Monday, March 30, 2015

New Mexico Breakfast Burrito

I write novels of adventure and romance set in the Southwestern United States. The novels touch on local culture, including food. 

For my most recent romantic suspense, The Dead Man’s Treasure, I put together a recipe booklet of foods mentioned in the book, including this delightful breakfast classic. 




Breakfast Burrito

2 bacon strips per person
1/2 cup hash browns per person
2 eggs per person
Salt and pepper to taste
Green chile to taste (or salsa if you can’t find green chile)
1 (8-inch) flour tortilla per person
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese per person
1 thinly-sliced green onion per person (optional)
Red or green chile sauce or chopped chiles (optional)

  1. Use your favorite method to cook the bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1-2 tablespoons drippings.
  2. Add the hash browns to the bacon drippings in a skillet at medium heat. Cook until browned.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet. Mix in the green chile and stir until the eggs are set.
  4. Divide the egg mixture between the tortillas, spooning it down the center.
  5. Sprinkle cheese, green onions, and bacon over eggs.
  6. Fold the tortilla into a burrito. Eat it out of hand, or smother the burrito with red or green chile sauce and eat it with a knife and fork.

Options:
  • Use crumbled, cooked sausage, cubed ham, carne adovada (pork cooked with red chile), or chorizo instead of the bacon. Try different cheeses. Or make a veggie version with sautéed mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and diced tomatoes.
  • For a group, you can let people add their own choice of meat, cheese, and veggie.
  • You can make a large batch, wrap each burrito in waxed paper and aluminum foil, and freeze for up to a month. To heat, remove the foil and place the waxed paper-wrapped burritos on a plate. Microwave at 60% power until hot, about 1 to 2 minutes.


Rebecca Westin is shocked to learn the grandfather she never knew has left her a bona fide buried treasure – but only if she can decipher a complex series of clues leading to it. The hunt would be challenging enough without interference from her half-siblings, who are determined to find the treasure first and keep it for themselves. Good thing Rebecca has recruited some help.

Sam is determined to show Rebecca that a desert adventure can be sexy and fun. But there’s a treacherous wildcard in the mix, a man willing to do anything to get that treasure – and revenge.

Action and romance combine in this lively Southwestern adventure, complete with riddles the reader is invited to solve to identify historical and cultural sites around New Mexico. See the DMT page of Kris Bock’s website for a printable list of the clues and recipes from the book.

The first book in the Southwest Treasure Hunters series is The Mad Monk’s Treasure. The Dead Man’s Treasure is book 2. Each novel stands alone and is complete, with no cliffhangers. This series mixes action and adventure with “closed door” romance. The stories explore the Southwest, especially New Mexico.

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Excerpt

Maybe she could use the tire iron to smash the brake lights and get some more airflow. She tried to wriggle into a suitable position. The small trunk didn’t give her a lot of room to maneuver. She tapped at the hard plastic of the brake lights a couple of times with no results. She needed a lot more force.

Rebecca closed her eyes, turned her face away, and drew the tire iron back over her shoulder. Holding her breath, she rammed at the light. The force of the blow jolted her shoulder, and the tire iron bounced back, narrowly missing her head. The plastic cracked and a chip flew out, nicking her hand. The majority of the light stayed firmly in place.

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. She had enough trouble without injuring herself. If only the trunk weren’t so hot and stuffy. But then, it would be hot outside as well. And she wouldn’t get much airflow from the back of the car, without a vent at the front to draw in outside air.

She sighed and lay back. Nothing to do but wait.


Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page.


Breakfast burrito: By jeffreyw (Mmm... breakfast is served  Uploaded by Fæ) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bacon Kale Breakfast Burrito: By Cajsa Lilliehook from Portland (Bacon Kale Breakfast Burrito) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: Buried Treasures of the American Southwest

Buried Treasures of the American Southwest
Legends of Lost Mines, Hidden Payrolls, and Spanish Gold
W. C. Jameson
Publisher: August House
224 pages
ISBN-10: 0874830826
paperback $14, e-book $10

If there's a lesson in this book, it's "Don't hide things too well."

