Ok, it's possible I am just grasping at straws to find an excuse to own an iPad.
June 9, 2012 6:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to figure out if a iPad is what I'm looking for to help me reduce my physical books, particularly cookbooks and printed (from the internet) recipes. I want to know first whether iPad is the way to go for my specific needs (details within) and then, if an iPad is what I want, which generation iPad & apps would help me do what I want. Or maybe there is a better solution?

I'm an avid cook with a large cookbook and cooking magazine collection that grows every year. I also bookmark and/or print recipes from blogs etc. My typical procedure when trying a new recipe is to print the recipe or make a photocopy of the cookbook page. I then make copious notes on the page during and after cooking the recipe. I halve (at least) most recipes, so I always write that information on the page as well.

What I would like to do with an iPad (or whatever) is have my pulled-from-the-internet or page from a book (this could be an ebook from which I PDFed the relevant page) and then be able to make handwritten notes on it with a stylus AND, preferably, attach typed notes as well (like... maybe with a post-it type of thing?) and possibly also attach photos. It would be awesome if it could coordinate with my main computer (a MacBook Pro) in some way, too! For example, if I want to type notes, I'd love to be able to do that easily from my computer and have it zap on over to the iPad. In case it's relevant, I also have an iPhone. I'm an iPerson, apparently. And if the data could be stored in such a way that losing the iPad wouldn't result in me losing all my data, that would be ideal.

I have a Kindle already, and I absolutely love it ... but only for reading novels and the like that don't use images. (My Kindle is a model from a couple of years ago with a keyboard.) I continue to buy physical cookbooks despite my desire to save space in my home and trees primarily because I enjoy seeing the beautiful photography and find it instructive. My goal with the iPad would be to reduce future purchases of physical books and to reduce the amount of paper and toner I'm using by printing physical copies of recipes all the time.

So to reiterate, my questions are:

1. Is an iPad what I want for this? If so, what apps do I need? Or do I want something else entirely (Kindle Fire??)?

2. If I want an iPad, would I be happy enough with an older model? Anything else I need to consider here? If having an original version iPad would be slow/irritating in some way, I'll just wait until I can afford the latest.

I don't really want applications specific to recipes because I think I would like to use this same method for things like art/craft instruction books, textbooks, etc. I usually have a lot of studying going on, typically on a wide variety of topics!

Thanks guys!!
posted by pupstocks to Technology (21 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have an iPad so I can't answer your specific requirement questions.... BUT one of the roommates I had in my last apartment was a chef in restaurant school. They all got iPads as part of their tuition and he said they used them constantly when cooking. He always used it at home. So it's what the (future) pros use...
posted by DoubleLune at 7:09 PM on June 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't specifically address many of your questions, but I just got a refurbished ipad2 The 16gb wifi model is currently $319 when in stock (there aren't any right now but stock changes almost daily). Every refurbished ipad is under full warrenty, eligible for apple care and has been completely checked. Mine arrived directly from the factory in China without a scratch or fingerprint on it; it looked brand new and came in a box with the charger and booklet. I got this tip from someone who works at an apple store who assured me that the refurbished models were just as good (although typically an older model) as what you would buy new in a store.

I think coordinating everything with your macbook pro could be accomplished via icloud. Also I downloaded the kindle app on my ipad and easily downloaded the one cookbook that I had on my kindle and it looks great. The photographs are gorgeous.

I haven't gotten to use the full utility of my ipad yet because I need to set up a wifi router in my apartment, but I'm pretty sure there are apps that allow you to pull and save websites or pages (maybe instapaper?).
posted by kaybdc at 7:14 PM on June 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can use the Instapaper app to send recipes from webpages directly to your pad. It'll create a copy of the page you're looking at, pictures included, and give you a copy you can use regardless of your internet connection. Plus, most browsers now have an Instapaper plug-in, so saving a page is a one-click process.

If you have a dropbox account, you can use that plus Goodreader to read - and annotate - PDFs of recipes. It allows you to organize documents as you might on your computer, and also will allow you access to downloaded documents regardless of your internet connection.

