Traditional recipes

Smart Phone: Dinner is only an app away

Smart Phone: Dinner is only an app away

By Mackenzie Cogle

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Deciding what’s for dinner just got easier and better looking thanks to a new recipe app launched September 5. Created by the team at Gojee.com, the Gojee app puts thousands of curated food and drink recipes, as well as visually appetizing images, from more than 300 bloggers right at your fingertips.

Since its launch in July 2011, Gojee.com has reached more than 500,000 users.

“We felt there was room for a more visual and emotional experience around cooking,” says co-founder and CEO Mike LaVelle.

Not only does Gojee allow users to find recipes using specific ingredients, the app lets users search for recipes based on what they’re craving.

Gojee even keeps track of your food allergies, likes, and dislikes in order to provide a more personal experience for users.

LaVelle hopes Gojee will inspire users to break away from the ordinary and re-imagine traditional staples.

“We see people who have access to great ingredients but are still making the same standby recipes,” says Lavelle, whose goal is not to change eating habits but to get users excited about the variety of food and drink options available from around the world.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or simply doing the weeknight dinner dash, Gojee has plenty of recipes paired with gorgeous photos that your eyes and taste buds will surely appreciate.


Best Cooking Apps Handle Recipes and Grocery Lists

Forget the piles of oil-splattered cookbooks. Leave behind that illegible grocery list. All-in-one apps for the home cook now offer a full suite of recipes, meal planners and automatic lists that can make time in the kitchen more fun.

The dinner hour can be stressful. You're home late from work, and your stomach is rumbling. Research suggests, however, that you shouldn't give in to takeout temptation too often. One study presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in November 2014 found that people who cooked six or seven times a week ate about 140 fewer calories each day than those who cooked once a week or less. These individuals also ate less fat and less sugar than those who didn't cook. Moreover, people who frequently cooked at home ate fewer calories and picked healthier meals even when they did go out to eat.

Cooking has also been linked with longer life expectancy in multiple studies. For example, a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition in 2012 found that elderly people who cooked at home were 47 percent more likely to survive for more than 10 years than those who didn't cook at home.

Even the most reluctant chef might come to enjoy standing over the stove after downloading our favorite app to make cooking more palatable. Paprika ($4.99, iOS and Android) is considered a powerhouse app among foodies, and for good reason. This fully customizable app lets users import recipes from across the Internet. It also wins high praise for its ability to sync across multiple devices.

Paprika is easy to use. To import recipes, use the in-app browser to search for favorites. The importer works on big sites like Epicurious and Allrecipes, as well as niche food blogs. A long list of suggested recipe sites can provide extra inspiration in the hunt for new meals. Got a family recipe tucked away in a drawer? Paprika also lets you type in recipes manually.

The app streamlines your trip to the grocery store, too. Tap the shopping cart icon at the top of an imported recipe to get a full list of the ingredients you'll need. It's easy to check off any you already have in the pantry, and the grocery list automatically sorts foods by aisle. A meal-planning calendar lets you design menus by the week or month.

The app auto-locks the screen so cooks can glance at the recipe instructions without having to wake up their phones or tablets every few minutes. As a bonus, a tap of the finger highlights one step in the recipe at the time, making it easier to keep your place. You can scale recipes up or down automatically, or use the built-in converter to see, for example, how many teaspoons make a tablespoon.

And if you're the sort to scribble in your cookbook margins, have no fear: A "notes" section provides a place to add alterations to recipes.

The only major downside to Paprika is the cost. You'll have to buy multiple versions of the app if you have multiple different types of devices (an iPad and a laptop, for example). Those purchases can add up if you plan your meals on your computer, cook with your iPad and grocery shop with your iPhone. On the other hand, it'll still cost you less than your average cookbook, and the recipe possibilities are nearly endless.

Since Paprika is a paid app, you may also get a bit of security for your recipes. In recent years, the food-app crowd has been culled, with free programs like ZipList going out of business and taking any untransferred data with them. There are no guarantees in the world of technology, but paid services have the advantage of steady cash flow.

A (mostly) free alternative to Paprika is BigOven (free, iOS, Android). This app boasts access to more than 350,000 recipes &mdash though some recipe collections are for pro users only, and users of the free version can import only limited recipes per month. A pro membership costs $19.99 a year or $1.99 per month, and also kills ads, enables unlimited recipe imports and includes 25 free recipe scans, which let you snap a photo of a paper recipe on your phone to import into the app. (The free version of the app comes with just three free scans.)

