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An Interview with Just One Cookbook, My Favorite Foodies Series

by Spicie Foodie on May 21, 2012

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On today’s edition of My Favorite Foodies Series we meet Nami from the popular blog Just One Cookbook. I am a big fan of Nami and her delicious Japanese home cooking blog. Her photography is stunning, her authentic Japanese recipes easy to follow, and together it always inspires me to learn and cook along with her. What I love most about her recipes is that they are her family’s tried and true home cooking. If all that wasn’t enough Nami is one of the sweetest bloggers you’ll come across in our community. Please help me give Nami a very warm welcome.

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1. Can you tell us a little bit about your blog?

I share my quick and easy Japanese home cooking on my blog Just One Cookbook. It was launched in January 2011, so I’ve been involved with the food blog community for a little bit less than 1.5 years now. I named my blog Just One Cookbook because all I need is just 1 cookbook of family favorites, and I wanted my children to continue cooking their favorite food using this blog when they get older.

2. Why do you like to cook/bake or spend time in your kitchen? Have you always liked spending time in the kitchen?

I have been helping my mom in the kitchen since I was really young. My mom made me prep for dinner everyday so I learned how to cook naturally from her. When I came to the US by myself to study, I missed my mom’s cooking and the only way to enjoy it was by cooking the dishes myself.

Even though I have been cooking all these years, I only started to cook more seriously after my children were born. I started to enjoy it even more after blogging because my cooking now has purpose (besides feeding my family) – recording the cooking process and sharing with readers.

Oh almost forgot. I’m actually not much of a baker, and it’s my new challenge to include more baked goods in my food blog. I’m slowly working on it.

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3. Your blog has an extensive collection of authentic Japanese recipes. Which of your recipes would be the easiest for someone looking to start learning Japanese cooking?

Most of the recipes are quick and easy to prepare as long as you have the right ingredients. Sometimes that’s the hardest part in cooking Japanese food because you might live in an area where there are no Japanese or even Asian markets. We need certain ingredients to cook authentic Japanese food such as most basic dashi stock (which is made of bonito flakes and kombu, or the alternative dashi powder).

A lot of readers started cooking from something they are familiar with from eating at Japanese restaurants. At least they know how it should taste and look like. So I’d recommend some dishes that are popular among food bloggers and served in Japanese restaurants, like Chicken Teriyaki (or Beef Teriyaki), miso soup, Chicken Katsu Don, Agedashi Tofu, Spinach Salad with Sesame Sauce, and Green Tea Ice Cream.

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4. When you want to treat yourself or loved ones what do you prepare or splurge on?

My husband and I enjoy eating good food, either at home or in restaurants. We don’t mind spending money on delicious food or ingredients as long as we think it’s worth doing. We occasionally eat out at some restaurants in the SF Bay Area which we’ve been wanting to try and that have received great reviews. Both of us enjoy cooking some dishes together that take team effort and time on those special occasions (as we can’t spend that much time on our busy weekday and weekend schedule). Most times we prefer to eat a great meal at home so we can share with our children.  We get really disappointed when we “overpay” for the quality of food a restaurant serves.

5. You live so far away from your homeland, what foods do you miss most from Japan? 

I visit Japan once a year and I always ask mom to make my favorite, her Korokke or Japanese Croquettes.

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6. What is your most memorable or most special kitchen moment, be it a happy or a disastrous memory? 

I tend to forget bad things. I’m lucky that way. Hehe. So I don’t quite recall any bad incidents that happened in the kitchen. Well, I’m not an elegant cook either and my kitchen gets pretty chaotic when I cook. But when I think about my most memorable and special kitchen moment it would be the time cooking with my mom.

7. What is your favorite ingredient, the one you couldn’t live without, the one you use most often? And is this ingredient the one that inspires you the most or is there another?

Can I put two? I’m pretty addicted to both shiso (Perilla – herbs) and yuzu flavor. Imagining any dish that has shiso or yuzu makes my mouth water… You might see shiso on your sushi plate as decoration, but that’s edible!

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8. What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking:)

This has to be dark chocolate with almonds in it. I don’t need to eat a lot of chocolate, but I’d be happy with even a tiny bit of very good chocolate and almonds.

9. Who is your favorite foodie? (Be it a professional, enthusiast or novice)

Is it okay to say it’s my husband? He’s been my partner in crime for eating good food for all these years together. He is probably more passionate about food. It’s our common interest and that’s why we started the food blog too. Together we enjoy eating good food, talking about food, and exploring to taste good food. It’s always more fun to have someone you can share the great experience with, and that has been my husband.

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10. Why did you start blogging? Do you have a goal or what do you hope to accomplish with your blog? 

