one you didn’t buy so you can show us how.

    • Karen says:

      Oh the food was so good … but 4 days of it morning, noon and night did a bit of a number on my guts, lol. I’m thinking of serving biscuits instead of buns for Thanksgiving here! ~ karen

  11. Elaine says:

    Welcome home, Karen! Your trip looked like so much fun. My late husband and I enjoyed many, many trips to the States (I live in your town) and no matter how many times we crossed the border, we always were taken aback by the friendliness and generosity of the American people. I used to joke that we weren’t as friendly because we freeze our behinds off for most of the year. And those biscuits …. I couldn’t wait for one (or four!) to be brought hot to the table with a big glob of butter. Yum!

    Most of our holidays were on the south/east seaboard and another thing that astounded me too was …. I could accidentally cut someone off in an aisle of a store and that person would apologize to no end in that charming southern accent even though it was my error! I love USA!. (But I don’t like grits!)

  12. MaggieB says:

    Looks like a brilliant time had by all! Re the dresser – do you not need a small winter project perhaps? My go-to Biscuit recipe is from a smorgtastic book “The New Southern Basics” bought whilst living in the USofA. It reads like you’ve got a family recipe book and become Southern by osmosis!

    2cups all purpose flour / 1/2 teaspoon salt / 3/4 teaspoon baking powder / 1/2 teaspoon baking soda / 1 heaping tablespoon shortening (the size of an egg) / 1/4 cup buttermilk.

    Pre heat oven to 425 / 220. Sift dry ingredients in a large bowl. Work in shortening with just your fingertips until it is like cornmeal. Add buttermilk just enough to make a stiff dough. Knead the dough lightly. Roll or pat out on a floured board until 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into rounds and place on ungreased baking tray. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Serve hot.

    My ex (from the South) said they were almost as good as his grandmothers, I understand she was a Saint and all food that came out of her kitchen was blessed, so that was good enough for me.

  13. TucsonPatty says:

    Oh, this sounded like too much fun, and something I’d love to do with some or all of my 8 sisters. (Yep, there are nine girls…and 2 boys.) that is a lot od Southern Fried Stuff. i’m not a meat eater (What!?) but I love the taste of BBQ sauce and I love me some biscuits! My mama’s biscuit recipe is yummy and fluffy, and you can try it to see if it works!
    Baking Powder Biscuits
    3 cups Flour
    4 teasp. Baking Soda
    1 teasp. Salt
    Sift together and cut in:
    6 tablespoons Crisco
    Stir gently in:
    1 cup Milk
    Knead lightly on floured board and pat out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with flouted cutter or simply into squares.
    Bake at 450 degrees F. about 12 minutes. Makes 16 servings.
    (Serve with my favorite – butter and jam…)
    : ). Made with love.

    • TucsonPatty says:

      Oh, P.S. I want that dresser so badly. That is the most awesome piece of wonderfulness in a dresser that I have ever seen!

    • Beth says:

      Yes, this is nearly like mine – learned from a lady who is now in her late 90’s – when I asked for her recipe, she said “there isn’t one,” so I learned at her side. The main secret is not to overwork the dough – they will be light and fluffy.

      My scones use a similar recipe – a bit more sweet (brown sugar, cinnamon chips) and heavy cream instead of milk – – –


    • Mary W says:

      Why did you call these baking powder biscuits when you only used baking soda?

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Patty! Crisco seems to be a southern staple. 🙂 ~ karen!

    • Ev Wilcox says:

      Saved your recipe, but…How are they Baking Powder Biscuits with no baking powder?

    • TucsonPatty says:

      Obviously I was up too late – thanks for catching that mistake. Baking *Powder*, not baking soda! Oopsy!

  14. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    Loved your post!…Thank you!…The dresser was fab!…See ya!

  15. Auntiepatch says:

    Did Betty buy the Chicken Mask? Great for Halloween! What would Cuddles think of it? And did you buy the chicken pillow to protect her little chicken buns?

  16. Claire says:

    My mom is from Knoxville… I miss proper biscuits and gravy so much! Did you have/try any applebutter?

    • Karen says:

      I didn’t Claire. 🙁 I’ve had apple butter before, the Mennonites around here make and sell it. I’m not totally in love with it for some reason. Maybe I just need to try southern apple butter 😉 ~ karen!

