Cooking With Gourmet Recipe Manager

In this article, Sriram Ramkrishna takes a look at Gourmet Recipe Manager, a desktop application that creates and manages cooking recipes.

Introduction

Every once in awhile, I get to write about an application that is useful to people who want to use their computer for something other than the usual repertoire of tools that are geared towards social networking, technical graphics, video editing and so on.

Cooking is one of those primal activities that we do on a daily basis that can be as technical or as simple as we want it to be. Some use microwaveable products, and others like to get the raw ingredients and build from scratch. People take pleasure in the endless varieties and tastes that they can come up with. For the latter group, the Net offers an endless variety of cuisines from around the world waiting to be explored. We might even be inspired to make our own dishes or a personal twist on a favorite.

In the old days, we used to collect recipes from books, newspapers, magazines or from other people and write them down in a journal or notebook. My mother has a much abused notebook with hundreds of recipes that she had collected while part of a gourmet cooking group. Now of course we have plenty of websites like Epicurious and Allrecipes that have a plethora of recipes to try.

For the GNOME desktop users the choices are pretty limited on what is out there. In fact, you only have one. Gourmet Recipe Manager.

Gourmet Recipe Manager is, as you’ve guessed, an application written in Python that creates and manages recipes for you. I used the unstable version as I had conferred with the author earlier on a number of issues in the stable version and the author was kind enough to put out another release for my benefit. Most distributions package the stable version and I would recommend using the unstable/latest one.

Adding a Recipe

Installation was simple enough using the python dist tools and installing it in my distribution. Most people should be able to get it through their favorite package manager.

The main screen shows your list of recipes with a search bar that allows for a variety of search options including ingredients, category, cuisine, instructions and so forth with a method to narrow your search options in a fairly intuitive manner.

Let’s start by putting a recipe for “Spicy Peanuts”, a little something I make for an appetizer that goes pretty nicely with a good beer. It has simple enough ingredients to effectively try out the software.

File -> New puts up another dialog box to start publishing our recipe:

The first side tab allows you to type in a recipe description. This proves fairly innocuous allowing you to put the relevant information for the recipe which includes the source and web page you may have gotten it from along with a picture if possible.

The next tab is where you type in your recipe’s ingredients. In my opinion, it would be better if there was some kind of button in the screen to go to the next section in addition to the side tab. Side tabs are hard to notice for me and having an extra navigation point would give it a good sequential flow.

The ingredients tab is an impressive piece of work. You can type all kinds of ingredients in a near English language and Gourmet is able to parse it correctly into the right ingredients. For instance, if you typed in “half an onion” the amount will have 1/2 and “an onion” on the item column. The author has put a lot of attention on making this easy to add ingredients based on common everyday language.

If you make a mistake in anything you can click on the ingredient and edit it inline.

Once you have completed the ingredients, click on the instructions tab and type in your cooking instructions. There is a minimal editor allowing you to add some formatting to your text such as underline, bold and italics.

Throughout the editing process, you can view the recipe as a “recipe card” which will give you a view of your recipe nicely formatted on one page. The page also has an option to allow you to shop for your ingredients. It puts ingredients that you already have in a pantry section and then allows you to shop for the rest, after printing out the shopping list.

Once you’re done adding your recipe, you can save it and it will appear on the main recipe list that appeared when you first ran Gourmet.

Deleting a Recipe

Deleting a recipe was fairly easy with just hitting the delete key. Gourmet could use a good context menu in addition to going to the Actions menu or hitting the delete key. The recipe doesn’t actually get deleted but instead goes into a trash area so you can undo if you wanted to. To actually delete the recipe, you have to go to the trash area from the Tools menu. Gourmet will give you an option to undo immediately after the recipe was deleted or even to delete it permanently.

Miscellaneous

Gourmet has some other features including a plugin feature that lets you add an alternative way to browse recipes or give you the option to mail your recipes to others.

It would be difficult to hand type all the recipes you encounter on the web so Gourmet provides an import feature that allows you to automatically put your recipes into Gourmet from a variety of places. As of this writing importing a web page doesn’t work. Text files and the like are done by a dialog window that allows you to specify which parts of the file are ingredients, instructions, and so forth. Gourmet claims that it can import MealMaster recipes, but I had to manually add the parts instead of it parsing the areas correctly.

Conclusion

Gourmet Recipe Manager was written by someone who loves to cook and has crafted a fine application that can store a variety of recipes and organize them anyway you like. His attention to detail to the important things makes the application easy to use.

My list of improvements includes the following: this would make a great Maemo app, at least from a “I want to look up this receipe” while I’m thinking of something to make while in the kitchen. I could use a laptop as well but that’s just too big and clunky sitting on my kitchen table.

I’d like to see something in the description that allows the user to
describe something about the recipe. Maybe I have a story on how I obtained the recipe. A contextual menu would also be useful since I frequently want to do recipe operations by right-clicking on the recipe, rather than using the menu. A glaring omission is the lack of ability to rename a recipe. I had to delete the recipe in order to rename it.

Since social networking is all the rage having the ability to upload to Flickr (the picture) or perhaps to a cooking website to share with others would be a great addition. As there is a plugin system already in place, this could be a good project for someone to implement exporting recipes to these social sites.

All in all, Gourmet Recipe Manager is a good application and deserves a place on your desktop. Give it a shot!

About the Author

Sriram Ramkrishna has been involved in GNOME for the past 11 years. He resides in Portland, OR with his two wives and one cat. I mean two cats and his wife.

Discuss this story with other readers on the GNOME forums.

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Posted on April 21, 2009, in April 2009. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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