My close non-Japanese friends really wanted to learn how to cook Japanese food.  I started sharing my recipes with them through emails and Facebook.  About a year later my husband and friends suggested that I expand my sharing through a website or blog because it was not easy to search for older recipes on Facebook.  So my blog started in January 2011 and here we are.

My original goal was to organize all my existing recipes and write up everything in the blog. Then I stared to have regular readers who are interested in learning more basic Japanese dishes that they know or want to try. It took me awhile to realize my blog is not just for myself but also other readers. So I have another passion now which is to create a recipe website where people can search common and popular Japanese dishes. I’d be more than happy if readers think my recipes are reliable and cook along with me.

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Anything else you would like to say or share with us, tips or advice for fellow blogger?

I want to thank you, Nancy, for inviting me here today to introduce me to your readers - it means a lot to me!

Since I always appreciate any kind of tips when other bloggers share theirs, I’d like to return those favors here.

I know these tips are the most basic, but I always think of these as the key to success in the food blog community.

- Try to publish posts on a regular basis (even once a week, it should be somewhat regular so readers will know when the next post will be published).

- Readers look forward to good recipes and photography. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is very true for food blogging. If readers do not like the photo, they’ll be less inclined to try the recipe. Food photography and styling have always been a challenge for me and it’s my personal top priority to improve.

- Always have a clear and easy to follow recipe. Just like how you teach others to cook, it has to be clear instructions, especially when you are not there to teach. I’m always a visual learner so I took step-by-step pictures for myself in the beginning. However I have been getting great feedback from readers that the step-by-step pictures have been very helpful to cook some food they are not familiar with. Because of that feedback  I can’t stop taking step-by-step pictures now even though it’s so time consuming! You do not need step-by-step pictures, but you must write your recipes very well so readers feel comfortable trying them.

- Always respond to readers’ questions about a recipe. It can be really time consuming to respond to readers’ questions one by one, but if I’m a reader and have some question about the recipe, I’d love to get the answer for clarification.

- Try to avoid clutter and organize your blog so readers can grab whatever they need easily.

Thank you again for having me here today, Nancy, and thank you Spicie Foodie readers for reading my interview!

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Recipes for images in the graphic and photos can be found in the links below.
Japanese Tofu (Cold Tofu | Hiyayakko) , Curry Udon, Spanish Mackerel with Yuzu, California Roll, Strawberry Daifuku (Strawberry Mochi), Nikujaga 肉じゃが, Shabu Shabu, Green Tea Ice Cream (Matcha Ice Cream | 抹茶アイスクリーム), Wafu Dressing (Japanese Salad Dressing), Agedashi Tofu, Chicken Katsu Don,Spicy Shoyu Ramen, Quick & Easy Chirashi Sushi

Stay connected to Just One Cookbook on TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+  – RSS

All images are the sole property of Namiko Chen and Just One Cookbook. Graphic design by Spicie Foodie. Please do not use images or graphics without prior written consent. Thank you.

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosa May 21, 2012 at 6:11 AM

A great interview! Nami has an awesome blog and is a wonderful blogger. Thanks for sharing.

Cheers,

Rosa

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2 Spicie Foodie May 21, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Thanks Rosa!

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3 Nami | Just One Cookbook May 21, 2012 at 6:26 AM

Thank you so much Nancy for having me today, and writing this special feature of my blog. I’m really honored! :-)

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4 Spicie Foodie May 21, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Thank you Nami. It’s been a pleasure :)

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5 Nandita May 21, 2012 at 7:09 AM

What a lovely interview!!! I have always been a fan of Nami’s blog and it is so good to know so much about her. A big thanks to you Nancy :)

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6 Spicie Foodie May 21, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Hi Nandita,

Thank you and I’m so glad to hear you are also a fan of Nami’s blog.

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7 Michelle May 21, 2012 at 7:15 AM

Hehe, nami has just gotten a new fan! ME!

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8 Spicie Foodie May 21, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Yay!

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9 Ramona May 21, 2012 at 7:33 AM

Nami is the best!! I feel like I’m on a trip to Japan when I enter her blog. I don’t just learn wonderful recipes… but about culture and history of Japan too. Well done Nancy and Nami for a fun interview. I really enjoyed reading a learning more about Nami! :)

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10 Spicie Foodie May 21, 2012 at 9:05 AM

So true Ramona, JOC has so much to offer. Thanks!

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11 Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef May 21, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Oh how I love Nami and her blog and her kids and her food and her stories – can I go on ?

Terrific interview!

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12 Spicie Foodie May 21, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Hehe, yes:) Thank you Maureen for stopping by.

