And the Iron Chef of the Year Goes to… Your Smartphone Apps
What’s for dinner? One too many nights of staring into the refrigerator and dreading another night of leftovers? Fret not, true believers — help is on the way! The AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner (a free app for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone and Kindle Fire) can provide you with some inspiration. Just enter your meal type (breakfast, lunch, main course, snack, etc.), any ingredients you have available, and preparation time, and voila! A meal is suggested. (You can even turn on filters to specify vegetarian, non-dairy, non-wheat dishes and more.)
Managing multitasking mania. From starting the water boiling, to deboning the chicken, to keeping an eye on the buns in the oven, cooking often involves juggling several things at the same time in order to get everything to come out right. Before chucking it all and heading to the local drive thru, check out the 5 in 1 Kitchen Timer (Blackberry,iPhone $1.99). This handy tool lets you set up multiple timers for each step in the cooking process, reminding you exactly when to flip, fry, frappé and fricassee.
Check your labels… digitally! For calorie counters and health-conscious cooks, the USDA Food Database App (Android, $0.99) helps users find the nutritional information for food items based on serving size, covers more than 7,500 food items and dishes, and organizes them by categories for quick searching.
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Dinner is done, and it’s time to relax with a cocktail. The 8500+ Drink & Cocktail Recipes (iPhone, Android free) is exactly that – a veritable mixed-drink cornucopia, with more entries than you’ll ever need. Pick a new drink to find its recipe or enter the ingredients you have on hand and let it suggest one. Bottoms up!
Keeping Track of Cooking Trends
Keeping up on the latest recipes, techniques and events from your favorite cooking sites can mean a lot of clicking and digging through things. This is where RSS (Really Simple Syndication) comes in very handy. RSS lets you create a newsfeed from the sites you are interested in, letting you keep up on new content from those sites without digging through them one-by-one. Most websites and blogs offer RSS feeds and there are a number of free RSS readers available free.
Another option are services like Pocket (http://getpocket.com) — a internet browser add-in that allows you to bookmark a page for reading later. Adding Pocket (Android, iOS: free) on your smartphone, tablet, and computer makes it easy for you to check out your recipes wherever you go.
Cooking and Video: The 101 Approach to Cooking
Cooking shows are popular today. So is internet video. Put them together, and bam — you’ve got a world of culinary options.
The old tried-and-true method for finding videos of your favorite cuisine prep is Youtube — and why not, since it has such a huge base of contributors? But if you are looking for something with a little better quality (no shaky cam, lighting, good sound and smooth cuts), then check out HowCast & VideoJug — two DIY based video sites that both have a wide range of recipes & quick, helpful tips demonstrated by experts. And if you want to take a master class in a subject? Check outCraftsy — where world renowned experts like Peter Reinhart and othershold online seminars on artisan bread baking, cheese making, cake decoration and more — for around the same cost as your average cookbook today.
Feasting with Your Eyes
Want to drink in the latest and greatest of cooking online, before you make the plunge on a recipe? Foodgawker and Tastespotting are here for you, providing colorful rows upon rows of pictures from the latest in food blogging beauty. See something you like? Click through to the food blog, with recipes and ample pictures to guide you through duplicating that recipe in your home.
Cook and Dine With the Family – Virtually
Video conferencing software is making it easy to visually connect with family and friends in real time. So whether you need tips on doing mom’s turkey gravy or just cannot make it across the country to a reunion dinner with your friends from school, it is easier than ever to be there using Skype, Google+ Hangouts and FaceTime.