, Muskogee, OK

May 8, 2013

Go back, enjoy McMurtry’s works

By Melony Carey
Food by the Book

— Larry McMurtry is an icon of the Texas West. Raised on a horse ranch near Fort Worth and later trained in writing by Wallace Stegner, the “Dean of the Western Writer,” at Stanford, McMurtry’s life reminds aspiring writers to find and study under the best teacher and then to “write what you know.”

McMurtry’s novels are eclipsed only by the brilliant movie adaptations made of them. The made-for-TV version of his “Lonesome Dove” trilogy was so popular during the last two decades that his earlier and more critically acclaimed works have been somewhat forgotten.

McMurtry’s first big novel was “Horseman, Pass By,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. Set on a horse ranch in post World War II Texas, McMurtry transitioned the novel into a screenplay for the movie better known as “Hud,” starring Paul Newman. More success came on its heels in the form of his 1966 novel, “The Last Picture Show.” The hypocritical doings of small town folk in fictional Thalia, Texas, center on their favorite pastimes, football and lust. Unfortunately, McMurtry’s novel was upstaged again by the 1971 movie adaptation, especially because of Cybill Shepherd’s portrayal of the character Jacy.

In 1975, McMurtry released the very touching “Terms of Endearment,” also better known as a movie than a novel. In 2005, he co-wrote the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain” based on a short story by Annie Proulx. The successful film adaptations of McMurtry’s works make it difficult to go back and re-read his novels, but it is well worth a try.

Something else you have to try is the Lime Cilantro Chicken featured on Pinterest. If you have not explored this popular online pinboard, give it a try, too. You can even find Larry McMurtry pins there.

Lime Cilantro


In a slow cooker, mix together:

One 24-ounce jar medium or mild salsa

Juice from one lime

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

One 1.25-ounce package taco seasoning

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)

Add 4-6 boneless chicken breast halves (completely defrosted) to the slow cooker and coat with the salsa mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve the chicken with the salsa mixture spooned over the top. Optional, dollop of sour cream on top with some crushed tortilla chips. This is also delicious as a taco filling or in a taco salad. Serve with beans and rice.

Texas Caesar


2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 cup chopped shallots

2 anchovy fillets

2 garlic cloves

1 jalapeno chili, seeded, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup olive oil

8 cups bite-size pieces Romaine (from 2 heads)

3 cups purchased salad croutons

1 large red bell pepper, diced

2 ears sweet white corn, kernels removed

1 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained, patted dry, thinly sliced

Additional freshly grated Parmesan

Puree first 9 ingredients in processor until smooth. Gradually add olive oil and process until blended. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Combine romaine lettuce and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Garnish with additional grated Parmesan.

Source: Bon Appetit, July 1999.