BigOven gets points for its gorgeous design, which greets users with beautifully staged food photography. Cream-cheese brownies, anyone? Importing recipes from the Internet is nearly as easy as on Paprika, and the extensive in-app recipe library is hard to beat. One of the best features comes in the menu lists, which categorize recipes by descriptors like "slow cooker" or "kid friendly." These lists are also the place to go to find recipes for specific cuisines or special diets. There's even a section that sorts meals by weather.

Like Paprika, BigOven has a grocery-list feature that sorts items by aisle and is accessible directly from the recipe. There is also a meal-planning calendar, though navigating to these features is a little less intuitive than on Paprika. One very smart feature is the Use Up Leftovers widget, which lets you enter up to three ingredients to get recipes that include them.

Unlocking the pro features really makes this app sing, but even the basic version is a big help for a busy home cook.

Other tasty options

With similar features to Paprika and Big Oven, Pepperplate (free, iOS, Android) works well for planning meals and making shopping lists. But importing recipes into this app is more of a headache than with our top two choices you have to go to the Pepperplate website to copy-paste the recipe URL, or download a bookmarklet into your browser.

Once the recipes are actually in the app, Pepperplate is a breeze, and its sleek design makes it easy on the eyes. One advantage of Pepperplate is that recipes are saved to your device, so you can access them even without an Internet connection.

The popular website Allrecipes.com has a huge database of user-uploaded recipes and ratings, and the website's app, Dinner Spinner (free, iOS, Android) offers on-the-go access to Allrecipes' offerings, including instructional videos. The app's search features are comprehensive, allowing users to comb through recipes by ingredient, cuisine or prep time. Dinner Spinner includes a grocery-list feature and can scan barcodes at the store to find recipes using those ingredients.

Mouthwatering photos draw users in to the Gojee Food and Drink Recipe App (free, iOS). This app provides inspiration in the form of sumptuous food photography aggregated from food bloggers around the Web. Recipes are attached, and the app includes a grocery-list feature. The app's search feature includes an option to look for dishes using ingredients you already have in your pantry. A few years back, Gojee inexplicably veered into high fashion, presenting diamonds and expensive lingerie alongside its foodie offerings, but recently that has changed &mdash the food app has been a stand-alone since 2013. The company also offers smaller stand-alone apps for specific holiday recipes.

Basil ($2.99, iOS) is a strong option for iPad users who want to clip and organize recipes by ingredient. The app turns your iPad into a cookbook with benefits for example, cook times are converted into timer buttons so you can keep track of your progress as you complete the recipe.

Offbeat apps

Ever come across a weird vegetable in the produce section or at the farmers market and been too intimidated to even consider cooking with it? If so, the Specialty Produce app (free, iOS, Android) is your friend. This app is essentially a dictionary of ingredients, both familiar (apples, avocado) and exotic (bilva fruit, gingko nuts). Each entry includes information on taste, preparation, history and seasonality, plus links to recipes.

Another option is an app that doesn't scour the Web for recipes, but might spur a few more Meatless Mondays: Mark Bittman's extensive cookbook "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007) is now in app form. And with 2,000 recipe choices, you probably won't miss being able to add your own. The How to Cook Everything Vegetarian app ($9.99, iOS) is best accessed on an iPad, because that version has a fuller suite of features (a notes section and illustrated tutorials) than the iPhone version. This digital cookbook doesn't require an Internet connection to work, though, and it's a boon for vegetarians who might be frustrated by all the recipes they can't use on typical cooking apps. The one-time cash outlay buys not only a cookbook, but also a grocery-list widget, search options and a weekly new featured recipe.


Best Overall, Wireless: MEATER Plus Wireless Meat Thermometer

Wireless Range: 165 feet | Maximum Temperature: 212 degrees/527 degrees | Power Source: AAA battery

The Meater Plus makes outdoor cooking a breeze and connects to a free mobile app for wireless monitoring. It works over Bluetooth for a range up to 165 feet and you can extend the range by connecting it to your Wi-Fi with Meater Link (free in Meater's app) or connecting with Meater Cloud to use it with your Alexa.

