Monday, October 26, 2015

New Mexico Grilled Cheese Recipe

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. (See also my posts Red or Green: The New Mexico Chile, Homemade Green Chile Sauce, Breakfast Burrito, Huevos Rancheros, Enchilada Casserole, and New Mexico Green Chile Chicken Soup Recipe – use these links or simply click on the “Recipe” label down to the right.)

This one is quick and easy, but very tasty! Adding refried beans and chile peppers to grilled cheese also makes this “comfort food” a bit healthier. The beans keep the filling creamy, so you don’t need as much cheese.

New Mexico Grilled Cheese
2 pieces of bread per person
About 1/4 cup refried beans per person
1 whole, roasted green chile per person, or chopped green chile to taste. If you can’t get green chiles, try poblanos, chopped jalapenos, or salsa.
1 piece of pre-sliced cheddar cheese per person
New Mexico green chile, by Littlemisslibrarian
Creative Commons License

  1. Butter one side of each piece of bread, or spray with spray oil. Place half of the bread on a griddle buttered side down.
  2. Spread refried beans on that piece of bread. Lay a whole, roasted green chile on top, or spread with chopped green chile. Cover with sliced cheddar cheese.
  3. Top with the other piece of bread, buttered side up. Fry at low heat. Cover with a pot lid to help ensure that the refried beans get heated all the way through. (You can also spread the beans on one piece of bread and toast it in a toaster oven to get the beans heated through, and then add the second piece of bread and fry in the pan.)
  4. When the bottom side is getting toasty brown, flip over the sandwich and heat the other side.

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. If you love Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, or Terry Odell, try Kris Bock’s stories of treasure hunting, archaeology and intrigue, and art theft in New Mexico. To learn more about her latest work, visit or her Amazon page, or sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more

Monday, October 19, 2015

Have a Spooky Halloween with a New Mexico Ghost Tour

With Halloween coming, it’s time to get in a spooky mood! If you’re visiting New Mexico, consider a ghost tour in Albuquerque or Santa Fe. Here are some options.

90 minutes
nightly, 8 PM
$20 adults, $18 seniors/military/college, $16 students 13 to 17, $10 youth 6 to 12, children under five free
Reserve in advance: (505) 246-TOUR (8687) or online

“Legends, folklore, ghost stories and history come to life as you depart on an intriguing excursion through 306 years of haunted history. Old Town is the birthplace of Albuquerque, founded in 1706, and for more than three centuries people have lived and died around the Old Town Plaza. The historic buildings and dark alleys conceal the long-forgotten secrets of battles, murders, hangings, and hidden cemeteries.”

90 minutes
nightly, 8 PM
$22 adults. Not recommended for young children.
Recommended to reserve tickets in advance: 505-240-8000 or online

“Beneath the towering office buildings and twinkling lights of modern downtown Albuquerque lurk the memories of public hangings, duels, horrific murders and locations haunted by those who have passed over to the other side. Tales of vengeful lovers, murdered soldiers and mysterious specters await around every turn. What better way to experience Albuquerque’s history than to possibly come face to face with a spirit from the past?”

Saturday evenings, Friday evenings March to November, private tours available.
Call for reservations: 505.983.7774

“White Shell Water Place is Santa Fe’s original Tewa Indian name for a settlement that dates back to before 1100 AD. Many souls have lived here and some are still here. Want to encounter them? Take The Original Santa Fe Ghost Tour. Learn about our most famous ghost, Julia Staab, featured on the TV program, Unsolved Mysteries. Hear about our Smelly Ghost — will it assault your nostrils? Possibly encounter La Llarona, the spirit that Santa Fe mothers warn their kids about, not allowing them to play by the Santa Fe River. Skeptical? That’s okay — come spook about and see evidence on the tour.”

Custom tours, day or night
Reserve a private history tour or ghost walk: 505-986-5002 OR 505-231-1336

“Allan’s different private custom tours, from the Cathedral to Spook Lane – you get the skinny on the lore, facts, lies, myths, while you have a good time.”

