Saturday, May 12, 2012

Playing with Fire

I'm going to take a break from the series on the Midwest. I've been asked to comment on using technology in the kitchen.  I have used computers in the kitchen for quite sometime, and have found them to be a bit clumsy and they take up precious counter space.  I have, within the last year, been using a Kindle Fire,  and I think it's amazing in the kitchen.  (yes, this will be an unapologetic add for the Fire).   If you use a different tablet, keep reading, the apps I have on here are available on most other tablets.

Did I originally purchase the Fire to use in the kitchen?  Yes and no.  While I did envision using it for cookbooks and such, I primarily got it to use for reading magazines and books in color.  I already owned a Kindle Keyboard and loved it.  The only drawback to it is that everything is black and white (electronic ink is by far the easiest on your eyes for extended reading) and the browser is pretty basic, but it does work well if you just looking for a cook book reader.

Kindle versus Ipad size
 First, let's cover what the Fire isn't.  It is not an Ipad!!!  I don't know what some people expect.  Almost every negative review I've read about the fire are from people that expect the Fire to do everything an Ipad can.  I have one word for these folks.......STUPID.  Seriously, the Fire is $200 and the Ipad is upwards of $600 I don't know how anyone can expect it to do the same thing.  If you understand what you are buying, what it's limitations are and what it does well, the Fire is an outstanding product.   So let's look at how I use the Fire in the Kitchen.

The key to getting the most out of your fire in the kitchen is finding and using good apps.  So in this post I'll go over a couple of my favorites.  Just one thing first.  If you are a subscriber to Bon Apppetit magazine, it is absolutely amazing on the Fire.  It's easy to navigate and great for finding recipes that you want to try.  One thing to note about the Fire's magazine apps.  the app itself is free however, you still need to pay for a subscription to the magazine  about $1.99 a month.  For me that's well worth it.

Now on to the apps.  My two favorite are Pepper Plate and What's for Dinner?.  Let's look at Pepper Plate first.

This is a great free app.  If you like to search the web's most popular cooking sites for recipe's this is a great tool.  By using the Pepper plate web site you can sync recipes to your Fire.  From there it is easy to make shopping lists and menu plans.  It even will set an internal timer when you start to cook the dish.  It doesn't have any recipes itself, but it is a great tool when you find those recipes on a website that you just have to try.

The other app that I use most is What's for dinner?.  This is a great app if you don't feel like scanning websites for recipe ideas.  The search function is fantastic,  just input what you are looking for and it will search all the most popular cooking websites for you.  From there you can save, plan a weeks worth of menu's, and create a shopping list.  There is a free and a paid version of this app.  I use the paid version.  All that really allows you to do is manage the labels and tags of each saved recipe.  This works great if you like to organize recipes.

The other thing that makes the Fire very useful with these apps is that it fits easily into cargo pockets on my pants.  Big deal you say?  I take it to the store with me to use the shopping list function and, some grocery stores have free Wi-Fi in the stores (Festival is one).  This is great if you need to find a substitution on the fly, or to look at the store adds if you want to.
Here are a couple more apps that have varying degrees of usefulness, but are fun to try.   If any of these interest you click on the link and get it from Amazon.  Even better, if you want a Fire  please buy it by clicking on the Fire add!!!!

Do you have a favorite cooking app?  I'd love to hear about it.

Just one more suggestion, if you're planning to use your Fire in the kitchen you should consider a case or skin to protect it.  Amazon has tons of styles, just pick one that fits your style and needs.

Stay Hungry friends