Thursday, June 17, 2010


“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” - Mark Twain

As yet, there have been no such reports - exaggerated or not - at least as far as my own death is concerned. And I’ll be perfectly content to keep it that way.

As far as Blog d’Elisson is concerned, however, it is a different story. This is my last post on this site.

Oh, do not weep for my silly little blog. I will continue my Bloggy Activities elsewhere. My new site, Lost in the Cheese Aisle, is up and running, and I hope you will take the time to update your blogrolls, RSS feeds, subscriptions, and what-not. So if this exercise in Self-Aggrandizement and Time-Wastage has appealed to you, you won’t miss a thing. The main difference between Bd’E and Lost in the Cheese Aisle is the name. (Well, that and the URL.) Same shit, different place.

Why change? Inquiring minds, I am sure, will want to know. There are two main reasons.

One, I have never really liked the title of this blog. It’s lame. Originally, it was going to be a placeholder until I could think of something I liked better, and then I just got lazy. Whereas “Lost in the Cheese Aisle” is better reflective of my state of mind most days... it’s how the Missus describes me when I’m walking around in a state of mental befoggedness.

Two, I wanted to go back to the Blogger commenting system. Sure, it sucks... but not as much as Echo. I was perfectly happy with the Haloscan commenting I had installed almost six years ago, but when Echo took over Haloscan, they discarded every useful feature and replaced them with Utter Shit. Echo is user-unfriendly and a general Pain in the Ass. Ditching it is a fine side effect of switching to a new site.

If you wanted a third reason, how ’bout “Skippy did it”? He is none the worse for wear after killing off his old Enjoy Every Sandwich site and replacing it (after a brief hiatus) with Postcards of the Hanging. So there is that.

Sometimes change - shaking things up, moving on - can spur one on to greatness. At the very least, it’s one way to escape the status quo and preserve the illusion of personal progress... to get out of one’s old rut, thus enabling one to begin scraping out a new one.

I have been writing here for almost six years, logging almost 450,000 site visits and slapping up 4,000 posts. It’s time to start stinking up another crib.

See you on the other side. Vale atque ave.


Those of us who have taken a few trips around the Sun have seen plenty of progress over the years. But it’s a two-edged sword, this business of progress. While some changes improve our lives in ways small and great, as we watch new technologies overtake old, some things are, inevitably, lost.

I have a device in my pocket that’s roughly the size of a candy bar. With it, I can talk to almost anyone I care to, anywhere in the world. I can send written messages. I can look at a map and get directions to almost anyplace. I can reserve a table at a restaurant, book a hotel room, buy an airline ticket. I can program my DVR (another new piece of technology undreamed of a couple of decades ago) to record my favorite television programs. I can maintain a calendar, send birthday greetings, take a photograph and send it anywhere on Earth. I can even pay my bills.

Paying bills. Now, there’s a task that technology has made somewhat less of a burden. Used to be, I’d sit down at my desk with a stack of bills twice a month, writing checks, sealing envelopes, affixing stamps and return address labels, keeping the check register. It was a huge pain in the ass.

Now, I log on to my bank’s website, open up my online banking screen, grab the mouse, clickety-click, and I’m done. Hours worth of toil, reduced to mere minutes. Of course, I still have to make sure there’s actually money in the account with which to pay those bills, but that’s a problem we all must grapple with, technology or no.

Over a century ago, people were writing checks. Witness:

Postcard 1892
A bank draft written in 1892. [Click to embiggen.]

It’s a postcard - a postcard! - from one W. B. Baker to D. Y. & R. R. Dancy of Savannah, Georgia. Notice the sparse address: just the name and city.  Good luck trying that today.

It reads: Feb 2nd 1892.; Gents - Have this day drawn on you favor Solomon & Co. for $32.18.  Please honor and oblige.

Nothing less than a polite written request for Messrs. Dancy to pay Solomon & Co.  A bank draft.  A check.  No account number... but in those days, people knew their bankers personally, and vice versa.

I fear the days are long gone when one could write such instructions on a postcard - anyone could read it! - and reasonably expect that it would end up in the hands of the correct recipient, who would then follow those instructions promptly.  And yet, I do not mourn.  I push a button; I pay my bills.  I am happy; my creditors are happy.

