MacGourmet Deluxe 1.0.3 , by Mariner Software

Posted: 20-June-2012

4 out of 5 Mice Vendor: Mariner Software Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Robert Hanno Class: UTILITY

Overview

MacGourmet Deluxe (v 1.0.3) is iTunes for food and wine. This software provides a way to collect your recipes, notes on preparations and tools and wine notes in one handy application. The only drawback is that while iTunes can satisfy your ears without much effort on your part, you'll actually have to do some work or get your significant other(s) to do the cooking or bottle-opening to get the full benefits of this software.

MacGourmet Deluxe is commercial software produced by Mariner Software, the developer and publisher of numerous professional and personal software for the writing and creativity markets. MacGourmet Deluxe is a virtual recipe box allowing you to easily enter, catalog, calculate nutritional information for, and export recipes, cooking and wine notes.

A boxed version may be purchased for $49.95. The download is $5 less. A Family Five-pack is available for $179.95. This version includes the Nutrition 1.2.3, MealPlan 1.0.4 and Cookbook 1.0.2 plug-ins. A plug-in-less version, MacGourmet, is available for $24.95.

Requirements

  • Mac OS X v10.4 or higher

Price

  • $49.95

Setup

The download requires confirmation of e-mail even if you request no e-mail ("in order to reduce SPAM".) The installation is the standard drag-and-drop from a mounted 17.4 MB disk image file to the Applications folder. The 84-page User Guide is a PDF available in a separate download. It has no index. The only configuration required is to select a location for the database. The preferences contain five tabs with a couple dozen items, most of which are defaulted.

You may seed your recipe collection with 100 award-winning recipes. As a vegetarian I was tempted to remove all of the beef, chicken and other dead flesh recipes, but it occurred to me that the substitution of meat analogs might make these award-winners more palatable. I did delete one recipe before reaching this realization and the lack of a Trash feature sent this recipe into the ether.

In Use

MacGourmet Deluxe's primary interface is the Recipe Box. This follows the iTunes paradigm with a left column of default lists, user-defined lists and smart lists. The default (normal) mode features the items in the selected list across the top in a columnar or a summary view, and the selected recipe --- ingredients, directions, a picture and other characteristics --- displayed below. The widescreen mode moves the selected recipe to the right-hand column. Selection of this mode and a half-dozen other preferences requires a restart.

MacGourmet Recipe Box

Chef View provides a 36-pt font for handy viewing on a display in your kitchen or across the room to a laptop sitting on the dining room table or a desk.

Chef View

MacGourmet installs two services: Import Recipe from Web Page and Make Text Clipping. These are available in TextEdit, TextWrangler and Safari but not Word or Firefox. The Web Page Import Service allows the import of recipes from a number of web sites (e.g., allrecipes.com, epicurious.com, etc.). Optional plug-ins for other websites (e.g., vegetariantimes.com, foodandwine.com, etc.) are available from the MacGourmet website. These imports were hit-or-miss (mostly hit), but definitely easier than typing it all in by hand even when the format of the web site's recipe placed most of the data in the wrong categories. The import and clipping processes are fairy straight-forward and quickly convert a recipe on a web page or in an e-mail into an entry in your database.

Other recipe software formats that may be imported include Cook'n, MacGourmet Binary, MacGourmet Text, MasterCook Mac, MasterCook MXP, Meal-Master, RecipeML and Yum XML.

A picture of the finished product (or a wine label) can be added from a file but not from the clipboard. It would be beneficial to have the ability to add more than one picture (or maybe even a video) in the case of a more recipe dependent upon some special technique. Of course links to these auxiliary files can always be added within the text fields of the recipe or note.

MacGourmet Import Assistant

MacGourmet Deluxe uses the abbreviated USDA National Nutrient Database for its nutrition analysis. Imported recipe ingredients may or may not be mapped to nutrition food items depending upon the individual ingredient's format of the original recipe. Adding a nutritional item for a documented item, (e.g., Tofurkey Beer Brats) is all manual despite the structured format of the Nutrition Facts information. Only 11 of the 46 database components are enterable. Vitamins and minerals, usually included as a percentage, are expected to entered as a weight. Calculations seemed reasonably accurate though the manual warns against using these numbers if you are following a strict dietary regimen.

