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  • Foodie Spotlight: cali baker

    My name is Henny, aka Cali Baker, and I am originally from the beautiful island country of Indonesia. I moved with my family to Southern California when I was two years old but the Indonesian culture was always a huge influence on the foods I ate growing up. These foods were lovingly prepared by my mom, who was a wonderful home cook. She would start at the wee, early morning hours, waking up at 4am, preparing what she would make for the day. My mom was what I would call a “natural born cook", who had a passion for the kitchen and who put so much of her heart, soul and love into her cooking.

    I never really got into cooking as a youngster, but I sure got into eating! I was a little bit of a chubby child who just loved all kinds of foods. My favorites were these skewered pieces of chicken, lamb, beef, or pork, called Satay, and the delicious peanut sauce that would go with it. As my mom marinated the meat and skewered them on the long bamboo sticks, my dad would be firing up the grill, getting ready to grill the Satay. This dish was always accompanied with Longtong, which were these cakes of sticky rice, steamed in banana leaves and formed into long, cylinder-like shapes. Since Indonesia had been a Dutch colony for many years, my mom also made us many Dutch-Indonesian pastries and snacks. Our house always smelled deliciously yummy because Mom was in the kitchen creating her dishes.

    I started to get seriously interested in cooking and trying recipes in my late 20’s and 30’s. I immersed myself in cookbooks, TV cooking shows, and eating out to as many restaurants as I could try with my friends. When the legendary Zagat Guide came out each year, my goal was to try all the restaurants listed in the guide! Well, that never happened of course but it sure was fun trying. By the time my late 30’s rolled around, I had my own food blog and was experimenting and writing about my cooking adventures on a regular basis. I enjoyed cooking for my then-boyfriend, and hosting dinner parties for friends to try out my latest recipe discoveries. I found that I especially loved to bake and went through my fiendish-baking phase where I would be the “cupcake lady” at work, bringing in my latest concoction.

    These days, I’m very content with learning how to cook healthier without skimping on flavor and taste. I try to incorporate a lot of fresh vegetables in my dishes and use meat and protein more as the “side dish” than the main course. I enjoy using my slow cooker for cooking various meats, my Vitamix blender for some awesome spinach smoothies, and my convection toaster oven for the most delicious roasted vegetables (cauliflower and carrots are current favorites)! I also have an obsession with spinach and butter lettuce salads and trying to make them as tasty and creative as possible.

    My sweet tooth has never gone away (thank goodness!), as I still love to bake the latest luscious cakes, cookies, and breads.

    Funny thing is, I feel like I'm now becoming like my mom was; I too wake up at 4 or 5am (on weekends), prepping my day's cooking "assignment". I just love starting my day off with a fun recipe to tackle! Heck, I even get excited about cooking for my pooches!

    I'm so happy and honored to be a part of Taste Tested Recipes. This forum has allowed me to share my own passion for food with other foodies and home cooks. Food and cooking creates an excitement within me, a passion and a hobby that I have my mom to thank.

    Here are some of my mom's cookbooks, which I still save and treasure:

    Here is my mom in 1972, on the right, working at an International Food Booth at our local park, in Monterey Park, CA. She's wearing a Batik, a traditional style of Indonesian dress.

    A page taken from the Monterey Park Neighborhood Cookbook, circa 1972. My mom wrote this recipe for Gado Gado which is an Indonesian salad with peanut sauce (another favorite of mine).

    My joy for baking started with my first Easy Bake Oven which I got for my 9th birthday!

    Some of my favorite recipes I have posted that I would love for you to try:

    To Die For Honey Glazed Cornbread

    My Favorite Potato Salad

    Zingy Meatballs

    Juicy Ribs

    Aloo Gobi Cauliflower and Potatoes

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Sherry's Avatar
      Sherry -
      holly smokes , you got my attention lady yummmmyy Awesome
    1. cali~jenn's Avatar
      cali~jenn -
      Wow Henny! Learned new things about you, great bio.
    1. TraciInTexas's Avatar
      TraciInTexas -

      It is so interesting to learn about the folks we're hanging our with...
    1. ddnene's Avatar
      ddnene -
      My family absolutely LOVES satay!!! I have never tried to make it though... LOL
      I LOVED reading your story Henny, and I also plan on trying your favorite recipes!!!
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