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Introducing the Joy of Cooking App for iPad

john's picture

WE've been keeping a secret for over three years now and today we finally get to tout our horn: JOY has entered the exciting world of digital publishing in spectacular fashion with the release of our Joy of Cooking App for iPad. Stay tuned for an in-depth reflection or two in the near-future as we celebrate the culmination of this large, consuming, and comprehensive collaborative effort between ourselves, Scribner, and our fellow Oregonian app developers at Culinate. Needless to say, a collective sigh of relief and gratification could be heard in the Joy Kitchen when the app went live Tuesday afternoon... until this mass exhale concludes, take a gander at Culinate's press release, some pretty screen shots that show off a handful of the many features new to JOY, and peruse my introduction to the app.

Help us celebrate our first digital JOY! Download from iTunes for your slick new iPad (or at joyofcookingapp.com), share the good news with your friends and family, and please take the time to rate and review the app. For iPhone users, do not fear, a version for you is in the works as we speak... stay tuned!

Press Summary: Joy of Cooking App

The Joy of Cooking is the quintessential American cookbook. Or as the New York Times says, “The most popular cookbook in America.”

Now, it’s been retooled, re-thought, and re-imagined. The JOY app includes not just every one of the thousands of recipes and reference articles in the latest version of the book, but more: we added more than 700 recipe photos; expanded and reworked many of the
recipes for the more expansive digital format; and pored over every line of text to adapt it for mobile use, enabling pre-set digital timers, smart shopping lists, and metric conversions, just to name a few of the app-only features.

Highlights:

  • Thousands of recipes and reference materials cover everything from enchiladas to lemon meringue pie.

  • All materials are included in the app. No internet access is required.

  • Pre-set digital timers enable you to get each recipe just right.

  • Let the app speak each step aloud so you can concentrate on cooking, rather than reading.

  • Navigate each recipe with simple voice commands. No need to touch the screen with sticky fingers!

  • Thousands of photos and illustrations leave nothing to interpretation.

  • Built-in menu-maker allows you to create a menu and use it to navigate among recipes while you cook; you can even print it out or email it to your guests.

  • JOY classic red bookmarks help you keep track of several recipes at once.

  • The Favorites list lets you store recipes that you want to cook again and again.

  • Shopping lists can be created easily from one or more recipes.

  • The Sleep-Block feature prevents your iPad from sleeping when you just want to cook.

  • A setting for Imperial or metric units automatically adapts the recipe to your preference.

  • A built-in conversion calculator makes it easy to substitute just about anything. Want to know how many teaspoons are in a half-cup? That answer, and many others, is just a few taps away.

  • A smart search page, with easy-to-set filters, gets you results fast.

  • One-tap help overlays make the app’s features easy to discover.

  • Email or print any recipe for easy reference when you don’t have the app.

  • Easily share what you’re cooking via social media so your friends can try to keep up.

  • A handy notes page on each recipe lets you file away your own customizations for later reference. 

 

Introduction to the Joy of Cooking, 2014 iPad Edition, by John Becker

After three years of collaborative toil, we present the newest iteration of the Joy of Cooking, first published by my great grandmother Irma Rombauer at her own expense in 1931. Subsequently revised and updated by Irma; her daughter (and my grandmother), Marion Becker; and my father (and Marion's son), Ethan Becker, JOY has had a total of eight major editions—each with their own set of peculiarities and innovations. The most recent edition was published in 2006, 75 years after the first, limited run printed by A.C. Clayton of St. Louis. This app is based on the 2006 text.

So now, as my wife, Megan, and I become the fourth generation to update and maintain the family cookbook, I welcome you to the first digital version of JOY. We have received requests for something of this nature for years from avid JOY users who began to venture into digital and wanted their trusty cookbook by their side. And while our arrival to the world of apps may seem late (after all, what well-established brand does not have an app or two under its belt?), the issue has weighed on our minds for many years. However, we are nothing if not cautious. While eager to please our fans and satisfy our own need to constantly improve and update the book, we wanted to work with a team as thoughtful, careful, and meticulous as we are—people who would treat the book and its contents as if it were their own. After a period of searching and uncertainty, we were lucky to be approached by Culinate, whose abundantly successful translation of Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything into an app was the closest we’d seen to the transformation that would have to take place with JOY.