Top Image: "A couple with a young female sprit" by Unknown / National Media Museum. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Bottom Image: Halloween turnip

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. To learn more about her latest work, visit or her Amazon page. Sign up for Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more

Monday, October 12, 2015

Southwestern Spooky Stories for Halloween

Every state – and country – seems to have its share of ghost stories and other spooky tales. And why not, when strange and creepy sites and legends appeal to both children and adults? Here are three options if you're in the mood for something spooky: short stories for all ages, a novel for children, and a novel for adults.

Spooky Southwest: Tales Of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, And Other Local Lore
S. E. E. Schlosser, illustrated by Paul Hoffman 
Paperback: 200 pages, $13
Publisher: Globe Pequot Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0762734256
ISBN-13: 978-0762734252

The book opens with a map of the locations of the 30 stories. They take place in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. (For the record, Texas is apparently the spookiest Southwestern state, with New Mexico second.)

The stories introduce some famous characters, such as Pecos Bill and La Lorona, the Weeping Woman. They also introduce Southwestern types such as miners and cattle rustlers. These tales are retold in the first person, as if they happened to the narrator. Yet they are definitely in the folktale or even tall tale style rather than reading as “real.”

Some stories are tragic or even gruesome, while others are more like extended jokes. You might want to review a story in advance before reading it to younger children, but there should be something for everyone.

S. E. E. Thlosser also has a Spooky Texas book, Spooky South, and Spooky Campfire Stories.

Chris Eboch
150 pages, $8.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle
ISBN-13: 978-1480055964 

In the Haunted series for ages 9 to 12, thirteen-year-old Jon and his eleven-year-old sister, Tania, are typical kids – except for the fact that Tania can communicate with ghosts. Their mom and stepdad are producers of a ghost-hunter reality television show, but they don’t know about Tania’s gift – and Tania wants to keep it that way.

The series starts with The Ghost on the Stairs, where the kids investigate a century-old ghost story in a Colorado hotel. The Riverboat Phantom takes the kids on to an antique riverboat, while The Knight in the Shadows is set in New York City and involves a ghost lurking in a museum. In terms of the Southwest, book 4, The Ghost Miner’s Treasure, has the most detailed and dramatic setting. (The books can be read individually or in any order, although there are some elements that carry through the series.)

In The Ghost Miner’s Treasur, Jon and Tania travel with the ghost hunter TV show to the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, where the ghost of an old miner is still looking for his lost mine. The siblings want to help him move on – but to help him resolve the problem keeping him here, they’ll have to find the mine. And even then, the old ghost may be having too much fun to leave! It’s a good thing Tania can see and talk to him, because the kids will need his help to survive the rigors of a mule train through the desert, a flash flood, and a suspicious treasure hunter who wants the gold mine for himself.

Kris Bock
218 pages, $9.99 paperback, $3.99 Kindle or Nook
ISBN-10: 0615582230
ISBN-13: 978-0615582238

It all begins with whispers in the night…. Kylie Hafford craves adventure during her southwestern summer. She doesn’t expect to fight for her life.

After an assault in Boston, young archeologist Kylie heads to the remote Puebloan ruins of Lost Valley, Colorado, to excavate. She plans to avoid all men and figure out her next step in life. Her first exploration of the crumbling ruins ends in a confrontation with a gorgeous, angry man who looks like a warrior from the Pueblo’s ancient past. Danesh proves that Kylie’s body is ready for love, even if her heart isn’t. If only he weren’t so aggravating… and fascinating. Then she literally stumbles across Sean, a charming, playful tourist. His attentions feel safer, until she glimpses secrets he’d rather keep hidden.

The summer heats up as two sexy men pursue her. She finds mysteries – and surprising friendships – among the other campground residents. Could the wide-eyed woman and her silent children be in the kind of danger all too familiar to Kylie?

Mysterious lights, murmuring voices, and equipment gone missing plague her dig. Kylie tries to play it safe, but when someone threatens her research, she must take action. Kylie throws aside caution, but is shocked as friends turn to foes. She has more enemies than she can possibly guess, and she’s only begun to glimpse the terrors in the dark. A midnight encounter sends her plummeting into a deep canyon. She’ll need all her strength and wits to survive. Everything becomes clear – if she wants to save the man she’s come to love and see the villains brought to justice, she can’t run away again – she must face her demons and fight.