  17. Rondina says:

    I love the idea of chess pie with ribs. Too bad I didn’t think of that one back when I could eat it.

    You didn’t get the chicken pillow, did you?

  18. Nancy C says:

    Grits… You have to use Chicken broth and Half and Half (or better yet heavy cream) to prepare them. Did you get any grits or can you purchase them in Canada? You put chicken broth in the water and when they start getting thick, you pour in some Half and Half and boil until you like the consistency. Throw in some real butter if you are going for the “Heart Stopper Special”. There is a reason we have more Cardiologists per square mile (or km for you) than the rest of the planet. Shrimp and Grits is fantastic. Sometimes the grits have gravy in them but that is not for me. Again, butter is just fine. I agree with Claire, apple butter is the topping for biscuits. Here is a link: http://www.food.com/recipe/crock-pot-apple-butter-93886. Thanks for your pics. Love the dresser. Consider Charleston, SC or Brookgreen Gardens near Myrtle Beach for your next visit. Y’all would make great Southerners.

  19. jainegayer says:

    Welcome back! Can’t wait to see your post on the perfect, fluffy biscuit recipe. I am already drooling.

  20. Jenny Brandon says:

    So glad you made it to the junkers and so sad you didn’t get ribs at Central BBQ. This is such a wonderful post! You really hit a lot of the places that make Memphis such a great place (and there’s still more). I’m going to have to try the grits with chicken broth (in comments) – maybe for dinner. Sounds too much like polenta to me. I like my grits with butter and S&P. I’m a transplanted Yankee for 30 years so I don’t know everything but I know what I like! Here’s another pie to try: Jefferson Davis Pie. It’s like pecan pie dressed up for the Miss Southern America pageant. Pecans, raisins, dates and sugary goodness. Just find a recipe online. There’s a chocolate version too but really, enough is enough. Thanks for making a great city sound and look great!

  21. Jillian says:

    So enjoyed your Memphis post! At first I was beginning to believe you only visited restaurants and nothing else! lol Which was fine by me since BBQ and Southern food are my favorites.
    And then you delightfully shared the rest of your trip (except Graceland which I heard is very commercial so no loss for me)….Blues is one of my favorite genre’s and am so jealous you were on Beale street! You have inspired me to visit and should be easy since I have a friend living in Nashville and my daughter lives in Lexington, not too far.
    I agree with Jackie and her mission to save Martin Luther King Jr. hotel. Thank you for supporting her.
    Please, tell your mom she radiates the energy of a 21 year old!
    Thank you, thank you for the joy you bring to me and your readers Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Well thanks Jillian! Glad you liked the post. And yes, Graceland is very, very, very commercial. I’m going to post about our trip their either tomorrow (if I have time to get it done today) or some time next week. ~ karen!

  22. Su says:

    I love the South…. in fact I believe in a previous life I was born and died there, especially in them Smokey Mts…. that be said every single time I venture south of the Ohio River, I start speaking Southern with a twang, I can’t help it, I’m not being disrespectful, it just happens…. bless my soul! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Su, the exact same thing happened to me. I’m good with accents and I think that’s part of it. By day 3 I had the accent and I felt like an idiot for it, lol. ~ karen!

  23. Mary W says:

    The secret to exceptional grits is fresh grits (old grits are horrible so keep fresh ones in freezer) water and butter AND cook and stir forever over low heat. SLOW cooking is the biggest secret. This makes creamy fluffy delicious grits that people think you have made with cream. EASY cheap delicious and you will be able to eat the whole pan full. IF you don’t, put the rest in the fridge until night, then slice, roll in egg then flour and fry. Fried grits are great leftovers with county cured ham and blackberry jelly or honey on a fresh biscuit. The best biscuit recipe is from Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia. I don’t know their recipe but if I did, I would weigh 300 pounds now.Just Saying. The dresser is wonderful but I know you could come up with a slightly different take on it and it would be wonder-fuller.

  24. Jenifer says:

    Omg!! I ADORE Betty’s retro glasses!!! Those (and the biscuits) would be worth the trip!! Love, love, love them!!

