Tales from the Test Kitchen: Baking vs Cooking

I enjoy tinkering and experimenting in the kitchen. Some of it is driven by my desire to maintain family recipes for apple pie and pierogies. Most if it is a desire to find ways to improve upon some of my favorite foods such as chocolate chips cookies, guacamole, and pasta. I also like to help Lisa cook a new dish for dinner every now and then, although it’s been a lot more ‘then’ than ‘now’ as of late.

When I tell people about my hobby, they tell me that I must like to cook. When I tell them I prefer baking, the typical response is, “aren’t they the same thing?”

While it might seem that way, they are two totally different things. Allow me to explain.

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A lesson in marketing from a common kitchen utensil

Zulay kitchen bench scraper

I’ve recently become captivated by the process of baking my own bread. My kitchen is well-equipped, but not necessarily for making bread. After watching a few instructional bread baking videos on YouTube, I realized that I was missing a very basic but important tool for handling bread dough – a bench scraper.

The bench scraper is a flat, wide, stainless steel blade with a handle on one of the wider sides. In the world of kitchen utensils, it’s a commodity. There’s really nothing special about it. There isn’t a whole lot of differentiation. Therefore, I expected price would be the primary factor in my purchase selection.

Off I ventured onto Amazon in search of a ‘kitchen bench scraper.’ Of course, I was inundated with dozens and dozens of results. And as you would expect for a commodity item, the prices were pretty similar. They were almost all grouped around $10, plus-or-minus a couple of bucks. So how to pick one?

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Book review: The Big Leap

Book cover for The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

Life is full of ups and downs. It seems like a fundamental law of life. When things are going well, something bad happens. And when things aren’t, they can’t get any worse. They can only get better, right?

What if there was a way to break this law? Would it be possible for one to experience an abundance of good things in life? Is it possible that we are at the root cause of the valleys in life because we don’t know how to handle or are afraid of achieving ever higher levels of success?

In The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks explores how we define the limits of our success. He examines the actions and tricks our minds play to keep us in our comfort zone, or ‘Our Zone of Excellence’ as he likes to call it. Above all, he proposes that we are capable of enjoying ever increasing levels of success and love in our life. He shows how we can make the big leap into our ‘Zone of Genius.’

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Lessons from the Test Kitchen: The Kitchen Scale

kitchen scale

There are lots of tools and techniques you can use to get more consistent results from your baking or cooking. One of the easiest is to use a kitchen scale.

In the past, kitchen scales were rarely used by amateur cooks and hobbyists. The main reasons were convenience and cost. Older kitchen scales were bulky, took up a lot of shelf and counter space, and did not always provide accurate measurements. For those that looked good and worked well, the cost was prohibitive.

Well, times have changed. Today’s kitchen scales are compact, easy to use, highly accurate, and economical. As with most everything else these days, they have been transformed by the digital age, and they are easy to get. A search on Amazon for ‘kitchen scale’ yields dozens of results, with most available for less than $20.

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Book review: Recursion

Book cover for Recursion by Blake Crouch

If you’ve spent anytime on my blog, you know that I am a fan of Blake Crouch. Wayward Pines, Dark Matter, Summer Frost, Abandon. I’ve liked them all. He is one of my favorite science fiction writers of this generation.

His latest work, Recursion, has been on my reading list since it came out last year. I was determined to get it to this year, but it was a ways down the list. When my oldest daughter told me she finished reading it, I decided it was time to move it up in the queue. And when my middle daughter said she wanted to read it too, well, that sealed it. I moved Recursion to the top of the heap.

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Off to new adventures

Lisa, Courtney and Gregg Borodaty

To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you, means you’ve done your job. They are not ours to keep, but to teach them to soar on their own.

It’s a saying I first heard last year at Brad’s wedding. His wife’s father spoke those words to everyone at the reception pointing out that while he was sad to see his daughter go, he was happy for her because she was not his to keep.

Those words stuck with me, and they’ve been ringing in my head over the past few weeks as our third child prepared to head north to start her new job. While I’d love to keep her with us at home (along with her older sister and brother), it’s not the right thing to do. We spend years working with our kids so they can venture out of the nest to live on their own. While it’s hard to let them go, when they leave it means we’ve done our job.

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Book review: Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

Book cover for Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

Two of my primary reading genres are classic science fiction and short stories. Therefore, I should not have been surprised when my nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, suggested I read Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick. And of course, being the compliant subject of our artificially intelligent overlords, I complied and added it to my reading list.

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Introducing the Test Kitchen

I don’t need another category on my blog, and I certainly shouldn’t be taking on any new projects right now. But, I can’t help myself. I’ve decided to start a new section on the blog called the Test Kitchen.

The Test Kitchen is where I plan to collect lessons learned exploring different recipes and cooking techniques. I’m also going to keep my favorite recipes that I regularly come back to for cooking all kinds of things, whether it is cookies, pies, bread, pasta, guacamole, and more.

I’m not going to commit to a regular posting schedule. I’m just going to post when I have something to say, when it’s convenient, and when it makes sense. It may be once a week, once a month, or a couple of times a year. Who knows.

In the meantime, I’m going to move my favorite recipes into the Test Kitchen, and I hope to add more soon. To give you a preview, I’ve become addicted to the King Arthur Baking site over the last month or two and have quite a few thoughts I hope to share around bake goods, especially bread which I never thought I would make!

Stay tuned….

Book review: Principles

Book cover for Principles by Ray Dalio

It’s up to you to decide what you want to get out of life and what you want to give.

As I read books from my morning reads, which are business and personal development books, I’ve started the habit of capturing notes from them. When I finished Principles by Ray Dalio, there was a lot to capture and digest. But if there was one key takeaway, it was the lead-in to this post. I’m a firm believer that life is full of choices, and it is the choices we make that shapes the life we live. But I would be short-changing Dalio’s efforts if there was only one key takeaway. There are many, many pearls of wisdom contained throughout the book.

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So you want to do a startup

Starting a company is hard. Having been there, and still going through the process, I sometimes wonder why anyone would want to do it. People will question your decisions and doubt you. Customers will reject your product and your ideas. There are long hours working day and night for little pay. Your life is turned into a roller coaster of ups and downs. It’s challenging, to say the least.

However, when things are clicking, there can be nothing like it. Building a product that solves a problem, satisfying customers’ needs, and creating value make it all worth while. These are the things that keep you coming back for more. They’re the goals every entrepreneur strives for. But achieving these goals is not easy, and sustaining them is a near impossible challenge.

So why on earth would anyone ever want to “do” a startup?

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