But what I do miss is the penmanship.  Look at the beautiful copperplate handwriting, the flowing letters, the whorls and curves of the signature.  The Palmer method and its brethren are arts that have been lost to the ages.  Do they even teach cursive writing in school any more?  Or has it gone the way of the Buggy-Whip?


Eric, that most esteemed Tennessee Renaissance Man, knows his way around a grill. Those of us fortunate enough to have attended his legendary birthday parties know that when it comes to grilling tender, succulent chops, the Straight White Grillmeister is at the top of his game... and She Who Must Be Obeyed still raves about a sirloin steak he prepared for her several months ago.

But, until this week, Eric had never tried to grill a whole yardbird. It was left to old Uncle Elisson to show him how.

It may come as a revelation to some folks that chickens may be purchased all of a piece: a whole, fresh (not frozen) bird. Rather than hacking the beast into convenient edible component parts - breasts, thighs, drumsticks and such - the bird’s head is removed and jammed into the empty Entrail-Cavity along with the neck, gizzard, heart and liver (collectively known as the giblets), after which the whole mess is conveniently vacuum-packed in thick plastic film. Whether they call it a fryer, broiler, roaster, or whatever-the-fuck, it’s nought but a whole chicken.

Whole chickens are fine for roasting, or for converting into chicken soup... but it’s another matter entirely when you want to grill them. Their shape does not lend itself to easy grilling, being somewhat akin to a hollow football with wings and legs. But you can fix that.

First, you take the chicken out of its plastic wrappings. (Grilling the bird while it’s still encased in polyethylene does little to improve its flavor.) Reach into the cavity and yank out the giblets while you’re at it. I like to save ’em: the liver can be sautéed in a little olive oil or butter with a dab of sage, while the other bits and pieces can go into the stockpot.

Now it’s time to do some back-cracking. If you like living dangerously, you can use a meat cleaver, but I rely on my trusty Oxo Good Grips Professional Poultry Shears for this job. The heavy, curved blade cuts through bones with ease, and the whole thing disassembles easily for cleaning.

Lay the bird down with its ass-end facing you and with the backbone on top. Take those shears and cut toward the neck alongside the backbone. Now cut along the other side of the backbone to remove it. Save the backbone for the stockpot.

Now flatten the bird and turn it so its inside is on top. Cut in the center and remove the V-shaped keelbone. You can now flatten that sucker out like a book.

By way of a rub, I took a teaspoon of ground cumin and toasted it in a skillet. To this I added four chopped garlic cloves garlic, a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, and a teaspoon of pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika). All of this went into a mortar along with the juice of one lime (I also like to use lemon, adding the zest as well) and a tablespoon or two of extra-virgin olive oil. After mashing everything together, I rubbed the chicken with the resulting Flavor-Paste and let it sit at room temperature for two hours prior to throwing it on the grill. (Refrigerate it if you’re going to prepare the bird more than two hours in advance.)

Spatchcocked Chicken
A spatchcocked yardbird, ready for the grill.

When it came to the actual grilling process, we got the grill’s temp up to 350°F and placed the chicken on a high grate, well away from the direct heat of the flame. Turning the bird every fifteen minutes or so, it took about an hour to finish it, with crisp, flavorful skin, dark meat cooked through... and yet with surprisingly moist white meat.

It was a perfect companion to the brace of sirloin steaks Eric had prepared... and for the grilled, sliced summer squash, and the roasted asparagus.

They say you can’t teach an old bird dawg new tricks, but I’ll be surprised if our Tennessee Renaissance Man doesn’t try one of these bad boys again real soon. He’s got the tools for the job.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It being our thirty-third wedding anniversary this past Saturday, we decided to celebrate by spending the night at a Fancy-Ass Hostelry. For nothing helps you escape the drudgery of the day-to-day than a night away from home. And if your quotidian existence is pleasant, why, so much the better.

In preparation for our Mini-Honeymoon, I had, a week or so prior, booked us in at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Buckhead. We had stayed there a few times before - once in the 1980’s, once in the late ’90’s - for similar occasions and had had good experiences both times. And so, the Ritz it was.

Every once in a while, we are compelled to stay in an upscale hotel. Several months ago, the daughter of some good friends of long standing had scheduled a wedding at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta. Rather than simply drive down, attend the wedding and reception, and then drive home, we had elected to stay at the hotel. Self indulgent? Of course... but that way we could drink ourselves silly without worrying about navigating anything more challenging than an elevator. And the Four Seasons, being one of the finer lodgings in town, was a delightful place for a getaway, albeit a short one.