This thermometer includes two sensors on one probe to simultaneously measure internal meat temperature up to 212 degrees and ambient or external temperature up to 527 degrees. The Guided Cook System walks users through each step of the cooking process and allows for customized alerts and notifications. For added convenience, the Meater Plus is dishwasher safe and can be charged up to 300 times with a single AAA battery that comes with the item.

It earns pretty aesthetic points too, with a sleek bamboo charging case and simple metal design. But, perhaps the single greatest asset of the Meater Plus is the Advanced Estimator Algorithm on the Meater app, which provides expert time management tips and clearly showcases how long to cook and rest food.


I Was a Skeptic, but I Loved Cooking With the Google Nest Hub Max

For me, being in the kitchen is all about getting away from screens, so I was skeptical that I would enjoy cooking with a smart display—a device that combines a smart speaker with a touchscreen. But after testing a Google Nest Hub Max and an Amazon Echo Show in my kitchen over the course of a month, I’m surprised to say they truly made cooking easier and more seamless, and thus more enjoyable. The technology is far from perfect (more on that below), and you have to be prepared for the occasional detour—you know, like when I asked Alexa to read a recipe and was instead treated to Samuel L. Jackson’s reading of the best-selling children’s book parody Go the Fuck to Sleep. But if you’re excited about smart-home technology, would enjoy some support while you cook, and are comfortable being flexible with your recipes, we recommend the Google Nest Hub Max for its clean, intuitive recipe interface, fast response times, and workhorse search capabilities.

A smart display looks like a tablet mounted on a speaker, which might prompt you to wonder why you couldn’t just prop an iPad on the counter for the same purpose. Well, you could, and you’d be able to call up anything you like and have it displayed on the iPad’s screen. But an iPad doesn’t have a bunch of powerful speakers built in, so it doesn’t sound as good it's also far more expensive, so putting it in the line of fire in a kitchen is risky. What’s more, the key feature of smart displays is that they’re purpose-built to display things and allow interaction chiefly through voice commands, via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa—a huge help if you’ve just massaged salt into every nook and cranny of a raw chicken and are wondering what the next step is.

Read more about the smart displays we recommend

The Best Smart Display for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

The Amazon Echo Show 8 and Google Nest Hub Max are the best smart displays. They have big screens for video chat, TV, or recipes, and great speakers, too.

Both the Google Nest Hub Max and the Amazon Echo Show offer access to a wide variety of recipes, which they harvest from the Internet and plug into templates on their screens. So a simple voice search like “Hey Google, find me a recipe for a chewy chocolate meringue” quickly brings up several recipes on screen. You can swipe to find the one you like best, tap it to start, and Google Assistant or Alexa reads you the recipe instructions, advancing from step to step prompted by your voice.

Which recipes you have access to is a significant factor when you’re considering a smart display. If you use sites such as Allrecipes, Epicurious, Food52, Food Network, The Kitchn, Nom Nom Paleo, Serious Eats, or Tasty, to name a few, you’ll find their recipes fairly easily on either device (Google had a better record in this regard). However, If you largely cook based on recipes from subscription sites like America’s Test Kitchen or NYT Cooking (The New York Times is Wirecutter’s parent company, by the way), you’re out of luck: You can’t access premium recipes at all.

If you’re looking for a specific recipe, you may have to fiddle with the wording of your voice searches and, if you’re unsuccessful, resort to a search on your phone as a workaround. When you’re using a Nest Hub Max and a smartphone signed into the same Google account (and on the same Wi-Fi network), any compatible recipes you find on your phone will have a “Send to Smart Display” banner underneath the photo. Tap that and say “Start recipe,” and the recipe magically appears on the Nest Hub Max. (Alexa also lets you send recipes by phone, but only those from a linked Allrecipes account.) For instance, after struggling with a voice search for Urvashi Pitre’s Instant Pot Butter Chicken, I instead found it on my phone, tapped the banner, and was up and running. Still, voice-search concerns are not a major issue, and about 80 percent of the time I got the exact recipe I wanted to use, or something similar enough that I could make minor adjustments on the fly. Pro tip: Save all the recipes you use, because sometimes if you pause too long, the display will exit cooking mode and you’ll find yourself, as my husband did one night, scrambling to relocate that perfect Baja-style fish tacos recipe you were just following.

