Cook: Create Your Own Cookbook From Scratch

I’m pretty tied to my current recipe app, but it isn’t much to look at and doesn’t allow for a lot in the way of customization. I put a ton of effort into finding tasty and healthy options for my family, and I’d like my cookbook app to reflect all of that work. Cook is an enticing little app that let’s me create a cookbook just for me, with my own colors, images, and even a title all my own, just like a real cookbook. I wanted to give Cook a try and see if it could replace the other apps I’m using in the kitchen.

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Heat It Up

Before I got started adding any recipes to my Cook cookbook, I began personalizing what my book would look like. I first needed to sign in, and Cook pulled my user picture from Facebook as a sort of capstone for my cookbook’s cover page. That’s not all the personalization I found, though. I set the color for my cookbook and chose an image to represent my kitchen or my style of cooking. There was lots to choose from, including fruits and vegetables, cuts of meat, or finished international dishes.

My cookbook reflected me and my kitchen.

My cookbook reflected me and my kitchen.

The hard copy cookbook I’ve been creating over the years is separated into categories of meals. I have a section for entrees and another for sides. There’s a section in the back for sweets and desserts and a special category just for holiday treats. Cook doesn’t have predefined categories, so that allowed me to recreate my same cookbook chapters on my iPad. That’s not to say it wouldn’t have been helpful to have a few guiding categories as defaults, but it was nice that my vegan cookbook wasn’t forced to have an empty “Meat” chapter languish unused.

Once I had my chapters entered, it was time to add my recipes. It was easy enough to copy and paste my instructions from another iOS app or from an iOS browser, but if I were entering a recipe from a cookbook app on my computer, I had to type everything up manually. There didn’t seem to be an import function buried anywhere that I could find.

I had to add all of the recipes by hand, but I knew they were what I liked.

I had to add all of the recipes by hand, but I knew they were what I liked.

Slightly more frustrating was the ingredients list. Each ingredient had to be added individually, and the measurement had to be added separate from the ingredient itself. The measurement was added into an entirely separate field from the ingredient, so my copy and pasting skills really couldn’t help me here. That said, I loved how the ingredients list worked once I actually got everything in there. All of the measurements were standardized, so I didn’t end up with some recipes using TBSP, while others used tblsp, or recipes that called for a c. of water but later two cups of beans.

More to Taste

Cook syncs with Evernote, so you’ll always have all of your recipes backed up and searchable should something happen to your iPad. Even better, if you use Evernote Food, you can make sure your Cook recipes end up there, too.

I could add just the chapter headings I liked.

I could add just the chapter headings I liked.

Which led me to ask why I was using Cook in the first place. I can much more easily add recipes to Evernote Food with the Evernote browser extension, and the app is pretty nice to look at already on my iPad. Evernote is lacking the customization of Cook, though, and I could really make my Cook cookbook my own. Still, it was a lot more effort to get all of my recipes into Cook, just to see them end up in Evernote Food, anyway.

Final Thoughts

Cook really did have a great look, once I got all of my recipes and images in there, but that took a long time. I’ve got a lot of recipes, and it was a job of work. There was no way to easily import them from the app I’m currently using, Pepperplate, and I couldn’t seem to import them from a URL, either. It was really almost too difficult to work.

If you're good at food photography, you can create something special.

If you’re good at food photography, you can create something special.

What makes Cook stand out, though, is how nicely I could customize my cookbook. I could make it look exactly how I wanted. Once I got all of my images loaded, which did take a long time, Cook was pretty sexy to look at. Fullscreen images of delicious curry or carrot cake are a lot nicer than a default interface.

But it takes too long. I’m just not going to use it. I pull all of my recipes from great food blogs I follow or occasionally from emails. It’s rare that I type up a recipe by hand. If you find yourself doing that a lot, though, Cook could work for you. Not that other apps don’t have the option to manually enter recipes, but Cook will let you control exactly how your recipes are presented — a point of pride for any budding chef.


Summary

Create your own cookbook, but it could be a pain to get all of your recipes in there.

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