Finding Billy Battles - Ronald E. Yates, Author

11:33 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Kaw River Kitchen Mystery
(Make sure you read the story behind this dish which will be at the end of book review)

(A premium chili recipe created along the banks of the Kansas River by a Jayhawker. You may use ground beef, cubes of beef or pork, or ground meatless soy/vegetable crumbles. In each case, the amounts listed for each ingredient in the list below remains the same. I usually double or triple the ingredients so I have enough to enjoy for several days.)


Main Ingredients

2 lbs. coarsely ground beef  (or soy/vegetable crumbles)
2 lbs. (or a 40 oz. can) of kidney or pinto beans
2 medium onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
2, 14 oz. cans of chopped tomatoes (note: some are “chili ready”)
1 garlic clove, minced (in lieu of garlic glove, use 1 tsp. garlic powder)
3 Tblsp. Canola or Olive oil (or other vegetable oil)

Herbs & Spices

2 Tsp. salt
3-1/2 Tsp. chili powder
½ Tsp. black pepper
½ Tsp. crushed red pepper
½ Tsp. paprika
½ Tsp. oregano
2 Tsp. cumin seed, ground
1 Tblsp. brown sugar
½ Tblsp. dry mustard
1 Tsp. celery salt
1 bay leaf
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1 Tblsp. white vinegar

1 cup water

Optional: I cup of red wine (or you may substitute another cup of water, if a thinner chili is desired). Add the wine about ½ hour before serving.


It is best to use a large professional-quality heavy steel or aluminum pot, though a Teflon-coated pot is fine. It should be at least 6 quarts and preferably 8 quarts or more in size.

Prepare all ingredients BEFORE beginning to cook!

Add onions and oil to pot and sauté for a few minutes. Add meat (or veggie-crumbles) and stir. Add beans. Add remaining ingredients to meat, beans and onions. Simmer uncovered for about 2 hours. Cook longer for better flavor—6-8 hours. (For even better flavor, after cooking, put chili in refrigerator overnight and when ready to eat, heat up for about 1 hour). Add wine about ½ hour before serving. Serves 10.

Finding Billy Battles - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of - Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"I made it a point during my life to keep a record of my comings and goings, events that I experienced, people I met - both good and bad - and places I traveled to," he continued.  "I have written something like twelve journals.  About a dozen years back, I began writing my memoirs based on those journals.  Never finished it.  I don't expect you to understand what I am about to tell you right now.  You are still a boy.  But later, when you are grown and you have finished your education, you will better understand things.  It is just as well, because I prefer that a lot of what I am writing not be available to others until after your grandmother and I are gone."  "Ted, I want you to take my journals, my memoirs, all my belongings, and someday, perhaps twenty years from now, you can help me set the record straight about some things I did, people I met, and some events I witnessed."

These were the instructions Ted Sayles' great-grandfather Billy Battles gave him at the young age of 12.  Forty years later, Ted received some old chests filled with a historian's treasure - firsthand accounts of some of the most significant events and people in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century history.  The journals within brought to life places such as Tombstone, the Crystal Palace Saloon, and the OK Corral, as well as people such as Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Doc Holliday and even Bat Masterson.

As you read Finding Billy Battles, you'll travel with him as he works as a scribbler for several newspapers that had sprung up in the west.  You'll also feel his fears as he faces some truly dangerous men of the time.

I don't normally enjoy books of this time but following Billy became a truly exciting journey for me.  It became a book I didn't want to stop reading.  It's educational as well as enjoyable and one I would recommend for everyone.  I do believe you will enjoy it as I did.  Now I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series titles The Improbable Journals of Billy Battles.  I expect it will be just as good.

(This goes with the recipe above)

  The Kaw River, also known as the Kansas River, cuts through the heart of the rolling Kansas plains, fed by the Big Blue and Black Vermillion rivers that flow from the north. It is neither an especially impressive nor noteworthy stream. For example, it doesn't compare with more majestic tributaries like the Mississippi or the Missouri Rivers, which are known for their breadths and lengths and histories as rivers of commerce.

