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iPhone apps for Fritz (and other cooks) January 30, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Uncategorized.
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Rex Stout wrote his Nero Wolfe mysteries between about 1930 until his death in 1975. However, if his characters existed today, I’m fairly certain that fashionable Archie (Wolfe’s assistant) would keep up with technology, and that he’d own a device like an iPhone. I can imagine Archie showing Fritz (Wolfe’s chef) how to use the iPhone, and I bet Archie would be nice enough to download some applications for Fritz so that he could better utilise the iPhone. So for Fritz’s sake (and mine, perhaps…), I’ve gone through some of the many cooking-related iPhone applications, and present here the ones I like the best.

To start with, I think Fritz can’t go wrong with the Ratio app. Michael Ruhlman developed this app to accompany his book of the same name.

The premise of this app is that you don’t need recipes to cook if you know the ratios to make basic foundations of dishes that you can then add to and adapt if necessary. Since it’s based on ratios, rather than quantities, it’s easy to change the dish if you’re suddenly cooking for 10 instead of 2.

I don’t know what Fritz’s maths skills are like, but I know mine are pretty shocking! This means I find this app very useful as you can input the known quantity of one of the ingredients and it changes the quantities of the other ingredients accordingly. The app also allows specific recipes to be saved, and notes to be added, meaning previous recipes can be used again.

I think that this app is one Fritz would appreciate, as he doesn’t need recipes to prepare meals from – but having these basic fundamentals listed I’m sure would be a help. If Nero Wolfe particularly likes some of Fritz’s ratio inventions, Fritz can save it to make sure he can make it for Wolfe again!

Cost: $5.99 (all prices listed here are Australian dollars) – it’s on the expensive side for apps, but it’s worth it.

Link to iTunes store: Ratio

Drinks

Another of Fritz’s functions is to ensure that Wolfe and his guests are appropriately supplied with drinks of their choice. For this, he should turn to the Mixologist app.

Mixologist has a ridiculously large library of cocktails to browse or search through, including a separate section just for martinis. In addition, there’s recipes for punches, hot drinks and non-alcoholic drinks.

Like Ratio, it’s possible to switch between different unit types (US or metric), and if Fritz or other budding hosts need some help with stocking their bar, Mixologist can provide some direction.

Another nifty feature of Mixologist is the ability to nominate which drinks currently available and Mixologist provides a list of what you can make with the ingredients at hand. Perfect for Fritz in those emergency situations when he’s not sure what drink to make!

Cost: $1.19

Link to iTunes store: Mixologist

Keeping things fresh

Wolfe regularly sends Fritz to the market to get strange and unusual ingredients – and things for every day too. What better way to keep track of how fresh things are than with the Still Tasty app?! 

Based on the Still Tasty website, the Still Tasty app lists various types of ingredients and how long each one can be kept. It provides basic information about how to store each food type, and estimates shelf life based on storage conditions (storing something in the fridge versus the freezer, for example).

The part of this app I think Fritz would appreciate the most is the “alert me” feature, which allows you to enter the date of purchase of various food items and how they are stored, and the app will calculate how long they will be tasty for, and remind you when that time is reached. This would be very valuable for Fritz when dealing with large amounts of expensive ingredients – but I find it useful for my apples too!

Cost: $2.49

Link to iTunes store: Still Tasty

Recipes

Although Fritz already owns close to 300 cookbooks and statues of famous chefs (see The Doorbell Rang), sometimes even he needs some inspiration. There are a number of recipe collections available for the iPhone and many of them are free.

The Epicurious app (based on the website of the same name) has the ability to search on ingredient, meal and dietary requirements. Additionally, if Fritz is looking through the recipes and finds some he likes, he can create a shopping list based on the recipes he likes – that’s sure to make his trips to the markets quicker!  The only issue I have with this app is that it doesn’t seem to be possible to switch from US measurements to metric – although conversion is easy enough.

The Allrecipes app is similar to Epicurious but also has a nifty little interface used to search through the recipes called the ‘dinner spinner’. It does provide different recipes and may use to provide more inspiration for Fritz.

Finally, while we don’t have any WholeFoods stores here in Australia, the WholeFoods app is useful for the recipes they provide for people with dietary requirements – gluten free, lactose free, vegan, etc. Each recipe is marked with symbols to show if it is appropriate for different dietary requirements, and it has lots of interesting recipes for people with dietary requirements. So next time Fritz has to cook for a coeliac, a vegan, and a lactose-intolerant, he’ll be set!

Cost: Currently all free.

Link to iTunes store: Epicurious, Allrecipes, WholeFoods

If all this use of the iPhone has made Fritz tired, he could always go read one of his cookbooks or relax with a nice glass of wine. Then again, Archie could always introduce him to Bejeweled

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