Three Free Cooking Apps for iPhone & iPad

“Never eat more than you can lift.”
Miss Piggy (American Puppet Character) 1990s

When I was a lot younger I had Miss Piggy’s relationship with food. It didn’t matter what or how much I ate, as long as it wasn’t turnips or onions, I was good to go. In fact, the more the merrier.

Whole pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom pizzas? Please! An appetizer at best.

Dressed out double cheeseburger sub (on a baguette, with aged, sharp cheddar)? I’d take two, and maybe one more for later, when I got hungry again in an hour or so.

A half a gallon of butter pecan ice cream? Where’s the pineapple and chocolate topping with sliced bananas tossed in (for the potassium, you see)?

I was skinny as a rail and never gained an once. My stomach was like cast iron. I could eat foods so spicy it could be classified as a weapon in some parts of the world.

I shoveled it in. Chewing was an afterthought. Cooking back then was something someone else did. If it wasn’t a sandwich then I didn’t make it. You’d be surprised what fits between two slices of bread ( preferably a dark rye).

Nowadays my relationship with food is a lot different. I still make sandwiches, but I’ve added soups, stews, steamed vegetables, and even fresh baked bread to my repertoire of culinary productions, and I’ve discovered that cooking can be a lot of fun. Eating CAN be a lot more enjoyable too, but we’ll explore more of that in a moment.

I’ve even begun to create my own recipes. I also modify existing recipes to give them my own interpretation, and the results have usually been … edible. I will admit, however, that I’m often the only one brave enough to verify that last statement. This is especially true where cakes are concerned, but we won’t go into that now.

I mention all of this for two reasons:

1. I ate in the cafeteria for lunch yesterday and now my stomach is rebelling. (An instance where eating was not so enjoyable.)

This is not the first time my gut has protested my lunch choices. It couldn’t be helped though, I was too busy to go out for lunch and nothing else in the cafeteria even remotely appealed to me.

2. It’s Free on iTunes time. My current stomach distress reminded me of more pleasant encounters with food, and gave me the theme for this week’s article; cooking.

I have not had time to throughly examine the items I will discussed to today, to do so would require me to try at least one recipe for each app featured, and I have been too busy. But I have taken a more than casual look at each, so keep that in mind while I direct your attention to the first app de la semaine, which has the hopeful title of How to Cook Everything: Essentials.

How to Cook Everything

I’m a big fan of using basic recipes and embellishing them at will. You have to start with really good recipes, however, those that leave something to your imagination. How to Cook Everything offers exactly that, basic recipes that you can use as a starting point for your kitchen explorations.

I like How to Cook Everything because it not only has recipes, but it also offers tips and techniques on food preparation, equipment selection, and much more. You can even get a shopping list for whatever it is you decide to try.

List of recipes ideas

The only thing this app lacks it pictures. The thing is, I’m not so sure you need pictures. When I have them I always try to make what I create look as good, if not better than what’s on the photo. The problem is that often the photos of the finished product has been enhanced in some way, so what you produce will likely never look as good, which can lessen your confidence. And confidence is one of the main ingredients for cooking well.

What this app does have, however is a great recipe section with built-in timers. It’s pretty cool. As you work through the recipe you’ll run into places where cooking must be timed. Touch the clock icon in the recipe and the timer starts. So cool!

Timer inside

Anyway, How to Cook Everything: Essentials is ad supported, but the ads are not intrusive and don’t appear on every screen. There’s a paid version, which is ad-free, gives you access to more recipes and information on food preparation and presentation. I think most folks will get by just fine with the free version.

Check out How to Cook Everything: Essentials.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of cooking you may want to explore the endless varieties of cooking styles. One of the best ways to do that is to grab a magazine about cooking and browse, see what other folks are doing in the kitchen. A good, and certainly one of the best looking resources available on the iPad in Gourmet Live, a free e-zine about food.

Gourmet Live

You should know that in order to get the most out of Gourmet Live you have to have a Twitter or Facebook account. If you don’t have or don’t want to use your account then the app is hobbled to the point of being infuriatingly unusable. The app also badgers you to allow location services to track you every time you start the app. I was so annoyed that I nearly decided not to mention Gourmet Live in this article, but then I thought that many of you won’t care about this. Anyway, you’ve been warned.

What Gourmet Live offers is a drop-dead gorgeous e-magazine thats chock full of articles, interviews and, most of all, food. Recipes, how-tos, and more seem to overflow from the virtual pages. The photos are top notch, making the food pictured look so good you can almost taste it.

Gourmet Live

Gourmet Live app is actually an extension of the Gourmet Live web site, but I think I prefer the app, which seems more focused.

The articles are well written and vary on subject matter, but they are always concerned with food.

Once you sign away your online info, the Gourmet Live app is actually quite useable. You have access to all current and previous articles and recipes, though navigation to previous articles is a bit odd. You have to tap the “Rewards” button in the upper left corner of the screen.

I’ve also found that’s it’s impossible to view the cover page of the magazine for more than a second or two, the app immediately forces you to the index, which is beautiful, but if you want more than a glimpse of the cover, fahgettaboutit.

Gormet Live

Gourmet Live is new, so I’m hopeful the creators of this looker of an e-zine will fix some of these annoyance because they really have a great looking product.

While the food in Gourmet Live looks wonderful, you can believe it took a bit to prepare, and often we just don’t have the time. We’d like meals that look and taste good, but don’t require several hours of prep. We would like to pop open a can of something, toss in something else, make it hot, and let the family dig in.

We’d also like suggestions. Scan the can and see what pops up. And if we can’t decide between dish A or dish B, send a note to the family and let them decide.

Include a shopping list and you have my attention and the attention of millions of dinner-challenged families.

Campbell's Kitchen

Campbell Soup has answered the call with a fine iPhone app called Campbell’s Kitchen. The app does all the cool stuff above and looks pretty good doing it.

Campbell's Kitchen

Rotate the phone to horizontal and you see the recipe in step by step mode. Check off needed items to generate a shopping list and send it to yourself or others via email.

You can sign up for an account (but you don’t have to) and catalog the recipes you like best. You can also share recipes via Facebook (but, again, you don’t have to).

Campbell’s Kitchen is a good resource for the busy family. Check it out.

That’s a wrap for this week.