A lunch with bite

By Chef Don Bingham

Some men play golf in their spare time; others enjoy hunting and fishing; and then there’s Dr. Ken Griffin, former associate dean of the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas. He likes to go shark teeth hunting—in ARKANSAS! Yes, that’s right! There was a time more than 65 million years ago, known as the Cretaceous period, when Arkansas was covered with 300 feet of ocean water. During this period of time, the state was inhabited by Mosasaurus (a genus of water reptiles), saltwater crocodiles and various species of sharks, including sand tiger sharks and crow sharks…and they all had teeth! In fact, Griffin has uncovered thousands of them. 

Griffin pans for shark teeth in Hot Spring County.

“I usually can find 25 shark teeth in one scoop from the gravel floor of the waterbed,” Griffin said. Arkansas has numerous zones where fossil-like teeth can be found, with the closest zone in the Malvern area, just off Interstate 30. Who knew? Those who love to hunt shark teeth may visit the app designed to inform you when the water is at the right depth for panning for teeth around the Ouachita River at Remmel Dam. It is waterdata.usgs.gov.

Of course, there are rules and regulations for shark teeth hunting, and most panning exhibitions are held on public property. The areas near Malvern are quite close to the interstate highway systems.

A sample of shark teeth from the Malvern area. He typically finds 25 in one scoop.

In case you feel you might like to branch out in your shark teeth hunting, there are other fossil-rich zones in Florida, South Carolina, California and Georgia. Griffin has panned in all of these states and has thousands of framed shark teeth in his expansive collection! 

Griffin shared that “the average shark will produce and expel hundreds of teeth–pushing old ones out to make room for new ones to appear–all in nature’s process of the need for using the teeth, which range in various sizes and are used to work on a daily basis for their dietary needs.”

The tools needed for the exhibition are minimal: wading boots, a “letter holder” type basket with sieve-like sides and bottom and a scoop! Griffin’s best “tooth-hunting buddy” is Dr. Mike Casey, a professor in the finance department at UCA. Did I mention that Griffin’s day job was as a professor of management information systems (MIS), finance and identity theft? Now, when not panning for shark teeth, he will be found each week on the local golf course at 1:30 a.m. mowing the golf course lawn! Should our readers desire to read any of the hundreds of publications, research papers, journal articles and published documents written by Griffin during his teaching career, you will find more data than you can imagine on a myriad of topics, including “Internet Taxation: Does It Really Matter?” Or how about “Academic Integrity in the Online Environment,” or “Accounting for Internet Fraud Acceleration?” 

Dr. Ken Griffin likes to hunt for shark teeth in the Malvern area (Hot Spring County) of the 501. He has collected thousands, which are on display at his Conway home.

I asked Griffin what the culinary preference for shark tooth hunting might be, and he replied, “usually a stop by the closest McDonalds.” Realizing the need to raise his level of professionalism in his culinary tastes while panning for shark teeth, I offered to create a lunch with fare to equal Ken’s extraordinary level of knowledge in all things MIS-related.

We have included the recipes for any of you who grow weary of a round of golf, ordinary fishing on the Arkansas River or a elk discovery in North Arkansas. This menu is not limited to panning for shark teeth!

Mustard-Horseradish Dressing

⅔ cup of salad oil • ⅓ cup white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. sugar • 1 Tbsp. horseradish 

1 tsp. salt • 1 tsp. dry mustard

½ tsp. grated onion • ¼ tsp. pepper

Paprika to taste

In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt, dry mustard, pepper, and a dash of paprika. Add horseradish and grated onion. With an electric mixer at medium speed, slowly add salad oil, a little at a time, alternately with white wine vinegar. Chill thoroughly before tossing in the cooked beef.

Cold beef sandwich

1 ½ cups of cooked beef

Mustard-horseradish dressing (recipe above)

1 hoagie bun • Sliced cherry tomatoes

Thinly sliced red onion rings • Shredded lettuce

Toss 1 1/2 cups of cooked beef, thinly sliced, in mustard-horseradish dressing. Arrange beef strips, sliced cherry tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onion rings into hoagie bun; top with shredded lettuce.

Roll prepared sandwich in foil; place sandwich in ice chest for travel until time for meal.

Wedge Salad in a Jar

4-6 slices bacon • 1 red onion, diced

1 cup buttermilk • 1/2 cup sour cream

1 (1 oz) pkg ranch salad dressing mix

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 head romaine lettuce, cut into strips

1 small, diced tomato

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. (Bacon may be done in the microwave, if desired). Crumble bacon and set aside. Mix ranch dressing mixture, buttermilk and sour cream until smooth. In a Mason jar, layer lettuce, onions, bacon, tomatoes, and spoon dressing on top. Repeat layers to the top of the jar, finishing with diced tomatoes. Place the jar in an ice chest, along with other luncheon items. 

Stuffed Eggs

6 hard-cooked eggs • ¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tsp. vinegar • 1 tsp. prepared mustard

1 tsp. dill pickle relish • ½ tsp. salt

Black pepper to taste

Halve hard-cooked eggs lengthwise. Remove egg yolks and mash them with the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, relish and black pepper, then refill the hollowed egg whites with the mixture.

Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Cookies

1 cup flour • 1 cup oats

1/2 tsp. soda • 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup brown sugar • 1/2 cup white sugar

½ cup softened butter • 1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla • 1 cup golden raisins

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts.

Cream together softened butter, egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add raisins and nuts. Drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Don Bingham
Latest posts by Don Bingham (see all)