The Recipe Manager 2.2, by TRM
Posted: 24-Jun-2008

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: TRM Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Mike Lloyd Class: UTILITY

Overview
If you are overwhelmed with notebooks filled with recipes and cannot manage to keep track of the recipes that you have available, then The Recipe Manager (TRM) is for you. This program allows you to manage your portfolio of recipes by providing a database that tags the attributes of each item. As expected, each recipe contains a list of ingredients and a set of instructions. Each recipe entry also contains additional information that can be useful when preparing the dish, including variations of the dish, nutritional information, serves and preparation time. The tool also provides a mechanism to easily import recipes stored in MasterCook format. It also simplifies the importation of recipe from a variety of sources, such as web sites and files. TRM also provides the capability to do meal planning by connecting recipes and then scheduling the meals. It can take ingredients and create shopping lists that are tied to a particular store.

Requirements

G4 or higher with 1GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, CD-ROM drive and 125MB free hard disk space. Minimum monitor resolution of 1024 x 768.

Price
$39.95 (3 for $85, 5 for $125)

Installation
Download the 50 Mbyte disk image from the website, open it and run the installation package. Then just follow the typical installation instructions. The "Read Me" provides additional information concerning the files that are created and where they are placed.


Installed The Recipe Manager

In Use
When the application is first launched, you are presented with window shown below. This window provides a list of all of the recipes that are available in the database with the "Recipe" button selected. Each column heading can be clicked to sort the recipes by the selected column heading. The upper right hand corner contains a search field, which allows the chef to identify recipes that meet certain criteria. The magnifying glass icon can be clicked to select other criteria, such as Source or category.


Initial Window after clicking on "Barbecued Thai Chicken Salad" Recipe

The right side of the window contains two tabbed panels. The top panel initially shows the list of ingredients for the selected recipe. The information can be changed to show metadata about the recipe, such as the source or web site it was obtained from. The staging tab provides information regarding items that can or should be prepared in advance, such as marinating or brining meat. The variations tab provides a freeform text area that can be used to describe ingredient or process changes that can be introduced to emphasize different flavors or textures for the dish. The final tab provides a location to store nutritional information regarding the dish, which can be generated within the program using information from the USDA Nutrient Database Values.

The bottom panel initially provides the instruction for preparing the dish. The other tabs display other attributes regarding the dish such as a picture, background information or related recipes. If the display for the "Picture" tab, contains a zoom button for a close up shot of the dish. Another tab shows the number of servings and preparation time for the dish. The final tab shows additional metadata regarding the dish.

At the bottom of the window, a number of buttons are displayed. On the right, the "Show/Hide Meals" button toggles a panel that shows the meals that are associated with this dish. Moving to the left, the next three buttons are used to add, edit or delete the selected recipe. Each of these buttons work as expected by either creating an empty item or opening an existing recipe for changes. The editing process is straightforward and operates like a standard text editor.


TRM Cooking View

The next button to the left activates the "Cooking View", which is shown above. This view shows the ingredients and instructions panes in a full screen form and large font. The arrangement and font size of the information can be adjusted to suit the chef's preferences. This display is used during the cooking process, so that a computer does not need to be moved to the kitchen nor do the recipes need to be printed.


Advanced Search Capability

The next grouping of four buttons allows the chef to viewing mode of the right side of the window. As shown in the figure above, the "Advanced Search" mode provides the ability to perform a multi-criteria search of the recipes. The figure below shows the "Meals" panel, which contains the meal description in the form of a list of recipes. When a recipe is selected in the Recipes list the corresponding recipe is selected in the master recipe list on the left side of the window. The "Schedule" button allows the chef to assign a meal to a particular date within the TRM calendar.


TRM Meals

TRM also supports the generation of shopping lists using ingredients from the stored recipes. The items can be added to the list by single ingredient, recipe and meal; thus, reducing the effort to determine which items need to be purchased.


TRM Editing Window

TRM also simplifies the recipe importation by providing an editor that allows the chef to mark key elements of textual recipe stored in a file or on the clipboard. Since there is a number of different formats that various websites used for downloading reciped, TRM provides a versatile editor to help import from various formats. The figure above shows the editing window used to identify the recipe's elements contained in the file. The attributes on the right of the window are dragged to the text window on the left. The attributes are used to create tag lines in the text file to parse the recipe's elements and place them into the TRM database. The editor also adds and deletes single lines. It can join or split lines. Individual lines can be dragged to other locations in the file. While the editor was usable, it was here that I had the most trouble. Only individual lines can be manipulated using the editor and it has no undo feature, which makes the editing process rather arduous. It would also be useful if the developers would provide the capability to import recipes from some of the commonly used web sites, such as "Food Network" or Epicurious.

TRM parses the ingredients into three elements, quantity, units of measure and description. These elements are stored separately in the database. If a new units of measure or description is added with a recipe, the new item is added to the auto-completion list used by TRM. This simplifies the data entry process.

TRM also has several other features. TRM comes supplied with over 200 public domain recipes already loaded into the database. In the upper right page, each recipe has tabs for the Recipe, Ingredients, Staging information, Variations, and Nutrition data. In the lower right pane, each recipe has tabs for Photo, Instructions, Background, Servings and Time, and Classification. Note, that not all recipes have all of these tabs filled in, but you can also edit the recipes to add the information later. Finally, there is a Schedules function that allows those on a meal schedule to schedule specific meals using a calendar.

Support
The
TRM web site provides a host of useful information and functions to further improve your experience with the program. It provides a good outline of the features of the program, a useful FAQ, and Tips and Tricks. It also provides the Recipe of the Day, which can be downloaded for TRM, and a really useful Recipe Search page that lets you search for specific recipes on the web, or even download a collection of recipes. The limit of your recipe database is only limited by the time you have to search for recipes.

Summary
The Recipe Manager (TRM) is a full-featured recipe manager, which also supports sophisticated meal planning. It simplifies the management of your recipes, while maintaining sufficient information to easily find the information that you need to prepare nutritious meals. It provides support during the preparation process by offering a special large size display of the recipe's ingredients and instructions. It offers the capability to easily input recipes from a variety of sources. Unfortunately like many other tools of this nature, it still requires discipline and time to modify your process. Dump those old notebooks and get a copy of The Recipe Manager.

Pros

  • Powerful Database that support sophisticated searches
  • Provides a cooking view that helps recipe visibility during the cooking process
  • Easy to use and well-designed interface
  • Provides a meal planning capability and direct generation of shopping lists

Cons

  • Importation editor is decent, but has some usability flaws
  • Does not provide automatic importation of recipes from common web sites


Overall Rating

5 out of 5 Mice