In 1649, bandits robbed missionaries and hid the loot. They gave a description of the hiding place mentioning trees, rocks, etc. that changed over the years before anyone could return. In southeast Arizona, a huge cache of gold bars, nuggets, and a Spanish parchment was found in 1941. A cave-in and flood buried the treasure before it could be excavated. According to legend, millions if not billions of dollars of stolen or mined treasure lies hidden in secret caches throughout the Southwest.

Native Americans had a different reason for hiding all signs of gold or gold mining – they knew that gold made white people crazy for their land. At least when Indians hid something, they did not want it to be found again. Did they really leave ghosts to guard the gold? Some treasure hunters have claimed to see strange lights and her mysterious sounds coming from underground.

Neither poor directions nor ghosts  stop those determined to find treasure. In the early 1800s, a defrocked French priest headed a murderous bandit gang. He apparently buried 500 gold bars near a spring in western Oklahoma. V-shaped stones are supposed to point out directions. Some treasure hunters have tried hot air balloons to search for the markers. No one has found the treasure yet… but it is only a matter of time, according to the hopeful.

This book includes more than 35 treasure tales from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Simple maps at the beginning of each section give a rough indication of where each treasure is supposed to be. Some of these stories are also included in Jameson's other books, such as Legend and Lore of the Guadalupe Mountains.


Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page.


The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends—a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider.

When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, really a hero, or one of the enemy?

Just how far will Erin go to find the treasure and discover what she’s really made of?

“The story has it all—action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship....”


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Excerpt:

   Erin could hardly believe what she was seeing. Could this be it? After all this time waiting, searching, had she finally, finally, found what she was looking for?
   She forced herself to sit back and take a deep breath. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t rush into things. She wanted to leap up and scream her excitement, but years of academic training held. Slow down, double-check everything, and make sure you are right!
   She leaned forward and ran her fingers over the grainy photograph. With that one image, everything seemed to fall into place. This was the clue. It had to be.
   She fumbled in her desk drawer for a magnifying glass and studied the symbols in the photo more closely. At a glance, they looked like your standard Indian petroglyphs. You could find them throughout the Southwest, tucked away in caves or scattered among boulder fields.
   But this was different.
   If she was right—and she had to be right—these symbols were a map. A map that could lead her to one of the greatest caches of buried treasure ever.
   She reached for the phone. In a few seconds a voice said, “Yeah.” Erin could hear the sound of some tool on metal in the background.
   “Camie? I found it!”

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jemez Springs, New Mexico: Hot Springs

Jemez Springs is a small town in the mountains of northwestern New Mexico. As you might guess from the name, it is known for its natural hot springs. Some of these are businesses with a fee.

The Jemez Springs Bath House, operated by the Village of Jemez Springs, is located in the park on Main Street. Open daily 10 AM to 6 PM, prices start at $12 for a 25 min. soak, with a free mineral bath for the week before or after your birthday. Massage and herbal wraps are also available. Reservations recommended.

Giggling Springs Hot Springs has a lovely outdoor soaking pool near the river. They'll even deliver drinks as you soak. They claim, "The water on this property originates from deep beneath the Valles Caldera National Preserve about 17 miles up the mountain. It's the ancient sea water that got trapped there long ago, and so it has been infused with many minerals over eons of time. We believe it's one of the reasons the water here in our village is so special!” Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, other days open 11 AM until 5-10 PM depending on the day and season. Prices start at $18 per hour.

Spence Hot Springs: By Daniel Schwen (Own work) 
[CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], 
via Wikimedia Commons

You can also visit natural hot springs for free.

San Antonio Hot Springs, north of Jemez Springs, is about a 10 minute walk from a parking area. Soak in a series of rock pools, hotter at the top and cooler as they flow down the hill. No official website, but Trip Advisor and Trails.com have info, and this motorcyclist posted a description of the trip with photos.

