Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lily's Stuffed Mirlitons

Lily was a religious woman and never missed a Sunday service. Gail and I were spiritual, but not so religious. Still, whenever we visited Chalmette, we somehow managed to make it to church. It all seemed worth it when we returned home, enjoying the feast Lily always prepared on Sundays. Here is just one of the wonderful side dishes we often enjoyed.

Lily’s Stuffed Mirlitons


• 6 mirlitons

• 1 onion, large, finely chopped

• 3 shallots, finely chopped

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• ½ green pepper, chopped

• 1 tbsp parsley, chopped

• 2 c bread crumbs, or as needed

• 1 egg, beaten

• 1 tsp Creole seasoning

• 1 lb beef, ground, lean


Cut mirlitons in halves and cover with cold water. Bring to aboil and continue until tender. Remove from water. Let cool and scoop out pulp, discarding seed and fibrous pulp around seed. Place pulp in colander over bowl, and chop, reserving water. Place shells on a coated pizza pan.

Fry beef in cast iron skillet until all lumps are broken but not brown. Add vegetables and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Add merliton pulp, bread crumbs, and a little merliton water if needed. Add beaten egg. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Fill each mirliton half shell. Top with bread crumbs and ½ slice bacon. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Enjoy.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Enchanting and Romantic Adventure

Rendezvous Rock by Rickey Bray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For me, the adventure began with the book's first sentence. I was mesmerized by its enchanting and erotic premise, and hooked by its compelling characters long before finishing the first chapter. Author Bray brings to life an atmospheric world of witches, warlocks and spiritual entities—a world so real I felt I was reading fact and not fiction. The book reminds me of the first time I read Tolkien, savoring each paragraph and not wanting the journey to end. Rendezvous Rock is entertaining and visual, begging some aspiring director to make it into a blockbuster movie. I hope Rickey Bray is almost finished with a sequel because I will stand in line to get a copy.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Morning Mist of Blood Excerpt

Buck McDivit, protagonist in Eric Wilder's first novel, Ghost of a Chance, returns in Morning Mist of Blood. Among other things, he has to contend with a panther, an animal that isn't supposed to exist in the wilds of central Oklahoma.

Excerpt from Morning Mist of Blood

Buck continued along the narrow game trail, apprehensive he might lose his footing and tumble back into the raging water. He had no other option as very little light filtered through the roof of interlocking branches. Something in the distance, an animal coughing to let creatures in the forest know it was on the prowl, also raised his anxiety level. The eerie sound caused a sudden increase in his heart rate. Even though he had never heard it before, he knew it was Clayton’s panther.

Whumph. The throaty cough echoed down the narrow valley formed by Skeleton Creek. The beast was close, but because of darkness and resonance of sound, he couldn’t tell just how close. Groping for a branch or rock to use as a weapon, he found nothing.

Subdued rain continued to fall but the sound of gusting wind was at times almost deafening, instantly lowering the pressure in the arboreal tunnel whenever a blow began. Lacking vision, his hearing and sense of smell compensated. He could almost taste the loamy odor of thick mud coating his body. He also sensed another storm was approaching.

Having lost track of time, he knew Clayton would soon miss him, and send out a search party. With this in mind, he yelled “Hello.” Nothing but the roar of gusting wind answered him.

Muscles aching from exhaustion, he wanted only to hunker down and wait until morning. The cough of the panther caused him to decide differently. He continued picking his way along the slope until a scream behind him chilled his soul. Turning, he faced the monster he couldn’t see but was close enough for him to smell.

He had heard panthers make a noise like the scream of a woman. Now he knew it was true. He also realized the panther wanted him to make his presence known, and he could only imagine the beast in a crouch, fangs bared, ready to spring and tear him to shreds. Within seconds, his nightmare became all too real.

