Managing Recipes
June 7, 2004 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by the quirky genius of Alton Brown, and a long postponed sense of adulthood, I'm delving into the world of cooking. Can anyone recommend freeware for managing recipes for either Win XP or Palm OS, or both?
posted by keswick to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For OS X, Yum! is delectable!
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:11 PM on June 7, 2004

I know I'm not addressing your question, which is bad, but I think you're on the wrong track.

To learn how to cook you don't want to collect recipes; you want to try lots of different things. And you especially want to try and take a theme and run with it rather than follow recipes. Watch the food channel for inspiration. Stop into the book store and leaf through cooking mags. The recipes won't teach you technique anyway.

I taught myself to cook several years ago. And I didn't really get good until I stopped following the recipes. Everything I cook now is either something I made up or a recipe I only read halfway through.

There are exceptions. If you want coq au vin there's no point in trying something other than the official recipe.

Just food for thought. I've tried using recipe software and found it a pain.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:56 PM on June 7, 2004

While I agree with y6y6y6 in one respect (experimentation is good), it's still nice to have a compendium of recipes to use as jumping-off points (where you can say, gee, I have ingredients x, y, and z in the cupboard, what are some ideas). I don't have a direct answer to your question, unfortunately, because I tend to use Allrecipes for those sorts of queries (the search-by-ingredient feature is great for inspiration). They've also got a massive repository of recipes to bookmark, so it might be something you'll want to look at, come to think of it.

As far as actual recipe-management, though, I've got a drawer in the kitchen full of scrawled-on papers that I occasionally refer to for hints. I really think it's the best "tool" for the job.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:18 PM on June 7, 2004

Keswick - I forgot you were also looking for a Palm freeware app.
McRecipe works very nicely.

While I don't know your level of experience, I'll play Devil's Advocate
and say recipe collecting is quite good indeed. By looking at variations
in different ingredients and preparation ratios in similar dishes, you can develop a better margin for experimentation than trying the "anything goes" approach, which may more likely grace your trash bags than your palette.

The Cook's Thesaurus and GourmetSleuth are useful sites for considering substitute ingredients. I've found them to be particularly useful while running out of a particular item amidst preparation.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:44 PM on June 7, 2004

This question is funny because when PCs first came out in the late 70s the question everyone asked was "what do you do with it?" and one of the most common answers was store recipes. For whatever reason everyone seemed to think a PC was the perfect solution to the storing recipe "problem" as if index cards were not a good solution.

In any case you would think that 25 years later we would have solved that problem in spades. I personally use a paper notebook and write down the experiments I did that came out well. It's much more natural to read and write with pen and paper than use a computer in the kitchen. So I dont really have an answer to the question.

On the subject of recipes and the new cook, it's a fine idea. You will learn a lot from other people. Choose a cookbook from someone who has somthing to teach beyond just recipes that can offer education about the ingredients and history and basics and theories of food. I've learned a lot from James Peterson but everyone has their favorite star chef.
posted by stbalbach at 8:52 PM on June 7, 2004

Well, if we're going to recommend cookbooks, I think Cooks Illustrated "The Best Recipe" would be a great choice. Not only does it have very good recipes for lots of basics, it also spends a lot of time explaining why one technique or ingredient works better than another.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:16 PM on June 7, 2004

I would subscribe to Cook's Illustrated magazine, too. I like them because they explain why a recipe works well so you learn not only a recipe but also sound basic cooking techniques. And I'd get a copy (old or new, although some will say only the old one is worthwhile) of the Joy of Cooking because it is truly an awesome reference. We have about a bazillion cookbooks and I think I use back issues of CI and the JoC more than I use the other books combined.

As for recipe software, I keep a three-ring binder with all our favorite (and some not so favorites--I really should clean that thing out) recipes in plastic sheet protectors in it. Then, when I want to cook something, I can take out the recipe, tape it to the cupboard or stick it to the oven hood with a magnet and follow it without it getting in my way.

If I took the laptop into the kitchen, I'd just get food all over it. I'm a messy cook.

I like the idea of a database searchable by ingredients, though. Kind of like bar software that lets you put in the booze and mixers you have around and gives you some cocktail ideas.

Mmmm... cocktails...
posted by jennyb at 6:37 AM on June 8, 2004

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