    BTW-I’ve never been able to make a good biscuit…not sure what I do wrong. Cheesecake? Check. Baklava? Check. 8-layer rainbow cake? Check. Biscuits? Not even close.

  25. SuzyMcQ says:

    Sorry, no biscuit recipe, but I’m thinking that a future project of a mixed-drawer dresser might be in your/our future? It’s got your style and sass written all over it! Start scouring the streets and flea markets for drawers……and, not the ones from Victoria’s Secret!

  26. marilyn says:

    fabulous trip! so glad y’all had so much fun!

  27. Ev Wilcox says:

    Thanks for sharing your southern vacation with us. I haven’t been to the south for years, and I miss it.
    I have started a file in my Recipes: Biscuits, for Karen, 09/2105. A recipe for “THE” biscuit has been a quest of mine for years. Have saved the two-hope more are on the way! Glad you ladies had a great time-you are a lucky woman to be able to do fun stuff with your mother and sisters. Well, have to check my supplies-must make biscuits!

  28. Tisha says:

    I think this is my favorite post of yours. It looks like you all had a great trip, and I can’t wait to see the Graceland photos! I went to Memphis in December 2009 to run the St. Jude half marathon, and really want to go back and visit again.

  29. Becky G. says:

    Great post, Karen! Anxiously awaiting the Graceland visit, and also, your experimenting (and winner!) of the best biscuit recipe ever! I’ve tried to make them and yeah, I don’t know, maybe there’s too much Canada in my veins and zero Deep South, but they weren’t that great. I would love to try some that are!

  30. Safetydog says:

    So glad you had a good time! My family has lived in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Mid-South (notice a trend here?), and the folks in the South are by far the friendliest. Your trip included everything – food, history, shopping, tourism. Glad to see you picked up on some Southern truths: mac and cheese is listed as a vegetable on menus, fried food is a staple at every meal, and “bless her heart” can also mean “she’s so dumb but I’ll act nice”. I should have suggested you try BBQ nachos – they are a Memphis specialty.

  31. Maria says:

    Wow. Just. Wow! Will have to come back to re-read, absorb, and savor. Then I
    will read all the comments (as I do on all your posts), because I’ve got to run out the door now. Be back later.

  32. judy says:

    I would love to visit Canada and enjoy an equally interesting experience as you have, what local area in Canada would have the same Historical feel of the people and an Era that was so influential it is memorialized in a whole town. We have been to many of our Historical sites but they tend to be more informative than fun. Do you have a musical star that is still as popular as Presley even though he has been dead for decades? And I live in Virginia and our heat is becoming as awful as too much cold and snow. Its hard to do anything out doors picnics- a walk, etc.

  33. ET says:


    Your trip looks like so much fun! I’d rather eat my way through any city (or country) than stand in lines just to look at something. Standing in line to eat is OK, though. As a Central Texan, I’m well-acquainted with good BBQ, and look forward to trying out Memphis’ style in the future.

    Nothing beats good homemade biscuits, but for a close, and much simpler, second, make them with Pioneer Biscuit Mix, NOT Bisquick. Bisquick is good for some things, but Pioneer makes much better biscuits. They are lighter and flakier than the competition. It may be a southern product, but I’d guess that Amazon sells it. You just mix Pioneer and milk -or heavy cream, if you dare – and stir until mixed well. Don’t over-mix. You can (1) put some dry mix on a board and plop the wet mixture on a board and roll and cut them out; (2) put a little dry mix in your hands and roll them out individually, or (3) be really lazy and just spoon them out into a greased pan or black skillet (for great bottom crust). Important step: Dip a spoon into bacon drippings or other oil and smear on top of each biscuit before baking. Split, butter and top with homemade preserves or sorghum syrup. I’m salivating!

  34. Julie says:

    I’m a Hoosier farm girl, raised on biscuits and gravy, and have looked high and low for the best biscuit recipe I can find. Don’t judge me, but the one I’m currently using starts with Bisquick. I’ll be anxious to try any that are posted here. The quest continues! In the meantime, here’s the Bisquick version:

    2 C. Bisquick
    2/3 C. buttermilk
    2 t. sugar
    1/4 t. salt
    2 T. melted butter, divided

    Combine all but 1 T. of the butter. Knead and roll out to about 3/4″. I cut mine in squares – no scraps to re-roll that way. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 450, then brush tops with remaining butter.