When you’re not cooking with a recipe, smart displays can also help by answering questions you may have about how to convert a measurement, how long to cook something, or what happens if you accidentally consume a grain weevil (asking for a friend). They can also display videos of cooking techniques such as dicing an onion or caramelizing sugar. Both Google Assistant and Alexa can add ingredients from recipes directly to a grocery list you can access on your phone. (Alexa has the advantage here in that you can then go straight to your Alexa shopping list or an Amazon Fresh grocery cart for delivery.) Another great feature of both devices is the ability to set multiple timers that you can name and call back up on the screen. You can also control the Nest Hub Max using what Google calls Quick Gestures: Put up your hand to pause and resume music or videos you’re playing, and to dismiss a timer once it’s gone off. This is the only gesture for now, and although it came in handy the odd times we wanted to pause media without using the touchscreen or our voices, overall we found it pretty limited and gimmicky. (Those who might enjoy the thrill of using the Force to stop a timer may disagree.) It’s a work in progress Google intends to add more Quick Gestures in the future.

I found the Nest Hub Max to be a much stronger digital sous chef for the kitchen. (Wirecutter staff writer Signe Brewster, who reviewed the two smart displays, came to the same conclusion.) Apart from everything I’ve already mentioned, it responds to questions faster and has a beautiful recipe mode that is clear, intuitive, and easy to navigate. My favorite feature is that once you start a recipe, Google Assistant moves through each step with you while keeping the ingredients visible in a column next to the instructions—it’s nice to have all the information available at a glance.

Before you decide whether to set aside precious counter space for one of these smart displays in your home, it’s helpful to think about what kind of cook you are. I used to love making elaborate, dinner-party-type meals for large groups of friends, but since having three kids, I’ve shifted to more improvisational, highly efficient (though hopefully still delicious) meals. For either style of cooking, I found the smart displays helpful. Note that if you are working on multiple dishes, the Google Nest Hub Max can keep only one recipe active at a time. So if you’re halfway through your challah French toast, say, but want to start your mimosas, you’ll have to restart your previous recipe when you go back to it. This situation isn’t optimal, but saving your recipes to your Cookbook makes things a little easier to navigate. Ultimately, if you rely heavily on an exact recipe and favor those from subscription-based sites, these smart displays may not be right for you.

One last thing to keep in mind: What does it mean for you (or your family) to have yet another screen to interact with? In my house, sometimes it was fun, such as when the Google screen displayed family photos and we had a sweet moment during dinner remembering our trip to the zoo. But sometimes it was a drag, like when we had multiple chairs pulled up against the counter so my kids could play Alexa’s animal-guessing game and I desperately needed to open the oven behind them. This factor, along with privacy and security concerns (both devices have built-in front-facing cameras, which you can easily disable), is worth considering when you’re deciding whether one of these smart displays would work in your kitchen.


1,500 kettles and a windfarm five times bigger than Hull: UK energy, in numbers

Smartphones go greener
The number of smartphones in circulation has doubled to six billion in the last five years, and they’re a huge drain on the environment – from the mining of the precious metals and minerals they’re made of, to their convoluted supply chains and disposable nature.

The good news is that the industry is finally starting to take notice.

While there is more work to be done by many of the tech giants, Apple is at least finding some innovative ways to recover these valuable materials – whether cobalt and lithium in the battery, or gold and copper in the wires and connectors – to reduce the need to mine for more. Daisy, its disassembly robot, works fast, taking apart 200 used iPhones every hour.

Meanwhile companies such as FairPhone are looking at the problem from the ground up and designing new phones with recycling in mind. Each handset is made with seven modules that are designed to be easily repairable, and all of the components are sourced responsibly – from Fairtrade certified gold, to recycled plastics and conflict-free minerals. Now that’s what we call smart.

Smart valves will be a hot ticket
Chances are, you’ve not spent much time thinking about your radiator valves, but smart valves are here to change the game. Known as smart thermostatic radiator valves or smart TRVs, these clever devices have their own in-built temperature sensors that allow for personalised, room-by-room heating control – so you don’t waste energy and money heating up your whole home just because someone’s a bit chilly in one room.

Linked directly to your smartphone via an app, such as Hive, or voice-controlled assistants, such as Alexa, you can program different temperature schedules for each room, or turn off radiators altogether when rooms aren’t in use. Best of all, these clever devices can be used with any central heating system and are quick to fit. See, we told you radiator valves were on the up!