We knew that the process would be complicated and intensive, but I don’t think any of us knew the extent of the changes we would have to make or the time it would take. One would think, after all, that once the content is ready, the process would mostly involve design choices and moving the component parts around a bit. Though we

faithfully kept all the recipes and reference material from the 2006, many changes were made—some necessary, others very desirable, hardly any of them truly foreseen. Most of the necessary changes were of a technical nature and required hard decisions: how do you best optimize a book as immense as JOY for mobile devices? Since no one wants to merely scroll through a table of contents 40 entries long, how do you organize the book’s browsing experience? What features will users find useful, and which would merely function as a “techie” gimmick to sell the app?

Other decisions however, were made with an unmistakable glee: free of the limitations of printing, many of us felt as though we were unpacking the book, “opening up” the content, letting JOY breathe for the first time since it was first published. While these analogies might make some sense, I feel a little elaboration might be called for.

We wanted our first digital JOY to be as useful and approachable as possible. This may seem elementary, but in the case of JOY, this simple requirement was quite daunting. Since the first major expansion of the book by my great-grandmother Irma in 1936, JOY has always pushed whatever page-limit boundaries were put before it, and many space-saving measures were employed, for better and worse.

Fortuitously, Irma’s first ingenious solution to the space issue—i.e., squeezing the largest number of recipes and information into the publisher’s page limit—was her novel and unique recipe-writing format, the “action method.” Instead of having the ingredient list and instructions separate, Irma interspersed the ingredients in the instructions themselves, thus alleviating the need for readers to continually refer back to the ingredients list. So in this case, Irma’s attempt to save space also made referring to recipes while cooking easier and faster.

Over the interceding decades, however, the family contrived many other strategies to save space as the scope of the book increased. We have always favored including as much quality information and

instruction as we possibly can. To make room for new information on ingredients such as tofu, fish sauce, Szechuan peppercorns, Harissa, and bonito flakes—or new recipes for Bouillabaisse, Mongolian Hot Pot, Sofrito, Green Curry Paste, and Pho—tolls had to be paid to the gods of printing, which often included sacrifices at the altar of “user experience.” Cross-references proliferated, cooking instructions were consolidated, and white space was eradicated. Indeed, hardly a square inch of paper is wasted in any edition of JOY you care to pick up, from the wartime 1943 edition to our latest.

Of course, we could have cut older recipes more vigorously—and over the years many have thought it best for JOY—but we have always felt that there are meals we share with others that are memorable and worthy of repeating, or, at the very least, that a good, reliable recipe is less perishable than many often think. Of course, we find readers hard to please on this count: we’re too conservative to be hip, and too practical to be kitsch. On top of that, for every three letters of thanks we receive for not changing their grandmother’s favorite cake recipe in the newest edition, we might receive one cursing us for cutting another family’s favorite cookie, roast, or pickle.

So, for us, the best option was to organize, fold recipes into each other, have a very strong index, and be as encouraging as possible. Better to give confidence and provide an answer after three page flips than remain silent on how to dress a rabbit, blanch vegetables, make a dark roux, temper chocolate, or purify water. Thus, with an 80-year-old dedication to providing as much culinary information as possible, JOY has been one of the best value-propositions in the cookbook world, as it covers the breadth and depth of many cookbooks without being unnecessarily hard to use or merely “of its time.” For those who have come to love it—despite its idiosyncratic embrace of the cross-reference—JOY is always going to be the answer to that “if you had to choose one cookbook” question. We cover almost everything, and we’re trustworthy.

Maybe by now it’s fairly obvious why we found developing this app to be empowering and perhaps why it is so significant in the history of the book: all of the space-savers that impinged on the reader’s experience of JOY are no longer necessary. As a result, over several hundred recipes were “expanded” for ease of use and, for the first time, photography has been included in a major release of JOY.

