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Tinderbox Users >> Tinderbox applications >> Food!

Message started by Mark Bernstein on Aug 19th, 2007, 4:51pm

Title: Food!
Post by Mark Bernstein on Aug 19th, 2007, 4:51pm

Do you use Tinderbox to keep track of recipes?  To plan menus?  

How about using Tinderbox to plan all the details you need to consider for your new restaurant?

If you've got a culinary application of Tinderbox, we'd love to know.

Title: Re: Food!
Post by JasonButler on Aug 19th, 2007, 7:28pm

My wife and I share a "kitchen" tinderbox which we use to create our shopping lists and stash our recipes.

The recipes section is very simple, containing mostly pointers to recipes we like in our cookbook collection and notes on how we improvise around the recipes. At some point, I'll cross reference ingredients to be able to generate the actual shopping list.

The shopping list part of the Tinderbox is far more mature. We took one afternoon and created an outline of everything we need to buy. We flip through this outline every week preparing our list.

Here are the attributes of each buyable item:

- toBuy
Yes/No. This turns on the item for the list

- store
CVS? Shaws? BJs?

- aisle
We stash the aisle, for sorting later

- alwaysKeepOnHand
Yes/No. We have an action that automatically turns off the "ToBuy" items when we return from the store. If this is on, the item will be automatically put back on the list. We use this for staples we know we will buy each week.

We have agents to aggregate all the items for a store, sorted by aisle. We then just print this out and go.

Once we evolved the system, it's been incredibly helpful. It's great when we notice something on Tuesday that we need to buy, we just <apple>-F to find the item, and turn it on immediately. This way, we never have to remember obscure items.

- Jason

Title: Re: Food!
Post by AndreasVlach on Aug 20th, 2007, 5:41am

I've got a simple recipes Tinderbox document (with full recipes-text inside the note, i usually scan and OCR them out of the cookbooks or copy/paste from web-forums), with agents for coloring the recipes/notes depending on how much we like them as well as other agents for cooking/preparing time. And of course i use occasionally agents for plannig menus, by searching the recipes for the ingredients we just happen to have at home or in the garden at the moment ;) Sooner or later I plan to integrate a more or less "automated" shopping-list as well, thanks for sharing the basic framework of yours Jason!

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Rob Hamrick on Aug 20th, 2007, 11:06pm

I would love to see a working example at some point, if someone wouldn't mind putting one together.  I've thought about doing the automated shopping list thing, but I couldn't figure out an elegant way of doing it.

Title: Re: Food!
Post by tsharvey on Aug 30th, 2007, 2:37pm

Rob Hamrick wrote:
I would love to see a working example at some point, if someone wouldn't mind putting one together.

I, too, would be grateful if others were willing to share their template for recipe management. I have a very basic Tinderbox document that I use to store my recipes. No agents. No shopping list. Just a few attributes.

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Mark Bernstein on Aug 30th, 2007, 6:56pm

I myself don't really worry about managing recipes.  Recipes aren't that important, and you never know what kind of crazy need you'll have. (A duck recipe for a crowd?  A replacement for hoisin sauce when your guests are allergic to plums?  An ancient dish that uses tomatoes?)

I think a really useful application would be to keep track of what you did serve, and how it went. So you'd remember the lessons you learned, and remember to cook things again.  The sort of thing where everyone says:

    Well, you wouldn't want to/couldn't afford/would never find time to cook it every week, but this was worth doing again!

tends to fall out of the repertoire without memory.  And it's nice to remember what you served people last time, if only to remember to mix things up.

Title: Re: Food!
Post by John Kendrick on Sep 3rd, 2007, 4:29pm

I have an interest in using Tinderbox for recipes. Before I get to the actual uses, however, a bit of background. I'm encouraging my wife to replace her ancient PC, more than 6 years old, with a new IMac (once Apple solves the glossy monitor screen problem). However, one of the reasons she clings to the PC is that Windows has so much more and better recipe software. (I should hasten to add that's far from the only reason, or even the major reason. The latter is the fact that Blackboard, the online education tool for higher education, doesn't work well with Macintosh internet browsers. And she's finding Blackboard essential to the online courses she now teaches.)