  Instead, the Kaw was known by the Cheyenne, Comanche, Oglala Sioux, Kiowa and Kickapoo Indians who lived for centuries along its banks as the "water of the tall grass." The Kaw was a good place to water horses and livestock and to hunt the millions of buffalo and antelope which once ruled the Kansas plains.

  Both the Oregon and Santa Fe trails followed the Kaw's banks before the two famous routes leading west from Westport, Mo. (now Kansas City) separated with one leading off into the vast northwestern prairies and the other into the arid badlands of the southwest. The wagon ruts left by thousands of covered wagons and buckboards can still be seen along the Kaw's banks. 

  Not far from its western source, is Ft. Riley, home of the 7th Cavalry. And this is where the story of the chili you are about to consume begins.

  Most people will remember the 7th Cavalry for its disastrous encounter with the Sioux and Cheyenne Nations at The Little Big Horn River in what is now Montana. Among those with Gen. George Armstrong Custer on that fateful day on June 25, 1876 was Capt. George W. Yates, an officer attached to the 7th Cavalry since 1874 and a veteran of countless battles and skirmishes with the plains Indians.

  Prior to his posting at Ft. Riley and his untimely demise at the crest of a hill overlooking the Little Big Horn, Capt. Yates had served in the Southwest Territories. There he met and married Estella del Carmen Huerta, a woman whose ancestors were Spanish landowners in New Mexico. It was the Huerta family cook who first introduced Capt. Yates to Southwestern chili--a piquant and biting concoction made with suet, pork and beef shoulder and spiced with coriander and ancho, pastilla and casbel peppers.

  When he and Estella moved to Kansas, Capt. Yates had to adapt his chili recipe accordingly. There was no coriander or ancho, nor did pastilla and casbel peppers grow along the Kaw River. 

  The result is what has come to be known in the Yates clan as Kaw River Kitchen Mystery. 

  Why mystery? 

  Because when asked what he put into his chili, Capt. Yates would only say: 

  "I go out along the Kaw and whatever I find growing wild that hasn't been buried under buffalo chips or defiled by cattle and horses I put into my saddle bag. Then I just add meat and beans. And I'll be damned if it isn't a mystery to me why the outcome is edible."

  Capt. Yates's creation has undergone a few subtle "adjustments" in the intervening years. For example, you won't find many of the exotic flora (or fauna) indigenous to the Kaw River in the current version. 

  But by and large the Kaw River Kitchen Mystery of today is pretty close to the original version--except for the occasional buffalo chip flake or two that old-timers swore gave Capt. Yates's concoction just the right touch of "mystery."  


Ron Yates,

Just Add Salt - Jinx Schwartz, Author

8:39 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Since Hetta is always boating in places without stores now, I thought I'd share her:
Emergen-Sea Ice Cream Recipe

1 Gallon sized Ziploc
1 Qt. sized Ziploc

Cream or canned milk to fill Qt zip to 3/4 full
OR if feeling ambitious, make french custard mix

ADD: Vanilla to taste

           Sugar to taste
           Flavoring: Chocolate syrup is great!
Seal qt. bag and place inside gallon bag.
Seal gallon bag.

Shake, shake, shake your booty until frozen.
This also acts as an on-board aerobic activity.


Can also serve a slushy Margarita maker with lime juice, salt, sugar, and tequila. Not recommended when underway.

Just Add Salt - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Nothing like a new project or romantic rejection to get my lazy self motivated.  So, fired by an emotionally charged combination of excitement and choler, I compiled an extortionate list of demands for my new client... The Trob had given me the basic of the project, so I still was a little scarce on details... Tanuki wanted me to do some major snoopery before they spent too much time and money on this project.  Or so they said.  My experience was that Japan Incorporated rarely takes the environment too seriouskly, especially the ecosystems of others.

Hetta Coffey along with her friend Jan and their boyfriends Jenks and Lars, had been planning a trip to Mexico on Hetta's boat for some time, so when she finds out that Jenks and Lars are both on a job in Kuwait that will keep them there for some time she decides to take the job offered by Tanuki and go to Mexico without them.  She and Jan combined can manage her boat, which is also her full-time home, but Jan insists they hire a captain and so starts the search for a captain that isn't afraid to tread into those waters during hurricane season.