Whispers in the Dark is action-packed romantic suspense set in the Four Corners region of the Southwest.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Studying the Stars from New Mexico

the 2.4-meter telescope 
The Magdalena Ridge Observatory(MRO) sits on South Baldy Ridge in the Magdalena Mountains, about 30 miles west of Socorro in central New Mexico and 10,600 feet above sea level. At first glance, it seems an unlikely location, but the high-altitude, remote site is perfect for astronomy.

The Observatory involves two facilities. A 2.4-meter-diameter telescope began operations in 2008. It is “one of the largest telescopes in the world that is used primarily to study objects within our Solar System,” according to Director and Astronomer Eileen Ryan in a 2010 interview. “These include asteroids, comets, satellites (both naturally occurring and man-made), and planets. About seventy percent of our current research efforts are directed toward studying asteroids and comets that could impact the Earth sometime in the future – these are called ‘potentially hazardous objects.’”

The scope can move up to 10 times faster than a normal astronomical telescope, and has six ports to mount instruments. A mirror can swing 360 degrees and switch to a different instrument in under 30 seconds, giving it an unprecedented ability to track something unexpected in the sky. They do research for the Air Force because, Lead Maintenance Technician Craig Wallace-Keck said, “It’s one of the very few existing telescopes of this caliber, this size, that has tracking capabilities so we can monitor missile launches.”

The interferometer under construction
10 Telescopes Combined

The second MRO facility, an array of optical/infrared telescopes called an interferometer, is under construction. This array will be similar to the Very Large Array (VLA), a group of 27 radio antennas on the Plains of San Agustin in western New Mexico. However, the MROI works in visible light and infrared wavelengths, while the VLA works in radio waves. The interferometer will include 10 small telescopes, which can be placed up to 340 meters apart. By combining the light from each of those, it acts like a telescope 340 meters across and will make detailed images of astronomical objects – about 100 to 300 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Other interferometers can get very detailed images of small, bright things. Hubble can look at large, faint things. The MRO interferometer can look at things smaller than the Hubble and fainter than other interferometers can image. They’ll be able to see the centers of galaxies and places where new stars are forming.

Scientists using the MROI will try to better understand black holes, how planets are formed, and how stars form, function, and die. Project Scientist Michelle Creech-Eakman noted that “Much of what we know about stars, even our own star the Sun, is based on models and theories that are sometimes more than one hundred years old.” Now scientists are discovering planets around other stars and considering the possibility of life elsewhere in the galaxy. The MROI will teach us more about stars and planets, and ultimately our place in the universe. Like the 2.4-meter telescope, the MROI can also help defend our planet and our country, by studying asteroids in our solar system, and perhaps imaging satellites.

More research questions will arise as scientists fully understand the capabilities of the MROI. Different groups will rent the facility, helping pay operational costs. The community should benefit in both jobs and tourism, including visiting scientists.

There’s a lot going on up on that remote mountaintop. “Astronomy explores and tries to explain the universe around us,” Director and Astronomer Eileen Ryan adds. “By studying the Solar System we learn more about how the Earth formed, how it may change in the future, and about what outside factors (i.e., asteroid impacts like the one that killed the dinosaurs) can influence it. The MRO facility [also] contributes positively to military interests that improve national security, and it is active in educational enhancement within New Mexico.”

The average person may have a hard time following the advanced science happening at MRO, but the magic of the stars can touch us all. “We are all made of star dust,” Creech-Eakman says. “All the material in our bodies was manufactured inside of a star.”

Hikers get a great view from the ridge
Public tours aren’t available yet, but visitors are welcome on the forest land around the MRO site. In order to transport materials, the MRO team reconstructed forest road 235 from Water Canyon to the ridge. The road is now kept open year-round with snow removal and repairs, providing forest access to hunters and hikers.

The MRO also co-hosts an annual Enchanted Skies Star Party, which includes a night of observing at the MRO site. This year’s event is October 14-17.

A version of this article was first published in the enchantment magazine by NMRECA.

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. To learn more about her latest work, visit or her Amazon page. Sign up for Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.