And I'm sure Evernote would play a huge part in this somewhere, but I still haven't managed to click with Evernote yet, so someone else will have to pick that up for me. I know they have an Evernote Food app that allows you to save your food memories, but that might be a little outside what you're looking for.
posted by MShades at 7:19 PM on June 9, 2012

Stop grasping at straws and start grasping an iPad. You'll wonder why you waited. My wife and I use ours for cooking and baking all the time. In addition to online recipes, there is a very useful Epicurious app.
posted by The Deej at 7:25 PM on June 9, 2012

You might like using apps like Evernote or Springpad for general content organization, but for recipe management, nothing beats Paprika in my book. I always end up tweaking recipes, so the Notes feature is perfect for jotting down comments. As a bonus, there's an OSX app, and it's a cinch to sync between devices.
posted by evoque at 7:51 PM on June 9, 2012

My wife typically uses our iPad (very first model) to look at Facebook and webcam sites that track birds of prey, and to play some games. But I very often see her with it propped up in the kitchen, reading a recipe. It's a natural for following a recipe.

Evernote works without any problem on this device. Evernote allows you to clip any text from any web page and then make it visible on any compatible device - computer, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, etc.

Best to grab the recipe from a web page on a computer. Doing that on an iPad is a bit cumbersome.
posted by yclipse at 8:19 PM on June 9, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the answers so far!

I'm really hoping to easily export pages from ebooks (say, from Amazon) and then actually "write" on them using a stylus OR typing. As in, I would like to do both. And then I want to be able to see my notes ON the actual page. Does that make sense?

I am assuming(/hoping) I can accomplish that by making the pages PDFs and then using some kind of PDF note-taking application..?

Stop grasping at straws and start grasping an iPad.
Heh. :)
posted by pupstocks at 8:42 PM on June 9, 2012

Response by poster: I guess another way to explain my question about whether I can get an older version is: will the magical note-taking app I use in my PDF notetaking scheme suffer if I have an older iPad? Are there any issues with the OG one not running the latest iOS, for example? Is it slow/annoying?
posted by pupstocks at 8:43 PM on June 9, 2012

Work just upgraded me to the newest iPad from the original and I think you would be fine with an OG, it seems like the main difference is the display is a little nicer and the newer ones have cameras. You should still be able to run the most recent iOS and any apps.
posted by ghharr at 8:55 PM on June 9, 2012

My husband uses an iPad plus Evernote extensively, for recipes (and for other notes). He says you can just clip the recipe from the web page, and then annotate it, although sometimes the annotations show up below. On the other hand, you can search the recipes, which is really handy.

There are a number of good PDF annotation tools---PDFExpert os my current favorite---but I don't think that's necessarily a good way to go when dealing with lots if small recipes, and I don't know how you'd get the recipes into the program or where you'd store them.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:58 PM on June 9, 2012

Another big difference between the new and old iPad is the voice recognition software, I believe. The iPad 2 has great voice-recognition, which might obviate the need for writing directly on your recipes with a stylus. You might be able to do it with your voice instead, although I don't nkow much about the specifics of this.
posted by k8lin at 9:04 PM on June 9, 2012

I got my iPad primarily to use in the kitchen. I also got the Belkin iPad wallmount and put it up near both an outlet and where I usually put my cutting board.

It's particularly awesome for on-the-fly ratio calculations, looking up recipes from blogs, and doing metric/Imperial translation.
posted by catlet at 9:21 PM on June 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, definitely think about catlet's suggestion for an iPad stand thing - this will deeply impact usability! I'm on a cell phone right now, so I can't look this up right now, but last month I was at this coffee shop in charlotte called smelly cat, and they had a really cool iPad stand that was situated on a ball bearing in a way analogous to a common gps mount, but made of stainless steel. They were using it for swiping credit cards via square, but in a complicated kitchen situation, I can also see the utility in a similar set up.

Now maybe someone else will actually know what I'm talking about?
posted by oceanjesse at 10:51 PM on June 9, 2012

I've begun entering recipes in an iPad app called The Recipe Box, and so far, it seems pretty complete. It's devided into ingredients & instructions, has a seperate notes section, cooking & prep time, ratings, categories, & you can add photos. It's got a custom keyboard with cooking units & abbreviations, that makes typing stuff in quicker, it generates shopping lists, & it has some import/export & sharing features, though I haven't used those.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:59 PM on June 9, 2012

There are a lot of recipe managers out there. I use Paprika, but also see MacGourmet, Basil, The Recipe Box, Oven Pro, etc.
posted by painquale at 12:04 AM on June 10, 2012

I can tell you what I do...

I used to keep recipes in a dedicated application on my Mac, but found that Evernote works beautifully. Easy to import info and syncs everywhere (laptop, web, ipad and iphone). It's nice to be able to pull up a recipe on my iphone at the market if I need to or send someone a link to my recipe database.

