Friday, December 31, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Big Billy's Catfish Gumbo - a weekend recipe

Here is a quick and easy dish Big Billy used to whip up when he entertained, which was often. Big Billy was so big and athletic that he could have made a career in pro football. Ironically, he was more into talking politics than watching sports on television. Still, his catfish gumbo is a perfect winter dish for watching college bowl games and the Super Bowl. This recipe serves eight.

Ingredients

• 2 lbs catfish filets, bite-sized

• 10 oz okra, sliced

• 1 c celery, chopped

• 1 c onion, chopped

• 1 c green pepper, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 3 T cooking oil

• 4 c beef broth

• 16 oz tomatoes, diced

• 1 bay leaf

• 1 t salt

• ½ t thyme, dried

• ½ t red pepper, ground

• ½ t oregano, dried, crushed

• 4 c rice, cooked, hot

Directions

In a large Dutch oven, cook celery, onion, green pepper and garlic in hot oil until tender. Stir in beef broth, tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, thyme, red pepper and oregano and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add catfish bites and okra, uncover and return to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve in bowls over rice.

Eric'sWeb

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Moon

Mavis, Anne, Jack, Dale Rood, Isey, Thanksgiving, circa 80s
When I went outside very early this morning to watch the lunar eclipse, I realized I was in for a mystical treat. A golden moon brightened hazy sky, back dropped by luminous Christmas lights decorating neighbors’ houses. My big tomcat Goldie joined me as I watched the unfolding event.

I had no telescope and only gazed up at the lunar phenomenon with my naked eyes. The realization that I was witnessing a total lunar eclipse the same day as the Winter Solstice, two events that occur on the same day only once every four hundred years, or so, caused me to recall another story recounted many years ago by my Grandmother Dale O’Rear Rood. Grandmother Dale was born October 27, 1891. She was nineteen when she witnessed Halley’s Comet in 1910.

“Halley’s is the only naked-eye comet that a human can witness twice in a lifetime. Mark Twain saw it twice and so did Papa Pink. I’m going to live until it passes one more time.”

Grandmother Dale didn’t quite make it, dying February 27, 1985 at the age of 93, less than a year from the date (February 9, 1986) Halley’s Comet last passed close enough to Earth to be seen with the naked eye. She actually came closer than Papa Pink; despite his boasts to the contrary, John Pickney O’Rear was born September 9, 1837, almost two years after the comet’s passing November 16, 1835.

I thought about Grandma Rood’s story as I watched the moon disappear into darkness, and then reappear the color of burnished bronze. Goldie didn’t seem to care, but shared my moment like a spiritual being that somehow understood the importance of the celestial event.

Marilyn usually leaves the radio in our living room on all the time. I’m not a religious person, but I couldn’t help but reflect on the Christmas song, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, playing as I opened the front door and cast one last glance at the sky. It caused me to reflect on my own existence. I won’t be around in 2061 when Halley’s Comet appears again, much less in four hundred years.

Giving Goldie, my big tom a last scratch behind the ears, I grinned, deciding not to ponder the thought further as I plodded off to bed.

Eric'sWeb

Monday, December 20, 2010

Supernatural Aspects of the Novel Morning Mist of Blood

The rattlesnake tattoo on the cover of my new mystery novel Morning Mist of Blood is from a shell gorget found in a Mississippian mound  that dates back to around 1,300 BC. There are many similar gorgets that feature supernatural beasts like strange-headed rattlesnakes, spiders and the underwater panther.

Beaks, talons, claws and fangs were favorite "metaphorical expressions" of power, hunting skill, etc.  I'm not an archaeologist but it seems like there are many similarities with symbols from Mexico, Central America and other parts of the world, especially the all-seeing eye in the center of the human palm.

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice and the park at Spiro, Oklahoma conducts a winter's solstice walk. The last guided tour (hike) starts at around 2pm and ends at the main Spiro Mound at sunset of the year's longest day. I was hoping to make it but it doesn't look like I will. So many interesting things to do and see and so little time. Oh well, maybe next year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wind Chimes and Bad Times

Marilyn’s wind chimes are performing a chaotic symphony tonight because of an approaching storm. Their resonance reminds me of an incident that happened in Vietnam, but not because of the weather. I had the same eerie feeling - a warning from somewhere deep in the primitive portion of our brains that scientists never discuss, our animal brain that screams at us whenever something very bad is about to happen.

