All recipes on my site are based on the notes I took while cooking the dishes. The amounts of ingredients are what I measured. None of the recipes are copied straight out of a cookbook or internet recipe collection and I seriously try to attribute the sources for ideas or inspirations whenever possible and known.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. In my day job, I am a Ph.D physicist, primarily working on data acquisition and computing at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
So why did I create a website about cooking and recipes?
I grew up in Germany, eating good food all my life. My mother is an excellent cook (not the only one in her family) and so I got interested in good food and cooking very early. She would cook simple but very good everyday lunches and prepare these wonderful multi-course dinners for guests.
When I left home for university, I started to cook regularly for myself. At the same time, I realized that it is very relaxing and refreshing to cook a nice dinner, even after a long and exhausting workday. And that's what I am still doing whenever I have the time. Back in the university and CERN days, it was for myself and friends, now it is for my family.
I've been thinking of collecting and writing down my and my mother's favorite recipes for a few years, and finally decided to do this in the form of a recipe and photo web site. That's how Steffen's Dinners was born. Now I'm adding recipes and photos of dishes I cook, slowly growing the site into my personal recipe collection.
I like to cook meals from scratch, but I'm not religious about it. I prefer raw ingredients over convenience food. I prefer fresh over frozen, but there are exceptions. For some vegetables like peas and green beans I find that the quality of the frozen variety is often far better and, more importantly, much more consistent.
As a scientist, I am much more interested in finding out how and why things work, than in meticulously following detailed instructions when I don't understand why they work. I like to experiment and try new recipes and interesting combinations of styles and flavors, including all kinds of "fusion cooking". I also find it an interesting challenge to "reverse-engineer" dishes that I had at restaurants and liked.
Since I usually cook for dinner, I don't have the luxury of good daylight most of the time (certainly not during winter). I find that indirect lighting with an off-the-camera flash gives reasonably consistent results, especially if bounced off a white wall behind the food. I shoot the photos with a digital SLR in raw mode, import them into iMatch (or Lightroom 3) for viewing and organizing and then use Photoshop for post processing, resizing and conversion to JPEG. I have also created Steffen's Photos, a photo website (sorry, no food there).
I am having as much fun working on the technical aspects of the website than I am having when cooking, writing recipes and taking photos. When I started this project, I wanted to go through the full process, including domain registration, setting up a content management system (CMS) and launching the web site, so I rented a virtual private server, looked at a number of web content management systems and finally settled on Drupal, an excellent open source web CMS. Currently, this site runs on a rented dedicated server and uses Drupal 6 with a customized theme and a bunch of extension modules, some of them also customized for this site.
I hope you enjoy reading these pages as much as I enjoy writing them!