The weight of the heavy cat hammered him into the mud. Jaws would have clamped his jugular, holding him in place with two large paws until his last breath escaped from his body, but Buck had ducked and pivoted, the beast’s claws raking only his back. Having no other weapon, he grabbed a double handful of mud, thrusting it into the panther’s eyes.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just Keep Drilling

My first wife, Gail, was the youngest of a very large south Louisiana family, two brothers and five sisters. This meant I had many brothers and sister-in-laws. Bobby, one of my brother-in-laws, was a drilling contractor at the time, and owned drilling rigs. I’ve known many drilling contractors since then, many whom I count as best friends. They all have several things in common: intelligence, strong opinions, and egos the size of Dallas.

Bobby was the only drilling contractor I knew in those days and seemed very stand-offish to me. I took this to mean that he disliked me, but found out later this wasn’t true. I learned as much as a young geologist working for the now defunct Cities Service Oil Company.

I was an exploration geologist, looking for wildcat deposits of oil and gas in Kansas. The company had just drilled my first well, a dry hole, and I was devastated. I barely talked as Gail and I drove to New Orleans to celebrate some holiday or other, but it was apparent she knew something was wrong. Knowing me pretty well, she also had a good idea what was eating at my gut.

Our first night in Chalmette, Bobby and Mertye asked us to their house for a crawfish boil. Mertye, like her mother Lily, was a wonderful cook, and she and Bobby loved to entertain. They were building a swimming pool in their backyard. Everyone apparently feeling my pain, they somehow contrived to leave me alone, outside by the pool. As stars and a gorgeous moon lighted the south Louisiana sky, Bobby wandered outside and joined me.

“How’s work going?” he asked.

“Okay,” I answered.

“Gail told Mertye you just got your first well drilled.”

“Yeah, well it didn’t turn out too well.”

It was dark in the backyard, Bobby illuminated only by the light of moon and stars. Still, I could see he had a somber expression on his face.

“You know,” he said. “I been in the oil business a long time. Let me tell you a little story. Not long ago, we staked a well for an oil company. When we went to move in the rig, the stake was out in the middle of a bayou. We had orders from the oil company to drill that exact location because that’s where the company geologist said the oil was. Know what I did?”

I shook my head.

“I told the boys to close their eyes, and waded into shallow water, pulled up that stake and moved it to high ground, not more than a hundred feet or so from the original location. Know why?”

I shook my head again.

“Because, if a hundred feet makes that much difference, the prospect ain’t worth drilling in the first place. Hell, Eric, we barely know what to expect a hundred feet below the earth’s surface. There damn sure ain’t a road map 10,000 feet down. What I’m trying to tell you is there’s not a geologist alive, at least one that’s drilled an oil well, that hasn’t drilled a dry hole. If they tell you different, they’re lying.”

Bobby was silent for a moment, and then touched my shoulder. He said, “The world can’t survive without people like you. You’re just a kid and are gonna find lots of oil and gas before you die. Keep your head up and go drill another well.”

We wandered back into the house, back to the party, my spirits uplifted by sage advice from a person I admired and respected. When Gail and I returned to Oklahoma, I took his advice, working up a new prospect and drilling yet a second dry hole. This time, I took a deep breath, remembered his words, and just kept drilling.

Years have passed and I’ve drilled hundreds of wells, far more producers than dry holes. We all have angels in our lives from time to time. That night, so long ago in south Louisiana, Bobby taught me a lesson I’ll never forget. And yes, that night, he was an angel—my angel.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pedernales River Chili

I found this recipe in an old cookbook. It was submitted by Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady and wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. In case you haven’t read about her, Lady Bird was a most interesting person. She was the first, First Lady to become a millionaire in her own right, but her biggest claim to fame was the beautification of our Nation’s highways, ridding them of billboards and planting Texas wildflowers along the way. Don’t know if this will win any chili cookoff contests, but it is quick to prepare and mighty tasty.