This book is full of adventure as well as humor.  I couldn't help but laugh out loud when Lonesome the male whale started 'courting' the boat.  Author Jinx Schwartz has given the characters of Hetta and Jan a real sense of humor as well as adventure that keeps you reading to see what they will get into next and how they will get out of it.  Can't wait to read Book 3 in this series.

Alter Ego - Tory Allyn, Author

1:13 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

(A Tory Allyn Speciality)

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Bake: 25 min.
MAKES: 12 servings

3 large eggs, divided use
6 tablespoons reduced-fat butter, softened
1 cup sugar, divided
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Separate two eggs, putting each white in a separate bowl (discard yolks or save for another use); set aside. In a small bowl, beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar until crumbly. Beat in the whole egg, one egg white and vanilla until well combined. Combine flour and cocoa; gradually add to egg mixture until blended. Pour into a 9-in. square baking pan coated with cooking spray; set aside.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and remaining sugar until smooth. Beat in the second egg white. Drop by rounded tablespoons over the batter; cut through batter with a knife to swirl.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until set and edges pull away from sides of pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Alter Ego - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"In layman's terms, I said that the three victims were injected in the carotid artery.  I showed it to you in the morgue.  It caused a chemokinesis, which is the accelerated locomotion of cells due to the response of chemical stimuli.  Basically, the cells in the body went berserk.  They reacted against the foreign agent in a dramatic way, thus causing a cytomorphosis.  It's an extreme metamorphosing of the body."

"So what you're saying is that the chemical compounds caused our guys to turn into she-males?"

"What I'm saying is once the chemical compounds were introduced into their bodies they initiated a metamorphosing affect, causing a male to female alteration, thus the appearance of both characteristics.  Somewhere, in the process of morphing they died, not systematically bearing the exchange."

After being sent to Rockfort, Virginia, FBI Agent Jack Stanwick finds himself having to deal with the third victim that had been found dead under some truly strange circumstances.  It seems that all three men were in the process of changing into women prior to their deaths.  Things get worse when reporter Simone Wellington publishes an article that the Governor of Virginia's son is missing and there may be a connection.  Someone is feeding her information that must be stopped.

This has to be one of the most unusual books I've ever read... yes that's good.  I've read MANY books but Author Tory Allyn writes in a fashion that I've never had the pleasure of enjoying before.  The book was very interesting and took me on a ride but what Allyn does that is so different are the 'conversations' that are carried on with the different characters.  Normally you will find the characters stating what they want to say and the writer goes on to the next scene.  Not Allyn.  His conversations are exactly that.  They talk to each other just as you and I would.  It gives each character a true personality and a little history as to why they are the way they are.  I loved it!!!  And the story too.  I also loved that it closed with another story in the works which I'm looking forward to reading.

Murder by Proxy - Betty Gordon, Author

10:45 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Fudge Brownie Pie
(One of Vicki's favorite pies)
2 eggs
 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or marg.,  melted
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup Cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1/2 cup walnuts
1 uncooked pie pastry (favorite recipe or Pillsbury at store)
Spray pie pan with cooking spray. Spread uncooked pastry shell in pan.
In small bowl, beat eggs, blend in sugar and butter, combine flour, cocoa and salt, add to butter mixture, stir in vanilla and nuts. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake about 30 minutes until set. Serve warm with ice cream or  whipped cream.

Murder by Proxy - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

How entertaining!  The investigator and cab driver are humorous.  They don't have an inkling how to find me.  They look like kids scrambling around for a huge game of hide 'n seek.  Everything is going according to plan.  All I have to do is exercise patience until the two women leave Cairo and the cab driver gets back to whatever he does.  I'm sure the Cairo police aren't any further along with their investigation.  They'll probably drop it after the Americans are gone.