The Ritz-Carlton, however, is another story entirely. For as nice as the Four Seasons is, the Ritz takes it up to another level entirely by adding a whole new dimension of Ass-Kissage.

There is an entire cadre of nattily attired hotel employees whose sole function is administering frequent and carefully aimed Buttock-Busses at every opportunity, the better to fill their guests with a completely unjustified sense of self-importance. You are assumed to be the completely helpless sort of royalty, incapable of the simplest task - such as opening a door.  Uniformed attendants are there to do it for you.

A personal greeting is ever on the lips of the Ritz Employee:

“Good afternoon, Mr. Elisson.”

“Good morning, Mr. Elisson. I trust you slept well?”

“Good evening, Mr. Elisson. Will you be needing any assistance in wiping your bottom?”

Upon arriving in our room, instead of the usual couple of chocolate bits on the pillows, there was a box of chocolates that looked more like futuristic science-fictional Choco-Pills. Too beautiful to eat, they were.

Fancy-Pants Chocolates
Chocolates? Miniature works of art? Or Future-Pills?

We did more than simply lounge around the hotel sucking up the obsequiousness, however. I had reserved a table at Rathbun’s, Kevin Rathbun’s eponymous eatery; Rathbun, a great big bear of a man with whom I feel an especial kinship owing to his willingness to wear a perforated metallic chapeau, is one of the local Cheffy Luminaries in Atlanta. Two years ago, he and his brother Kent defeated Iron Chef Bobby Flay in “Battle Elk” on Iron Chef America, a Useless Fact considering that I was planning to order lamb, not elk.

The meal was ridiculously good. An appetizer of raw ahi tuna cubes with razor-thin slices of Serrano peppers, a dusting of sea salt, and some blood orange slices was a perfect palate sharpener. She Who Must Be Obeyed ordered the smoked beef brisket in aged sherry vinegar BBQ (superb), while I opted for the Australian lamb chops. One of Rathbun’s whimsically-titled “Second Mortgage” plates, this was nothing less than three (count ’em) double-cut chops, seared to a perfect medium-rare, drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and served atop a pile of wild mushrooms sautéed in a heavy cast-iron skillet. Outstanding, it was... especially washed down with lashings of a 2007 Ramspeck Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Instead of dessert, SWMBO was tempted by the eggplant steak fries: lightly beaded batons of aubergine, fried crisp and dusted with 10x confectioner’s sugar, then served alongside a white-hot, sinus-clearing habanero dipping sauce. Yummy.

Atlanta Night Skyline

After enjoying a few after-dinner coffees, we wound our way back to the Ritz for a series of polite door-openings, obsequious greetings, and a nightcap. And later, from our room, the Atlanta skyline glowed...
* * *
The next morning, we lounged around and enjoyed a few hours of quiet Ritzian luxury prior to having the Mistress of Sarcasm join us for the celebrated Ritz-Carlton Sunday brunch.

The Ritz, it should be explained, lays on a spectacular all-you-care-to-eat foodfest every Sunday morning. It’s a monument to excess, a veritabobble Groaning Board of treats, meats, sweetmeats; breadstuffs, charcuterie, cheeses; prepared dishes, fishes, and pretty much anything else you might desire. It ain’t inexpensive... but then again, it’s something we allow ourselves only on rare occasions. Rare, indeed: The last time we had done a Ritz-Brunch was fully a quarter-century ago.

There is a strategy associated with the Sunday Brunch. People who go cruising in with slavering jaw, empty plate in hand and hungry look on face, will inevitably be disappointed at the end of the day, having filled themselves with English muffins, cantaloupe chunks, Belgian waffles, made-to-order omelettes, pancakes, lumps of sausage, and rashers of bacon.

Yes, they have pancakes. Yes, they have waffles. Yes, they have sausage and bacon.

Fuck that. I can get pancakes at Shoney’s. I can have the free breakfast at any randomly-selected Hampton Inn and get a perfectly good Belgian waffle in exchange for the minor inconvenience of making it myself. But when I am at the Ritz, I am going to save my appetite for the Ritzy Grub.