The mind plays tricks, even the animal part of our brains. This is particularly true when the elements rob your senses. Such is the case after darkness falls in triple-canopy jungle. I was a grunt in an infantry line company. We were somewhere near the Cambodian border. Hell! We were probably in Cambodia.

The area was hot (firefight hot) and our sister companies had all made contact with the NVA during the past days. Earlier that night we had watched and heard a B-52 attack as the big planes carpet bombed a nearby patch of jungle, hoping to disrupt Charlie’s intricate system of trails that somehow managed to keep supplying arms and supplies to their soldiers in the south.

I sat in a damp hole in the ground, my senses disrupted and seeing nothing, not even an occasional flash of light. It’s true that when you have no vision your hearing becomes more acute. I was aware of the sounds of night. A tiger stalked in the distance and I could track its progress through the jungle by the low growls it periodically emitted. I could also hear elephants and horses – yes, horses. Don’t ask me how or why they were there in the jungle but their sound is unmistakable. I also heard other things.

Helicopters supplied us every three days. After cutting a landing zone in the jungle – a small LZ barely large enough for the choppers rotors – the birds would bring us food, water and fresh ammo. They also brought us beer and pop and each of us got three beverages of our choice every three days.

You didn’t want to drink your beer immediately because everyone would beg a sip and there would be little or nothing left for you to drink when the can came back around. Most soldiers savored theirs while pulling guard duty because it was about the only time you were ever truly alone while on patrol. As I sat there, listening to the tiger, elephants and horses, I heard someone pop the top on a Black Label. Then I heard something else – the low moan of a soldier, thinking of his wife or girl as he masturbated in the darkness. I knew very well how he felt because I was thinking about doing the same thing myself.

Tension mounted as days went by without encountering Charlie. As we cut our way slowly, single file through the jungle, a signal began being passed back to the rear. The soldier in front of me pointed at a snake in the branches over our head. I didn’t know its real name, but we called it a three-step snake because that’s about how far you could go before dying if it bit you. Not far from the snake, I witnessed something as eerie as I have ever seen.

It was a thousand pound bomb lying flat on the ground amid broken jungle vegetation - a relic of a B-52 attack, a monster bomb that had not detonated but still had the stark power to blow a forty-foot hole in the ground. Everyone in the row of soldiers realized as much and to say that I was frightened would be lessening the aching fear throbbing in the pit of my gut. The bomb was longer than I am tall and even lying flat it came up to my chest. We snaked around it, no one touching it for fear that it was booby trapped by the NVA.

Fifteen days passed without encountering the enemy and I still remember climbing the incline to the firebase hewn out of a Vietnamese mountain. We were stopped at the perimeter and told the bad news that instead of our expected five day stand-down, we would be re-supplied where we stood and then sent back into the jungle for another fifteen day stint.

One of the men – a southern black man - heard his animal brain louder than the rest of us. Pulling off his pack, he sat down and refused to move. I remember our idiot Lieutenant holding a .45 to the man’s forehead, threatening to blow his brains out if he didn’t get up from where he sat. He ignored the lieutenant’s threats and military police from the firebase soon led him away at gunpoint to an inevitable stay in the Long Binh Jail. As we watched them leave, all the rest of us wondered if he wasn’t the smart one in the bunch and perhaps doing the right thing.

We stayed on the perimeter of the firebase that night, not allowed on the safer side of the razor wire. Next morning we reentered the jungle for another fifteen days. At this point, my mind numbs and my memories become blocked from the events that ensued.

Tonight, as wind whistles out my back door, distant thunder rattles the windows and lightning illuminates the western sky like a fiery B-52 attack, I get that same eerie feeling that I had so many years ago.

Eric'sWeb

Friday, December 17, 2010

Big Billy's Blackened Catfish - a weekend recipe

Big Billy had an enormous outdoor grill and loved to cook on it whenever the weather was good, and sometimes when it wasn't. Here is an easy catfish recipe with as much wonderful flavor as you could ever want.