McCauley Hot Springs requires a 2 mile hike. The pool is large, shallow and warm rather than hot. It makes a nice stop on a hike on hot day. You can start from Battleship Rock a few miles north of Jemez Springs, or from Jemez Falls off NM-4. If you're up for a 5 1/2 mile round-trip, you can start at Battleship Rock, stop at the Hot Springs, and also visit the impressive waterfall. Camping is available at both ends of the trail, but check ahead for seasonal closures.

Spence Hot Spring is about 5 miles North of Jemez Springs, a short hike from a paved but unmarked parking area. These springs are overused and may not be very clean.

If you need even more relaxation, Bodhi Manda Zen Center is a Buddhist center offering Zen practice and retreats. Stop by for individual meditation, group chanting and meditation, or public ceremonies. Families are welcome.

In or near Jemez Springs, you can also visit the ruins of an old Spanish church; Soda Dam, a cool rock formation formed from the mineralized water flowing in the river; and Battleship Rock, so named because it resembles the prow of a battleship. (Pictures on my Pinterest page.)  I'll follow up in another post.

I’ve attended many writing retreats at a camp north of Jemez Springs, and those experiences inspired Counterfeits. Of course, in the book, the site isn’t quite so relaxing. When Jenny inherits a children’s art camp, she discovers that her grandmother’s death might not have been an accident after all. The men who killed her grandmother are searching for stolen paintings, and they think Jenny and her old friend Rob, the camp cook, are involved. Doing research at a real camp tucked away in the woods, and hiking above Battleship Rock for a scene where Jenny gets lost, helped the setting feel realistic.


Excerpt:

Jenny rose from sleep slowly, her body resisting. She could see nothing in the pitch black. Where was she? She blinked, trying to make sure her eyes were really open.
    Memories broke through the fog. The phone call, the rush across country, the late arrival. Crawling into bed in her grandparents’ upstairs guest room. She groaned and pulled up the blanket. Morning must be hours away, given the darkness.
    The old house creaked, but no sounds drifted in from outside. Maybe that’s what woke her; she was used to the murmur of city sounds all night long. Who’d have thought that would become normal?
    Her head pounded. Probably dehydration from the high elevation and dry air. She should get up, drink a glass of water, take a couple of aspirin. Her head would thank her in the morning. If only she could make herself move.
    The house creaked again, followed by a rhythmic sound – like footsteps. Jenny jerked upright, her ears straining. Had she heard a voice?
    She shook her head. She must still be half asleep, dreaming. Imagining her grandparents were still here. Wishful thinking.
    Downstairs, a door closed. Jenny clutched the blanket. Imagination be damned. She was not alone.
    For a long moment, she sat frozen. During her ten years in New York City, she had never been burglarized or mugged. It seemed impossible that such a thing should happen now, here, in an off-season art camp five miles outside of Jemez Springs, New Mexico.
    Maybe it was someone her grandmother knew. But what were they doing there in the middle of the night? And if they’d come to see Jenny, they should have knocked, rung the bell. Waited for morning. Anyway, who knew she was there? Even Ms. Lucena didn’t know when she was supposed to arrive. She hadn’t told anyone her travel plans; she’d just gone.
    She had to do something. Jenny rose and eased open the bedroom door, praying she had somehow been mistaken, that everything would make sense if… when…. She couldn’t imagine a benign explanation.
    She stood with her ear to the crack and heard a low chuckle, and then a male voice. She couldn’t tell if the laugh and the voice were the same person. Either way, that suggested two or more people, at least one of them male.
    Why would a man be laughing in her grandmother’s house, in the middle of the night, two days after her grandmother’s death? No good reason came to mind.
    She fumbled for her phone on the bedside stand. But even before she activated the screen, she gave a frustrated grunt. She wouldn’t get reception here. The only place in camp that got cell phone reception was the southeast corner of the parking lot. The landline was downstairs, in the kitchen.
    Something crashed in a room below. Jenny jumped and dropped her phone. It hit her thigh, then her foot, and went skittering under the bed with a faint scrape against the wood floor.
    A man was swearing downstairs. Hopefully that had covered up any sound she’d made. Jenny clenched her hands to control the trembling. She couldn’t imagine her grandmother being friendly with anyone who swore like that.
    She had to get out of the house. She wouldn’t wait upstairs for the burglars, if that’s what they were, to find her. If she could get to her car – damn. Her keys were in her purse, which was downstairs on the living room couch. So she couldn’t drive, but she could still go to the Lodge, break in if she had to. Use the phone in the office, call the police.
    Still shaking, Jenny crouched and felt along the floor for her shoes. She was wearing flannel pajama bottoms and a tank top; no need to waste time putting on clothes. She was already cold, but her jacket was downstairs, lying over her purse on the couch. It didn’t matter. She just had to get out.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Jason Mosberg: The Desert, Desert Cities, and my YA Novel Grift

