I danced around the inevitability for a year or two living off hearty ‘just add water’ noodle cups and copious amounts of (burnt) toast. And for a time, it was acceptable. What else are cash-strapped uni students meant to do? But then you graduate; the novelty wears off and you’re left in a potentially flammable stand-off with the oven.
You have two choices: You can bite the bullet and learn to cook, or marry a chef. The latter option was not available at the time, so instead I downloaded a bunch of cooking apps.
Here’s what I discovered: I can cook. Some top-notch apps and my iDevices helped me achieve this. And, even more pleasing, there are no injuries or explosions to report. Yet.
Knowing where to begin can be tricky; there’s a multitude of cooking and recipe downloads crowding the App Store, offering everything from ratio measurements to detailed tutorials on the art of soufflé. Filter out the
apps that are expensive and finicky – basically anything upwards of $2.99 that refer to things like a Bombe Alaska or Duck à l’Orange.
I started out with some basic free and on-the-cheap apps. Depending on your skill set, your own personal list may vary. But for foreigners travelling to the kitchen for the first time, here are three useful aids worth checking out.
While the internet is a culinary treasure trove of recipe ideas, the metric systems used vary wildly. And when you’re faced with converting a page-long list of quantities in ‘quarts’ ‘ounces’ and ‘gallons’, day-old bread starts to look like a more appetising alternative.
Forward Leap’s The Kitchen Calculator solves conversion quandaries, and actually, the more you use it, the more accustomed you become to making quick conversions in your head, without the constant reference check.
The interface is clean and simple and is a huge help for dishes that need a bit more accuracy and care.
Art of the Slow Cooker
I recently bought a slow cooker – the ‘one-pot wonder’ of kitchen contraptions, apparently. The premise sounded failsafe – chuck whatever you have handy into the pot, flick the switch to low, go away for a day and voilà – dinner is served.
Yes, it’s a simple method, but I realised there was a bit more to it than that. Like layering certain foods to make sure everything is cooked evenly through. I also wasn’t aware that you could use the slow cooker for anything but casserole-type fare. But there are desserts, even types of bread you can whip up, too.
I know most of these regurgitated facts from using Art of the Slow Cooker – an app that helps you get to grips with different crockpot dishes. From ‘Classics’ to ‘Braising’ techniques and a heap of ‘Side Dishes’ to boot, this download has been a great investment. Step-by-step instructions and beautifully shot photography helps make the experience less laborious, and admittedly, quite a bit of fun.
My final favourite app is Allrecipes. com.au Dinner Spinner. This mammoth download offers countless recipes which you can search for by entering the ingredients you have on hand, how much cooking time you want to devote, or if the meal is intended for a special or themed event.
And when you run out of ideas (or, in my case, have a small repertoire to begin with), shake your handset and random dishes will pop up, offering you a bit of ‘foodspiration’.
This app has a huge database, so you’re not likely to run out of recipe ideas any time soon.