Ingredients
·         4 catfish fillets
·         olive oil
·         1/3 lb bacon
·         2 tsp cayenne pepper
·         2 tsp lemon pepper
·         2 tsp cumin or chili powder
·         2 tsp garlic powder
·         2 tsp thyme
·         2 tsp white pepper
·         2 tsp black pepper
·         2 tsp rosemary, crushed
·         2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
·         1 tsp allspice
·         1 tsp oregano
·         ½ tsp salt
Directions
Fry bacon; discard bacon and retain grease. Combine all dry ingredients, rub fillets with olive oil, then coat liberally with spices. Drop in hot bacon grease and cook until you can easily put a fork through them.

Lemon Butter
Ingredients
·         ¼ cup melted butter
·         1 teaspoon lemon juice
·         ½ teaspoon tabasco
·         sliced green onions
Directions
Combine, mix well and serve as dipping sauce with blackened catfish.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Big Billy's Catfish Fajitas - a weekend recipe

Big Billy was a Dallas restauranteur and Oklahoma oil man. It’s no secret he loved to cook, and he loved Southern comfort food. Here is one of his favorite and simplest recipes.

Ingredients

• 2 lbs. catfish, filets

• 1 cup lime juice

• 3 cups mesquite wood chips

• 1 onion, large, chopped

• 1 red pepper, large, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 2 Tbsp. butter

• 1/2 tsp salt

• 1/4 tsp pepper

• 8 tortillas, flour or corn, warmed

• Sour cream, salsa, avocado and lime slices

Directions

Place fish filets in large zip top bag. Pour in lime juice, seal and marinate in refrigerator for one hour. Soak wood chips in water for one hour. Drain wood chips. Sprinkle wood chips over pre-heated coals in a covered grill. Brush grill rack lightly with cooking oil and place catfish filets on rack. Close grill and cook for about five minutes on either side, or until fish is flaky.

In a large cast iron skillet, cook onion, red pepper and garlic in the butter until tender. Stir in salt and pepper. Cut filets into chunks, toss into skillet and mix well. Fill warmed tortillas with catfish mixture and serve with sour cream, salsa, avocado and lime slices.

Eric'sWeb

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Reader Reviews of Morning Mist of Blood

Here's what some of the readers have said about Morning Mist of Blood:

“A riveting read that blends mystery, suspense, and just the right amount of supernatural occurrences to keep pages turning.”

“Not like I thought it was going to be, it was better.”

“A quick, quirky, interesting read . . . Really enjoyed it.

“A fast-paced, action-filled mystery.”

“A mix of mystery and romance.”

“I just loved this one. what a true and gritty mystery/suspense/thriller/who done it/kinda sexy book! I could not put it down.”

“Great detail and I loved how the story had min stories inside of it.”

“Enjoyed this book very much.”

Now also available in all eBook formats, including Kindle and ePub.

Eric'sWeb

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Marilyn's Chicken-Fried Catfish with Pan Gravy - a weekend recipe

Do you crave southern comfort food? Who doesn’t? Here is a recipe that embodies the spirit of food for the soul. Serve it with mashed potatoes and pan gravy. Heck, I even like pan gravy over my green beans. Enjoy.


Marilyn’s Chicken-Fried Catfish with Pan Gravy

Ingredients

• 4 catfish filets
• 1 cup vegetable shortening
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 cup all purpose flour
• 1 cup whole milk

Directions

Combine salt, pepper and flour in a large zip-top plastic bag. Mix well. Pour milk into a large bowl. Dip filets in milk and shake off excess. Enclose in bag and shake to coat. Shake off excess. Set a cast-iron skillet over medium flame and add shortening. Lay each filet in hot fat. Repeat until skillet is full, but not crowded. The shortening should be no deeper than ¼ inch. Heat only until it's hot enough to set the breading on the catfish after it's dropped into the skillet. When the bottom crust starts sizzling, turn filets and set the other side.

