Pastry Wrapped Apple Rings

After making Rough Puff Pastry, I needed to use it for something.

Pastry Wrapped Apple Rings were just what I wanted: a kind of apple pie vibe, heavy on the crust. I was a little enthusiastic with the cinnamon, and the rings got a little dark. I’m happy to say, they were still delicious.

Some recipes suggested peeling your apples first, but I skipped that step. If you have an apple corer, core your apples before slicing. Since we were not in our home kitchen, I improvised with the cap of a mustard container (after washing all the mustard off) to neatly cut the core from the apples once they were sliced into rings.

An apple with a balance of tart and sweet is just right for my taste, and I like one that doesn’t cook down into mush, unless I’m making apple sauce or apple butter. I’m pretty sure these were Pink Lady apples but they may have been some I picked up at the Farmer’s Market.

You really can’t go wrong with any apple slices, wrapped in pastry dough, brushed with beaten egg and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar before baking.

Just keep wrapping until each ring of apple has a little dough jacket. If you run out of a strip of dough before the apple slice is covered, pinch another strip to the end of the first one and continue wrapping.

Put parchment paper on the baking sheet, and brush the pastry with beaten egg before sprinkling with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

We enjoyed these warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but they were also pretty yummy when cool and just eaten out of hand as a snack.

Store-bought puff pastry would work just as well for this recipe.

I didn’t get any photos, but the other half of the batch of rough puff pastry was made into delicious sausage rolls, some of which we enjoyed for our Christmas dinner. The rest were frozen and when we found the last freezer bag with 4 sausage rolls that we’d forgotten about, they were a very welcome dinner at the end of a long week.

Thanks for the visit. More of the 60 New Things Project still to come.

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Rough Puff Pastry 36/60

Hello, friends. Yes, I actually have a new blog post and it’s part of my 60 New Things Project!

Way back in March of 2020, the year I turned 60, I challenged myself to do 60 New Things. But I was not expecting a pandemic, I mean, who does, right? Anyway, I gave up on the idea of doing all 60 new things in one year.

I picked up the project again, making Rough Puff Pastry for the first time. This came as a result of watching many episodes of the Great British Bake Off, or, as it is called in the US, the Great British Baking Show, as well as episodes of Dessert Person with my favorite YouTube baker, Claire Saffitz, a cookbook author, and former contributing editor to Bon Appetit.

Rough Puff Pastry is a faster, easier version of Puff Pastry. I was thinking about going for the full puff but when I read a few recipes and watched a video, I decided the easier version would still be a new thing for me. It might not be as flaky and delicious as the real thing, but buttery, flaky, homemade pastry is bound to be good.

I was baking while on a little getaway at my mom’s vacation home up the coast at Sea Ranch. Rem and I went shopping for dinner supplies and picked up butter for the pastry. The project was disrupted when we found the little-used flour at the house was buggy. Luckily, Rem didn’t mind making a quick trip back to the store for more flour. Meanwhile, I popped half of the butter into the freezer and half into the fridge to chill.

The frozen butter is grated, while the chilled butter is cut into thin slices before they are incorporated into the flour with a little sugar, salt, and ice water. The resulting shaggy dough is chilled, rolled out, and folded several times, to create flaky layers.

Here are the ingredients for a double batch of dough (enough for two single-crust pies). Claire suggested making a double recipe and that sounded reasonable, which is why I have a batch in the freezer to enjoy later.

  • 3.5 cups AP flour
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • ice water, start with 1/2 cup (amount will vary depending on a number of factors)

You can see the episode of Dessert Person where Claire Saffitz shows you how to make Rough Puff Pastry here. This was the recipe and technique I followed.

Coming up: what I made with the Rough Puff Pastry.

Thank you for being here!