Today I welcome my first guest  author, Jason Mosberg. I read an Advanced Reader Copy of his new novel, Grift, and loved it. It's an exciting crime caper, with plenty of action and suspense, suitable for ages 12 through adult. (Read my full review on Goodreads.) Here's Jason on his experiences in the Southwest:

As a child, I was fortunate to get to travel to some terrific places. Adventures with my family took me to the San Diego Zoo, skiing in Vermont, hiking Grandfather Mountain, and even snorkeling in the Virgin Islands. But I almost never went to the desert. At the time, I never realized that I wasn’t going to the desert. The desert wasn’t really on my radar. The desert just seemed like dirt, sand, and emptiness.

Since then, my writing career has brought me to the desert. I graduated college with a degree in mathematical business and a random, sudden desire to purse a career as a screenwriter. If you want to be a screenwriter, you have to move to LA. So I did.

Years later, when I set out to write my first novel, I wanted to write it in the location where the story takes place. The novel’s about teenage con artists living in Las Vegas, so I spent a month living in Las Vegas writing the first draft of Grift.  


Los Angeles and Las Vegas are both desert cities. I have a love/hate relationship with both towns. The elements that make Las Vegas so magical and fabulous also make it overwhelming, noisy, and expensive. The elements that make Los Angeles so appealing also make it crowded and difficult to navigate.

But my experiences with the desert have not been limited to these two cities. While living on the west coast, beyond my experiences in LA and LV, I’ve spent many weeks exploring the desert. On different trips with friends, I’ve gone to Anza Borrego, Joshua Tree, Sedona, Red Rock Canyon, and Palm Springs. I’ve gone on dozens of hikes. I’ve climbed through wind caves. I’ve camped under the stars. I’ve seen rattlesnakes, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and bobcats.

There’s something tranquil about the desert. It can be harsh in its hotter months, but it can be gentle and soothing as well.


So if you head to Las Vegas from the east coast or Europe or wherever, and you’re tired of losing money to the corporations that own the casinos, or you’re tired of the smell of the Strip, or if you’re tired of the flashing lights, head out to Red Rock Canyon and find more the desert has to offer. 

Or if you live in Los Angeles and find yourself feeling claustrophobic and wanting to get out of the city, drive a couple hours to Joshua Tree or Anza Borrego.

Just don’t forget your water. 


Jason Mosberg lives in Los Angeles where he works as a screenwriter. His debut novel Grift can be found on Amazon or iBooks. You can follow Jason onTwitter @ThreeStoryJason. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Homemade Green Chile Sauce

New Mexico green chile, 
Creative Commons License
I write novels of adventure and romance set in the Southwestern United States. The novels touch on local culture, including food. In fact, for my most recent romantic suspense, The Dead Man’s Treasure, I put together a recipe booklet of foods mentioned in the book. Here's an excerpt on green chiles. (See also my post Red or Green: The New Mexico Chile.)

Roasted Green Chiles

This is an important ingredient in many recipes. In New Mexico, you can buy bags of frozen, roasted, and chopped green chiles. Elsewhere, grocery stores may have small cans of green chiles in the Mexican section. You can also buy Anaheim chiles – the closest to the New Mexico green chile – in the produce section and roast them yourself. Poblanos (also called pasilla peppers) are good as well, though they have a different flavor.