Pan Gravy

Ingredients

• 3 cups milk

• Catfish drippings

• 3 Tbsp. flour

• 1 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. pepper

Directions

In a heavy, 2-quart saucepan, heat 3 cups milk but don't let it boil. Using the skillet in which you cooked the catfish, pour off excess grease, leaving about 4 or 5 tablespoons in the pan. Over medium flame, heat the drippings and add 3 tablespoons flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue stirring to brown flour. When brown, hot and bubbling, add hot milk. Stir constantly until thick and creamy. Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Eric'sWeb

Eric Wilder Publishes Southern Fried Murder, Kindle Version

Please check out my latest Kindle short story at Amazon. It's called Southern Fried Murder.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Choctaw Zweibelkuchen - a weekend recipe

Central Oklahoma has many citizens of German extraction, the language still spoken in Oklahoma households where German cuisine is still proudly served. Choctaw, Oklahoma, and the Old Germany Restaurant have hosted an Oklahoma version of Oktoberfest every September for the last twenty years.

Here is a Germanic recipe with a slight Okie modification. P.S. – this recipe originated in German wine country and, yes, grapes are now grown and wine being produced right here in central Oklahoma. Although great with wine, I can personally attest to the fact that this dish is also great with a cold Beck’s. Yes, southern comfort food sometimes has European origins.

Ingredients

• 16 strips bacon

• 4 large yellow onions, chopped

• 2 jalapeno peppers, roasted, deseeded, finely chopped

• 2 eggs plus 1 yolk

• ¾ cups sour cream

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Caraway seeds

• 2 -8 inch pastry shells half baked at 400 degrees

Directions

Fry bacon until crisp. Drain, crumble and set aside. Fry onions in oil until soft and yellow. Add beaten eggs, and yolk, chopped jalapeno pepper, sour cream, salt and pepper. Add crumbled bacon. Pour mixture into pie shells and sprinkle with caraway seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until centers are firm. Enjoy.

Eric'sWeb

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Old Bones

It’s a gray day here in Central Oklahoma, my two kitties, Buster and Buttercup, searching for even a scant patch of sunlight in which to bask. The gloom reminds me of a search I made many years ago that resulted in an eerie discovery.

A chill weekend in November found Gail, my ex, and I deep in a piney forest in southwest Arkansas. A graduate student in geology, my thesis concerned long forgotten mineral deposits in a sparsely populated corner of the universe. Years before the invention of GPS tracking devices, we relied on a very old Brunton compass to navigate through the stark loneliness of the southern Ouachita Mountains.

Tall trees, mostly pines, grew everywhere, covering the rolling terrain. While the Ouachitas aren’t high, rapid elevation changes of several hundred feet or more are common. We were moving slowly, picking our way through undergrowth as we traversed an east-west trending ridgeline, looking for an old lead mine hidden deep in the forest.

Prospectors searching for silver in the 1830’s had found lead and antimony instead. Last mined during the Civil War, the Davis Mine used horses and slave labor to mine lead for the Confederacy.

The mine is mostly forgotten and few accounts of its operation remain. Those that do, obliquely refer to abuse, torture and even murder of Union prisoners of war conscripted to work there. Some say ghosts still haunt it. When we crested a ridge and saw the barren pile of disturbed earth that was all that remained of the mine, we could feel their presence.

A scar, roughly a half-acre in size, was all that was left of the old mining operation. Vertical shafts had collapsed, or were filled with standing water. We soon began digging beautiful ore specimens out of the talus pile strewn with old bottles and broken timbers.

It was already past noon when we found the old mine, days short and our time there limited. We took photos and collected specimens, all the while feeling as if there was someone present other than ourselves. Rapt with discovery, I felt as if eyes were on my back. When I turned, I saw only fleeting shadows. The distinct sensation that we were disturbing a place where something terrible had happened was unmistakable. I felt it and so did Gail. When she dug up the remnants of a human skull, I knew we were disturbing a haunted place.

It was almost dark when we exited the forest to our old faded green Ford truck, waiting for us on a muddy dirt road. The portion of the skull we found was weathered from decades of lying at ground level. Not wishing to disturb it further, we buried it, voicing a few words, hoping they would somehow relieve the endless torment of some forgotten Union soldier’s soul.

When we returned to Fayetteville, I sent some of the ore samples to the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver for analysis. The results surprised me as I’m sure they would have the prospectors that discovered the Davis Mine. The ore wasn’t just lead and antimony; there was silver present and it was richer even than ore from the Comstock Lode.

Many years have passed since Gail and I felt the presence of ghosts at the remote Davis Mine, hidden deep in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. Today, as an overhead cloud cast a shadow on my kittens, sleeping on the hood of my car, I remembered in vivid detail.