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13 Jeno @ Week Nite Meals May 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Nancy thank you for Nami’s interview! I have been following her blog since the beginning, and it’s always great to know there are other foodies out there who appreciates her as much. Your interview was very in depth, going to explore the rest of your site now!

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14 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Hi Jeno,

Thank you and I’m happy you are familiar with Nami and her blog.

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15 Laura (Tutti Dolci) May 21, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Great interview and beautiful photos! I love Nami’s blog and it’s fun to get to know her better through your excellent questions :).

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16 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Thank you Laura:)

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17 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking May 21, 2012 at 5:40 PM

What a great interview with Nami! She’s one of my favorite bloggers, and as tremendously talented in the kitchen as she is behind her camera lens! Thank you for sharing, Nancy and Nami.

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18 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Yes, she truly is talented. Thanks Georgia!

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19 Flavors of the Sun May 21, 2012 at 7:51 PM

What a nice interview with such a lovely woman. Am going now to check out her blog!

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20 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Thanks Victoria and do :)

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21 Sandra May 21, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Nami is such a sweet person and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her since she started blogging. These interviews are great Nancy and thanks Nami for agreeing to do this.

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22 Emily @ Life on Food May 21, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Always such wonderful photos. I want to start cooking more Asian food. I need to start paying attention to more than just the photos.

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23 Rhonda May 21, 2012 at 9:57 PM

Brilliant interview, I’m not very well versed in Japanese cooking other than sushi and teriyaki. I had to look up what shiso and yuzu were, now I want to try them!

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24 SkinnySimpleRecipes May 21, 2012 at 10:42 PM

I like your interview. First time on Nami’s blog…very nice pictures and recipes to try soon. Meriem

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25 Gina May 21, 2012 at 11:32 PM

I was smitten with Nami the first time I clicked on her. Her recipes pop of the screen. I love Japanese food and didn’t know it was so diverse, so I feel like I learn something whenever I hop on over. Great advice too. Hope all is well over there in your part of the world and that Spring is fast approaching over there.
Hugs,
-Gina-

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26 Jen at The Three Little Piglets May 21, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Such a sweet blogger! I loved the little sneak peak into Nami’s life – she truly is one of the people you meet along the way as a blogger that makes it all worth it.

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27 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:35 AM

So very true! Thanks Jen:)

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28 Yelena May 22, 2012 at 12:01 AM

Just wonderful-)

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29 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Thanks Yelena!

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30 Allen @ Cook! Bake! Share! May 22, 2012 at 12:05 AM

I, too, follow Nami’s blog and really enjoy her wonderful recipes and stories. Especially enjoyed her recent Japan trip and beautiful photos. Great interview! Allen.

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31 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Hi Allen,

So glad to hear it:) Thanks!

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32 Eha May 22, 2012 at 2:37 AM

Methinks I have a little tear in my eye. I have been reading Nami’s beautiful column for just a matter of months: my day is always made just a little bit brighter and wiser for doing so. Love the interview. But the funny thing is: I was asked yesterday for my three favourite food bloggers worldwide – I was busy and I just write from my heart – but Nami was one of the three! Well, thank you for being there and thank you for sharing your thouhts!

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33 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Haha;) I’m glad she is also one of your favorites.

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34 Kim Bee May 22, 2012 at 3:32 AM

Great interview. I adore Nami so much. She’s such a nice lady.

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35 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Thank Kim and glad to hear it:)

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36 cookingrookie May 22, 2012 at 4:04 AM

I love Nami’s blog – I learned about some new Japanese ingredients from it. And I tried some of her recipes and they were great! And, from her comments, Nami appears to be very charming and kind :-) Great interview.

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37 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Nami is just as charming in email, I’m sure in person too, as she appears in her comments. She’s a true gem in our community. Glad to hear you also love Nami’s blog. Thanks Elana!

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38 Holly May 22, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Excellent interview. The food looks fabulous. I wish I had a good Asian market near me!

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39 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Thanks Holly!

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40 Lilly May 22, 2012 at 10:40 AM

It was great to know more about Nami thought this interview. I also enjoy her blog a lot! And her pictures are AMAZING!

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41 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Thank you Lilly!

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42 Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb May 22, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Hi girls!

First of all, awesome interview! Always enjoy reading more about nami… she is a lovely person who I d love to meet once day in person (and u too nancy) ;).

Nami we have the same aim,… to bake more in life! now I ll be able to do that too for some time. =P

Nancy as always I enjoy your blog enormously, its always a pleasure to pass by and to discover new things! (even though the past weeks didnt give me the time to do so).

Thanks for sharing your writing talents with us!

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43 Spicie Foodie May 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Hi Helene,

Thank you so much! Baking is also something I need to focus more on.