  35. Suzanne says:

    That’s AWESOME!! I’m glad you had great time! Thats sucks about the BBQ being dry. I do have to say that the smoke ring on your BBQ doesn’t necessarily indicate great BBQ. Its no longer a criteria in most BBQ competitions around here(Virginia). Theres a great special that Alton Brown made on Good Eats that talks a little about it. You can get it on Amazon(its not free though 🙁 )

  36. amy watson says:

    Oh, Karen you make me laugh……no real southerner would ever make buscuits with bisquick…..if they did they would not claim them as homemade from scrastch, there are as many ways to make biscuits as there are southern mamas…..it is something handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter, not a recipe as much as a technique. My mother had a wooden dough bowl, which is now mine…the ingredients are Martha White sr flour……whole milk buttermilk and crisco….cut the crisco into the flour until it is crumbly, make a well in the middle and pour in the buttermilk, then you start working that buttermilk into the flour until it feels right…from here you can plop it on a floured board roll it and cut biscuits, my mama did the “pinch and roll”…. she then put them in her greased and floured pan tapped them down with the back of her 4 fingers and bake until they look right…see it is more if a learned technique than a recipe, and it takes practice, but there is nothing better than a goid homemade southern biscuit with sausage gravy and scrambled eggs and grits…we have it for supper quite often….lm glad to see y’all enjoyed your trip down south….

  37. Tigersmom says:

    Ah, southern biscuits! I’m very well acquainted with them and have been all my life. So delicious with gravy or slathered with butter and honey or jam or pretty much damn near anything. So many different ways to enjoy them and all of them wonderful. Now I’ve got a craving for them.

    Looks like y’all had a great trip. Happy Birthday again, Betty!

  38. Chasity says:

    Thanks for stopping by The Junkin Jones Gang’s booth and sharing our Funky Chest. Nice meeting you and looking forward to your future posts

  39. Rachel says:

    So glad you had a good time in Memphis! I love the Rendevous flavoring but their ribs are too dry. Sorry you didn’t get a chance to try some of our juicier rib varieties.

  40. nancy says:

    Well, I am a Real (Lazy) Southerner and my poor little chirren were raised on Bisquick drop! biscuits. Such a reprobate. For weekends, I made Angel Fluff biscuits but that calls for sourdough starter. My dad claims to have invented this, but I see many recipes online. During one family reunion I turned out so many cast iron skillets of Angel Fluff biscuits I got the vapors.
    This past week we went to Vancouver BC and I had french fries covered with gravy and cheese curds. Very good, I think it’s called Poontang.

    • Karen says:

      LOL! It’s Poutine. Poontang is sort of crass slang for women’s lady parts, lol. Wow. There are so many things to be said here. Poutine is fries with gravy and cheese curds as you said and it used to only be popular in Quebec but over the last 10 or 15 years now you can find it almost anywhere. Sadly most places don’t use actual cheese curds and instead just use cheese which isn’t the same. Hope you got to try the real curds. ~karen!

    • LazySusan says:

      My husband laughed so hard when I read him your post, that I was concerned he wasn’t able to breathe. LOL

  41. Lydia says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post being from the South myself! I love biscuits, gravy and grits–although I don’t eat them very often. Alas, I do not have a biscuit recipe as I have never made them before. However, I have seen Dearing and Down play live earlier this year and they were fantastic!

  42. Allison says:

    Man, now I want biscuits!

    Also, masterful use of “y’all” and “bless your heart.”

    A Southern fan from Texas

  43. Scott says:

    Wow, What a great trip you had. I got full just reading your post. Thanks!

  44. Darla says:

    My husband has been wanting to go to Memphis for years, but I haven’t been too excited about it. Your trip has inspired me to say Yes to the trip. We always have biscuits (not homemade), sausage gravy, eggs, bacon and sausage at least once a week. I would love to find a great biscuit recipe so I will be looking forward to testing out your submissions!

  45. KHaze says:

    My name is Kenny Hays and I just wanted to thank you for the kind words about my art at Stock&Belle and I am so glad you enjoyed yourself in our little Town!!