Eric'sWeb

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Bayou Runs Through It

It's likely true that the lessons you learn as a teenager do as much to cement the real values in your life as anything else. That said, I spent many of my teenage years attending college in Monroe, Louisiana. Majoring in geology, I took many science courses but I also dabbled in English and the arts. Probably the most important course that I took at Northeast Louisiana was a lesson in life - a lesson in how to cope in a world filled with no family and mostly strangers.


When I attended NLSC, a gallon of gas cost thirty cents, or less. A Coke was a nickel and you could buy a pitcher of beer for a dollar. My favorite watering hole, along with that of most of the male population of the college was the Trianon. I wrote about the Trianon in my short story A Talk with Henry. Henry was a real person and I took much of the dialogue for the story from actual conversations.

I started college during summer school, at the tender age of seventeen. My Brother Jack and close friend Elwin also attended summer school the same year. The year was 1964. There was an air show at the airport that summer and a local pilot offered plane rides in his Beechcraft Bonanza for a penny a pound. Jack, Elwin and I all took our first ride in an airplane for a cost of less than five dollars.

A Bayou runs through the campus of what is now the University of Louisiana at Monroe. During summer, Bayou DeSiard is a hot spot for students. While not quite Florida, sun bathing students line the beach and it was, and is, a great place to meet members of the opposite sex. Jack, Elwin and I went swimming every day that semester and even light-skinned Eric had a tan before the end of summer.

At night, Jack, Elwin and I would haunt the Trianon. There were gambling machines, the walls black, lighting dim and music loud. We chugged lots of beer and discussed every important world issue there was. At summer's end, Jack and Elwin both flunked out, unable to return the next semester because of poor grades. I made it, passing, but barely.

Today, I can't remember a single course that I took that summer. As far as grades are concerned, I almost flunked my first semester in college, but now it doesn't seem so important. Looking back, I think that I probably aced the part of my life that was most significant at the time.

Eric'sWeb

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Joy's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Mocha Butter Frosting

Marilyn’s mother Joy had seven children. When her husband died in his early forties, she went to work to feed and support them, first as a waitress and later, owning her own café. None of her children ever went hungry and I quickly realized during the short time I knew her that she was a wonderful cook. Former customers of Joy’s café still remember her home-made cakes and pies. Here is one of her personal favorites.

Ingredients

• 2 cups flour
• 4 tbsp cocoa
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup water
• 1 ½ tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 1 cup mayonnaise

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir in mayonnaise, water and vanilla. Mix well and pour into two 9” greased and floured layer cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Spread with mocha butter frosting.

Mocha Butter Frosting

Ingredients

• 1/3 cup butter
• 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
• 1 egg yolk
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla
• 2 tbsp light cream
• ¼ cup cocoa
• ½ tsp instant coffee

Directions

Cream the butter, adding half the sugar, cocoa and all of the instant coffee until well blended. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Blend in remaining sugar and cocoa, adding enough cream to bring the frosting to spreadable consistency.

Eric'sWeb

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Big Billy's Tipsy Sweet Potatoes - a weekend recipe

Big Billy loved his beer but wasn’t much of a hard liquor drinker. He still liked to use it to liven up certain dishes. “Yams and bourbon was a match made in heaven,” he used to say. With Halloween upon us and Thanksgiving not far behind, here is a perfect holiday recipe. Try it and enjoy a little bit of heaven.

Ingredients

• 8 sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled, and mashed

• ¼ lb butter, softened

• 2 cups brown sugar

• 1 tsp allspice

• 1 tsp nutmeg

• 1 tsp cinnamon

• ½ cup bourbon

• ½ cup flour

• 2 tsps butter

• 1 cup pecans, chopped

Directions

Combine sweet potatoes with softened butter. 1 cup brown sugar, spices and bourbon; mix well. Pour into a buttered 2 quart casserole. Cut the 2 tablespoons butter into flour with a pastry blender until crumbly. Add remaining cup of brown sugar and pecans and blend well. Sprinkle on top of potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Enjoy.

