How Your iPad Can Make You a Better Cook
Almost every cook has a secret recipe--and most celebrity chefs have a signature technique that makes all their dishes special. Emeril's got "Bam!" and Rachael Ray promises fun, fabulous food in 30 minutes or less. Paula Deen, meanwhile, is all about the butter. But every last one of them has terrific (and terrifically expensive) cookware, appliances and cooking gadgets to make that kitchen magic happen.
Whether you cook out of necessity or make a hobby out of trying new recipes and creating your own signature dishes, you'll find that one of the best cooking tools available won't be mentioned in cookbooks. In fact, you could get rid of all your cookbooks if you just have this tool.
Move over, rolling pins, spatulas and Cuisinarts! The new state-of-the-art cooking tool is your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.
You can find well over 1,000 apps related to cooking in the AppStore. Some of these apps don't even contain recipes, but that doesn't mean they won't be useful in the kitchen. Knowledge Book's Cooking has all the background info you'll need to convert recipes between metric and English measurements, substitute ingredients, adjust for high altitude and understand general kitchen jargon (and it's FREE!*)
If you like to keep things Real Simple, there's an app for that as well. Titled Real Simple Recipes: No Time to Cook?, this $4.99* app features magazine-quality photography and step-by-step illustrated instructions for over 850 recipes and even a built-in shopping list and cooking timer. It's much cheaper than a cookbook, and equal to the price of a single copy of the magazine.
Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine boasts an app as well. The FREE* iPad app comes with a sample issue of the magazine, and additional magazines can be downloaded in-app for $2.99*. This app features plenty of Martha-tested tips and a shopping list function. Watch how-to videos and even email recipes to friends right from your device.
Fans of the popular Allrecipes website will love its Dinner Spinner app. Offering recipes for much more than just dinner, this app allows you to choose by ingredient, type of dish, and how long you have to prep the meal. The $2.99* Pro version gives you full access to the Allrecipes website, including your online recipe box, automatic recipe resizing, and a shopping list option. Plus it's ad-free!
If you're an iPod touch user (or are reaching the upper limits of your data plan), the FREE* Woman's Day Cooking Assistant packs in many of the same features that paid apps boast--without requiring an Internet connection for use. There are thousands of simple recipe ideas, keyword and category search functionality, shopping list, tips & tools, and even a cooking time calculator. Each recipe includes detailed directions and a photograph.
Cook's Illustrated magazine, known for its scientifically-tested recipes, brings you a FREE* app with 50 of its most popular choices. Videos accompany each recipe, so you've got an app full of cooking lessons! There's a shopping-list feature and a timer built in to each recipe, so your iPhone keeps you on time and on task. Another cool feature is the Supermarket Ingredient Reviews section, so you can find out which brands to buy (and which to avoid.) For full access to tons of Cook's Illustrated recipes, you'll have to purchase a site subscription.
And then there are apps that help you cook that aren't cooking apps at all! My favorite is the FREE* Springpad app, that lets me save recipes and tips (among all kinds of other things) from my go-to blogs and websites. I can organize my notes any way I want, make notes in the recipes for substitutions that fit my family's tastes, and use tags to sort them for easy retrieval later. Download this to help with your cooking, but you'll find yourself using it for everything else as well!
I'm an incurable cookbook collector, but my husband will be glad to know that instead of loading up the kitchen shelves with lots of cookbooks, I can load up my iPad with lots of cooking apps! That will save plenty of space in our tiny kitchen.
*App prices are subject to change. Prices were accurate at time of publication.