Practice and Improve

Repeat. Observe. Repeat.

This is what Practice looks like. Right? I’ll add in Research, Discuss.

This is how we build community in our area of interests, we participate, by listening and learning. Research.

Reading and analyzing and processing it all is part of the work, the research. If all becomes what we learn, the experiment and statistical projections or even generative AI, what we create.

The above Foccacia is mostly vegan, split between Rosemary and Red Sauce, I did a layer of cheese down the middle for the kids, trying to make it appeal to the whole family. I used Bread flour from Central Milling, this is a little more forgiving and generous, accessible to everyone. I added care and attention, kneading gently and waiting patiently for the dough to rise, working it onto the pan and sinking my fingers rhythmically through the surface, into the rising air pockets and divets of oil. Bake.

Breathe.

Observe. Appreciate the improvements, note what is working and areas to play with more.

Play With More.

This is my current “work,” shift from practice to play with. I’ll continue to practice and improve, and I know my growing edge is playing with others.

Do The Work – Discipline

Innovation isn’t always flashy, it’s usually the result of disciplined work. This electric bike charger and bike stand took years to go from idea to implementation and people with vision created what I witnessed.

One less car on the road.

One more person bicycling into Town, using the charging station for something random, and using it. Biking into San Anselmo, maybe getting coffee or doing some business at Town Hall or the Library or even meeting a friend. Amazing!

I’ve been practicing a few things regularly, doing the work and seeing small improvements, changes. Discipline in action.

And, riding a bike creates joy, in the work. In the getting to a location or running an errand, we can all be happier people doing the work. If you can, try riding a bike this week and price if you feel it, joy.

Open Your Experiment Up

It’s true, I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting. Why? I want new results and I want to understand what creates those changes.

I haven’t been very scientific, before you get too excited. I’m hesitant to commit to journaling the experiments and documenting the results, none of them are worth replicating or even revisiting. That said, I am learning a lot.

Lao Wai Foccacia

I’ve been making Foccaccia twice a week, at least, working on getting flavorful dough that rises enough and doesn’t require olive oil to taste good. I’ve barely thought about Tops, as I work on the Bottom (no innuendo). Seriously, my field trip to try Liguria motivated me to put a little effort into toppings, whether that is roasting some garlic or sautéing some green onions, but first, Lao Wai.

Seriously, I joke with Olivia all the time about things we should Lao Wai, foods that will benefit from that low level rising heat with a hint of smoked crispy chili peppers. Foccacia.

I made 1/3 of the pan basic Olive Oil, as my control group, so there is a base level palette to compare the bread. I put a few teaspoons of Lao Wai Hot Oil on the top, intentionally digging in and pulling up the roasted pepper crunch at the bottom of the jar, allowing the sheen of the oil to slide along the dough. Pressing my fingers into the dough, breathing gently, trying to find the balance of easing the oil into and out of the small pocked divets next to air pockets and layered around gluten.

Gentle, Less is More.

Obviously the above experiment was a MASSIVE hit, easy to predict when combining above average base bread with the best hot oil in California (tempered boldness).

Most experiments fail.

This week, I had another win, on the Peloton.

I’ve been frustrated by a long plateau this Fall, my rides were mostly the same struggle since Covid recovery. Frustrated.

A week of hiking before Thanksgiving shifted me out of my comfort zone. Maybe I rested, maybe I used different muscles, maybe. I joked to myself, it’s weight loss, likes that matters in a stationary bike.

The week off the bike wasn’t rest, we laid into miles and did a ton of elevation.

Fast Fun Friday.

Right?

I’ve shifted my Peloton training since I got back, focusing on cadence and improving my speed of my legs, determined to change the story I’ve been telling myself for 2 years, I just can’t pedal fast, only heavy. Like 55 resistance and 60 cadence. Slow steady grind. Uphill.

Believe.

You Can Do It.

Experiment.

Look at the picture above, a photo from the end of my ride on Fast Fun Friday, that’s the mantra I repeated to myself when I was struggling. Breathe.

Let Go.

Wait, Hold On.

Let Go.

Seriously, I’ve changed the story by experimenting with speed, working with light resistance and training my legs to go fast at 40 and 45 resistance. One minute on, one minute off. 2 minutes at 40, 2 minutes at 45, keep the cadence above 90. Pedal Faster. Breathe. Sweat.

It is good for the ego to remind yourself that you can do the impossible, and apply that everywhere in your life.