Of course, new firsts for JOY abound in this release. As we all expect now from digital content, our “index” is actually a keyword search box; cross-references are now tappable links; the type can be made larger (via general settings on your iPad); and all of our recipes can be shared via paper, email, message, and social networks, etc. Other features we helped develop with Culinate are specifically designed to address the particular challenges faced by cooks when they plan meals and work in the kitchen; many of those are described in detail in the Guide, found in the auxiliary menu at the top lefthand corner of the screen.

The most obviously useful feature that goes above and beyond a typical ebook is the app’s grocery list feature. Add as many recipes as you need to shop for to the grocery list, and the app will calculate the total of each ingredient you need and organize them alphabetically or by grocery store aisle.

Another feature we find very useful for meal planning: ingredient search filters. Have some chiles, garlic, and chicken parts in the fridge, and need some ideas? Simply tap each of these filters from the search screen to get a list of recipes that use them, add your choice to the grocery list, check off what you already have, and voila: a plan and a shopping list.

Speaking of search filters, many of you might be surprised by the number of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free recipes JOY contains, all of which are now easy to find thanks to the extensive recipe tagging we have done. Readers can easily find recipes by cuisine (Italian, Thai, Eastern European, etc), seasonality, how quick they are to prepare, how crowd-friendly they are, or what cooking technique is used to make them. Additionally, all of our family’s favorite

recipes are now easy to find in one place (tap the “JOY Family” filter), as well as recipes that have been in the book since the 1930s (available via the “JOY Classics” filter).

All of these features are designed to make planning and shopping much easier. For use in the kitchen, we and Culinate have concocted an entirely different set of features to make cooking a snap.

In years past, arguments occurred over how many ribbons JOY was allowed to have. JOY is, after all, a large volume, and cooking multiple recipes out of the book at the same time is much easier with bookmarks—just ask any frazzled home cook trying to get a large meal on the holiday table. Turned Roast Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted carrots, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie: A smart cook spreads the preparation of these holiday classics over as many days as possible to avoid a multitasking nightmare. That being said, we all eventually find ourselves pressed for time, dividing our attention between four or five projects every Thanksgiving.

Luckily, virtual ribbons are quite cheap—and much easier to use. For those special-occasion meals that may require quickly flipping among multiple recipes, we have provided the ability to add them to a customizable “Menu” list (accessible via the place-setting icon at the bottom-center of the screen). This allows for lightning-quick “page flipping” to the information you need (and the ability to save entire menus). If you want to come back to a recipe later, bookmark it by tapping the ribbon icon to the right of the recipe title, or tap the star to add it to your favorites list. (The bookmarks list itself is accessible by tapping the bookmark icon at the top of the app, while the favorites list can be found by tapping the star at the base of the app.)

Another feature we added to ease the multitasking burden placed on entertaining cooks: built-in timers. Just tap on the time given in a recipe, and a timer is as good as set. You can set as many as you need to and view all of them—each is conveniently labeled with the

recipe they were set by—by tapping the clock icon at the right bottom corner of the screen.

For the inquisitive who have time to spare, we have made it easier than ever to access the encyclopedic collection of culinary knowledge contained in JOY. Not only can you get direct access to our “Know Your Ingredients” and “Cooking Methods and Techniques” chapters in the Kitchen Reference section, but specific ingredient information will also be given next to most recipes, along with related recipes, general reference information, and, when appropriate, sauce pairings.

Though JOY has had an Anglicised edition since 1946, we are very excited to offer a metric-friendly version of the 2006 edition for the first time. For those using metric measures, just set the app to metric via the gear icon at the bottom left corner of the screen. For those wishing to convert a quantity from tablespoons to, say, cups—especially useful if you want to double a recipe—tap on an ingredient quantity, and a converter will appear with an equivalent of every measure you could possibly need.