    • Karen says:

      Kenny! Welcome to my site. If you have a website feel free to share it here so everyone can see more of your work. Did you also do the racket with flying guitar strings out of it at Stock and Belle? I would have bought it but it would have been squished in my carry on. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I saw it. ~ karen!

  46. Liz says:

    I’m sorry, I don’t know what it is but that beige breakfast photo is so gross…it makes me gag. Why can I look head on at pictures of Cuddles excrement with curiosity but can barely handle myself looking at that gravy bowl? …. Ok I revisited it. It’s because the eggs are still jiggly and the gravy looks like Campbell’s mushroom soup. 2 things I just can’t say yes to. Ever.

    • Karen says:

      Oh I wouldn’t say it’s appealing looking at all, lol. But my oatmeal was delicious and the biscuits were insane. But yeah … a beige plate of food isn’t the most appealing, lol. ~ karen

  47. FlagirlinTN says:

    If you liked Memphis, you’d LOVE Nashville. It’s worth the trip just to go to the Loveless Cafe. Home of the “Biscuit Lady”. http://www.lovelesscafe.com/

  48. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    Came home at lunch…..and finished the rest of the great comments!…Now I want to know how you make gravy from sausages?…Can’t quite figure that one, and I would love to know please!

  49. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    How could you possibly have that much fun without me??..lol..I had fun just reading this post..Awesome trip ladies…beautiful family picture…

  50. Cathy says:

    This midwesterner is celebrating her 64th year in NYC…my first trip to the BigApple!! What I lack in experience, I make up for with enthusiasm.
    Your post was so awesome, you could easily be a travel writer.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Cathy! Have fun in NYC. It’s a GREAT city. SO much going on that just walking down the street is an adventure. Love it. ~ karen!

  51. Milton says:

    Wonderful post on your trip to Memphis. Always glad when someone gets a favorable impression of my lifetime home. In the South, the Holy Grail of biscuit mixing has always been Martha White self-rising flour. Martha White is now owned by Pillsbury. My wife always made wonderful biscuits from scratch until she discovered Martha White, now Pillsbury, frozen Southern style biscuits. They are cooked frozen and produce a wonderful, light biscuit with absolutely no work, mess, or fuss. It is possible to make better from scratch, but my wife thought her time better spent on her pie crusts which nothing commercially available could ever touch. One of the best scratch biscuits recipes I’ve found is from Alton Brown:


    A wonderful side-by-side cooking video segment with Alton and his grandmother making recipes teachs you everything you need to know about technique:


    The Crisco shortening is an interesting aspect of Southern foodlore. Developed around 1905, Crisco is made from cottonseed. Had you gotten outside of Memphis, just South in the Mississippi Delta you would have seen miles of fields of white cotton bolls, almost like snow which would have warmed your heart and reminded you of Canada I’m sure. The cotton is picked and ginned to remove the seeds which are heated and pressed to produce an oil which is further chemically processed to yield Crisco. The town I grew up in had a Proctor and Gamble plant which processed cottonseed oil to make Crisco and every Fall you could smell the cottonseed oil in the air which gave the whole town an aroma of fried chicken being cooked. Crisco was originally marketed as a healthier alternative to Lard. Before that time, Lard produced from fat in all the pigs grown to produce the meat turned into all the barbeque and country ham eaten in the South was the universal cooking fat in the South. Many years later the issue of trans-fats turned the table on Crisco and it turns out Lard may be as healthy or healthier, who knows. Moderation in everything is probably the safest alternative.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Milton! That actually looks like a great recipe. I tried to watch the video but being in Canada it doesn’t seem as though I’m able to. Which is a shame because like making pastry or pasta I’m sure the technique is more than half the battle in making great biscuits. I’ll try Youtube and see if I can find it on there. ~ karen!

      • Milton says:

        Sorry about the video link, I tried to find it on YouTube with no luck. It is posted again on the cooking channel link, maybe that’s not banned in Canada.