A gas grill is ideal, but the broiler works, and for two or three peppers I use the toaster oven.

  1. Wash the chiles. Use gloves if you don’t want to risk stinging hands (and eyes, if you rub them).
  2. Puncture the chile pepper so the steam can escape. Some people like to split each pepper lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and membranes first.
  3. Arrange the chiles in a single layer on a barbecue grill and cook over high heat, or place on a foil-covered baking sheet 4 to 5 inches from your oven’s broiler.
  4. Grill or broil the chile peppers until the skin is starting to blacken and bubble, turning the peppers to blister each side evenly.
  5. Cover the peppers with a damp kitchen towel, or seal them in a plastic container with a couple of ice cubes for at least ten minutes. This cools the chiles, and the steam also loosens the skin so it’s easier to peel.
  6. Peel off the skin while holding the chile under running water. Don’t forget your gloves! Remove the seeds and membranes if you didn’t do that at the beginning.
  7. Use the peppers within a few days, or freeze them in airtight bags. Chop them first if you expect to want chopped rather than whole green chiles for cooking.

Homemade Green Chile Sauce
from author/illustrator/fine artist Lois Bradley
Easy and good as base for green chile stew, or for huevos rancheros, enchiladas, etc.

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 finely diced onion
1/2 tsp cumin
dash oregano
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
Salt/pepper to taste
2 cups chopped roasted green chile (about 6-8 Big Jims or comparable mild chile)
2 cups +/- chicken broth.
3 Tbsp. cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. water

  1. Sauté onion, cumin, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper in vegetable oil until onion is translucent.
  2. Stir in green chile and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
  3. Thicken with a slurry of cornstarch and water. Turn heat to low and simmer 30 minutes.


Rebecca Westin is shocked to learn the grandfather she never knew has left her a bona fide buried treasure – but only if she can decipher a complex series of clues leading to it. The hunt would be challenging enough without interference from her half-siblings, who are determined to find the treasure first and keep it for themselves. Good thing Rebecca has recruited some help.

Sam is determined to show Rebecca that a desert adventure can be sexy and fun. But there’s a treacherous wildcard in the mix, a man willing to do anything to get that treasure – and revenge.

Action and romance combine in this lively Southwestern adventure, complete with riddles the reader is invited to solve to identify historical and cultural sites around New Mexico. See the DMT page of Kris Bock’s website for a printable list of the clues and recipes from the book.

The first book in the Southwest Treasure Hunters series is The Mad Monk’s Treasure. The Dead Man’s Treasure is book 2. Each novel stands alone and is complete, with no cliffhangers. This series mixes action and adventure with “closed door” romance. The stories explore the Southwest, especially New Mexico.

ARE


Excerpt

Rebecca’s hand shook as she reached for the box. It was a metal candy tin for peppermint bark. Maybe Grandpa had a sweet tooth? Or was this some random trash left by a tourist too lazy to bring it back to his car? She straightened and gazed down at the box. It had to hold the next clue. It would be too much of a coincidence – and too heartbreaking – if it were anything else.

She glanced at Sam and he nodded in encouragement, drawing close to her side. She swung open the lid. Several folded pieces of paper lay inside. A strip of masking tape on the inside lid had words in marker: “Take one and leave the others unless you are the last.”

Rebecca pulled out the top piece of paper and unfolded it.

Are they witches in disguise
Or prophets of the future?
The men who came here didn’t know.
They had destruction on their minds.
And they changed the world.
They ate of the flesh among bombers and bullets.
And so should you!

Then past the dead soldiers you’ll find a dead end.
One is the loneliest number
Walled off from its fellows.
Pay your respects and do not forget.

Another baffling poem. Rebecca wrinkled her nose. “This one’s kind of gruesome.”

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page.


New Mexico green chile, by Littlemisslibrarian, Creative Commons License