Eric'sWeb

Monday, October 25, 2010

Big Billy Gets an Ebook

For those of you that like my weekend recipes and stories, Big Billy's Little Texas Cookbook is now available in a Kindle edition on Amazon. Susan, the wife of Ed, the geologist that offices with me, just returned from a trip to the east coast.
"Seems like my girlfriend and I were the only two people in the airport without an ebook reader. Which eReader is the best?"
"Kindle and Nook are two of the best, but it doesn't really matter what you have because there's a new website where you can download any ebook, purchased in any ebook format, to whatever platform you own," I told her.
I can't remember the name of the site, but I will google it and tell you tomorrow. I think it starts with a C.

Eric'sWeb

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Kitties

Buster

Buster and Buttercup

Buttercup and Buster

Buttercup and Pumpkin

Buttercup
Here are some pics of my new kitties, Buster and Buttercup.

Eric'sWeb

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fiery October Sky

Central Oklahoma finally got a respite from dry weather that has persisted since August. Two days of rain has dampened central Oklahoma, but not my spirits. A glorious sunset highlighted my walk, although I had to risk my neck, standing amid zooming traffic near the center line of 33rd Street to get the most optimum pic. The sky was just as red as the picture shows, but I had to adjust the camera's exposure compensation to make it read true.
Eric'sWeb

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Vi's Overnight Vegetable Salad - a weekend recipe

Dot, my wonderful aunt from Katy, Texas was kind enough to share this recipe with me. It was given to her by her neighbor, Vi Tarpley. Thanks Dot, and thanks Vi. I can hardly wait to try it.


Vi's Overnight Vegetable Salad

Ingredients

• 1 16 oz. can LeSuer Peas, drained

• 1 16 oz. can French-Style green beans, drained

• 1 11 oz. can shoe peg white corn, drained

• 1 medium onion, finely chopped

• 3/4 cup celery, chopped

• 1 small jar pimento

• 3/4 cup sugar

• 1/2 cup vegetable oil

• 1/2 cup white wine vinegar

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

In a large bowl combine peas, beans, corn, onion, celery and pimento. In a saucepan combine remaining ingredients. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour over the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Yield: 10-12 Servings

Vi’s Hints: You may substitute small cherry tomatoes (cut in half), yellow or orange bell peppers, chopped, canned baby carrots, zucchini, sliced or most any kind of vegetable you like. Salad will keep for several days stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.

More hints: You may use small cans of peas, beans, corn and 1/2 of onion, celery and pimento. You may also substitute other vegetables in same amount, using one-half spices, sugar, vinegar, etc. Follow directions for rest of recipe making about 5 to 6 servings.

Eric'sWeb

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Edmond Earthquake

My business partner Ray called me around 9:30 am today. "Did you feel the earthquake?" he asked.
"Nope, didn't feel a thing," I told him.
"Our office shook like there was no tomorrow. You sure you didn't feel anything?"
"No, but I believe you," I said.
"I was in Los Angeles during a 4.5 earthquake and it wasn't nearly as intense as the one I just experienced."
"I said I believe you," I responded.
I'm a writer, but I'm also a geologist. Oil companies, for years now, have been "dewatering" a deep-seated formation called the Hunton just east of here. Once sporadic earthquakes have grown from five a year to five a month.
"Dewatering simply means the oil companies are extracting large quantities of oil and water, mostly water, from a zone about a mile deep in the earth in central Oklahoma. They sell the oil and inject the water back into another zone called the Arbuckle. this ancient formation is rife with faults and structural movement. The injected water acts as a lubricant, causing movement, and resultant earthquakes. There hasn't been much, if any, property damage - at least as yet, so no one is casting any blame. The cause of the earthquakes is subsidence due to removal, and or injection of saltwater.

Eric'sWeb

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Big Billy's Bleu Balls - a weekend recipe

Big Billy loved to entertain and had a wicked sense of humor. Here is the recipe for one of his favorite appetizers he enjoyed serving, and seeing his guest’s reactions when he told them its name.


Big Billy’s Bleu Balls

Ingredients

• 2 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

• 1/8 lb. bleu cheese, crumbled

• 2 tbsp. celery, minced

• 1 tbsp. onion, minced

• Dash cayenne pepper

• Dash Louisiana pepper sauce

• 1 tbsp. mayonnaise

• ¾ cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

Combine all ingredients except walnuts. Shape into small balls. Roll each ball in chopped nuts. Refrigerate until served.