        Worst case scenario, this is the complete word-by-word transcript of the video:


        Memphis was named for the ancient city of Egypt along another famous river which is the connection that the Pyramid is supposed to bring to mind. The Pyramid was originally built as a concert center and home for the Memphis State basketball team. Things didn’t work out and today it is a rather spectacular Bass Pro shop with the observation deck on top where you took your great selfie of the four sisters. I once attended a Bette Midler concert there where she came down from the ceiling at the center of the Pyramid to start the show in her fabulous costume riding a half-moon trapeze swing. The show was unbelievable, she brought the house down with the Janis Joplin tune “Midnight in Memphis”. I think you kind of captured the same overall vibe in your post about Memphis.

        All of which was to lead me to the subject of grits which you briefly touched upon but which, like biscuits, are a mainstay of diet in the South. Some people form opinions without having all sides of the story, kind of like your visit to the Lorraine Motel (the only thing that could have made that picture more iconic would have been if you had your Junkers T-shirt on), and grits have gotten a bad rap in the past. Bette Midler was once quoted as saying grits tasted like “buttered kitty litter” to her. Undoubtedly, she only tasted “instant grits” which is a bad way to try grits and bears only a nomenclature connection to real grits. The best grits I’ve ever tasted were stone-ground from the Georgia Agricultural Museum in Tifton, GA:


        They require more effort in cooking but give you an instant taste of their origin from sweet corn that is wonderful with only sweet butter, salt and pepper. Settlers undoubtedly loved it to preserve the taste of sweet corn throughout the winter.

        Some say grits are the first truly American food. Native American Indians offered early settlers a steaming food substance consisting of softened corn, the earliest form of hominy, seasoned with salt and fat, probably bear grease (No lard, pigs weren’t native- brought over by early Spanish explorers). Settlers liked it and added it to their diet, later developing milling processes to grind into a finer texture which became the grits we’ve eaten in the South ever since. All sorts of chefs now create many variations of fancy grits recipes, many with cheese, but sausage gravy or country ham red eye gravy are the only things that I regularly enjoy with my grits.

  52. Stephanie says:

    Glad you had a great trip. But here mostly to say: I WANT THAT DRESSER. I am in love. How far is it to drive from Mississauga I wonder? Would they hold it for me? I am only half kidding. Love Chicken Betty and her new glasses!! My friend went to Vegas, found a pair like that in a new eye glass shop and ordered them with her reading prescription. I am sure Betty paid no where near what my friend paid ($500 – ssshhh don’t tell her I told you! Yup $500 for reading glasses….)

  53. Sylvia says:

    Reading about your trip brings back fond memories of the time my family and I went to Memphis. We had an amazing time and Graceland was incredible, which surprised us all, since we are not huge Elvis fans. Anyhow, noticing the yuengling lager in one pic. Great beer right? Only available in the USA. I always bring up a case when I go stateside.

  54. Jennie Lee says:

    Since I was born in Tennessee, I feel an irrational sense of pride, hearing that you had such a nice visit. As for Sun Records; if you haven’t heard Howlin’ Wolf sing “Smokestack Lightning”, you should. In case you somehow didn’t hear, B. B. King got his name from being called Beale Street Blues Boy, in his youth. My maternal grandmother made great biscuits, as well as fried apple fritters. Although it may be unsouthern of me, I don’t like gravy; I prefer butter and honey on my biscuits. If you’re ever lucky enough to find pear preserves, grab some. It tastes like honey and cinnamon. If you have no biscuit cutter, you can easily make one from a section of tin can; a ring that’s sharp on the bottom edge and has the rounded rim on top for protection. Yes, biscuits are not sweet, like scones. Southern cornbread is not sweet, either. It’s made with yellow cornmeal,; no sugar. My relatives called sweet cornbread “Yankee cornbread”, and said if it was sweet, it was cake, not bread. It’s good with any beans, including green beans cooked with ham or bacon. I still can’t believe you didn’t get that chicken pillow. Now you must make one! For when Cuddles isn’t feeling cuddly.

    • nancy says:

      In Louisiana we NEVER ate gravy on biscuits either, butter and honey, butter and jelly, butter and cold orange marmalade (my favorite).

  55. cheryl seals says:

    WOW , Sounds like a great trip with some fun ol’ Gals ! The custard pie is one of my hubby’s fav’s an I have made probably 50 of them ( no kidding) since Nov. of last year ! He says I make a mean pie especially the custard one, which by the way I think he does so I will keep making them ! Two in the oven as we speak….I found the pictures of the doll heads with assorted lids on their heads to be a little creepy, but it is almost halloweenie ! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into a wonderfull trip even when we couldn’t be there with you !

