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Cool things

Twelve Months of Cookbooks: January|”The Way To Cook” by Julia Child


My husband had an interesting and excellent idea recently.  Knowing that people enjoy lists and recommendations, he suggested that I make a list of “must have” cookbooks for the blog, explaining why each book is on the list.

Genius!  And I’m planning on taking it one step further.  Each month this year I’m going to review one of the books in my collection that I think is a “must have,” and at the end of 2012, I’ll have a list of 12 cookbooks that are really stellar.  At least, that’s the hope.

Friday Tip|When Is It Done?

Did you miss me last week?  I love my new job, but it is whooping my backside!

Enough with my excuses for laming out on you.  Today let’s deal with the question that plagues all chefs (or at least everyone in this household), “when is it done?”

This applies to all things that you can cook or bake, from chicken to cake, but for this post I’m just going to deal with steak, for two reasons: 1. it’s a pretty straightforward example of how to figure out when something is done (without butchering it a second time) and 2. it’s a real shame to overcook a steak.

Friday Tip|For The Nerds!*

This week’s tip is not so much a tip, as a recommendation.  We don’t have many gadgets in the kitchen, and I really don’t use the computer to organize anything like recipes, etc. (although the computer does get used a lot to google things like “how many grams in one cup of whole wheat flour”).  That said, I do like this little app.  It’s a…an add-on, I guess you’d say, to the fantastic book Ratio by Michael Rulhman.

Friday Tip|Inexpensive Wine Decanter

Friday tip is a little late!

Blame the origins of this particular installment; our friends S and J came by last night and at least one ninja may have had a bit too much cheer in her happiness to see them.  Too much to write a tip last night, at any rate.

We’ll try to make up for it with brevity and simplicity this week – today’s tip is all about doing something sophisticated for cheap (don’t you love that?).  Whenever we go visit my Dad, he always serves us red wine out of one of these:

A Whole New World

It’s not a Disney movie but it feels just as magical!  After two years of photographing everything for the blog with a point and shoot, Bake Like A Ninja finally has a decent DSLR camera.

Since it’s spring, a baby sprout coming up seemed fitting for the very first picture from the new camera on the blog.  It’s a jalapeño sprout, which we hope will add depth to our food  and keep it interesting and spicy.  I’m hoping the camera will do the same thing for the blog.


Food Photography & The Learning Process

I’ve been thinking a lot about learning.  This morning I got sucked down the internet rabbit hole and wound up at this article, from Derek Sivers’ blog.  It’s about memory and learning, mostly focusing on how fast we forget and what the optimal amount of time is before studying something again for maximum retention.  Fascinating stuff.

But the thing that struck me about the article wasn’t so much that someone had figured out that people have an algorithm for learning; what I thought was interesting was that this understanding flies in the face of how we generally perceive progress. In a great post on Facebook, Derek explores the idea that when practicing something, it’s really when we sound/look/feel our worst/sloppiest/crappiest that we are making the most progress.  If we’re doing it perfectly, we’re not stretching.  No stretching, no learning.

Friday Tip|The “Late” Edition (with name change)

Couple of things today:

First – I started my own Frrrrrrriday Rrrrrroundup, and I’ve already blown it – a day late and several dollars short. I’m going to blame this one on some out of town company – my great friend Amy Lang from Birds+Bees+Kids, who was in LA promoting her excellent wares – because I need something else to blame and because it gives me a great-but-very-rare opportunity to link to her site.

Whole Foods – I was wrong!

One of the things I love is when I underestimate people, or even institutions, and they prove me wrong. Like when I meet a very young person and assume they will be immature or naive, and they turn out to have way more sense and understanding of the world than I do. Or like the time I went swimming in Seattle and a very large woman got in my lane and I thought “oh great, now I’m going to have to swim slowly,” and she swam my backside into the ground. I love that. It reminds me that even though first assumptions and quick categorizations can be helpful in processing the firehose of information that is shooting as us all through life, these assumptions are often wrong, and it’s always worth taking a second look and letting yourself be amazed. It helps me keep my mind open.

Garam Masala


~This is the second post in a series running through the month of June 2009 in which I attempt to post once a day for the month.~

Hoo boy – are we having fun yet? Day three of “post-a-day” month and I’m still alive!

Look what the husband made!|Ziplock plastic bag drier

Hey!  The husband is a genius.  Check out what he made for me!


The extreme coolness of this invention is not evident at first sight.  In order to truly appreciate what this sweet little marvel can do, you have to have spent some time dealing with this