As far as writing on pdfs, I don't think you can do that in Evernote (you can type notes however). To write on pdfs on an ipad, check out Note Taker HD. Works beautifully, but the app wouldn't be useful to manage hundreds of recipes.

The challenge in moving from actual cookbooks to any digital format is going to be getting the pages into digital format. I have a shelf full of cookbooks and to get them all into Evernote I'd have to scan each page.

Here's what I do (when I have time): if I make a recipe from a real cookbook, I google the recipe afterwards. My cookbooks are well-known and popular books, so the recipes are often reproduced somewhere online (blog, magazine, forum, etc.) and then I just import it into Evernote.

Hope that helps.
posted by kdern at 5:43 AM on June 10, 2012

The iPad also has a nice app for Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, as well as apps for epicurious and others.
posted by that girl at 6:30 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

An iPad would work. My wife occasionally uses ours in the kitchen. You can get special sleeves or stands to put them in for kitchen use, but we just stick ours in a ziploc bag.

Your workflow would need some sorting out. To do what you've been doing, you'll need an app that lets you annotate. You'll also probably want one that lets you tag documents. Finding something that lets you do both might take some investigating. (I don't think GoodReader lets you tag).

The alternative is to really dive in and use a recipe-management app like Paprika. This will mean more work getting the recipes in, but more flexibility once you've got them in, as they do things like scale recipes up and down.

You'll probably wind up with a sort of mix-and-match approach, which could get annoying.
posted by adamrice at 7:06 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've experimented with using a Kindle, a Kindle app on an iPad, and Evernote on an iPad for recipe management. Paprika on iPad gets a lot of great reviews, but I haven't tried it yet, mainly because I've now got a lot of recipes in Evernote. I use a mix of cookbooks (some hard copy, some now in Kindle e-book format) and recipes off the internet. I almost always modify recipes and make additional annotations every time I make one.

Where I've landed is using Evernote on the iPad and storing one recipe per note with some thoughtful tagging so i can find things. For the cookbooks in e-book format, I cut-and-paste out of a Kindle app on my laptop and then reformat. While not as much of a hassle as transcribing, it isn't suitable for moving over a huge number of recipes (like a whole cookbook). This is the area where you might find Paprika to be a better bet (automatic import of at least some recipes). So most of the recipes that end up in Evernote are recipes I've actually already cooked. All of the editing and annotating is happening on my laptop. When I'm going to cook something, I open Evernote to the relevant recipe, open it in full screen viewing mode, and stick the iPad in a clear plastic cookbook stand (not designed for iPads, but works well enough). I also run Evernote on my phone, which makes it easy to use as a shopping list when I'm at the grocery store.
posted by kovacs at 8:54 AM on June 10, 2012

Just came in to ravenously +1 the recommendation for Paprika. It also has a Mac app, which makes typing in all your old/printed recipes MUCH easier! And the web clipper is great for easily adding new recipes as you stumble across them. The web clipper would also be an easy import tool if a lot of your recipes are still on-line, but you would have to type in recipes only from books.

The big plus is it also lets you coordinate shopping lists from recipes--my husband and I both have it synced so I can create a shopping list, share it with him, and we split up in the store and can see what we've each crossed-off. That was the first feature that really sold me.

I don't think it will let you do hand-scribbled notes, but there is a note function you can type in. It lets you add photos, notes, set times/sources/categories, and there's even a timer feature built in so you don't have to fuss with a secondary timer when cooking. I cook regularly and love trying new recipes, and I lovelovelove Paprika. I'd never want to go back to my Evernote/Dropbox combo. It holds all my recipes, old and new now.
posted by ninjakins at 9:06 AM on June 10, 2012

Response by poster: So, I went ahead and got the Mac app for Paprika. You guys are right -- it seems really awesome.

You're also right that printing from Kindle ebooks is a challenge at best. For some reason I had thought that I could just use the regular Print function on my MacBook to make PDFs from ebooks, but I think I confused ebooks from the Kindle store with PDF ebooks from other sources. Whoops.

Anyway, I'm thinking iPad + Paprika for most recipes (even if I have to type them in from ebooks sometimes... I don't really mind that if it's something I want to make again) and probably Evernote and/or some kind of PDF annotator for non-cookbooks. I may just let the handwritten aspect go. I think it might not be that big a deal once I get used to typing notes.

Thanks so much for your great answers! And of course if any future visitors have more input, please feel free to add it!
posted by pupstocks at 7:10 PM on June 10, 2012

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