  56. JulieD says:

    mmm-mmm what a post! I had to make biscuits and homemade sausage patties for dinner after reading it! My family thanks you.
    I’ve got a pretty good recipe for biscuits- easy to remember too. I call them 1-2-3/4 biscuits, and they are easier than making a pie crust. Once memorized, you can have a dozen ready for the oven before it’s even done preheating.
    1 stick of unsalted butter- (4oz)
    1 tsp salt
    2 c. flour all purpose, (or you can get fancy and use ½ all-purpose and ½ cake flour to lower the protein, thus making a more delicate biscuit)
    ¾ c milk
    4 tsp baking powder
    That’s the order I remember the ingredients in, since it’s 1-2-3/4. If I was writing it out properly, it would go:
    2c flour
    1 tsp salt
    4 tsp baking powder
    1 stick of very cold unsalted butter ( 4oz)
    ¾ c milk
    Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
    Mix together first four ingredients in a bowl, cut the cold butter into pieces, and cut into flour mixture as if you’re making pie crust. (when making a double or triple batch, I use my Cuisinart on pulse for this step.)Stir the milk in with a large wooden spoon to make a dough. Roll out on flour covered surface into a rectangle about ½” thick. At this point you can cut out your biscuits if you want. Or, for biscuits with lots of distinct layers, fold the dough rectangle into thirds, turn a quarter turn, and roll out again into a rectangle, fold into thirds, and turn a quarter turn, roll again, etc Do this three or four times and then cut out your biscuits. Nestle the rounds up next to each other on a parchment covered or ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Coat the tops with butter when they come out of the oven.

    For even faster biscuits, without the mess of rolling them out, use this same recipe, but with 1 cup of milk instead of 3/4. Drop on parchment lined or greased baking sheet with an ice cream scoop, leaving a couple inches between each mound of dough, and bake at 400°F until done- about 20 minutes or so. I use these warm from the oven for strawberry shortcake. Not too sweet, and so good.

  57. Stephbo says:

    What?? All that BBQ and NO BANANA PUDDING?!?!? That’s sacrilegious, my friend. There’s nothing like homemade banana pudding. The best I’ve ever had was made by an older African American woman who was as wide as she was tall. Miss Georgia, God bless her.

  58. Gillian says:

    Loved the dresser.

    The doll heads are creepy.

    Excellent restraint on the necklace. I’d have had a hard time too. Especially since you’ve got such a great book case to display it in…..

    I agree with Jacqueline. Although I don’t know what Martin Luther King would have wanted I think she’s probably got a better idea than the people who turned it into a museum.

    FinaLly, Betty looked 21 to me! I think it must be the glasses. ?

    I’m glad you all had a good time. Someday soon I’ll get there too!

    • Karen says:

      Yeah it’s a tough call. I really wanted to see the Civil Rights Museum, but not going into it somehow seemed the Civil thing to do. ~ karen!

  59. Stephbo says:

    *Horrified GASP*. Banana pudding is heaven in a bowl. Pudding, just slightly overripe bananas, whipped cream, and Nilla wafers all mushed together. You really have been deprived. Bless your heart.

  60. Bobbi says:

    My granny made banana pudding with meringue on top. In an enormous bowl that she put under the broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown the meringue. Layer of homemade vanilla pudding, layer of bananas, layer of vanilla wafers. Repeat until the top of bowl is reached. Top with meringue. Yummy.

  61. connie says:

    Ok Karen , you’ve convinced me .
    I’ve decided after reading this I ‘m going to add Memphis to my bucket list. I too luv Elvis and what’s not to love about BBQ and biscuits? Yummm! I ‘m trying my hand with the 1-2-3/4 biscuits recipe tomorrow 🙂

    • Karen says:

      It was fun! We probably spent one more day than we needed to there. Fly there on a Friday and fly home on Monday. And always be aware. Memphis is a dangerous city so just don’t go wandering off dark alleys. ~ karen!

