Brazilian barbecue

Brazilian-style barbecue

Jackie and I invited our fellowship group to come to the house on Saturday night to enjoy some Brazilian-style barbecue with us.  We have learned to prepare this dish from Dr. Flavio Riberio, one of our former grad students in the Department of Animal Science who is from Brazil and who just loves to prepare these wonderful dishes.  Flavio has been coming to the UGST 181 Texas Barbecue class to demonstrate Brazilian barbecue for our students, and his trip and the food he prepares has become the event of the semester.

I have replicated the cinder-block pit in our backyard (to go with our pig pit), and I purchased some Brazilian skewers to hold the meat during cooking.  Preparing the meat for cooking is rather simple:  just use coarse sea salt and salt the meat immediately before cooking and after slicing the cooked portions off and before putting the piece back onto the pit.  It is that simple and it is that good!

I cooked two products:  chuck short ribs and sirloin flap.  I did not have any pichanha, the typical cut used for Brazilian-style barbecuing, but this is not our last go-round with this fun way to cook and serve meat.  Flavio also showed us how to prepare the dipping salsa (I am not sure how to best describe this), which is diced green bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes placed a in bowl with olive oil and a some apple cider vinegar and a little salt.  Slices of the cooked beef are dredged through this salsa so that the oil and vegetable mixture gets on the meat and you eat it immediately.  It is simply wonderful.

I am enclosing photos of the products during cooking so you can see how they changed throughout the evening.  I look forward to many more Brazilian events with our family, friends, and students.


Shuttles from downed post oak tree

Several years ago, we had a major wind storm come through our neighborhood and took down some of the trees. Our neighbors, the O’Neals, had a large post oak blown down and because of its large diameter and straight trunk, I decided to get it. Well, I was not very well prepared to do so since all I had was my Ford Expedition so I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a large chain, attached it to the log, and drug the log across the street to our driveway. The trunk set there for over a year before I found out that Dr. Chester, one of our friends from Aggie Baseball, had a saw mill. Dr. Chester came and got the trunk, sawed it into planks, and I put the planks in the garage to dry where they have been being stored and generally in the way for years now as I tried to decide what to do with them. It is rather hard to get excited about post oak wood when you have been working with first hard maple and now African mahogany!

With Jackie’s weaving, she uses wooden shuttles to take the fiber through the vertical trends on her loom (I am way over my head right now), and I had made her some additional shuttles to use a couple of months ago. This weekend, she asked me to make her some longer shuttles as she was working on the widest project to date on her loom, and the existing shuttles were not long enough to allow her to weave very comfortably. I told her I would make her some longer shuttles and decided to do this while she was out of town on Sunday.

As I looked at what wood to use for making the shuttles, I saw these post oak planks in my garage and decided to see how they would work. I picked one out that was fairly straight and began running it through the planer. When I got it planed on both sides, I ripped into smaller pieces to allow easier resawing on the band saw and then I planed the individual pieces until I got them to about 1/4 inch in thickness (the smallest setting on my planer). This plank had some spalting in it, which is a fungus that does add character to the piece. After about four hours, I had three finished, messed up one of them so I will make a shorter one later, and have roughed out four others for future use. I am getting better at doing this, and it may be cheaper to just purchase them from a weaving supplier, but both of us on into doing things by hand these days, which adds a tremendous amount of satisfaction and accomplishment to our lives.

By the way, those boards that I kept thinking about throwing away ever so often produced wonderfully looking shuttles. There is some analogy to this story about outward and inward appearances, but I will let someone else post about that.

First mohair product

Here is a photo of Jackie’s first mohair product.  Wow!  She is looking at how much it would take to make a sweater out of it.  I think I will put my order in now.  mohair

wool samples

Wool, wool, and more wool

This spring, Jackie has immersed herself in all things fiber.  She has been taking weaving and spinning classes in Waco at the Ploughshare Institute for Sustainable Culture and has just had a grand time learning from them by taking various courses.  Jackie has found a great resource for fiber at WC Mercantile in Navasota, and for her birthday, she got a spinning wheel from them to go along with her loom she got from the folks in Waco.  I will work to post photos of her work so you can see how she is progressing.

I work with Shawn Ramsey, who is a professor in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University and who specializes in all things sheep and goats including the fibers from them.  When I told Shawn that Jackie was getting into spinning and weaving, he told me that he had some wool and mohair that would be good for her to look at and see if she could use.

