The search, for now, is over(ish)

So, thinking that maybe I had missed something in my earlier evaluations of the various cookbook/recipe management programs I had evaluated earlier, I decided to take a second look at the whole list. Here’s the list:

  • Connoisseur 1.0.3
  • A Cook’s Books 0.9.3
  • MacGourmet 1.0.3
  • Cookware Deluxe 2.1
  • iCuistot 1.1
  • Shop’NCook Shopping List and Recipe Manager 3.0.1
  • i-Recipes 1.3
  • Computer Cuisine Deluxe 4.0

After another evening of messing around with these things, A Cook’s Books is back at the top of the list, and is close enough to what I’m looking for (for now) to possibly earn my $15 USD ($18.80-ish CDN) registration fee.

Here’s where it excels:

1) Data entry isn’t painful. This is a huge selling point that cannot possibly be under-valued. I have many cookbooks. I have many recipes I want to enter. Sitting down and fighting with the data entry system every single time I want to enter one of these is not going to earn you my love and respect. Or $15.

ACB has a single-page recipe layout with straightforward ingredient entry tabbing, and a single large text box for entering directions. I really prefer this layout to the multipage layouts other applications favour. There’s also a handy same-page area for entering recipe notes and a picture (I have to start taking pictures of my food).

2) Quicklists. These are dynamic lists based on a number of user-specified criteria. I have a “Noodles” list that contains every recipe that has “noodles” of any description in the ingredient list. I also have a “Dinners” list that contains anything I’ve categorized as such. I could do a “Dinners – Chicken” list, or a “Chinese” category list, or a list by Author name or Source, and so forth. There is, of course, the ever-handy “Show All” option.

3) Full text search facility. I’m not very bright sometimes and need this sort of thing to help me. It has it, I’ll use it.

4) Full week menu planner facility with integrated (and half-decent) shopping list generator. The shopping lists are generated to text, which means I can email them to myself (I do things like this a lot) or stick it on my Treo, or whatever. Plain text sometimes just wins.

5) Decent recipe print system. I don’t want to print a full colour glossy with photos and pretty colours, I just want a plain print out that I can toss in the recycling bin when I’m done. I’m not a timid cook, so my hardcopy recipes/cookbooks inevitably get stuff on them — butter, coffee, water, knives, saucy spoons, grease, garlic blobs, etc. Clearly I can’t do something crazy like take electronics into that sort of environment (although the Mac mini was a fairly compelling kitchen system for a few minutes there), and I’d really rather not destroy my actual cookbooks, so a throw-away printout is exactly what I’m looking for.

Drawbacks:

Only one serious one, and it’s really not that serious: there’s no HTML export. I don’t really need an iPod export, or email/sharing facility, or what have you, but ultimately I would very much like to be able to dump my recipe list to a web location so I can access it from whereever I happen to be. Ideally with a fully integrated index, table of contents, and set of quick lists. At this point, however, I will live without that, because the only application I looked at that does HTML export is Connoiseur 1.0.

At some point, I suspect I will revisit this whole morass, possibly to the point of sitting down and developing my own (or working with some of the other programmery-type cooks I know to create something spectacular). For now, I just want to be able to get this stuff in the system so I can stop having to make up my shopping lists as I go. I also delve my cookbooks for inspiration as often as not, so having one right here on my desktop (with all sorts of helpful delve-enabling features) is pretty keen.

Ok. That’s that for now. Next up…trying to figure out how to export Delicious Library stuff to HTML. Fun fun.

PS: I still love the hell out of my Mac.

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