No problem Helen, we all get busy:) That’s why I haven’t stopped by yours, yikes.

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44 Laura @ Family Spice May 22, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Another great interview with such a humble and talented blogger!

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45 Spicie Foodie May 23, 2012 at 9:39 AM

Thanks Laura!

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46 Suzanne May 22, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Great post Nancy. Nami is super sweet and so talented in the kitchen as well as photography. I am so glad I got introduced to her from our mutual friend Roxana. I hope sometime to stock my pantry with some great Asain staples and get making her delicious recipes.

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47 Spicie Foodie May 23, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Hi Suzanne,

Thank you and I hope you get to try some of Nami’s recipes soon.

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48 Lyn @LovelyPantry May 22, 2012 at 11:10 PM

Such a lovely interview. Nami is one of the sweetest bloggers that I have been fortunate to connect with during my first year in blogging. She’s so helpful and her recipes and photographs are truly inspiring! Thank you Nancy, for this interview with Nami! :-)

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49 Spicie Foodie May 23, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Hi Lyn,

I’m glad you found Nami in your first year. Thank you:)

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50 Asmita May 22, 2012 at 11:45 PM

Always a pleasure to read Nami’s blog and now more about her. I love her recipes, food styling and photography. So much to learn from her.

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51 Spicie Foodie May 23, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Hi Asmita,

Thank you!

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52 Patty May 23, 2012 at 1:01 AM

I love your interview series Nancy! Nami is so talented and her blog is a pleasure to follow;-) Thanks for sharing more about Nami and her beautiful photos;-)

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53 Spicie Foodie May 23, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Hi Patty,

Thank you!

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54 anna May 23, 2012 at 2:18 AM

nice to meet you nami! i’m so excited to look over your blog and learn about japanese cooking! thanks for posting, nancy!

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55 Spicie Foodie May 23, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Hi Anna,

I’m sure you’ll love Nami’s blog and recipes. She has so many healthy recipes that you’ll love. Thanks!

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56 ray May 23, 2012 at 2:41 AM

Nami is one of my favorite food bloggers and one of the sweetest and nicest person you will ever meet. This is a great interview. Thank you, Nancy.

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57 Spicie Foodie May 23, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Hi Ray,

So glad to hear it:) Thanks!

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58 Nami | Just One Cookbook May 23, 2012 at 5:56 AM

Thank you everyone for leaving such kind messages! I’m really happy to be friends with most of you here (and nice to meet you to new friends!) and hope to get to know you more.

Nancy, thank you again for featuring me! I can’t thank you enough. :-)

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59 Spicie Foodie May 23, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Thank you so much Nami. As you can see we all adore you and your blog. Keep up the great work:)

It has been a pleasure:)xx

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60 Jenny May 23, 2012 at 6:44 AM

Hi Nancy, that was a very good interview. Nami is always so generous and inspiring. I wish I could follow all her tips on foodblogging, she is an inspiration. I’ll be catching up on more of your posts, too. Thanks again!

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61 Spicie Foodie May 23, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Hi Jenny,

Thank you! Nami’s tips are all great and so helpful.

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62 Liz May 23, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Another fabulous interview, Nancy! Nami is such a sweet gal…and you can tell from her answers and her blog…plus she has amazing dishes to share :) Thank you, both!

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63 Spicie Foodie May 24, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Thanks for stopping by Liz:)

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64 Alyssa May 24, 2012 at 8:09 AM

Nami’s blog’s is one of my favorites too! And Nami, I had no idea you’ve been blogging for a little over a year. For some reason, I thought you had been at it much longer. Well, you have certainly created such success in a short amount of time. And I think you are much better baker than you do :)

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65 Spicie Foodie May 24, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Hi Alyssa,

Thanks for stopping by. Also glad to hear Nami’s blog is one of your favorites:)

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66 Trix May 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Yes, I love Nami’s blog – so glad you highlighted it here! Her photos really are stunning.

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67 Spicie Foodie May 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Thank you Trix!

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68 Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen May 26, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Lovely interview, Nancy. Nami is one of my favourite bloggers too. Nami, your recipes and photos are mouthwatering. We have very little exposure to authentic Japanese cooking in Ireland so pretty much everything I know about Japanese food, I’ve learnt from Just One Cookbook.

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69 Spicie Foodie May 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Hi Hester,

Thank you and I’m glad to hear you also enjoy Nami’s blog. I’m sure Nami would be pleased to hear she’s educated you on Japanese food:)

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70 Magic of Spice June 4, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Nancy, you have a wonderful talent (aside from your cooking and photography) in picking out the best of them! Fantastic interview and read!
Nami, I already adore you and everything that you do, but this was such fun :)

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