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 Pexels.com 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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Black Beans, Yellow Rice 29/60

I know I’m not alone when I go for convenience for weekday dinners.  Not take-out (well, hardly ever), but things like frozen rice that heats in the microwave, or canned beans.  These are perfectly good and are staples at our house.

But when I take the time to cook beans from scratch, or make a recipe with rice, starting from the dry grains, I feel a sense of achievement.  The differences aren’t enough to have me batch cooking these things every weekend.  Our little apartment doesn’t have room for an Instant Pot and even if it did, I’m not convinced I would make sufficient use of it.

This dinner was worth the extra time and effort. It is essentially Arroz con Pollo, from a Puerto Rican recipe I found here, but I subbed black beans cooked the day before, for the pigeon peas used in the recipe, serving them on the side. Red cabbage cole slaw added even more color to the plate.

My version of the recipe has a sofrito of red bell pepper, Serrano chile, yellow onion, green onions, garlic, cilantro and tomato.  It has a homemade sazon seasoning  with cumin, turmeric, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.  I didn’t have ground coriander so omitted that, and I added a pinch of saffron.

Chicken thighs are sprinkled with the spice blend than browned in the pan. They finish cooking on top of the rice. The result is succulent and flavorful and we even had some tahdig-like crispy rice at the bottom of the pan.

When you have the time, don’t forget delicious tecipes like this one. You won’t regret it.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Braiding Challah 28/60

Rem made his first loaf of challah and I braided it!  OK, this isn’t a big new thing, but making challah was a first for both of us.

Challah is a yeast bread, rich with egg yolks. It is tender and a little sweet – very much like brioche. 

He’d been wanting to bake a loaf for Sabbath for awhile – we finally made it back in June.

It was slightly over-baked and a little dry, but still delicious. We will definitely make it again and watch it more closely.

Thanks for the visit.

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Doran Beach 27/60

I had the pleasure of being introduced to a place I’ve been driving past for years, and never knew existed.

My friend Shook lives in Sonoma. We wanted to see each other, after months of only Zoom connection (well, we’ve also texted, emailed and talked on the phone), and she suggested meeting here, in Bodega Bay.

The Bird Walk is a kind of a figure-eight loop path around a marsh that connects to Doran Beach by a footpath and bridge.

Once we got out to the beach, it is a beautiful wide swath of sand and there was plenty of room for us and the other beach-goers to enjoy the space without feeling crowded or unsafe.

We wore masks so we could be comfortable talking with each other and not be too worried about keeping 6 feet distance. We were definitely in the minority.

I released a few painted rocks.

We saw some women with horses in the surf and riding along the sand. It was a beautiful day and wonderful to discover this beach.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you, Shook, for introducing me to this spot and for all the great photos.

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