If I can shift the story that I am an uphiller that enjoys climbing slowly, to I am fast in the flats and can move going downhill, those are skills I get to add to my uphill abilities. Basic discipline and light structure, with a few pro-tips and I’ve got a successful experiment.

How does that “work?” We are the same everywhere we go, whether that is the Peloton bike, yoga mat, kitchen or computer. If I can become a fast pedaler on the Peloton, I can equally get better at French or understand the latest shifts in the social algorithms and how it benefits Search Engine Optimization. We are the same everywhere we go. Right?

The end of the year is close, there is still plenty of time to experiment, learn something new, and become a better version of yourself.

You Can Do It.

Focaccia Liguria in SF

I’ve been making a lot of Focaccia lately and dropped some off with a neighbor for some reviews, and to get me more comfortable sharing. Layne messaged me last night and was like, “we should go on a field trip to SF and check this out, tomorrow.” I did some Wikipedia research and hit back with, “7am?”

The bakery has empty shelves for a reason, the focaccia is selling as fast as they make it to a line waiting patiently 20 people deep.

We got there at about 7:45am, maybe a little too loose on the timing as it took us 45 minutes to get to place our order! To be fair, we chatted with a nice woman in front of us and enjoyed immersing in the early morning energy of SF.

The team in the back is rolling out focaccia, the bustle and hustle of the back was contrasted by the relative calm of the front as there are 2 customers in the shop at a time these days.

I ordered up the Garlic Rosemary, Onion and Pizza. We were both disappointed the Raisin was not available, sold out or still cooking, maybe we should have waited and yet that didn’t feel like it was supposed to be ours, and we still left with packages!

Yes, I’m totally into the big paper roll and gift wrap style packaging, things got a little crazy with the string reminding me of bakeries in NYC in the 80s, White boxes of cookies or mini cannolis from DeRobertes or Venerios, you know there is treasure behind the string!

This was a short and inspiring trip into North Beach, to check out a classic Focacceria in San Francisco! Epic views of Coit Tower, steep streets of Hyde and Lombard, The Bay!!! San Francisco still has secret treasures worth adventuring in for!

Feel The Spirit

I don’t know what we are supposed to do for the holidays, beyond experience and enjoy each other as family and friends.

That post Chanukah, breathe deep and enjoy the early holiday, shifted quickly as the women picked up a tree and embraced decorating.

Last week we watched Love Actually.

Together.

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, slow down, breathe deeply, and remember to spend your time with the people you love and care about, even if they are into XMas trees and that’s not your thing. It is ok to be in the same space, doing different things, right?

I’m not saying the holidays will be easy, I am suggesting you can go easy on your self and the people around you. This is the time of year for reflection, acknowledging what we’ve experienced and felt, seeing it for what it is, allowing.

As the routines slow down, I’m leaning into my healthy habits and putting effort into finishing open projects. There is a mix of breathe and do the work.

Finish the year.

Lao Wai Chili Oil

We’ve been using Lao Wai Chili Oil from Chef William Do for the last year, it’s “the secret,” to many of our dishes, including this Challah Grilled Cheese Lao Wai. Right?

There is a lot being subtly communicated here.

First, for my kids, I will use cheese, otherwise, I prefer the idea that “animals are not ingredients.” I’m trying to slowly improve my diet, I went vegan to improve my cholesterol levels, the ethical animal issue is a natural result, trust the process.

Yo, did somebody say Challah? Alex made that Challah with light coaching from me. The flavor is delicious and I still have some work to do to loosen up the bread and bring a little more fluff. That said, it was great to bake with Alex and even better to make him a grilled cheese using the Challah he baked. This is an important part of Knead For Peace.

Third, you might want to sit with the mind blowing idea of gourmet challah grilled cheese. right?

Fourth, yes we use Lao Wai as a verb around here, “I’m gonna Lao Wai that grilled cheese.“ And, we all know spicy grilled cheese is not novel, hello Quesadilla with hot sauce of your choice. Jewish Spicy Grilled Cheese, a fusion, and yet Challah! Lao Wai is a mixing of cultures for William and it is this blending with Challah, slow long heat to balance the sweetness of the Challah, of life. When your day needs a lift, Lao Wai it!

Lastly, a gentle reminder to get outside of your comfort zone and experiment, whether that is baking with someone or using the latest generative AI tool, or adding spice to your life! Making small mistakes is an important part of growing, we practice, observe and repeat. Growing is natural and an experimental process. Practicing is the process, the joy.

Whew, breathing deep and letting go!