Pedernales River Chili


• 4 lbs chili meat

• 1 onion, large, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, chopped

• 1 tsp oregano, ground

• 1 tsp comino seed

• 2 tbsp chili powder

• 2 cans Ro-tel tomatoes

• Salt to taste

• 2 c hot water


Put chili meat, onions, and garlic in large heavy boiler or skillet. Sear until light colored. Add oregano, comino, chili powder, tomatoes and hot water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer about 1 hour. Skim away fat as it cooks off.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Shannon's Logan County Venison Chili - a weekend recipe

My stepdaughter Shannon lives on a ten-acre farm west of Guthrie in Logan County, Oklahoma. She has nine horses and far too many cats, dogs, chickens, peacocks and other assorted animals. Like her Grandmother Joy and Mother Marilyn, she is a wonderful cook. When Scotty, her significant other, returns from a hunt during deer season, she often prepares her own version of venison chili. Take it from me, it’s wonderful!

• 2 T vegetable oil

• 1 onion, large, chopped

• 1 green pepper, chopped

• 2 garlic cloves, large, minced

• 2 ½ T chili powder

• 1 ½ lbs venison, well trimmed, cubed

• ¾ lbs venison, well trimmed, ground

• 1 28 oz can tomatoes, crushed

• 1 c red wine

• 2 T cumin, ground

• 2 T Worcestershire Sauce

• ½ t red pepper

• ½ t salt

• 1 t black pepper

• 2 t Massa powder

Heat oil in large skillet. Stir in onion, green pepper, garlic and chili powder. Sauté until tender. Add venison and stir with a wooden spoon until brown. Drain off fat. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or long enough for chili to thicken. Serve in festive bowls topped with shredded cheddar cheese.


Friday, January 07, 2011

Fading Wallpaper

A while back, Marilyn and I went junk store shopping. It's not that we are destitute, or need to shop only in the cheapest places. We visit thrift stores, garage sales, and junk stores because we enjoy it, perhaps because of the need to examine other people's discarded detritus. Whatever, we made a trek to an old Oklahoma City strip center just north of 12th and Pennsylvania.
The little strip center used to feature restaurants, upscale stores, and the Penn movie theatre. Now, the rundown buildings are all junk stores. We started our exploration at the southernmost store and worked our way north, along the way purchasing a 1982 Colorado Shakespeare Festival Poster, two old books—both first editions, published in 1914 and 1967, a walking cane (Marilyn collects them, among other things), a plastic hard hat, a moose lamp and a wolf knick-knack.
The wolf knick-knack (I don't know what else to call it. It’s a mini-diorama of a wolf, its mate, and cubs, backdropped by a scenic wilderness panorama with a soaring eagle in the sky). It was the favorite piece of the old man running the place. I managed to bargain him down to twenty bucks for the wolf piece, the moose lamp and a few inside pictures of the old Penn Theatre. Or, maybe I should say he got the best of me. Whichever, I enjoyed the exchange immensely.
I have no idea when the Penn was built but my guess is during the fifties. It has a vaulted ceiling and I'm sure was quite grand during its day. Now it is filled with junk—old bed springs, broken appliances, an old jukebox, pictures, books and many other things too numerous to mention. The books made me sad. There were hundreds of them, the collective works of many diligent authors. Now they languish in a grimy corner, unread for decades, some perhaps never at all.
As Marilyn and I returned home with our purchases, I wondered about the fascination of visiting junk stores, garage sales, and thrift stores, viewing the carcasses of people's former possessions. Maybe it's voyeurism, getting an illicit peek into other's lives. Maybe. I like to think it's because memories are the fading wallpaper of our minds, and every now and then you find a treasure that someone else has forgotten along the way.


Born near Black Bayou in the little Louisiana town of Vivian, Eric Wilder grew up listening to his grandmother’s tales of politics, corruption, and ghosts that haunt the night. He now lives in Oklahoma where he continues to pen mysteries and short stories with a southern accent. He is the author of the French Quarter Mystery Series set in New Orleans and the Paranormal Cowboy Series. Please check it out on his AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBook author pages. You might also like to check out his website.