  62. Ann Brookens says:

    The main secret to flakey biscuits is roll them out and fold them over, roll them out, fold them over, roll them out, fold them over…that’s how they get those layers in there. Or, as with pie crust, they can have pockets where the bits of shortening that were lightly cut into the flour have melted. The best biscuits I ever had were made with lard, not shortening. However, lard gives you gas. I think that’s why Hardee’s stopped using lard for their biscuits. (Well, that and vegetarians refusing to buy them.)
    The recipe I use came from Betty Crocker, and I can remember it because it is a one two three recipe: 1 tsp. salt, 2 cups flour, 3 tsps. baking powder. Mix together well, then add 1/4 c. shortening and 3/4 c. milk OR 1/3 c. vegetable oil and 2/3 c. milk. (I can remember the milk/fat equals 1 cup!) The oil makes the dough soft enough for drop biscuits, the shortening dough needs to be rolled or patted out and cut. Don’t forget to roll and fold several times! Bake at 450 F for 10-12 minutes. I put them on a cookie sheet instead of in a pan because I like them browned all the way around.

  63. Mindy says:

    The fact that you just ate biscuits and gravy for the first time in your life makes me want to cry. I made them for breakfast this last weekend. Favorite breakfast food ever.

    • Karen says:

      Gravy as a breakfast food is really effin’ weird for me, lol. LOVED the biscuits. Still haven’t tried to make them, but when I do I’ll be eating them with butter I think. And jam. If they work well I’ll be making them for Thanksgiving dinner. Is that an acceptable use of biscuits? Y’all. ~ karen!

      • Mindy says:

        We had biscuits with butter and homemade raspberry jam with dinner last night, so definitely acceptable.
        As for the gravy, it has pork BREAKFAST sausage in it. I always add brown sugar or maple syrup to mine. Good shit, kids.

  64. Jinanne says:

    Memphis is my hometown. What a fantastic city…..years ago. Not now. Yes, there’s plenty of history and southern charm, not to mention a plethora of food joints and restaurants. Unfortunately, it is for the most part unsafe. I have stories. Personal stories. They aren’t pretty. Sure, take a spin, but BEWARE….as with most cities you need to know your territory before venturing, and stay in groups. (P.S….Nashville is a beautiful and fascinating southern charmer, my long-time home following college.)
    Biscuits? Holy, moly, I’ve even taught biscuit classes! My friends know they’ll receive a batch along with any illness or celebration. It’s just what I do. And as EASY and cheap as it is, it’s also the ultimate pleaser: One basket, one Dollar Store tea towel, one jar of jam, and a dozen homemade biscuits. Why, you’re popularity will soar even if your politics don’t. Here’s the winner. Just ask my friends. And trust me, once you get the knack, it’s a blindfold happening….easy-peasy:

    USE WHITE LILY FLOUR if at all possible (lightest grain soft winter wheat)
    2 cups self-rising flour
    1/2 stick butter (or 1/4 Crisco and 1/4 butter)
    2/3 to 3/4 cups buttermilk

    Cut COLD butter into the flour with a hand pastry blender until pea-size crumbs.
    Pour COLD buttermilk over the mixture.
    Stir LIGHTLY until incorporated. Flour your hands. PAT ingredients together.
    Wet the counter with drops of water. Adhere sheet of wax paper 14 X 14.
    Sprinkle extra SR flour loosely over adhered wax paper.
    Dump mixture onto wax paper.
    LIGHTLY, working from outside the flour mixture, form a mound.
    Sprinkle extra SR flour over the mound and your hands.
    GENTLY incorporate the dough/buttermilk….GENTLY! NO heavy-handed manipulation or kneading. (Pretend its a hot mess, and you’ll get burned if you touch too severely.)
    Work lightly to make a flour mound…not a smooth dough ball.
    Keep PATTING and molding into a 1″ thick mound (or crispier biscuits 3/4″).
    Continually dip biscuit cutter (or small glass) into extra flour.
    Cut desired size biscuits.
    Place biscuits in pan with melted butter.
    (Sides touching for soft biscuits, 1″ apart for crisp)
    Bake 8-10 min or until golden brown

    Brought to you with extreme gratitude to precious my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother (who lived to 107 and alone until 100) who paved the way for my love of biscuit making!
    Bake in 500 degree oven (YES, 500 degrees) 8-10 minutes

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