Join the energy revolution and contact your energy supplier to request a smart meter. For more information visit smartenergygb.org

This article was paid for by Smart Energy GB – the not-for-profit, government-backed campaign helping everyone in Britain to understand the importance of smart meters and their benefits to people and the environment.


DASH Diet: Doctor Recommended 4+

DASH Diet Meal Plan - get healthy, feel good, lose weight.

**How will the DASH Diet Meal Plan help you?

It’s all about eating whole foods, and skipping any processed foods. With the meal plan making all of the right choices (hand-picked meal plans - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks - every week), you’ll naturally start losing weight and getting healthy. It’s been shown to help with heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

BONUS - the app is completely free to try out! Download the app. Sign up for the free subscription and get full access and see if the plan works for you. (after 1 week, the plan is $9.99 USD monthly)

No More Planning - You can finally stop thinking about what to cook - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are all customized for you, every week.

No More Grocery Lists - Shopping lists are created for you every week. You can shop once and only buy what you’ll need.

Serving Sizes and Leftovers - Feed the whole family or ensure plenty of leftovers by adjusting the serving size. The meal plans will work around your busy schedule and help out when you have guests over.

Quick and Easy - Buy and cook only what you’ll need or plan for healthy leftovers.

**Any useful features?
Easily swap out recipes based on mood/occasion or to accommodate food allergies and aversions.
Access to hundreds of delicious and healthy recipes.
Chat support with Kelly - our in-house diet counselor.
DASH diet information, on-the-go.

You know that you need to get healthy and you’ve found the best DASH Diet Meal Plan app out there - Prove it to family. Prove it to friends. Prove it to yourself.

Try it free for a week, on us!!

Remember, you’re not alone- we’re here to help. You can always reach us via chat support with any questions.

Get excited! You’re about to start losing weight, getting healthy, and eating delicious food. You’re joining our DASH Diet family and we want you to know that we’ll be there, hand-in-hand, for the long haul.

The app has been designed to work great on both the iPhone and the iPad. If you choose to subscribe for just $9.99 a month you'll receive personally curated & balanced recipes every day of the week with an auto-renewable subscription plan - but hurry up, the price is going up soon!

All subscriptions are billed and renewed until cancelled - Cancel anytime in your iTunes settings!

– Payment will be charged to iTunes Account at confirmation of purchase
– Subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is turned off at least 24-hours before the end of the current period
– Account will be charged for renewal within 24-hours prior to the end of the current period, and identify the cost of the renewal
– Subscriptions may be managed by the user and auto-renewal may be turned off by going to the user's iTunes account Settings after purchase
– Any unused portion of a free trial period, if offered, will be forfeited when the user purchases a subscription to that publication, where applicable


Whirlpool 4+

Get more done at once with the Whirlpool® app and a compatible smart capable appliance. Control your smart capable appliance, get real-time updates and notifications, and access helpful kitchen and laundry tips, appliance info, and customer support--all from the palm of your hand.

Hands full? No worries. Use your voice to control what you can’t reach. Keep up with dinner and laundry even when you have your hands full by using a compatible voice-enabled device.*

Cooking appliances
- Remotely start cooking cycles, save your favorites and get notifications such as when your oven has preheated or your cooking time has ended.*
- Whirlpool works with Yummly! Yummly® Guided Cooking makes meal prep easier by helping you answer the question “what’s for dinner?” before it’s even asked. Recipes with the Connected Fork icon in the Yummly® app include step-by-step video tutorials that provide the extra assistance you need on busy days. Prompts in the app even send cooking instructions straight to your Whirlpool® smart cooking appliance.**
- Get the right settings for frozen meals every time with Scan-to-Cook technology.***
- Make multi-step meals simple by sending cooking instructions to the oven or microwave all at once.

Dishwashers
- Download the right cycle for a load of dishes, get specialty cycles, and customized care with the Download & Go™ option.*
- Receive notifications when your washing cycle has ended and your dishes are ready to be unloaded.

