MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Phoenix Recipes

August 19, 2009

Review: Creating virtual recipe box can be a snap

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — For years, I have tucked away recipe cards of all shapes and sizes in nooks and crannies of my kitchen, determined that one day I would actually use them. Sadly, for many recipes, that day never came, partly because they were so disorganized.

But cooking has been on my mind lately, thanks to Meryl Streep and her hilarious rendition of Julia Child in the new movie "Julie & Julia." Streep became my inspiration to get organized — and in this digital age, what could be more fitting than using software to create a virtual recipe box?

Finding the right program took time, however.

Some free programs were surreptitiously loaded with advertising and user-tracking software, while trial copies of a few others didn't provide enough access to the paid version's features to let me try before I buy. In one trial copy, an annoying window kept popping up urging me to buy the full version for $79.95.

Furthermore, some software programs had no download option. With so many recipe software choices out there, I had no patience to wait for a CD by mail.

In the end, I narrowed my choices to three downloadable programs for Windows-based computers: Living Cookbook, eChef and BigOven for Windows Deluxe Edition. All three let me test most or all of the features for 30 days before buying.

The $39.95 eChef software was the simplest to use, but it lacked some features I wanted, such as automatic nutrition calculation.

Living Cookbook, available for $34.95 though its Web site, had good training tutorials and the ability to create a cookbook for free, complete with a glossary of recipes. It was my second choice.

BigOven edged ahead with its extensive social-networking features. At $29.95, BigOven also was the cheapest of the three finalists.

BigOven — the brainchild of Steve Murch, an entrepreneur who previously held management positions at Microsoft Corp. — is easy to use and versatile enough for even the most exacting cooks.

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