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iPad use case: Foodie


Over the past few weeks, we've heard many people say, "The iPad is cool, but what would I do with it?" This new series aims to answer that question. We'll examine one user case per post, from couch surfer to mobile professional, and describe just how that person uses his or her iPad.

I love food. In fact, I probably love it too much. Part of the problem is that I was a ovo-lacto vegetarian for 17 years and a pesco-vegetarian for 5 years after that. Now, I want to eat all of those things that were "forbidden fruit" for 22 years, and it has really made me appreciate good food.

Being a foodie isn't just about eating food, however. It's also about having the skill and desire to cook food. Yeah, that means being a wannabe gourmet chef. And there's one more piece to the foodie puzzle - beverages. I mean, what's the use of being able to whip up a killer bison chili without knowing what wine or beer would go best with it?

What I've found is that the iPad is a much better foodie-puter than either a MacBook or an iPhone. I can turn off screen dimming, twist the Apple iPad Case around so that the iPad is standing straight up, and see recipes from across the kitchen. Even with the screen at regular brightness, I don't have to worry about my battery getting chewed up while I'm working on a time-consuming dinner. Want to know what apps I'm using to feed my foodie jones? Read on...

Probably the first food-related app that I downloaded to the iPad was the free Epicurious (above). It's universal, meaning that it works on, both, the iPhone and the iPad. However, it's much easier to read on the iPad, especially when you crank up the font size to the largest one available. I love the way that there's a bright orange pointer that you can drag down the recipe text, so you always know where you are at a glance. There are tons of recipes on the app, and they change by season or holiday.

Each recipe has a shopping list icon; a tap on that icon pushes the ingredients to a shopping list. Once you're ready to go to the store, it creates a combined shopping list that can be emailed to my iPhone (no, I'm not going to carry my iPad around the grocery store). The app has one downside in that you can't just share your favorites and recipes between devices by signing into an account. That would make life with Epicurious even easier.

What about some of those recipes that I'd like to use that aren't in the Epicurious app? Well, that's where GoodReader for iPad (US$0.99, screen shot below) comes in handy. Let's say that my wife finds an excellent recipe on the Whole Foods Market Web site. She'll usually email a link to the recipe to me, which I then open on my Mac. Yes, I could download the recipe page directly to my iPad with GoodReader's built-in Web browser, but the page formatting is often off. Instead, I'll open the Web page on the Mac, press the Print Recipe button on the Web page, and then I'll print it to a PDF file. That file is saved in a recipes folder in Dropbox, which I can open in GoodReader.
Another free app that I've found useful when trying to nab recipes is BigOven Lite (below). This is an advertising-supported version of BigOven ($9.99), and doesn't include the grocery list syncing function that is in the full edition. There are over 170,000 recipes available in the database that can be searched by name, by keyword, or even by what leftovers you have around the house. The recipes show up in, both, an overview (which displays an ad) and a "prepare" format, which lists ingredients in one column and preparation instructions in another. This app works much better in portrait mode on the iPad, so i just stand my iPad up by leaving the cover of the Apple Case open.
One issue that we amateur chefs run into quite often is resizing recipes that are set up for larger groups of people. Since I most often cook for just my wife and I, it's frustrating to see recipes that are sized for 4 or 6 people. Yeah, in many cases I can just do a simple "divide by two" in my head to resize a recipe for the two of us. What if I'm having a large group of people over and want to scale up a recipe, though? That's where Serving Sizer Pro for iPad ($2.99) has been useful. It's also helpful for organizing those family recipes or ideas that I come up with. If I suddenly decide I need to make something for 15 people, I can just change the servings and see what the ingredient quantities turn out to be.

Want to clean your kitchen of all of those bulky cookbooks? Remember, your iPad is an e-book reader as well. There's a pretty decent selection of cookbooks in the iBooks Store, including some free classics, cookbooks for special diets, and most of the more recent celebrity chef cookbooks. If the iBooks Store selection isn't enough for you, there's always the free Kindle reader for iPad.

Fellow TUAW editor Mike Rose noted that it's a good idea to put your iPad into a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag to keep the device from getting splashed with liquids or covered with greasy fingerprints. The iPad will still respond to taps through the plastic.

One of my favorite iPhone apps for looking up wine ratings has been ported to the iPad. The Wine Ratings Guide for iPad ($3.99) is the source for over 1 million wine ratings, and provides information on name, price, varietal, food pairings, a flavor profile, and more. You can add your own wines and ratings, photographs of labels, and more. The app looks a little odd on the iPad (it's like it really wasn't scaled up to the larger screen), but it's still a good purchase for the foodie and wine enthusiast. If you own both an iPad and an iPhone, I'd suggest getting the iPhone version instead.

That's how I'm using my iPad to assist my hobby as a food aficionado. Have you found any fun or useful apps for your iPad that have been helpful in the kitchen? If you have, let us all know by leaving a comment below.

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