Caviar, f’r instance. Three kinds of fresh caviar, served with quarter-sized blini (Russian yeast-raised buckwheat pancakes), and the usual accoutrements: chopped egg, onion, sour cream, et alia. Without being too much of a slob about it, I make sure my personal supply of caviar never runs dry.

Smoked trout? Check. Smoked salmon? Check. Smoked mussels, shrimp, scallops? Check checkity check. Sushi? Gigantic boiled shrimp? Oh, yeah.

Macaroni and cheese? Normally, having mac and cheese at a buffet is a honkin’ waste of time. But this was lobster and truffle mac and cheese. Oooooh.

Prime rib? Maybe a dab. Grilled sea bass? Aw, why not? Country pâté, exotic salamis, rare cheeses? Somebody stop me!

Perhaps a martini glass full of gazpacho... with a golf ball-sized chunk of fresh lump crabmeat floating in it. Yowza.

By using my Focused Foraging™ method, zeroing in on expensive, tasty protein instead of cheap filler, I not only get my money’s worth at a Fancy-Ass Buffet - I have a satisfying, reasonably healthy meal. Plus, I get to watch as the Mistress plows through the gorgeous, intricate, jewel-like desserts.

The folks at the Ritz-Carlton were all too accommodating, allowing us a late checkout that gave us plenty of buffet attack time. And then, on the way out, they offered to take our picture... a souvenir of the visit, a Parting (Snap) Shot, if you will.

Ritzy El and the Girls
The Parting (Snap) Shot... Yours Truly with SWMBO and the Mistress of Sarcasm.

A weekend to remember? You bet it was.

Saturday, June 12, 2010



1,041,400,800 seconds.

17,356,680 minutes.

289,278 hours.

12,053 days.

33 years.

That’s how long She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have been married, as of today.

Time flies when you’re having fun. I remember our wedding day as if it were yesterday. (Keep in mind that I sometimes cannot remember what I had for breakfast yesterday.)

And if I could choose whether to do it all over again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Once upon a time, the funnies were filled with funny words.

Of course, if you say any word enough times, it begins to sound completely ridiculous.

Try it. Pick a word at random, then say it about twenty times.


Shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt shirt.

Pretty silly, eh?

Given that you can take almost any regular, everyday word and render it laughable, imagine creating your own silly words... and having them burned into the consciousness of millions of people over a long period of time. That’s the legacy of the great comic strips of the past.

Zippy 12/28/06
Zippy, 28 December 2006. ©2006 King Features Syndicate. [Click to embiggen.]

Bill Griffith’s Zippy may very well be the finest meta-comic strip out there. Above, Griffith reminisces about the great nonsense words and phrases the comics have contributed to the popular culture. How many of them do you remember?

Arnold Zwicky, in a post from early 2007, provides the backstory for the words in Griffith’s strip. You may be surprised to learn that the use of the word “Jeep” in Elzie Segar’s immortal Thimble Theatre strip (birthplace of Popeye and his assorted hangers-on) predated its use to describe the G.P. (General Purpose) vehicle of WWII.

One of the great coiners of nonsense phrases was the late Bill Holman, creator of Smokey Stover. Holman popularized the word “Foo” (see if you can count how many times it appears in the strip below) - a word that was picked up in WWII and used to describe mysterious aerial phenomena or UFO sightings (“foo fighters”).

Smokey Stover, 1941
Smokey Stover. ©1941 News Syndicate Co., Inc. [Click to embiggen.]

Notary Sojac. 1506 Nix Nix. Those nutty phrases flew from Holman’s prolific, pun-packed pen. Finding them buried in a Sunday Smokey Stover comics page was one of the small joys of childhood for me.

What dopey Comical Catchwords do you remember?

Thursday, June 10, 2010



The ever-vigilant Hakuna sits by the front door, ready to get a Big Tail at the sight of any flower-munching rabbits.

Update: Friday Ark #299 is open for business over at the Modulator.

This Sunday, be sure to check out Carnival of the Cats, the 326th edition of which will be hosted by that most irrepressible Nikita over at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.

Update: CotC #326 is up... with Hakuna in pole position!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010



An Elisson-eye view of my bathroom scale this morning.

The last time that number had a seven in the tens column, it was sometime in the 1980’s. After that, my inner slob took over.