We met Shawn at the Pearce Pavilion where he stores the fleeces he uses for teaching for a tour.  What a great storehouse of all kinds of fibers to learn about.  Shawn showed us different fleeces with different spinning counts and grease amounts.  We saw fibers from fine wool and medium wood sheep along with some mohair from kids and adult Angora goats.  Shawn gave Jackie some samples of cleaned wool and mohair tops to play with to see what she could do with them.  Jackie told him that she would be glad to bring her spinning wheel up to campus to show his students how to spin so I think that there will be a good trade off happening soon.

I am including some of the photos from our visit so you can see the different types of wool and mohair Shawn had, and we will see what Jackie can do with her samples.  Stay tuned!

Grilled Peaches With Mascarpone Cheese


  • Olive oil, for brushing grill
  • 3 firm, but ripe peaches, pitted and quartered
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. brandy (we used amaretto)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract


Lightly brush the grill with oil. Grill peaches 2 to 3 minutes per side, moving the peaches only to flip them to create nice grill marks.

Meanwhile, stir together the sugar, brandy (or amaretto) and lemon juice in a medium bowl; set aside.

As the peaches are ready, remove them from the grill and place them in a shallow baking dish. Top them iwht the brandy mixture; toss to coat. Set aside for 15 minutes and allow to marinate, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile, stir together the mascarpone and vanilla in a small bowl. Divide the grill peaches equally among 6 plates. Serve with a dollop of the mascarpone mixture. Refrigerate any leftovers. Serves 6.


Adapted from Kroger recipe mail out with input from Jeff Savell, Jennifer Larriviere, and Thomas Larriviere.

By Jeff Savell Posted in Recipes

Grilled Zucchini With Parmesan


  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 lb total)
  • 4 oz. Parmesan cheese (or grated)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon


Pre-heat grill to medium (375°F). Wash and dry zucchini. Trim ends off at a diagonal. Slice crosswise, on the diagonal, about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick (you’ll have thick, oblong slices of squash).

Using a vegetable peeler, shave wide ribbons from the block of Parmesan cheese to measure 1/3 cup. Set aside. (Alternatively, use grated Parmesan.)

In a medium bowl, gently toss zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Place zucchini slices directly on the preheated girl or on a vegetable-grilling rack. Grill for 10 to 12 minutes., turning once after about 6 minutes. The squash should be lightly charred and cooked through, but still firm. Remove zucchini slices to a serving plate. Squeeze half a lemon over the slices, then top with Parmesan ribbons. Serve warm. Serves 4.


Adapted from Kroger recipe mail out.

By Jeff Savell Posted in Recipes
Grilled Avocado

Grilled Avocado



  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Coarse salt (Kosher)
  • Bakery French bread
  • 6 Tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder


Pre-heat grill to medium (375°F).  Cut avocados in half and remove the seeds.  Place the avocado cut-side down directly on the pre-heated grill or on a vegetable grilling rack.  Cook for 8 to 10 mins until the fruit is lightly charred, then transfer to plate to cool slightly.

Spoon the grilled avocado out of the peel into a medium bowl; mash it with a fork until chunky.  Slice the basil leaves into thin ribbons; add to the mashed avocado along with the juice of 1/2 lemon and salt to taste.  Stir well to combine.

Combine garlic powder with melted butter.  Slice bread into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness, spread butter/garlic mixture onto slices, and place butter-side down on grill until toasted.

Scoop avocado mixture on toasted bread slices and serve.  Serves four.


Adapted from Kroger recipe mail out and adjusted by Jeff Savell, Jennifer Larriviere, and Thomas Larriviere.

By Jeff Savell Posted in Recipes
Jackson, Jackie, and Lauren

Jackie, the spinning wheel, and the grandkids

Jackie has gotten into weaving and spinning (that is the subject of another post later), and she brought her spinning wheel to Plano for the first time.  Jackson and Lauren were excited to see it in action and to try their hand at it.  Mama J and her grandkids had a great time playing with the spinning wheel!


Visit with Jack

Jackie and I had the opportunity to visit Jack (and, of course, his parents) this week.  It has been some time since we have seen him so it was great to get to hold him and see him for this brief time.  He is growing and developing more of a personality.  It will be fun watching him grow up and being a part of it.

Here are some photos of Jack.

Starting again!

Well, I have tried to blog in the past, usually around international travel, but I did not stay with it.  This is my next attempt to capture some of my thoughts in a variety of interest areas.  Wish me luck!

By Jeff Savell Posted in General