So, to deal with the recipe argument, I volunteered to find Mac recipe software and/or work on Tinderbox. The search for Mac recipe software came up almost empty. We bought one, forget the name, which doesn't work very well, certainly not as well as the comparable Windows programs. So that ended that.

As for Tinderbox, when I originally asked Mark for something, I assumed someone somewhere had a terrific template I could refashion for our uses. Apparently not.

So, now I'm working on it. With, to exaggerate, minimal Tinderbox skills.

Our basic needs:
     1) are a place to keep successful recipes, so noted along a dimensionality of success, which dimensionality can be used to easily find recipes in some sort of ranking preference;
     2) a place to keep recipes that look interesting but have yet to be tried;
     3) perhaps a bibliography of the cookbooks around the house with some commentary so it's easier to find the one that had the recipe that sounded good but we forgot to put it in the database;
    4) strong cataloging devices to use as the file grows large--bringing over the recipes in the Windows program and adding new ones;
    5) and strong search capabilities to find all the recipes that have "beans" or "casseroles" or whatever to choose from on any given evening, recipes that either match the left overs in the refrigerator or our taste wishes.

No doubt if I spend a bit of time I can think of more uses. But you get the idea.

Tinderbox handles all that well. In principle. I've just got to dig a bit deeper to be able to do it. And give up on my lazy assumption someone else had already done it.  ;)

The one problem we have is scanning in recipes from cookbooks. It turns out it's much easier to type them in. At least given our scanner and software. By the time I get it all set up, scanned, and then, most difficult, clean up the text, it simply takes much longer than typing the stuff in.

If anyone else has a solution for the scanning, please let me know. And, any suggestions as to other uses of Tinderbox recipe files.


Title: Re: Food!
Post by Trevor Harvey on Sep 4th, 2007, 6:07pm

In principle, I agree with Mark's perspective that recipes aren't that important—for me, they typically serve as a jumping off or grounding point, upon which to improvise. The problem with recipe management software, for me anyhow, is that it tends to be too structured, built around the notion of stable, fixed recipes rather than the more unstructured note-taking purposes you mention.

However, sharing recipes is an important part of sharing food experiences. Friends and family often ask for recipes and some level of structure and management for recipe note-taking facilitates the sharing of information that, in my case, is usually lost by the time I retire to bed. Structure is also important for improving efficiency in meal planning, shopping, cooking, etc. I would like my Tinderbox document to be useful in that regard—reducing the time needed to plan/shop for meals (this is not always a concern, but it reduces stress during weeks with particularly hectic schedules).

Title: Re: Food!
Post by biojmo on Jan 28th, 2008, 9:06pm

Has anyone taken this idea (using Tinderbox as a recipe database/ cooking notes repository) any further. If anyone could share any useful templates that would be great; otherwise I will create my own from scratch.

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Andreas Vlach on Feb 18th, 2010, 2:48pm

Well, answering late, but better than never i guess :) I tried for several months MacGourmet, but was in the end not happy with the unflexibilty of it - at least compared to Tbx. Therefor I just recently worked on my old "recipe"-Tinderbox document, it now includes:

* recipes - of course. Agents displaying them by eg Ingredients, Type of dish, etc.
* tracking what recipes served to whom and when - showing what someone has eaten, and what someone has liked / disliked - (at least as long as i make notes of it ... )
* a rating system which combines the ratings of all the times a recipe was served
* very basic "calendar" / planning visualisation on what is planned for next week.

In case someone is interested in it i will gladly share some screenshots or the file. Only problem: its all in German ;)

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Mark Bernstein on Feb 18th, 2010, 3:10pm

Definitely!  Screenshots would be great!  We can always muddle through the menu.

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Andreas Vlach on Feb 19th, 2010, 11:44am

Ok, here they come:

A Recipe ... Key attributes: Rating ( a single rating for a recipe, containing old data), Course ("Gang"), Categories (like "Asia", "hash", Vegetarian" etc.), Name, Source, Last time cooked, Total Rating ("Gesamtbewertung" - average of all single ratings when the recipe was cooked). in the text window the ingredients and directions.

If a recipe was used for cooking, then the following can / should be added as child of the recipe-note - a note containing who was eating it, and how much it was liked. If ratings differ, one footnote for each person is used.

We (my wife and I) got a rating systm of 1-60, where 60 is the best. There are agents which display the recipes in a rating-range, and color them accordingly: (a clock icon suggests that the recipe wasn't cooked in the last 4 months)

Recipes are displayed by agents (not all working atm, need to fix syntax), based on type of dish, and/or ingredient:

What has someone eaten the last time - what does someone like:
(last number of the note name indicates the rating) - here limited to last 3 recipes, could be more of course.

Basic calendar, showing whats planned the next 7 days - Adornments query looks for dates which are added to a recipe using simple stamps. Below some recipes, green ones were never tried, black ones need some work until they can become a "full" recipe, and the other colors are based on ratings.

(clicking on images should lead to another page, where another click on icon named "sizes" hopefully shows it full-size)

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Paul Walters on Feb 19th, 2010, 4:03pm

Andreas, what I'd like to know is what time should we be there for dinner, and if there is something we could bring?  ;)

This is a very nice Tinderbox.

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Andreas Vlach on Feb 20th, 2010, 12:08pm

Paul, whenever you're close to the german part of the Moselle and want to discuss important things like tinderbox, cooking or baseball you're invited ;)

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Rigas Arvanitis on Jun 15th, 2010, 12:19pm

Fascnating discussion !

I usually write the recipes once they have been a success (see http://rigas.ouvaton.org ) but not in Tinderbox.

Las one was a variation around a moroccoan tajine

The thing I really am keen to track is spices ! On the website I use tags for that; might well do it in Tinderbox.

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Dick Lane on Jul 27th, 2010, 3:24am

I second Trevor's comment
I agree with Mark's perspective that recipes aren't that important—for me, they typically serve as a jumping off or grounding point, upon which to improvise.
 I want to track my variations, e.g., Neuchatel or Cottage Cheese in a cheesecake, how much ginger [but not horseradish :-)] in cranberry relish, when to add garlic or brandy or curry (but not all) to Shrimp Fra Diavolo, prep vs cooking time.  I want text of original recipe (with citation) so that I know where I started ringing some changes.  I like comparisons reported by cooksillustrated.com (& their books), but I cook with a long gap between quasi-repetitions and can benefit from good records.

My primary suggestion for a link: "what goes well with this" [and its complement: "what did not go well"]

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Rigas Arvanitis on Jul 27th, 2010, 5:03am

why is it americans are obsessed with cheese ?


(this doesnt go specially to the previous post ! I dont mean to be rude. Its a real question - being French and Greek I dont see the point of having so many things cooked with cheese).

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Charles Turner on Jul 27th, 2010, 6:33am

I think it doesn't go back very far, to the 1960s-70s and the increasing popularity of vegetarian/organic cuisine. The U.S. hadn't yet gone through its recent cuisine revolution, and cheese was seen as a meat substitute: literally.

Many dishes, particularly in restaurants, were converted to "vegetarian" by swapping out the "meat" for cheese, which is why there's such a lot of it. It took a while for people to realize that it was probably less healthy for you than the meat is was standing in for.

But hey: Greeks? Aren't you folks the largest per capita consumers of cheese with your Feta? ;-)

Filika, Charles

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Rigas Arvanitis on Jul 27th, 2010, 6:49am

Thanks for the answer Charles !

But hey: Greeks? Aren't you folks the largest per capita consumers of cheese with your Feta?

Are we? I didnt know that....  Not so much cooked (except in the tiropita). A lot in salads and only in summmer (the famous "greek salad" which was not a favourite of urban middle classes and called it -still call it "choriatiki" : peasants' salad.

Episis !!

Title: Re: Food!
Post by Charles Turner on Jul 27th, 2010, 9:37am

Greece is the world's largest (per capita) consumer of cheese, with 27.3 kg eaten by the average Greek. (Feta accounts for three-quarters of this consumption.) France is the second biggest consumer of cheese, with 24 kg by inhabitant.


So Greece is number one and France number two!

But all this food talk makes me wish I was in Thessaloniki or Exarchia right now. The Feta in my fridge is a poor substitute...

Amitiés, Charles

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