My iPad has been spending a huge amount of time in the kitchen in preparation for holiday festivities. In that time, I’ve worked out what the best apps and gear are to support my cooking and baking inclinations. The iPad is a home chef’s best friend, but it can be an even better one with a little extra help.
Stands or Other Support
The first thing you’ll want to do is get your iPad set up so you can keep handling it to a minimum. Cooking and baking is a messy affair, so you’ll want to keep your fingers off of your precious Apple device as much as possible. I use a stand for this purpose. If you also set your iPad display to never go to sleep, you can keep your recipe open in your browser or in the app where you found it (see more below) without worrying about having to unlock the screen every 5-10 minutes.
For the actual stand, I’ll either use the Griffin Standle (which I reviewed earlier), or if I’d rather dispense with the bulky case, just the simple foldable iPad stand that came with my SwitchEasy Nude iPad shell. You can get exactly the same thing without the case for pretty cheap ($7.20) from DealExtreme. If you’re willing to spend quite a bit more ($39.99), the Twelve South Compass is a well-built, versatile alternative.
Finally, you could opt for some sort of wall-mounting system. There are a few commercial options, including the highly rated Wallee iPad wall mount and case system. But since I’m thrifty, I instead use my own method consisting of an inexpensive iPad shell (make sure it also wraps around the bezel surrounding the screen for a secure fit) combined with 3M adhesive velcro strips strategically placed around the house. When not in use, I put pictures up in place of the iPad to keep things cosmetically pleasing, rather than having rectangles of velcro dotting the walls.
You can find tons of great recipes using the iPad’s built-in Safari browser, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to only that method. There are tons of great recipe apps out there, and most offer features above and beyond what recipe websites can provide.
President’s Choice (PC), a popular in-house brand at the Canadian Loblaws family of grocery stores, has an awesome app called Recipe Box that only just came out recently and is already my favorite. Upon opening Recipe Box, you get a grid display of pictures, each of which leads to a recipe. You can just swipe through the eye candy, search using keywords, or browse by category, including type of cuisine, main ingredient, occasion, prep time and more. You can stack those categories to filter even further.
The app is free and without advertisements, but since it’s a PC product, ingredients listed are PC-branded where possible. It’s easy enough to substitute generic alternatives, though. Recipe Box also has some nice extra features like a step-by-step view and nutritional information for every recipe, plus the ability to email recipes from within the app, which mails the full recipe as plaintext in the body of the message, not just a link to a website.
Other solid free options include the Allrecipes and Epicurious iPad apps, both of which are based on the popular cooking websites of the same names. Epicurious has the advantage of being a universal app, so it’ll work on your iPhone or iPod touch, too, and it can generate a shopping list automatically that you can take with you to the grocery store on your smaller device.
All you really need to get working in the kitchen with the iPad is a good recipe resource and a good stand or mounting solution, but there are a few things that could add still more to your experience.
A stylus is a great idea if you want to control your device without touching it with sticky or otherwise dirtied fingers. I’ve got a couple Pogo Sketches around the house, but really, any stylus compatible with a capacitive touchscreen will do. You can even make your own if you’re a DIY kind of person and feeling a little ambitious.
Finally, an app like How To Videos from Howcast.com for the iPad can extend your cooking knowledge, without requiring you to even leave the kitchen. If a recipe contains a cooking method or technique you’re not familiar with, just open up the Howcast app and search for an instructional video.
If you have an iPad, you’re already most of the way to becoming a better chef. With the right apps and the right accessories, you can turn your Apple tablet into a full-time chef’s assistant, just in time for the holiday cooking and baking onslaught. Bon appetit!
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