Technology in the kitchen

2012-12-05T00:00:00Z 2012-12-05T11:13:11Z Technology in the kitchenCarrie Steinweg Times Correspondent
December 05, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Long gone it seems are the days of thumbing through printed cookbooks or index cards in search of what to make for dinner. Technology has taken over our lives, including in the kitchen. While hardbacks with grease-stained pages were once the norm for locating recipes, the websites, e-books and apps of today are offering much more to the time-strapped cooks looking for a new concoction in a jiffy. Video demonstrations on YouTube and video blogging (vlogging) have also changed how people are cooking, by learning as they go with how-to videos at their fingertips.

Going Paperless

With the use of apps on mobile devices and e-cookbooks, people are spending less time looking at printed recipes.

“Technology has definitely changed the way I cook and bake in the kitchen,” said Carla Cardello, recipe developer, food photographer and food blogger at CHOCOLATEMOOSEY.COM.“If I have a question or need a recipe, I'll go to Google more often than looking through 20 cookbooks. As much as I'd rather look through books, the Internet is much faster, especially after a long day of work.”

And for Cardello, it’s not just the elimination of thick cookbooks that is a benefit. Technology has also reduced her magazine clutter. “If I have a magazine with only two recipes bookmarked, I can go to that magazine's website, find the recipes, save it into my app, then get rid of the magazine,” she said. Paprika is an app that she uses to help her organize her recipes.

Pat Stepp, of Lansing, always keeps her laptop on hand at the kitchen table to help her out. “I don’t even bother to print recipes any longer,” she said. “Why bother when it's going to end up in a pile of papers that I won’t be able to find any way?”

iPhone Invasion

Mary Jordan, from Washington D.C., is a nanny and chef for a family of four and relies heavily on technology when preparing meals. “Since I have had my iPhone, which has been three-and-a-half years, I have increasingly relied on it when looking for and shopping for recipes,” she said. “There are several apps I use, both on my phone and on my iPad,” said Jordan. “

A few favorites of Jordan’s are Epicurious, for great recipes, Baking with Dorie, which has great videos and Allrecipes, which has a cool “dinner spinner” that gives you ideas for courses that work well together. “I know I survived a long time with paper cookbooks, and I still do love my books, I would be lost without my technology in the kitchen,” said Jordan.

Nancy Greenfield of Dyer said her phone has also replaced cookbooks. “I use my cell phone quite a bit. I take photos of recipes I like from friends, magazines or the Internet. This way, while shopping, I have the exact ingredient list with me,” she said. “And it’s easy to enlarge the list and there’s no mistakes trying to interpret my own handwriting. I also use e-cookbooks and I have more of them than real cookbooks now.”

Following Blogs and Recipe Sites

The number of food related websites and food blogs is too many to count with more popping up by the day. Just about any food product you can buy has a website, often with recipes that go along with it. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have also helped to spread news and tips about the food world.

“I love Pinterest. It’s great for finding and storing recipes,” said Stepp. “I also use Google a lot either for certain recipes or I just enter ingredients for new recipes. And Facebook foodie pages are very helpful.”

Pinterest is a site that allows you to create boards on specific topics and easily save pages with recipes in one category.

YouTube has also become a useful tool, with cooking lessons from home cooks and professionals to full episodes of your favorite cooking shows. “You can also find demos on just about anything, for instance how to cut up a mango,” said Stepp. “Seriously, I was clueless. I used Google to search and ended up learning how from YouTube!” Stepp likes the ease at which you can find videos and that you have the capability to pause what you’re watching.

Stepp said some of her favorite food sites are HUGSANDCOOKIESXOXO.COM, PASTRYCHEFONLINE.COM and COOKS.COM.

Diane Smith, of Lansing, uses ALLRECIPES.COM constantly. “I keep a recipe box on there to store all my favorites,” she said.

The Internet and one website, in particular, has changed the way Eileen Koka, of Lyons, Ill., approaches things in her kitchen. “I love I’ve used their recipe for crock pot lasagna. It is out of this world and so easy. I’ve made the Coke roast as well and it’s darn good. I read the blog to get ideas,” she said. “And the site turned me on to crock pot liners. I never knew they made those and they make clean-up so easy.”

Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping

“I keep my grocery list on my phone in a separate app,” said Cardello. “Since I tend to remember things for my list at odd times, it's nice to have a way to keep track of forgotten items. Also, I can't tell you how many times I forget my list at home or have an unexpected trip to the store.”

Crystal Maleski, a mom of 4 from Long Grove, Ill., is the creator of MAKEDINNEREASY.COM. The free site contains over 300 family friendly recipes and each week Maleski compiles a weekly menu plan complete with easy recipes that a busy family would have time to make. Printable grocery lists are also available. “So, basically I do all the dinner planning for my followers. All they have to do is print, shop, and cook without a lot of thinking, planning, or stressing,” said Maleski.

“Since I always make a plan for myself each week for what I'm going to make for dinner each night, I started emailing a few friends my menu plans. They started forwarding my plans to their friends and it soon became apparent to me that there was a need for easy dinner ideas and I started my site,,” she explained. “I now have over 2,000 people a day from all over the world who access my site and many write to me to tell me they are making homemade dinners for the first time and their families are actually enjoying what they are cooking.”

She’s also a fan of technology herself and said that she finds it so much more time efficient to search for recipes online than look through cookbooks. “This year for example, I wanted to make pumpkin pies using a real pumpkin. I found so many ideas online and combined the ideas together to formulate a plan that worked for me.”

Sparking Creativity

For Stepp, the biggest benefit of her use of technology when it comes to cooking is the inspiration she gets from others to create new recipes. “To be able to connect to others with the same interests helps with confidence and challenges you to do things you may not attempt otherwise,” said Stepp. “Growing up my Mom had her basic fudge recipe -chocolate peanut butter. Surfing the web and seeing other unique recipes and combinations has gotten me to try new flavor twists with that same basic recipe.” It’s even led Stepp to start her own blog, FOODIESSWEETGOODIES.WORDPRESS.COM and she also started selling her new fudge creations, with about a dozen different varieties, on eBay and through her foodie Facebook page, FACEBOOK.COM/FORTHELOVEOFFOODIES.

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