MacGourmet Nutritional Database

Sharing recipes is easily accomplished via the Send Email... button. The resulting correspondence is a text representation of the recipe. Sharing wine notes results in only the name, winery, vintage and region but ignores tasting notes and the other database entries.

Exported recipe formats include MacGourmet Binary, MacGourmet Text, iPod Notes, MasterCook Mac, MasterCook MXP, Meal-Master, Text and Rich Text. A recipe, recipe collection and notes may be published to a website with the mgourmet file embedded allowing others may download directly into MacGourmet or be dragged into your MacGourmet recipe box. Templates and Styles are available here and in Mealplan menus and Cookbook Building. Publishing a wine note to a website produces a more complete page containing Winemaker's Tasting Notes and My Tasting Notes as well as the wine label or other image in your note.

Cataloging Wine

The Shopping List feature requires that your menu items have uniform descriptions so that they can be sorted and possibly combined. This means that "onion, chopped" needs to be separated into the ingredient description and directions components. Changing a recipe's ingredients does not always show up immediately in a meal plan's shopping list but a save of the list seems to refresh the database. The cook may select a store for particular ingredients or add the ingredient to a Favorites list

Making a Shopping List

The Mealplan feature allows the quick creation of meals for dates into the foreseeable future. Standard meals (Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, etc.) are available here and new meals may be added (Second Breakfast, Late Night Snack, etc.) Times for these meals are configurable. For each day a complement of meals with selected recipes may be added. A stylized menu may be created for the individual meal. The weekly menu can be created and printed.

iCal Mealplan synching places the week's recipe names and meal times in iCal after a MealPlan calendar is created.

MacGourmet Meal Plan

As someone with a well-stocked and fairly exotic cupboard, my favorite feature is the Cupboard Find. In the manner of creating an iTunes (or MacGourmet) Smartlist, one can add ingredients found (or not found) in your pantry to find a way to get rid of that 5-lb bag of soy flakes and jar of barley syrup. Of course you'll have to have seeded your recipe box beyond the samples provided. Selecting Help -> Show Recipe Collections takes one to the forums on the Advenio website. The forums contain links to individual recipes and collections, FAQs, and other food-related discussions. The MacGourmet Recipe Swap (also hosted by Advenio) is another good place to start. Recipes from magazines, books, cooking shows and personal collections have been entered into MacGourmet and uploaded to the forums or to user's websites.

The Cookbook Builder allows you to create a cookbook from your recipes. The addition of image, text and blank pages is also available. In the creation of a PDF file, a table of contents and index are added along with your recipes and any text pages (a dedication to your grandma's doughboys perhaps) or image pages (a photo of the author at work.)

MacGourmet Cookbook Builder

The MacGourmet Help is extensive and goes into more detail than the manual. For any questions that cannot be answered here or in the manual the MacGourmet Deluxe website forums (rather spare) or the considerably more active MacGourmet website can provide assistance. The latter site contains recipe swap forums.

Summary

MacGourmet Deluxe is a fairly full-featured product allowing recipe and wine note management, meal planning, menu and shopping list creation and cookbook building. The ability to import from many sources can fill one's recipe box quite quickly. The ability to export, import and share ensures a large pool of potential recipes. Minor anomalies will probably not detract significantly from one's use of this product.

Pros

  • Easy to build up recipes using import from websites and clippings.
  • Cookbook Builder creates a passable cookbook in PDF form that may be uploaded to a self-publishing service.
  • iCal interface adds meals from the weekly planner.
  • Nice nutritional database, including 24 tofu entries.

Cons

  • Crashes occurred occasionally in the import process and using the View List.
  • Scrolling in the Calculated Nutritional Information per Serving produced some anomalies.
  • The clipping feature does not work with PDFs.
  • No arugula nutritional information.

Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice