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Apps to Apples

October 17, 2011 • 1 Comment

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• Image: Hanna-Barbera/Everett Collection

- Fran Brennan

When Julia Child published 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' nearly 40 years ago, she gave thousands of home cooks the tools they needed to, well, master French cooking. 

Dorie Greenspan, whose bestselling 'Baking: From My Home To Yours' came out in 2006, has done Julia Child one better. Last month, Greenspan released 'Baking with Dorie,' an app in which she all but holds the hands of aspiring bakers as they measure, fold, whisk and whip.

"That's the power of an app: I really will be in someone's kitchen," Greenspan says. "I had the sense when it was over that the title of the book had come to life. This really was coming from my home into yours. I filmed it thinking about actually talking to someone as if they were standing next to me, and I was showing them how to do it."

Thanks to that power of the app, anyone with a tablet or smart phone, a stand or refrigerator mounting strips, and a hankering for anything from brownies to boeuf bourgignon can find not only recipes but, indeed, professional instruction.

Pair that knowledge with the growing range of super-powered kitchen appliances, and we’re all doing more. Faster. And, hopefully, more often. From stoves that can boil water in 90-seconds flat to refrigerators that know even more about the food they're storing than you might, the range of, um, ranges and their multitude of functions seems to grow more vast by the week.

“I have a FABULOUS convection/microwave combo from Dacor that I will never be without in any kitchen again,” says Cathy Barrow, a Washington, D.C. food blogger known to zillions as Mrs. Wheelbarrow. “The. Best. Appliance. I've used it for so long, I can't remember cooking without it. Mostly, I love having the functionality of a second oven, the ease of the microwave all in one appliance, with so little real estate given over."

Jessie Saunders, a cookbook author and mother of eight-month-old twins, says real estate is at a premium in her New York City kitchen. Her favorite kitchen gadget? The Internet.

“You can really rely on the Internet to find things,’ says Saunders, who uses the Web to find recipes, ingredients and, often, a sense of connection to the outside world. “Now that I'm like an invalid here with the babies, I have to have people send me things. I can't just pop down to Murray's Cheese. I subscribe to Cooks Illustrated online; and their product reviews are so good. The other day, I thought, ‘I really want a cast-iron pan. So I went to Cooks Illustrated, typed it in, and there it was. Then I went to Amazon, and it was here in a day.”

Between the increasing number of Jetsons-like devices (Smoking Gun, anyone? maybe a robot?) and the power of the Internet to shrink the culinary world down to navigable size, we’re finding as cooks there’s not much we can’t do.

In fact, even Julia Child is getting into the act. Earlier this month, Alfred A. Knopf released a "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" version for e-readers.

"This is also part of what makes it such an exciting time,” Greenspan says. “We have this technology we use to make us smarter, more efficient, more confident. But in the end, we're using it to do what we love to do: take good food, cook it and share it. That's the perfect marriage of technology and food."

 

This post is brought to you as part of our Food & Technology Series, in partnership with Intel, a company that is all about making our lives better with technology, just as Food52 is with food.

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Burnt_offering

almost 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

Great post! I'm teaching a friend who is a busy physician, and grew up without parents or a family, to cook. Someone who has never, ever cooked for herself before. The internet and apps are making it accessible and giving her confidence to try things on her own without me holding her hand. After our "Omelette 101" session, I sent her some You Tube videos of Jacque Pepin preparing omelettes that she can refer to again and again while working on her technique. It's a good thing.