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Salesforce Park 35/60

Last September, Rem and I visited Salesforce Park on Labor Day, which was a scorching hot day. The city is usually cooler than Marin and I’d been wanting to see this spot, which Rem had visited two years before at its grand opening. I’m sorry for being slow to post about it, so please keep in mind the pictures are almost a year old and may not match the current park conditions.

The park is on the roof of the new Transbay Terminal, aka Salesforce Transit Center. A wavy exterior cladding of lacy perforated aluminum, and giant domed skylights make for a unique, light-filled space.

Coming out onto the rooftop park was like finding a hidden garden in the middle of the city.

There is a path around the perimeter, with landscaping that include plants from all over the world with information about fog irrigation, drought tolerant plantings, etc.

The winding walkway has sun and shade, beautiful views and places to sit down. At 5.4 acres, this is not just a tiny pocket park, but a generous green space to explore.

Back inside on the ground floor, or the Grand Plaza, there are public art installations, including a terrazzo floor called Secret Garden by Julie W. Chang with giant poppies, stars, birds, butterflies and bees.

Large, vibrant murals filled the outdoor windows of storefronts, but with business opening up, these may have been replaced with product displays.

If you are looking for somewhere new to explore, you might put Salesforce Park and Transit Center on your list.

Thank you for your visit.

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Update on 60 New Things

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I didn’t finish my 60 New Things project during 2020 and the start of 2021. I made a decision at some point that I didn’t want to just have half of the things be new trails I’ve hiked, or new recipes I’ve tried. For now, that means I still don’t have a tattoo, but it’s on my list.

Photo by wendel moretti on Not me, not the tattoo I’m thinking of.

I decided that it was more important to stick with the spirit of the project than it was to follow my original timeline. I’ve also struggled a little with stress and I didn’t want to make this project into something that was breathing down my neck. The virus was doing enough of that. So I’m moving forward with this update to catch you up on new things I’ve done but never wrote about. As one friend pointed out, maybe by the time I finish them, it will be 62 New Things.

Here is a recap of all the things I’ve done. It’s a nice list and seeing it all together makes me appreciate what I managed to accomplish. Side note: when I was going through the posts, I discovered I had used #10 twice. I’m going to call the second one 10 B, rather than redoing all the numbering, but it means I have an extra one in the bag.

60 New Things List – Completed So Far

  1. Hike New Trail (Gary Giacomini Open Space)
  2. Try Haitian Food
  3. Lantern Light Festival
  4. Bear Valley Trail Hike
  5. Stitch Fix
  6. Quarry Hill Botanical Garden Walk
  7. Unknown Trail Hike, Mt. Tam
  8. Kabuki Spa Communal Bathing
  9. Sushi Newbie
  10. Learn a New Language (+ 10-B. Snow!)
  11. Howling for Healthcare Workers
  12. Meeting Mo, the Macaw
  13. Visit Iconic Church: San Francisco De Asis, Rancho de Taos
  14. Create a Board Game
  15. thredUP
  16. Jump Rope – Fail
  17. Visit Pilgrimage Site
  18. DIY Haircut
  19. Cliff Dwellings
  20. Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
  21. Continental Divide
  22. Peach Galette
  23. Palpitations
  24. New Car!
  25. Scallion Pancakes
  26. Dosas
  27. Doran Beach
  28. Braiding Challah
  29. Black Beans, Yellow Rice
  30. Chocolate Babka
  31. Corn Ribs
  32. Bay Trail
  33. Mask & Shield
  34. Pita Flatbread

The New Things that my Pandemic Ennui has kept me from posting include Hula Hooping, Salesforce Park, Murmuration, Paint Pouring on Rocks, and Keeping a Bullet Journal.

Getting my first vaccine today (as an education worker), getting Trump out of the White House, spring wildflowers and green hills have made me feel more hopeful and positive than I have in quite some time. Hopeful enough that I think I’ll start getting these completed projects posted. Soon.

I hope you are keeping well and safe. Thanks, as always, for stopping by.