I’m down twenty-eight pounds now - about six away from my goal. At my current rate, I ought to get there around the beginning of July. Wish me luck.


The fare we enjoy during our annual Alabama Golf Outings ranges, as such things tend to do, from the ridiculous to the sublime.

We’ve had tough, gristle-packed steaks at chain restaurants... and, sometimes at the same place on the same evening, others that were “like buttah.”

We’ve traveled to the nasty parts of town for barbecue... because that’s where the best barbecue places are supposed to be. But sometimes it turns out to be more miscue than barbecue.

This year we hit a place called the Golden Rule in Pell City, a wide spot in the road somewhere roughly midway between Opelika and Huntsville. Bartimus Magnificus, a native of Birmingham, gave it the thumbs-up - he had known the place back when it was a one-location operation in Irondale. And, for once, Bart picked a winner. It was no Goode Company, but then again, we weren’t in Texas... and the collard greens were superb.

The next night, instead of the usual eat-a-steak-at-the-faux-Australian-chain-restaurant routine, we got adventurous. Big Marty had done some Internet research and had found a joint called the Po Boy Factory. N’Awlins-style food in northeastern Alabama? We were skeptical, but figured what the hell.

Surprise! This place was the Real Thing, a little chunk of Louisiana in a completely unexpected place. And the food was terrific.

A mess o’ mudbugs, AKA crawfish.

In addition to the expected assortment of po boy and muffuletta sandwiches, the PBF offered piles of boiled shrimp and crawfish, excellent gumbo and jambalaya, and blackened mahi mahi for those who wished something a little less traif. For dessert? Bread pudding with whiskey sauce, along with an assortment of pies... for those who still had the Gut-Room to indulge.

The thing that made the Po Boy Factory stand out, even more than the food, was the friendly, down-home attitude of the staff. It’s a family operation, and it showed.

Po Boy Factory
Big Marty, Bartimus Maximus, Marie Thigpen (owner of the Po Boy Factory), and Houston Steve.

Beat the crap out of that faux-Ozzie steak place, to say the least.

Monday, June 07, 2010


A bean is a bean, but a pea is a relief.

      - Billie Bob z''l

Legumes, legumes
Enhance cardiac health
The more one consumes
The less one is able to pass flatus in stealth

      - Elisson

The Missus was inspired, the other day, to make a Four-Bean Salad. Having no recipe handy, she just made one up on the fly.

Four-Bean Salad

Black beans, little white beans, little red beans, garbanzos, all rinsed and drained... sliced red and yellow peppers... a few sliced sun-dried tomatoes... chopped basil, flat-leaf parsley, and shallot... a light dusting of garlic powder... a little extra virgin olive oil... a splash of red wine vinegar. Let it all sit for a few hours for the flavors to get comfortable with one another. That’s it: easy-peasy.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


The wildlife was in abundance this weekend as we hacked our way around Hampton Cove, the Huntsville, Alabama outpost of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Some scene-setting is in order. Alabama, home of the aforementioned Trail, offers excellent golf on challenging layouts, all at reasonable prices... and so, once a year, I join a small army of Golf-Playing Idiots on a westward trek to the Heart of Dixie.

Golfy Boyz 2010
Small army of Golf-Playing Idiots. (I’m in the back.)

This year’s trip was was a step-out improvement over those of previous years. First, we had good luck with the weather. A nasty, wet forecast for Friday never materialized - we had a few sprinkles to deal with, but nothing serious. Also, temperatures remained moderate, a rare pleasure for an Alabamian June. But most important was our wise decision to limit our play to eighteen holes a day. In past years, we would cram ninety holes into three days in what could best be described as a sort of Golfy Demolition Derby that would cover the entire spectrum from fun to work to torture. This time, sanity prevailed.

Friday, we played the Links course at Grand National in Opelika. We always say, “what happens in Opelika stays in Opelika,” which means I don’t have to mention the complete absence of my short game skills that day.


That evening, a scenic drive on the back roads took us to Huntsville, way up in the northeastern corner of the state. Huntsville is famous for being the home of the Redstone Arsenal and the United States Space and Rocket Center, as well as the landing area for scores of Nazi rocket scientists after WWII under Operation Paperclip. With all that German brainpower around, U.S. efforts to develop ICBM technology during the early years of the Cold War naturally were centered in what became popularly known as “Rocket City, U.S.A.”