Sandy Olsen and her best friend are in Cairo for the trip of their dreams with the highlight being the King Tut tomb and artifacts.  Things are going great until Sandy's friend Desiree doesn't make it back to the hotel after an evening out.  And when her body is found at the Opet's Chapel, Sandy had no choice but to ask for help in finding her killer.  That is when Vicki Sanders comes to her aid.  Vicki and her partner Paul run an agency in Houston and are known for their ability to solve some of the harder cases.  This being their first out of the country job will lead them, especially Vicki, into more problems than she ever expected.

Normally, about half way through a book, I have my ideas as to who the killer/murderer might be.  Sometimes I'm right and sometimes I'm wrong.  This book was different.  I had no idea who the murderer would be nor why he committed the crime, until the end.  Author Betty Gordon had me going from page to page in hopes of solving this case before the end.  She gave me several suspects but none that I could see would have a reason to kill Desiree.  It was truly an enjoyable book and showed me that I'm not as good 'book detective' as I thought I was.

The Angler and the Owl - Viv Drewa

11:53 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Pecan Pie Bars(One of Viv's Special Dishes)
Yields 4 dozen
•       2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
•       1/2 cup brown sugar
•       2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cubed
•       1/4 teaspoon salt
•       3 eggs
•       2 1/4 cups pecans, chopped
•       1 2/3 cups corn syrup
•       1 cup brown sugar
•       1/3 cup honey
•       6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
•       1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.      Preheat oven to 350º F and line a 9x13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
2.      In a food processor or a large bowl, pulse together flour, sugar and salt (of crust ingredients) until combined.
3.      Slowly add in cold butter and pulse until mixture is coarse and crumbly.
4.      Turn dough out into lined baking dish and press it evenly into the bottom and around the edges.
5.      Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
6.      In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, honey, butter and vanilla extract.
7.      Fold in pecans and mix so they’re thoroughly coated. Then pour over hot crust.
8.      Return to oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until filling has set.
9.      Remove and let cool completely before extracting aluminum foil from baking dish, cutting into bars and serving.

The Angler and the Owl - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

France Hunter was excited about her first trip to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee.  Her family planned camping trips here in the past and she just loved it.  Now that she graduated from the University of Michigan, with a degree in ornithology, she was more than ready to study her favorite bird:  owls.  That is until the black bear decided to show up making her trip short in the wilderness and a bit longer in the hospital.

27 years later she finds herself in the Amazon where she is in search of her first new species of owl - the blue-ringed owl.  What she didn't expect were the feelings she soon started to feel after meeting John Sinclair who was the host of  the television show 'Sinclair's Adventures'.  Rounding out the group was Cathy Birch who was gathering information for her latest magazine article.

Author Viv Drewa brings the search for the blue-ringed owl, the dangers of the Amazon and two people who have just met and their feelings for each other.  This was a page turner which I actually finished in 2 nights.  Very enjoyable.

Hale Mary - C. M. Albrecht, Author

11:08 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Curried Egg Appetizer
(ala Dorothy Sale)

Gently boil one dozen large eggs for 14 minutes.

Immediately place in cold water, the colder the better. Gently begin tapping each egg all around until the shell begins to come apart and gently peel, placing the peeled eggs back in cold water.
After eggs are completely cool, carefully cut in half lengthwise and remove the yolk to a bowl.

When all the yolks have been placed into the bowl, add a bit of mustard (I prefer dry, but that's just an opinion), a bit of salt and pepper to taste and a goodly portion of curry powder. Mix well with a fork and then, either with a small pastry bag or spoon, place a nice portion of curried yolk on each egg half. If you have empty halves left over, enjoy them before someone else gets them.

Arrange the prepared curried eggs on an egg server, or lacking that, take a plate of suitable size and arrange them on a bed of lettuce.

Your guests will love them. Bon appétit.

Hale Mary - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Inside the guest bedroom, Mary and Gracie lay back on the twin beds, watching a little TV as they passed a fat joint back and forth between them, slowly filling the room with smoke.  Gracie got up and opened the window all the way.  "Have to keep this on the down low," she said, giggling.  "We don't want your son to be shutting us down."  "No way," Mary agreed.  She got up off the bed and fumbled in the pockets of a heavy bathrobe, bringing out half a pint of whiskey.  "We can always depend on Maudie."  She held up the bottle in a sot of pre-toast.  "Here,"  she said with a wide smile.  "let's drink to better days ahead."

