slow cooker beef shawarma

This recipe for slow cooker beef shawarma came from the Fit Slow Cooker Queen. I deviated from the recipe quite a bit.

Beef ShawarmaI replaced the white vinegar with red wine vinegar and za’atar with berbere, which is what I had on hand. The recipe didn’t call for it, but I marinated the meat in the spice mixture for ninety minutes before putting it into the slow cooker.

I replaced the two pounds of sirloin with a half pound of flap meat. I omitted the onion.

Now Fit Slow Cooker Queen is big on Whole30/Paleo/low carb which isn’t exactly how Terry and I roll. So this is what I did. I put the beef in the bottom of my slow cooker, then I added a cup of brown rice and two cups of combined water and vegetable stock. I cooked for two hours on high and four hours on low. (Remember that I have one of those old crock pots, which are no longer manufactured, that cook at a lower temperature.)

I should have cut the rice and water in half, nonetheless this was a very tasty dinner. Marinating the beef brought out a lot of flavor and this is well worth trying again with less rice.


a different hair experience

Sacred music Friday will return next week,
the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

When we left Gilroy in 2015 Terry and I left behind our loyal hair stylist, Debbie. Arriving here at Four Seasons I found Stephanie who worked at the salon on site. She at one point stopped spending time here and I saw her at her salon a few miles away. It was easy and simple. She gave me a quick, efficient haircut and charged me fifteen dollars. I gave her a twenty and was on my way. Not Debbie, but it sufficed.

hair stylists business cardsRecently Stephanie told me that she was moving. Her salon was being sold and the new owners had a different business model. She was moving to Menifee, a twenty-five minute drive away. That didn’t work for a ten-minute haircut. I went to a nearby salon and asked if they did men’s hair. They did, and made me an appointment with Taylor.

Taylor is a young guy whose sister and mom also work in the shop. We had a lot in common as he grew up in Hemet as did I. He graduated from Taquitz High School, which didn’t exist when I graduated from Hemet High many years ago. Taylor did a good job. He was thorough and complete, much more so than Stephanie. The bill was twenty-five dollars to which I added a five dollar tip.

It’s the difference between twenty and thirty dollars. It’s a difference that I’m happy to absorb given the added attention to detail.


our copper grill mat

One day this summer Terry came home from Bed Bath & Beyond with a box of copper grill mats, as seen on TV. I hadn’t seen them on TV, but apparently she had. I couldn’t grouse too much as the store price was reasonable and she managed to finagle another twenty percent off.

I pulled one mat out of the box and put the other one away for later use. I was dubious at first, but after using the mat I was impressed. I’ve used it with both chicken and burgers. Everything turned out great. The claim “perfect grill marks every time” was inaccurate, but the food tasted marvelous and I didn’t have to scrape the grill, which goes for a lot. Perhaps the Grill Daddy will be retired.

The pièce de résistance was when I made pizza. Marvelous!

We’re making the grill mat an integral part of our grilling repertoire.

Grill Mat


Word by Word

Word by Word coverWord by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries
Kory Stamper
Pantheon (March 14, 2017), 320 pages
Kindle edition $13.99, Amazon hardcover $18.32

I should have been a lexicographer. That was what I thought when I began reading this book. After all, I love words and language. I certainly believe I have “sprachgefühl,” what Stamper say is “a feeling for language.” And I most certainly meet the qualifications:

quoteAt Merriam-Webster, there are only two formal requirements to be a lexicographer: you must have a degree in any field from an accredited four-year college or university, and you must be a native speaker of English.

Stamper says that many people are surprised that a degree in linguistics or English isn’t required. But, she says, “The reality is that a diverse group of drudges will yield better definitions.”

I realized as a made my way through this book, however, that maybe I didn’t want to be a lexicographer. Stamper describes the process she goes through in revising the definition of a word. She may spend weeks on one word. At one point she describes how she put her head down on her desk in frustration.

If you enjoy reading and thinking about words and definitions you will love this book. It is written in a witty, lively manner and is a delight to read. Long before you are finished you will have permanently reinforced in your mind the fact that dictionaries are written by real people sitting in a real office pouring over the evidence of how words are used.


homemade pizza on the grill

Pizza on the Grill- 1We’ve been serious about grilling this summer. One of the dishes for grilling that I’ve seen but which I had been hesitant to try was pizza. That was until Terry brought home a package of copper grill mats. (More about those another time.) After using the grill mat with chicken and hamburgers I was ready to try pizza.

I had a couple of grilled pizza recipes in my database, but nothing that really inspired me. So I went off on my own.

We don’t have a Trader Joe’s near us, but there is one in the retail metropolis of Temecula thirty minutes to the south. Terry was headed there to visit Barnes & Noble so I asked her to stop at TJ’s for their fresh pizza dough. Locally I bought mushrooms, sausage from the service meat department, sliced provolone, and Cento pizza sauce. We had a can of olives in the pantry. There were two small ripe tomatoes in our container garden.Pizza on the Grill - 3

I put everything together and put it on the preheated grill. I gave it about twelve minutes.

The result surpassed my expectations. I really left it on too long as the bottom of the crust was charred, but that only minimally interfered with our enjoyment of the pizza.

The next time I’ll give it eight minutes or so and it will be ideal.

Pizza on the Grill - 2


hard to believe

It really is hard to believe that “many years from now” has arrived.


Sacred Music Friday: Te Deum

John Rutter’s Te Deum performed by the Bow Valley Chorus.