Washers and dryers (Connected subscription may be required)
- Manage your routine right from your mobile device. Set, start, pause and monitor progress on your laundry appliances, even while you’re away.*
- Schedule a wash cycle to be completed by the time you get home so you can keep your laundry moving, no matter where you are (select models).
- Manage laundry day from anywhere by assigning family members tasks like transferring a load to the dryer or folding clean clothes. They'll get the notification on their smart devices (select models).
- Send dry cycles to the dryer that match the wash cycle you used so you’ll know your clothes will be dried the way you want (select models).
- Create and save your favorite cycles under any name and edit at any time.
- Personalized Quick Tips make sure your family’s laundry gets the care it deserves while helping laundry day go smoothly (select models).
- Receive helpful alerts that let you know if there's an issue that may affect performance, then follow step-by-step instructions and select how-to videos to help guide you through quick fixes.


How to Organize Your Mess of Recipes With the Paprika App

Paprika ($4.99) is our favorite recipe manager on both Android and iPhone , but its massive feature set makes it a bit overwhelming at first. Let’s take a look at a few tips for getting those recipes organized without losing your mind.

The Best Recipe Manager for iPhone

Managing a vast collection of recipes used to be as simple as pulling out a box of index cards. Now

Learn to Import Recipes From Anywhere on the Web

Unless you plan on manually typing hundreds of recipes into Paprika, you’ll want to get the hang of the various ways you can import recipes into the app. Paprika is smart enough to parse out the seemingly endless personal essay at the start of a recipe and convert the ingredients and directions automatically. You have three main ways to do this.

On iPhone, Paprika includes a share extension that simplifies adding a recipe from Safari. When you’re reading a recipe in Safari, tap the share button, then Paprika. This imports the recipe into Paprika automatically.

You can also copy and paste a URL into Paprika. Copy the full of address of any recipe, then open up the Paprika app. Paprika is smart enough to recognize a URL on the clipboard so it’ll automatically ask if you want to import it.

Finally, you can also import recipes from your desktop browser using the Paprika bookmarklet. If you haven’t already, you first need to create a free Paprika cloud sync account . Then, head to the bookmarklet page , enter your email address and password, then follow the onscreen instructions to set it up. Once you do, you can click the bookmarklet to add any recipe to Paprika from your desktop browser.

Organize Your Recipes Into Categories You’ll Actually Use

After you add a recipe, the next logical step is to categorize it. There’s probably some logical, recipe book style means of organizing all of these, like Pastas, Appetizers, Sides, etc, but I’ve found that I don’t actually those traditional systems.

Instead, I use categories like time (15 minutes, 30 minutes, slow cooker), where I got it from (friend, blogs, or recipe books), or special events (Christmas dinner, Super Bowl, etc). That’s what works best for me, so your mileage will vary, but don’t be afraid to think a little outside the box when you create categories. Build a system that makes sense and works for you.


21 iPhone Food Apps to Eat Your Heart Out

Sure there are plenty of foodie sites online like Yelp, Zeer, Dishola and tons more. But how many have actually merged into the iPhone space, the most portable way to figure out what you want to eat?

Here are 21 food-related iPhone apps, both free and paid, that will let you eat your heart out:

Where (free) – A location-based app that works with Yelp as well as Starbucks. So you can find food and your coffee wherever you are. The app also works with GasBuddy (for the cheapest gas nearby), Eventful, Buddy Beacon, ZipCar, and Quibblo Quizzes.

Yelp (free) – The Yelp app is GPS-enabled and will find you places to eat nearby (amongst other things). The problem with this app is that it lacks Yelp’s best feature – the ability to review.

UrbanSpoon (free) – A fun app if you’re close to a city. It’s not as limited as the LocalEats app (above), but you’re not going to find anything nearby if you’re more than 20 miles from a city. It’s a slot machine application that lets you pick how much you want to spend or what kind of meal you want to eat. You shake the iPhone and it gives you a list of results within the categories you selected.

iFob (free) – This app goes against GPS technology and encourages Wi-fi connections. So when you’re at a restaurant that has wi-fi, you can walk away with a friend? The idea is to connect people that are within close range of each other. So maybe you’ll have an eating partner.

Restaurant Nutrition (free) – The most disturbing of the nutrition fact iPhone apps is this one. It lists the nutrition facts for most popular chain restaurants. You won’t believe how many grams of fat are in a chicken caesar wrap at Chili’s.

iWant (free) - A (possibly better) version of the Where To app (below) that’s free. Like the Where To app, it works easily like the POI navigation on a GPS device. Easy to use, easy to drive with. It has 3.5 stars at the iTunes store with the biggest complaint being that it doesn’t list enough results under some categories.