Meet the characters:
"Hail" Mary Drummond married to Police Detective "Bulldog" Drummond, recently deceased.
Cray "Crayfish" Drummond - Son of Mary and Bulldog - recently fired from his job and looking for work.
Estelle - Daughter of Mary and Bulldog - following her father's footsteps she has become a Police Officer.
Grace "Gracie" Prevost - one of two best friends of Mary since childhood, widowed, living in Arizona.
Maude "Maudie" Greene  - Mary's other best friend since childhood, babysits for income but the majority of her money comes from selling pot.
Celie Drummond - Cray's wife; Brooke Drummond - his daughter; and Harry Drummond  his son.
And then there is Rowlf - a hundred forty-eight pound yellow/tan, huge hound dog that spends his days and night laying in front of the door sleeping - and he doesn't move when the door needs to be opened.

Did I mention that the ladies Mary, Gracie, and Maudie are senior citizens?  Well, they are and the antics they get into has kept me laughing throughout the whole book.  They're whiskey drinking, pot smoking women who are out to bring back their good old days and I think they succeeded and I enjoyed riding along with them.  You gotta read this book if you want a fun filled laugh.

A Ton of Gold

10:23 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves

A Special Pumpkin Dessert
(A James R. Callan Specialty)

Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with wax paper. then coat the wax paper with a thin coat of Pam.

In your mixer, combine
2  15 ounce cans of pumpkin
12 ounces of evaporated milk
1 cup of sugar

Beat in
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Pour this into the baking pan.  Sprinkle an

18 ounce yellow cake mix over the top of the pumpkin mix in the baking pan.  
1 cup of melted butter over the cake mix.
Top this off with
1  ⅟₂  cups of chopped pecans.

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  After cool, invert onto a serving platter, and carefully remove the wax paper.

In a mixing bowl, beat -
a softened  8 ounce package of cream cheese
1 ⅟₂  cups of confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
until smooth.  Fold in
12 ounces of frozen whipped topping (thaw first).  
Carefully frost the dessert.
Store in the refrigerator.

This serves  about 16 people.  

A Ton of Gold - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

The men were struggling with the wagon, its large wheels barely moving.  "Come on, Cookie.  Let's give 'em a hand."  The cook, well over two hundred fifty pounds, and Rip added their muscle to the task.  Now, with all eight men straining, the wagon wheels turned a bit faster.  It reached the point where the ground began to slope toward the cliff and the wagon began to move on its own, slowly picking up speed.  The men gave a last push, then straightened up to watch the wagon tumble off the cliff.  It splashed into the water sending a ripple all the way across the narrow lake.  In only seconds, the wagon and its heavy cargo (a ton of gold) sank out of sight.  

This took place in 1834.  Was it the truth or just a folklore?

Crystal Moore works for IRS - Intelligent Retrieval Systems.  The program she designed will allow the state police to enter descriptions of vehicles, partial plate numbers and even makes and colors to narrow down the possible identification of a vehicle they may be searching for.  Her seventy-six year old grandmother lives in Wooden Nickle, Texas in a house she and Crystal's grandfather built in the middle of 50 acres.  So, when she gets a call telling her that her 'Nana' had been in an accident she left Dallas and went straight to her aid.  Her Nana wasn't hurt badly but told Crystal that this was the 2nd attempt on her life.  Of course Crystal had doubts, that is until the 3rd attempt occurred and a body was found.  Why would anyone want to harm a little old lady that never hurt anyone?

The Author, James R. Callan, has written a book that I simply loved!  I actually read the full book in 3 nights, staying up a bit late just to read 'a little more.'  He ties the events from 1834, the attempts on Nana's life, the retrieval program and some of its employees into a story that had me wanting more.  A Ton of Gold - Crystal Moore Suspense is book one.  I'm now looking forward to book two which is now out and titled A Silver Medallion.  Can't wait!  If you like a good light-heart mystery with a touch of humor, don't miss this series.  I'm glad I didn't.