These features—and countless additional tweaks—make this the most accessible and useful edition of JOY ever. We expected as much from our partners at Culinate. What we did not expect was the insight we gained from taking JOY apart and putting it back together. Our grandmother Marion used to compose JOY on index cards, and we feel very close to her after doing the digital equivalent. This was no easy feat, and we could not have done it without our editor and friend Maggie Green, whose expertise, sharp eyes, dedication, and hard work during this three-year odyssey made this app possible.

At Scribner, we thank Whitney Frick and Susan Moldow for their unflagging support and keen insights. None of this would be possible without them, nor the hard work of Augustine Reyes and Steve Kotrch at Simon & Schuster, who initiated the arduous process of turning JOY’s pages into XML. We must also mention Carolyn Reidy, Jeff Wilson, Roz Lippel, Michelle Howry, Doug

Stambaugh, Brian Belfiglio, Gwyneth Stansfield, Devu Gandhi, and Kara Watson for their support and considerable efforts.

Last but not least, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to James Berry, Kim Carlson, Mark Douglas, and Todd Linkner at Culinate for their determination to release the best JOY app possible. Not only are they competent, dedicated, and innovative, they also happen to be incredibly lovely folks who are a pleasure to work with. James and Mark brought their indispensable coding know-how and conceptual insights to the app; Kim (and her wonderful assistants Giovanna Zivny and Cornelia Lewis) oversaw much of the editorial work necessary to bring a digital JOY to life; and Todd—even during the first few months of fatherhood—provided the design direction and countless aesthetic tweaks for JOY’s user interface.

Perhaps most important, thank you for downloading our app! We hope you find it useful, informative, and inspiring.

—John Becker 

 

Comments

Elizabeth Van Pelt's picture

I was so excited when I saw this, was poised to hop over to the app store and install it on my tablet, then saw that it was only for Apple devices. Sigh....any plans to release an app for all of us Android users?

meg's picture

Elizabeth--so sorry to disappoint! Please see our FAQ page for further details: http://apps.culinate.com/joy/support.html . The short answer is that we made a decision to go with Apple for strategic reasons, and in order to release an Android app we would essentially have to rework the entire thing for a different platform (and take into account the many, varied screen sizes that Android phones have). I can't make any promises, but we are always weighing our options. Again, sorry to disappoint! We don't like to exclude anyone, but we have to make decisions as a family business that are best for our brand. Hope this explains the situation a bit better.

Nancy J Brown, CFP's picture

I hope to be one of the first of many to offer congratulations and best wishes for success for what looks to be an amazing accomplishment and major milestone for the Joy! I've used this valuable book since I was in college and look forward to the digital edition of the outstanding 2006 print version. NJB

meg's picture

Thanks, Nancy! It's been a long, hard road, but we finally made it! There are still some rough edges to polish and improvements to be made, but I think we're looking pretty good!

Ursula's picture

I was able to find good information from your blog articles.

Orna Zagiel's picture

I have the Joy of Cooking cook book from over 25 years....Hope to be able to download the app to my ipad..... By the way love your Joy of Baking.....

meg's picture

Thank you Orna! Let us know how you like the app when you download it. However, the Joy of Baking is not affiliated with the Joy of Cooking--different people.

ali's picture

very nice

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Joy of Cooking App for iPad and iPhone

After three years of collaborative effort with our friends at Culinate and Scribner, it is our pleasure to introduce the Joy of Cooking for iPad and iPhone! Please check out this full-featured, digital version of the 2006 edition. In addition to the recipes and indispensable reference information our readers know and love, the app has many features that are brand new to JOY:

  • Built-in recipe timers (you can have multiple timers going simultaneously)
  • Search for and filter recipes by key word, ingredient, cuisine, season, technique, diet, and more
  • Create shopping lists from within the app
  • Convert any recipe to metric automatically
  • Give voice commands or have recipe steps spoken to you
  • Create menus in the app
  • Share recipes from within the app
  • Color photography

Truly a JOY for the 21st century! Download by directing your browser to www.joyofcookingapp.com. Don't forget to review the app!

This recipe is easily scaled up and down. Just figure on 4-6 ounces of protein, 3 ounces of dried rice noodles (slightly more if they are “fresh”), and a heaping cup of greens and sliced...