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Rest in Peace, Beau

February 5 is a sad anniversary. But I’ve been thinking about my brother Beau, who died on that day one year ago, and I wanted to share, again, something about his life.

dianne faw

My younger brother, Beau, died last month. I’ve been thinking about our childhood and younger years, and sharing memories with friends and family members. I’ve had a slideshow of pictures in my mind, images mostly of Beau as a toddler and a kid. He was born a little over 6 years after me. I remember him wearing shorts and black rubber boots – even when he was napping. I remember reading Richard Scary books to him and you had to read every little word on those pages. They were very detailed. He loved firetrucks and firefighters. He banged on pots, pans and cookie tins until he got real drums. Some of my memories are of Beau as a dad with two sons. They also loved firetrucks and being read to.

My mom shared a wonderful story that illustrates the kind of musician Beau was. Forgive me if I don’t have…

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Pita Flatbread 34/60

This was a pita bread fail. Or a flatbread not-quite-success. I really wanted it to be fresh, warm puffs of pita. But it would NOT puff!

We made the dough in our stand mixer and let it proof.

Than I divided it and rolled it into balls and let it rest.

Finally, I rolled out each ball into a disk and spritzed it with water.

At this point I have to apologize because things got hectic and I wasn’t able to capture a photo of the baking process. We don’t have the recommended pizza stone so we were using the alternative method: an upside down baking sheet in a very hot oven.

We preheated and spritzed and quickly dropped the dough disks onto the very hot baking sheet. First try: no puff. We waited for the oven to get super-hot again, more spritzing, more exciting/stressful dough draping on the baking sheet. More peeking through the oven window to watch for the promised puff. No puff. Not a pouf. Not a bubble.

We finished baking the dough and it was only after dinner that I read the comments section and learned that the pita breads of about half the commenters were also puff-less. Bubble-free. Flatter than flat.

Warm, freshly baked flatbread is probably better if you expect it to BE flatbread. It was nice. A little doughy maybe. But good.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Mask and Shield 33/60

So this. Yes. This is a new thing.  Not what I was anticipating when I first thought of my 60 New Things project.

I’m with my friend and colleague, Dorian. We were greeting students coming on campus for lab classes. I’m so glad I don’t have to work all day, every day in a mask, like many of our essential workers.

A huge thank you to everyone who is wearing a mask. Especially those of you who put it on often with more gear, and wear it every day, to help keep yourself and others safe.

Thanks for the visit.


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Bay Trail 32/60

Back in July I took a walk with my friend Amanda on a new-to-me trail: a small segment of the planned 500- mile San Francisco Bay Trail.

Amanda was catching up a segment she missed. She and a group of friends have been hiking the Bay Trail, and are into their fourth years.

Covid put a hold on their monthly hikes but after a 5-month break, they’re back at it, hiking an 8 to 10 mile chunk each time. They expect to complete the project in about 6 months.

The San Francisco Bay Trail is an incomplete path that circles San Francisco Bay and crosses 9 counties, 47 cities and 7 toll bridges.

We met near the Hamilton field air traffic control tower in Novato, and walked up to the path along restored wetlands and what used to be runway.

It was a case of missing something that’s been right here in my own back yard. Foot traffic was light and as we walked and talked, I enjoyed the views. We saw a greenhouse, gardens and beehives, all part of a meditation and retreat center.

We’d started early to be ahead of the heat and it was before all the fires, smoke and terrible air quality.

It was a pleasure seeing something new while with an old friend. Amanda and I were deep in conversation and I forgot about logging the experience as one of my 60 New Things. I actually went back with Rem later to hide a rock and got a few more pictures.

This tower has seen so much history but now it serves as a scenic landmark, overlooking the estuary.

I am not going to walk the whole Bay Trail, but I enjoyed the little piece I experienced.

Thank you for your visit.