Eric'sWeb

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Natchitoches Meat Pie - a weekend recipe

Natchitoches is the oldest continuous settlement in Louisiana, and that includes New Orleans. Located on the Cane River, this scenic and interesting town was the location for the movie Steel Magnolias. With a diverse cultural history, that includes French, Spanish, English, African and American Indian heritage, this sleepy community is like no other. Here is the original recipe for the world famous Natchitoches meat pie. Don’t change it or it will no longer be a Natchitoches Meat Pie.

Ingredients: Meat Filling

• ½ lb. ground chuck
• 1 ½ lb. ground pork (not sausage)
• 2 tsp. flour
• 1 tsp. shortening
• 2 onions, large
• 6 scallions, small
• 3 tbsp. parsley (chopped, very fine)
• salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 dash cayenne pepper

Ingredients: Pie Crust

• 4 cups flour
• 2 eggs, large
• ½ cup melted shortening, preferably lard
• 1 tsp. salt
• 2 tbsp. baking soda
• small amount of milk

Directions

Make the meat filling first. Meat should be ground twice and then run through a sieve. The idea is for the meat to be as smooth and uniform as possible. Brown the meat in a heavy iron skillet, pouring off any fat that accumulates.

Make a roux of the flour, shortening, onions, parsley, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Combine meat and roux thoroughly. Set aside for cooling.

Begin the pastry and DO NOT use cooking oil instead of lard. Sift flour. Add baking powder, lard, eggs and enough milk to make a stiff dough. Roll until very thin. Cut circles about the size of a coffee cup saucer from the dough. Fill with meat mixture and fold over. Moisten with water around edges and crimp with a fork. Poke a couple of holes in each pie (so they don’t explode!) and then deep fry until golden brown. You are in for a treat, so enjoy.

Eric'sWeb

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Gathering of Diamonds Available at Amazon on Kindle

For all of you Kindle fans, my novel A Gathering of Diamonds is now available at Amazon as an ebook. Please check it out. P.S. my website is still malfunctioning but I am working on it.

Eric'sWeb

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Buck McDivit Returns in Morning Mist of Blood

I published my first novel, Ghost of a Chance in 2005. The protagonist, Buck McDivit, is an Oklahoma cowboy raised in foster homes. Buck inherits an island and boat marina on mysterious Caddo Lake in east Texas from an unknown aunt. Once in Texas, he confronts racism, lost gold and the ghost of a girl that haunts the lake.


Five years later, Buck reemerges in Oklahoma when a wealthy rancher hires him to investigate murder, oil and cattle theft, and a group of mysterious women that live on a commune near the center of his large ranch. Buck soon learns the commune is populated by more than just a bunch of female crazies. They are doctors, scientists, architects and artists that have pooled their resources and have created a virtual Eden smack in the middle of central Logan County. The book is titled Morning Mist of Blood.

The women practice conservation, burning no fossil fuels. Their domal houses are partially buried, connected to shops, businesses and exotic restaurants by an elaborate system of tunnels. They also practice other things; they are members of the Southern Death Cult, an ancient Pre-Colombian religion. Their spiritual leader is Esme, a beautiful woman with a mysterious past, and a rattlesnake tattoo on her shoulder.

If you missed Buck, he is finally back. The paperback original will be out shortly but the Kindle Edition is already available on Amazon. Please check it out. I think you will like it.

Eric'sWeb

Big Billy's Caddo Lake-Style Green Tomato Relish

Big Billy was from Arkansas, but he loved to cook and to eat. He also cherished every part of Texas. He and Kathy, his significant other, did lots of land work in east Texas and liked visiting Caddo Lake. Here is a tasty regional side dish he picked up from one of the many catfish restaurants located in the area.

In east Texas, at restaurants on Caddo Lake, green tomato relish is served with hush puppies, French fries, cole slaw and catfish. Make a batch at the end of tomato season with your green tomatoes and serve it on a cold winter evening. Big Billy would guarantee that it will always bring a smile to your guest’s faces.
Ingredients

• 2 gallons green tomatoes, rough chopped
• 2 quarts onion, rough chopped
• 1 quart green hot peppers, chopped
• 6 cups sugar
• 1 cup salt
• 1 quart vinegar

Directions

In a large soup pot, bring the sugar, salt and vinegar to a boil; then add vegetables; bring contents of the pot to a boil and continue for 2 minutes, timed. Remove to sterile canning jars. Process in hot water bath for ten minutes. Serve either chilled or at room temperature with fish.

