Eating Meat

The following column was only my second for In the Kitchen.  As you’ll see, the original recipe called for Tilapia. Since this column originally ran, I’ve read several articles about Tilapia and the way they are raised. A couple of those articles claimed that because of the way Tilapia is raised it is not a healthy fish to eat. One article even claimed that bacon was healthier than Tilapia. Wild caught fish are much healthier for one than farm raised Tilapia, according to much of what I’ve read. So you may wish to switch to something like wild-caught Alaskan cod, or some other wild-caught fish.

We Americans love our meat, and here in Oklahoma where so many of us raise or have raised cattle and hogs – we love our red meat.  Every day I see at least one pickup with the “Eat Beef” sticker.  But I’ve learned that it really can be hard on your heart, your arteries and your body to eat too much meat, especially red meat.

The heart healthy diet I was placed on calls for only one serving of animal protein a day and by one serving, they mean 3.5 to 4 ounces of meat.  That is about the size of a deck of cards.  I’m supposed to only eat one serving of red meat once per month, if at all.  And red meat does not just mean beef.  The National Pork Producers did a splendid job in marketing with their “Pork, the other white meat” campaign, but it is just marketing.  Pork is considered red meat, as is duck, lamb, and veal.

I can have white meat poultry (chicken or turkey) once a week, and I can have shrimp, crab, lobster or crawfish once a week.  They told me I could have fish every other day, to include oysters, mussels, scallops and clams.  My problem is I don’t care for most fish or water based life as food.  I loved fried catfish but that was about it.  But I’m not supposed to have any fried food!

The good thing about fish is that they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect against heart attacks and reduce inflammation.  So, I am learning to like fish in a few different forms.  Here is a recipe that I do like and it is healthy.

Oven Baked Blackened Tilapia

1 pound tilapia fillets (I buy frozen)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Blackening Rub

3 Tablespoons Paprika

1 teaspoon Salt

1 Tablespoon Onion Powder

1 teaspoon Black Pepper

½ to 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon Thyme

1 teaspoon Oregano

½ teaspoon Garlic Powder


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Combine the ingredients to make the Blackening Rub.  Line a sheet pan with foil and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Brush the oil over the foil where the fish will be laid.  Rinse and pat dry the fish fillets.  Brush with olive oil.  Cover the fillets with the spices and rub it in on both sides.


Place the fillets on the foil and spray them lightly with PAM (or something similar).  Place in the oven and cook for 10 to 11 minutes.


I prefer to eat mine with Tartar Sauce.  This is a simple homemade recipe.  Combine 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of sweet pickle relish and ¼ teaspoon of onion powder.  Mix it up well and you are ready to eat some healthy, baked blackened tilapia!  Add a fresh salad and a baked potato and you have yourself a heart healthy meal!  Well, if you leave off the butter and salt on the potato.  I eat mine with salsa!

A Favorite Memory (Rain Man)

On my birthday in 2015 (my 50th), Kelly and I got to attend an awesome reunion. This is the story I wrote for the newspaper about that reunion.

By Brent Wilcox for the Minco Millennium

Do you remember the scene from the Academy Award winning 1988 movie Rain Man where actors Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman get out of their car on a country road and walk up to a white house with a big front porch? Cruise’s character Charlie Babbitt says, “I want you to look normal, or normal as possible. Put your hands down.” Raymond (Hoffman’s character) says, “Four minutes to Wapner.”

Charlie knocks on the door several times and then a lady in a red house dress opens the door. Charlie tells an elaborate lie about how he is with the Nielson Company and the lady’s family could be chosen as a Nielson family. The whole time Charlie is going on with this lie, Raymond is muttering and wobbling back and forth. The lady, played by actress Beth Grant, asks who Raymond is and as Charlie begins to tell her he is his partner, she slams the door shut.

Raymond begins to lose it and goes from window to door, wobbling back and forth. “One minute to Wapner!” The lady is watching out the small window in the door and we see this herd of little boys get up and go to the window.

Finally the lady opens the door again and says loudly, “What is going on out here!” Charlie comes clean and says he lied to her. He explains that Raymond is his brother and says, “If he doesn’t get to watch People’s Court in about 30 seconds he’s going to throw a fit right here on your porch. Now you can help me or you can stand there and watch it happen.”

She says, “Well we like to watch cartoons, do you think he would settle for that?” The scene then cuts to the television tuned to the People’s Court. We see Raymond sitting in the floor looking up at the TV. As we hear Judge Wapner talking in the background, the camera scrolls around the room and we see the face of each of the lady’s six sons. We then hear the youngest of the boys crying while his mom says, “Daddy’s not here right now sweetheart.”

That three minute scene was filmed 27 years ago just east of Hinton, Oklahoma on Highway 37 over a two-day period. This movie and that scene were the first real big break for actress Beth Grant. She has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows over the last quarter of a century. The six boys are actually real brothers from Hinton, the Dougherty boys.

Grant was in Oklahoma again filming another movie in our state, this one entitled “Great Plains.” She and the Doughertys have wanted to have a reunion over the years and it finally happened on Saturday, October 10, 2015.

Grant had been filming scenes in El Reno and after wrapping up there, she and her producer drove to Hinton to the Dougherty’s Royal Oaks Farms. It was just like a long-gone family member coming home with Beth Grant hugging each boy as well as their parents Michael and Catherine. As Grant hugged the boys’ sister Elizabeth, she said, “I tried to get you in the scene too.”

The script actually called for the mom character to have two kids. Grant said that Marie Rowe, the casting director came to her and said she was actually going to have six kids.

“I said ‘Boy, I’ve been busy!’ and she asked if I would like to go meet the actual kids,” said Grant. She then recollected going out to the Dougherty’s farm and meeting the kids prior to filming. “I got there and just fell in love.”

Real-life-mom Catherine brought out an old photo album of photos she had taken during the filming of Rain Man. As Grant looks through the 27-year-old photos she points to one photo of her and the boys in the living room of the old farm house.

Beth looking at photos
Beth Grant and Catherine Dougherty look at old photos from the movie shoot 27 years earlier.

“I’ve had that photo on my wall all these years!” she said.

Come to find out that same photo hangs on a wall in each of the boy’s homes too.

When she came to a photo of her in the red house coat she said, “They made me try on 18 different dresses before picking this one.”

After sharing hugs and memories at Royal Oaks Farms, everyone loaded up into their vehicles and made the short drive to the farm house where the scene was filmed.

As everyone walked to the front of the house where the scene begins in the movie, more memories began to be shared by Grant and the Dougherty brothers.

“Look at this! This is an iconic porch for all time,” exclaimed Grant. “And it’s going to live into perpetuity, and having gotten Best Picture it will be preserved forever!”

We learn that Andrew was the baby boy crying in the movie. John remembers being confused and asking if Grant was his “real mom.” He also remembered being promised cartoons and candy, neither of which were provided.

Grant said, “I’ve just got to put in a plug for making movies in Oklahoma! This is my third movie in Oklahoma. Just working on Great Plains and I did Heartland this summer. It’s a beautiful place to work; the people are friendly and wonderful. The crews are fantastic, the best crews in the world.”

Pointing to the Doughertys she said, “These people, it affected their lives to have this movie made here. They’ve grown into such incredible young men, I’m so proud of you guys! I’ve already cried three times and not going to do it again!”

After the reunion, Catherine Dougherty described the reunion as magical. As observers we would agree.

My first food column

This was my first column (it’s called In the Kitchen with Brent in the newspaper) about eating a heart-healthy diet. This column ran in October 2014. As of last count, I’ve written 123 columns that had to do with heart health, food and exercise.

Continue reading “My first food column”