We had no time to screw around with rockets on this trip, however.

Hampton Cove boasts two full-size layouts: the Highlands and the River courses. The River was especially fearsome. Despite a complete absence of sand bunkers, water came into play on sixteen of the eighteen holes. It’s not a course for the faint of heart... and yet, it is one of those completely unexplainable Mysteries of Nature that I shot my best-ever RTJ Trail round there. Who’da thunkit?

The River
Where the hell did my ball go? The river knows...

Aside from seeing thirty-six golf holes over the weekend, we saw an exceptional abundance of wildlife.

There were geese:

Golfy Geese

There were ducks:

Ma and Pa Mallard

There was the occasional heron:


But perhaps most surprising was the presence of a profusion of papillons. Butterflies! They were everywhere, often congregating in groups. Tiger swallowtails, black swallowtails, admirals, painted ladies, you name ’em.

I saw this group of black swallowtails clustered together and grabbed a photo:


As I snapped the shutter, I could see that these beautiful insects were roosting upon a chunk of Animal Spoor. Shit! And that’s when I realized that the gossamer-winged butterfly will sometimes eschew his usual delicate sips of flower-nectar in favor of a more earthy dinner. In that wise, he is very like us humans: So often do we decline to reach for the stars, preferring to grub in the dirt.

Call it a moral lesson, one of the world’s Essential Truths. Butterflies, however beautiful, are still flies.

Friday, June 04, 2010


I neglected to post the usual Friday Random Ten last week owing to our being out-of-town... and, after receiving hundreds of angry e-mails, I won’t be letting that happen again anytime soon.


But, after all, it is Friday again... and you’ll be wanting some Choons fresh outta the Little White Choon-Box, won’t you?

Here we go:
  1. Mr. Moonlight - The Beatles

    From the Beatles For Sale album, probably the weakest one in their entire discography.

  2. Idioteque - Radiohead

  3. Backed Up - Bill Hicks

  4. Lovers & Pinheads - Bobby Slayton

  5. Common Sense - Michael Leviton

  6. Lautturin Viivat - Alamaailman Vasarat

  7. Golden Birdies - Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

    Those little golden birdies - look at them

    And the mystic Egypt tassel dangling down
    Old sleeper-man shish, don’t wake him
    Up one hand broom star was an obi-man
    Revered throughout the bone-knob land
    His magic black purse slit creeped open,
    Let go flocks of them

    Shish sookie singabus
    Snored like a red merry-go-round horse
    And an acid gold bar swirled up and down,
    Up and down, in back of the singabus
    And the pantaloon duck white goose neck quacked
    Webcor, webcor

  8. Green Earrings - Steely Dan

  9. Psycho Killer - Talking Heads

  10. Stagger Lee - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

    Hmmm... two songs in a row having to do with murderous head-cases. Yowza!

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, June 03, 2010


There’s an old saying: The cobbler’s children have no shoes. Whether that’s true or not, I cannot say - but one thing is certain. Eli’s children have cobbler.

I submit for your delectation a photograph of the blueberry cobbler prepared by The Other Elisson and served forth on our Daddy’s eighty-fifth birthday alongside gargantuan slabs of layer cake and chunks of melon.

The Other Elisson’s Blueberry Cobbler
The Other Elisson’s Blueberry Cobbler.

Sexy, huh?

I permitted myself a taste of the berries. They were packed with delicious fruit flavor, enhanced by the one-two punch of lemon and cinnamon. Unbelievable.

People who have been reading this site for several years know that I loves me some blueberries. It was four years ago this week that I was in New Brunswick, Canada - home of some of the finest blueberries in the world - so I know whereof I speak.

Until this bad boy showed up on the table, I had never known my brother was a Dessert Maven. Normally, the Other Elisson lives a fairly ascetic life, being very careful about what he eats. But apparently he’s not ashamed to cut loose now and again.

