Behind the Scenes at Simply Recipes


So what really happens at Simply Recipes? Here's an update and a peek behind the scenes.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Times, they are a changin’. If you are a regular follower of Simply Recipes, you may have noticed that we’ve been posting a bit more than usual. I thought I would take this opportunity to let you know what is happening behind the scenes here, and to give you a little more back-story about the site.

From lemons to lemonade

First the back story. Around 9 years ago I got sick. I had been helping to run an Internet start-up in San Francisco that went bust. That was the first dot-com crash, back in 2001. I developed a flu that just wouldn’t go away.

Around the same time I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue, my dear friend and roommate was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Elisabeth lost her battle with cancer, as did two other close friends around the same time.

I eventually moved home with my parents in Carmichael, still sick (2 years later), unable to work, and overcome with grief.

Well, even if you’re sick, you still have to eat. I figured if the powers that be determined that I was going to stay at home for a while, I might as well learn how to cook.

And that, my friends, is how Simply Recipes got started.

A day does not go by that I’m not deeply appreciative of my parents, for being there, for taking me in, for encouraging me, for feeding me, for teaching me how to cook, for everything.

Alice and Thomas Bauer
My mother and father in their Carmichael kitchen

New House

Fast forward to fall of 2009. After living with my parents for six years, and sharing our cooking adventures with you the whole time, and after major surgery and sorting out a few other health issues, I finally felt strong enough to live on my own.

So I bought a house in the neighborhood within walking distance of my parent’s home. I decided to do a little remodeling before moving in and for the last six months or so, my living room has looked something like this:


I have a new job. I call it Groundskeeper Willie. Those of you with houses will understand. Broken toilets, burst pipes, attic rats, you name it, I’ve got it. Those of you blissfully without houses to maintain, here’s a great book to review if you ever decide to take the plunge. I’m posting the remodel update on Flickr. It’s almost done. (Yay!)

It has been frustrating for me, for quite some time, that I have not been able to post as many recipes as I would like. With the new house and remodel it’s gotten even harder.

My parents are getting older (dad turned 80 this year), we’ve gone through almost all the family recipes we have (there are a few more, but only a few), and not being professionally trained myself, it’s challenging for me to come up with good recipes as often as I think most of you, our readers, would like.

As the site has grown in popularity my standards for what I’m posting have risen. I don’t just put up any old recipe. They have to be good.

I need to understand the whys and hows of the recipe so that when you ask a question about it, I can answer. I’m also typically spending an hour or two a day answering questions in the comments, time that cuts into cooking time.

Hank Shaw joins Simply Recipes

Hank and Elise in Elise’s kitchen. Photo by Holly Heyser.

So, how then the recent flurry of posts? I couldn’t be more pleased to announce, that as of April, two-time James Beard Award finalist and Sacramento local food blogger Hank Shaw of the aptly named Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog has joined Simply Recipes on a part time basis.

Hank has been a guest writer for Simply Recipes for a couple years now, and if you aren’t already familiar with him, basically the guy knows his food.

He hunts, shoots, fishes, forages, or grows almost all of his own food. He’s been a commercial fisherman, a line cook, and for well over a decade a professional political journalist. Hank is also a neighbor and a friend.

Every week Hank and I get together at my house and figure out what we want to cook that week. We research recipes, brainstorm ideas, discuss and debate the best way to make something. We then go shopping and pretty much cook furiously for 2 days.

Part of Hank’s job is to instruct me in the many areas of cooking about which I know little (i.e. fish, barbecue, homemade pasta, Italian cooking, etc.)

My parents usually come by for lunch and / or dinner on those days to taste test and enjoy what we’ve prepared. As you can imagine, this is a welcome change for them.

No setting the table, no cooking, no dishes, and it’s free!

Photo by Holly Heyser

Thank you

When I first started this site in 2003, it was really just a way for me to keep track of what I was cooking with my family. Over the years the site has grown in size and readership, and now much of the inspiration for this site comes from you, our readers.

Not only has your patronage allowed me to do this full time, but a day doesn’t go by that I’m not learning from your questions and comments.

Thank you for your patience when I get something wrong. Thank you for telling me about it when you like a recipe.

It’s truly gratifying to hear that people are enjoying these recipes at home, in their kitchens, with their families, all around the country and all over the world. So thank you.

Now that we have our test kitchen up and running, what would you like to see us make? Is there a recipe you wish we had that you can’t find here? Are there certain types of recipes of which you’d like to see more? Any other suggestions? Please let us know in the comments.

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise


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  1. Sandra

    Hi Elise, I just found your site and instantly connected with it! I am also in the area and living with CFS. I just bought my first home, truly a blank slate. I’ve been deciding what to plant- Sacramento has so many growing opportunities – but also the amazing farmers market. Thank you for explaining the tree varieties for jam making, the pros and cons of each variety of the orange and lemons make such a difference. (Last year I was able to make 6 different varieties of plum jams- the Shiro plum was the favorite!) Looking forward to finding out more about you and your site!

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  2. Mary

    Love what you have grown, Elise! I’m also a Stanford alum.

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  3. Dina

    I’ve been coming here for a long time and never read the back story – thank you for sharing it! I felt like part of your family as you told the stories of each recipe. Thank you for helping me feed my family too! Best wishes to you and yours –

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  4. Arvind Rajan

    Hi Elise, although I’ve been coming to Simply Recipes for over 15 years, I never knew the backstory to your site until I saw this page. Congrats on turning a side project into a thriving business. While the number of recipe sites have exploded since I started coming here, it remains right up there with Serious Eats (at least the Kenji recipes) as my go-to site when I’m scrambling for what to cook for the family. Thanks!

    PS. I vaguely remember exchanging messages with you a lifetime ago; like you, I went to Stanford and then was an AC at BCG in SF.

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  5. Teresa

    I enjoyed reading your story. You seem so kind and down to earth. I am sorry for your loss of friends and your illness. Parents are wonderful to have so glad you are close to them. You will cherish those memories from now on. Good luck to you and may God richly bless you on your journey. I look forward to reading your blog and reviewing your recipes. How to make great veal parmesan? My husband loves it

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Behind the Scenes at Simply Recipes