Eric'sWeb

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Even More Summer of Bologna

Earlier this year I posted a story called Summer of Bologna, about my misadventures at geology summer field camp in Arkansas. As I read through the story again tonight, I remembered a couple of other things that happened to me that summer. Although funny now, they were not so funny then.

The man that taught the course, Dr. D, had brought along his wife and two children, and his two-year-old son Tommy was quite a handful. You may remember my mapping partner Roy. Our friendship went from good, to bad, to even worse before finally turning in the right direction. We were friends again by the end of our project and had borrowed the D’s tiny barbecue pit to grill a couple of steaks. It was the weekend; we had time off and a few extra bucks to purchase steaks, bakes and two six-packs of beer in a plastic cooler.

Dr. D had offered the use of his barbecue pit with the proviso that we would return it cleaner than we got it. No problem, we thought. That was before we began drinking beer and eating watermelon – yes we had also purchased a watermelon and had chilled it to perfection in the very chilly White River.

Our beer was half gone by the time we had eaten our steaks and started on the icy watermelon. It was about then that Dr. Ds son Tommy came running down the stairs. Feeling giddy, Roy spat a watermelon seed at him and it stuck on his bare chest. Maybe it doesn’t sound so funny now, but Roy and I had drunk just enough beer to think so. Between hysterical laughter, we both began spitting seeds at the kid.

At first, Tommy joined in the joke but soon realized that he was the butt of it. Covered with sticky watermelon seeds, he rushed back up the stairs, wailing like a banshee as he did. He soon returned with Dr. D. The Professor was not happy.

“Having a good time, boys?” he asked.

Dr. D’s question sent us both into a belly-rolling fit of laughter. Grabbing his tattle-tale kid by the hand, Dr. D did an angry about face and huffed away up the stairs. Too inebriated to clean the barbecue pit, we left it outside with the intention of cleaning it the next day. It rained that night, making a mess of the little stove. Tommy found it the next morning before Roy and I, getting soot and barbecue sauce all over his best Sunday church clothes.

Our good grades were already pretty much beyond hope. That is true, but one more incident occurred the last week of field camp that further sealed my fate. I had a cheap typewriter and I was using it to prepare my final report. It was so hot in the basement that I took the machine outside to a picnic table. After trying unsuccessfully to correctly seat the ribbon, I ripped it off the reel and threw it down the hill. Yes, you got it. Tommy found the ribbon. Covered with ink and wrapped in the inky tape, he was in a full-blown crying snit when he finally found his father.

Well, I passed the course anyway, albeit with a cee. Years later, I realize none of this story really matters.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rain From the South

Tropical Storm Hermine whistled up from the Gulf of Mexico today, through Texas, bringing with it lots of rain and making me wonder why we still don’t have that flood insurance I promised Marilyn last spring I would buy. The August drought of 2010, along with its many hundred-plus degree days, is finally gone. We survived, albeit with some discomfort. Here is a pic of an Edmond, Oklahoma tiger lily that thrived through the worst of it.

Eric'sWeb

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Lucky and Chuckie - a pic

Here is a pic of Lucky (Lab) and Chuckie (Rott). It's hard to tell by this picture, but they didn't like each other very much and tangled on at least one occasion. Both were getting up in age at the time and no harm was done, except they were both out of breath.

Eric'sWeb

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Big Billy's Special Brew Barbecue Sauce - a weekend recipe

Big Billy liked to cook outside on his barbecue grill. Here is the recipe for his special barbecue sauce, a little spicy and just a little sweet. Great for both beef and chicken.


Ingredients

• 1/2 cup cane syrup

• 3/4 cup mustard

• 1/2 cup chili sauce

• 1 teaspoon Angostura bitters

• 1/2 cup onion, minced

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon pepper

• 1/2 cup beer - Big Billy preferred Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer seven minutes, stirring occasionally.