As for how he did it, I’m pretty sure this is close to the recipe he used. It will serve six to eight... or four really serious cobbler lovers:

The Other Elisson’s Blueberry Cobbler

½ cup granulated sugar (3½ oz)
1 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch table salt
6 cups fresh blueberries (~30 ounces), washed and picked over
1½ tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice

Biscuit Topping
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 oz)
2 tbsp stone-ground cornmeal
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tsp for sprinkling
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp table salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter (½ stick), melted
⅓ cup buttermilk
½ tsp vanilla extract
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

To make the filling, stir the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the blueberries and mix gently, using a rubber spatula, until evenly coated; add the lemon zest and juice and combine. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch glass pie pan. Place the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the filling is hot and bubbling around edges, about 25 minutes.

While the filling is baking, get the biscuit topping ingredients ready but don’t mix the wet and dry ingredients together until just before the berry filling comes out of the oven. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl to combine. In a separate, small bowl, whisk the melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla together. Mix the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon in another small bowl; set aside. Just before the filling is ready, add the wet stuff to the dry stuff and stir until just combined. You don’t want any dry material left, but don’t beat the crap out of it.

Now it’s time to put the cobbler together. Take the berry filling out of the oven and jack up the oven temp to 425°F. Pinch off eight equal-sized globs of biscuit dough and place on hot berry filling, spacing them at least half an inch apart. Sprinkle each dough-glob with the cinnamon sugar mixture you prepared earlier. Stick the whole mess back in the oven and bake until the filling is bubbling like blue lava and the biscuits are golden brown on top - about 15-18 minutes. Remove the cobbler from the oven and cool on a wire rack 20 minutes or so. Serve it forth with lashings of vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

And then, loosen your belt. Oof!


Cartoony Koony
Cartoony ’Koony. [Click to embiggen.]

Hakuna permits one of her subjects to approach her Royal Personage and offer skritchings.

The image has been doctored in Photoshop, making it sorta painterly and/or cartoony. Hey, that’s it - Cartoony ’Koony!

Update: Friday Ark #298 is afloat at the Modulator... and this Sunday, Carnival of the Cats rolls around to Three Tabby Cats in Vienna.

Update 2: CotC #325 is up.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Toni and Eli
Eli (Hizzownself), with Toni, his Better Half.

We celebrated the Old Man’s eighty-fifth birthday last weekend in grand style.

Earlier that day, we had driven out east to do a little winery hopping. It seems that Long Island, in the past three decades, has become a mini-hotbed of viniculture: Who knew? About forty wineries dot the various towns on the eastern end of the island, with most on the North Fork... so that is where we headed.

At the Lenz Winery in Peconic, we stopped for a tasting amidst a profusion of carefully manicured vines. Barbara, our charming blonde tasting host, played Long Island Geography with me as she poured our wines - as it happens, she was a year younger than me and had lived in the same town - and on the same street, on the opposite side of the nine-hole golf course that bisected the neighborhood.

SWMBO and I at the Lenz Winery, Peconic.

The wines were good - the North Fork microclimate is particularly suited to Merlot - and SWMBO and I ordered a few bottles before we all went on our merry way.

Filet MignonThat evening, we enjoyed a fine dinner at Tellers, a chophouse tucked into a vintage bank building in Islip. As impressive as the surroundings were - thirty-foot-high ceilings tend to add a bit of tone - the food and wine were at least as impressive. My filet, a handsome, softball-sized chunk of prime, dry-aged beefmeat, had just the right beefiness and texture; Eli elected to have the braised beef short ribs, a ridiculously flavorsome, tender example of the genre. And the wine, a 2007 Merlot from the South Fork’s Wölffer Estate Vineyards, complemented the meal perfectly.

As we were polishing off our various entrées, we saw a waiter glide past bearing an enormous trencher with what appeared to be Fred Flintstone’s dinner: a huge baseball bat-sized bone with a clublike wad of meat attached to it. What in Gawd’s name was it? According to our waiter, it was the house speciality, a forty ounce (!) bone-in ribeye. Since I have no compunctions about making a fool of myself in front of complete strangers, I got right up and walked over to the table where that monster steak had been delivered... to a guy who looked like he could work as an NFL player or a bar bouncer.

“Excuse me, but that’s a mighty impressive steak. Would you mind if I took a picture of it?”

Somewhat bemused, the fellow allowed me to photograph his meal. Alas, the picture did not turn out well, but I could’ve sworn that piece of meat bore the legend “Callaway FT-iZ.”

There would be more celebrating the next day, complete with cake and The Other Elisson’s homemade blueberry cobbler, but this was a Birthday to Remember.