Nearby (free) – Works like other geo-locating apps, you search for things around you only this time there will be various types of commentary about a particular spot: photos, notes, reviews and “virtual graffiti”.

YPMobile (free) – When worse comes to worse, hit up the Yellow Pages.

Where To ($2.99) - This is a cool little app that works like the POI (point of interest) function on a regular GPS. It finds your location, you choose a category, and it finds all of the places in that category that are near you. Food & Drink is just one of the 600 categories that you can choose from. It works kind of like a front-end to Google Search, however makes using it while on the road very easy and simple to use. Is it worth the $2.99? Well that’s less than a tank of gas in most places, so sure.

LocalEats (.99) – Based on the site wherethelocalseat.com, this app gives you the best 100 restaurants in the top 50 U.S. cities. The interface is extremely easy to use and it mostly avoids chain restaurants. The downside is that it’s only applicable if you’re near or in a big city. Still has 4 out of 5 stars at the app store.

There are also some good Web apps for foodies:

Menus – Offers menus for many fast food restaurants and includes a Google Maps link so that you can direct yourself to the nearest drive-thru.

TopChef Recipe Finder – Hosted by the Bravo network, this Web app will help you find recipes when you’re grocery shopping or just plain looking for something to make. AOL Recipes and 101Cookbooks are other Web apps like this.

CookBook – So you have all these ingredients in your house but you’re not sure what to make with them. This Web app will let you input ingredients and will try to come up with some recipes that you can make using those ingredients.

Steak Timer – You didn’t think someone would spend the time on this one did you? Yeah this little Web app shows a piece of steak on a timer from raw to well done. I think I’d do the meat thermometer test first though before trusting this app.

GrubOntheGo – A little Web app that has you enter what you’re craving and where you are. Will display local results and the distance (approximately) from your location. A lot like the other iPhone apps but I like the twist of “what you’re craving”.


Review: Chef iQ Smart Cooker

When a new appliance comes into my test kitchen with the word "smart" in its name, I tend to keep it at arm's length, as manufacturers often do a surprising job of forgetting who might cook with it. A new device, however, dangled a specific form of culinary catnip in front of my nose, and I was unable to resist.

That catnip is cooking by weight. Instead of creating a pile of dirty measuring cups and spoons as you cook, you put your mixing bowl on a scale, then weigh each of the ingredients as you pour them in one by one. Combined with good prep, it allows you to blaze through a meal and keep mess to a minimum.

"Whoa, what's up with Darth Pot," my wife, Elisabeth, asked when she came into the kitchen. On the counter was the Chef iQ Smart Cooker, a matte-black, six-quart electric pressure cooker (aka multicooker, a class of devices that includes the Instant Pot) that looks like it could be Lord Vader's robot pet. The brand's use of "smart" is justified, particularly when considering how the device, with its companion smartphone app, guide you through the cooking process. By pairing a phone with the Chef iQ, users can choose recipes where each step is demonstrated with a little video, and the corresponding temperature or pressure gets automatically teed up on the pressure cooker.

Good guided cooking is a heavy lift that involves three key elements: a product that works when it's not connected, recipes created just for that appliance by chefs with good palates, and a tech team that can create an app that streamlines the cooking process. A dropped ball on any of these causes things to go poof in a hurry. (For great examples of guided cooking look at the Thermomix or Hestan Cue.)

The app offers helpful guidance, but you can still do quite a bit just using the built-in front display.

In my initial testing, I found that the Chef iQ capably ticked many of those boxes. I started by making spaghetti sauces: a marinara and a bolognese. I was worried Iɽ encounter bland food, as can be the case with smart appliance recipes, but no. The marinara called for a generous amount of garlic. The bolognese was deep and complex, and the process for both was significantly sped up by cooking under pressure.

I also used the Chef iQ to make a steak with herb butter. It's not a pressure-cooker recipe, but it gave me a good way to test the pot's facility at browning meat, a notorious pressure-cooker weakness. By calling for a one-pound strip steak, which tend to be uniform in size, the recipe authors know that six minutes on each side at a predetermined temperature will make for a nice medium-rare steak with solid browning. The guided-cooking steps include a countdown to keep you from doing things like flipping too early. While it cooked away during longer steps, I found that I was prone to use the time to clean up, saving time after dinner.