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Corn Ribs 31/60

As you may have guessed, and as I may have already said, I don’t post things in order. I’ve got a few new things to share, but it is corn season right now and we’re heading into a 3-day weekend. Not only that, but with the pandemic, a new recipe may be the safest way to add some fun to your holiday.

I’m a little bit ambivalent about the name of this dish. But I haven’t thought of a better one. I saw a link on Smitten Kitchen, here, and discovered corn ribs. That led me into a rabbit hole of recipe hopping and trying to imagine how this dish might work.

I had never seen corn cut and served this way, and with two ears of corn from the farmers market in the fridge I wanted to give it a try. I put together an air fryer version mashed together with Elote or Mexican street corn.

The trickiest part is cutting the corn because the cob is pretty hard. I saw some recipes that cut the full length of the ear but when I looked at the basket in our air fryer, the half length pieces seemed more feasible.

Husk the fresh corn. Cut it in half crosswise, and trim the end flat, if it isn’t already, so you can stand it on end, and cut each half down lengthwise into quarters. Each ear yields 8 little ribs.

Put all the corn pieces, into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. I also used a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Toss together. Transfer the corn into the basket of air fryer after coating basket with nonstick spray. Cook at 390 degrees for 16 to 20 minutes, tossing occasionally until corn has browned bits.

Meanwhile, mix together mayo and hot sauce, perhaps a quarter cup of mayonnaise and a few good shakes of hot sauce, I used Frank’s. Lime juice would have been great but I didn’t think of it until afterwards. Stir together freshly grated Parmesan and nutritional yeast if you have it, but just use Parmesan if you don’t.

When the corn is done, put it in a bowl, dollop the mayonnaise mixture on to the corn ribs, sprinkle it with the cheese and add a handful of torn cilantro leaves. Toss together and serve.

I found the little, curled corn wedges messy, delicious, and yes, fun to nibble on. An embarrassingly large pile of “bones” grew on my plate. Rem was less of a fan, but he gets tired of corn every year, so I won’t blame the recipe. Let me know if you give Corn Ribs a try!

Thanks for the visit!


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Chocolate Babka  30/60

On a recent weekend, before this hot, humid weather, I suggested we tackle baking a chocolate babka. Rem needed no convincing. We read a few recipes,  watched a few videos, and jumped in.

We split it up, making and kneading the dough on day one, and making the filling, plus shaping and baking the loaf on day two.

Our home smelled so wonderful while the babka was baking.  Have I said this here before, that one characteristic of heaven should be that it smells like baking bread? Well, maybe the aroma of baking bread for everyday, and chocolate babka on weekends and holidays!

The recipe, from Bon Appetit, suggested we let it cool completely before slicing. But who are they kidding? In one of the babka videos we enjoyed, that showed the process of kneading, filling, and assembling the loaf, the narrator said that they preferred to tear the babka apart.

This is what we did, while it was still warm, and it was absolutely delicious!

We made a few changes to the Bon Appetit recipe, which I include here in case you want to try this for yourself.

  • We used 3/4 cup additional flour – the dough was VERY soft.  You could try it with 1/2 cup but ours was delicious.  Plus more for surface.
  • We used semisweet chocolate instead of bittersweet.  In my opinion, it was the PERFECT balance with the dough.
  • We omitted the struesel topping, which is the last 4 ingredients in the second half of the recipe (Filling and Assembly), after kosher salt.We did a sugar syrup instead: 3 T sugar, 2 2/3 T water, simmered in small saucepan until sugar is dissolved.  Cool.  Brush on babka just out of the oven.
  • We worked on the recipe over two days – leaving the dough in the fridge overnight where it says “chill 45 minutes.” It worked just fine.
  • After rolling the dough with the filling, put it on baking sheet (or something you can fit in freezer – I used a plastic cutting board) and chill  for 15 minutes.  This was a tip from another recipe and made the next steps easier. 

This is the halfway point in my 60 New Things Project.  Thanks for stopping by!


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