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Things were off to a good start. I liked the way the app worked, starting with a little no-nonsense video that lets you know what you're in for—the equivalent of reading the recipe through in a cookbook before you start cooking. It then gives each step its own video, which can cover simple things like how to dice an onion, or how to extract a whole cooked chicken from the pot with a pair of tongs.

The product, the recipes, and the app all felt uniformly solid, but what I wasn't finding—and this was odd—was the cook-by-weight feature being used in the app's recipes. The pot itself works as a scale, and by clicking around in the app while you're in the middle of a recipe, you can take advantage of that by seeing the weights of the things you're adding. But for the time being, all that extra tapping is a momentum killer. On the aforementioned Thermomix, you can call up a smoothie recipe on the device itself and just stand there, pouring in one ingredient after another, straight from the bag or container, and tapping Next after each item is weighed. The lid goes on, you get the blades spinning, and you're sitting down to a protein-shake breakfast. I hope the Chef iQ team aspires to this, because it's where the magic is. Like adding smartphone functionality with a new operating system, all the company needs to do is update the app and firmware.

However! You can find some of that functionality hidden in a section of the app that's inexplicably called the "calculator." For now, it's also available (and better) on the machine itself.

First, let's back up a step. The control screen on the cooker offers an impressive array of presets: You can do things like sear chicken thighs or pressure-cook eggs to soft-boiled consistency. My favorite thing to cook, though, is beans. Finding a good reference chart on how to cook different kinds of beans in a pressure cooker is surprisingly difficult. I use one from a stovetop pressure cooker cookbook, along with the one in the back of Urvashi Pitre's Indian Instant Pot, so I was happy to see options—black beans, chickpeas, and a few others—on the pot, and several more when I opened the app. For grains, the app has 15 options, from amaranth to wheat berries. On the pot itself, you can pour in half a bag of those black beans, which, by weight, tell it how much water you'll need. You can then weigh the water as you pour it in, then close the lid and hit Start. The Chef iQ sets the time, pressure, and even type of pressure release.

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For now, through, this side of things is a work in progress. You can weigh the beans and the water, for example, if you use only the pot itself and read the display as you go, but you can only weigh the beans (and not the water) if you work from the app, something a company representative says is being addressed. Unfortunately, the cooking time for chickpeas is way too long—30 minutes via the app for soaked beans, or an hour and a half for unsoaked. Both of my references recommend three minutes on low pressure for soaked beans. That said, I really liked how I could create custom favorites and save those settings to the machine itself. If I owned a Chef iQ, Iɽ sit around one night with one of my reference books, plug in the cooking times for every legume Iɽ likely ever cook, and be forever happy with my custom presets.

To wrap it up, I went back to the guided cooking, making a few more Chef iQ recipes: biscuits and gravy for weekend breakfast, pulled pork for taco night, a whole chicken and gravy, and even spaghetti carbonara. Whole chicken isn't really ideal in any pressure cooker (no crispy skin!) and the carbonara felt a bit like stunt cookery, as all the water you cook it in combines with the cheese to become the sauce, but everything tasted good and could be made in an hour or less.

There's a lot of promise here. The appliance is solid, and the recipes in the app are basic but tasty. The tech behind the Chef iQ has the feeling of an early release. If I'm not mistaken, the first time I looked at the About section of the app it said "Version 1.0.x." I've since been upgraded to 1.0.4, but the basics are there, and it's not buggy. The recipes—the team is adding about five per week—are the kind of solid go-tos that you want to use to learn your way around a new machine. (Some manufacturers make the mistake of skipping the fundamentals and trying to wow you with fancy stuff you may never make.)

A couple of key steps might help tip the scales in the Chef iQ's favor, such as truly integrating cooking by weight into its guided cooking recipes and expanding its recipe collection. There's been talk of this machine being given the ability to adapt recipes found on the internet, but that's the Wild West The company could also significantly deepen its bench by licensing content from authors of trusted pressure-cooker cookbooks, like those from America's Test Kitchen, Melissa Clark, or Urvashi Pitre. Using recipes like theirs for guided cooking would be an incredible offering.

Whenever a new pressure cooker comes out, there's speculation about whether it has the potential to unseat Instant Pot, the undisputed king of the pressure-cooking ring. The Chef iQ isn't there yet, but if the company continues updating its app and firmware in these promising directions, it certainly could claim the throne.