Category Archives: Pepperplate

ChefTap, Redux

I’ve been using ChefTap for a little over a week, and I must say I’m impressed. So much so that I’ve been adding all my new recipes to it instead of Pepperplate. And if it weren’t so time-consuming and cumbersome, I’ve move all of my recipes from Pepperplate into ChefTap.

Yes, it really is that good.

A Weakness That Wasn’t

A couple of recipes I clipped from the web didn’t have pictures. Oh, they were on the recipe’s site—they just didn’t clip when I save the recipe. I found this quite annoying until I discovered that the app works differently on my iPhone than on my iPad: on the iPad (as well as on the Fire 8), you can add a photo from your camera roll. In addition, if you call up a recipe, click on the generic place-holder photo, you can scroll to the right and see if the clipping pulled in any more photos. Then you simply select one and hey presto! Bob’s your uncle!

My Recommendation

If you’re at all serious about your recipes, my recommendation is to go with the Pro subscription. It’s only 20 bucks a year, and it’s definitely worth it if only for your own peace of mind. After all, Robyn’s First Rule of Computing states:


Until next time,

Happy Cooking!


A New App

Pepperplate is a few years old now, and there’s hardly been an update. As a result, there are fewer sites that it’s compatible with. And that means I’m having to enter more and more recipes manually.

Enter ChefTap

When I got my new Fire 8 tablet, one of the recommended apps was ChefTap. It’s a more up-tp-date app than Pepperplate, and because of this, it can copy more sites than Pepperplate. It took me a couple of hours to figure out how to best use it, but I really wasn’t working that seriously with it the whole time. Let’s say it took me 30 minutes of actively working with it to get the hang of it.

I have it running on my Fire, my iPhone, and my laptop. I’m going to add it to my iPad as well.

How Does It Work?

ChefTap is a cooking app made by two people who love to cook. We wanted an easy way to collect and use recipes that we found on the internet. So, we made the app that we always wanted.

ChefTap uses a specially designed artificial intelligence network that can pull only the recipe out of any unstructured text. Other apps that import recipes only work with a limited number of websites. ChefTap works with just about any website.

Clip recipes from any site or blog without copying and pasting. Import all of your Pinterest recipes with just a couple of taps. (From the ChefTap website)

The only downside I’ve found so far is that a regular account allows you to clip up to 100 recipes and sync them with your web account once a week. With a Pro account—$19.99 per year—you can:

  • Send links from your desktop browser to your Android device to be imported.
  • Sync all you want between your devices and web account.
  • Collect all the recipes that your device can hold. All of your recipes are stored on your device in addition to our servers. This lets you see your recipes without needing an internet connection. If you’re camping, or in the back of a grocery store, your recipes are always with you.
  • Priority Support: Move to the head of the line for support requests.

And yes, I did subscribe to the Pro version.

In Conclusion

ChefTap Basic:


  • Android & iOS app with advanced recipe recognizer. Clip any recipe you find.
  • Offline access to your recipes
  • Edit recipes on your device or the web
  • Private notes & recipes
  • Tag / categorize recipes
  • Make List – Follow multiple recipes at the same time
  • Manage your recipes on-line
  • Add your own recipe photos
  • No advertisements
  • 100 recipe limit
  • Sync devices with website
    (cloud backup)
    Once / week

ChefTap Pro:

$19.99 USD / year

  • Android & iOS app with advanced recipe recognizer. Clip any recipe you find.
  • Offline access to your recipes
  • Edit recipes on your device or the web
  • Private notes & recipes
  • Tag / categorize recipes
  • Make List – Follow multiple recipes at the same time
  • Manage your recipes on-line
  • Add your own recipe photos
  • No advertisements
  • As many recipes as will fit on your device
    Learn more
  • Sync devices with website
    (cloud backup)
  • Intelligent recipe scaling
  • Smart grocery list generator
    (Available for Android
    iOS coming soon)
  • Pantry/staples manager
    (Available for Android
    iOS coming soon)
  • Clone recipes
    (Available for Android
    iOS coming soon)
  • Clip recipes from your desktop
  • Priority support

Thinning The Herd

This morning I decided to go through my Pepperplate account and thin out the deadwood. What qualified a recipe for deadwood status? Things I know I’ll never make. Duplicate recipes (do I really need 78 different versions of oatmeal cookies?), and recipes the tools for which I no longer own (think: rice cooker, crockpot).

I started at 11:30, and finally finished at 2:45 pm. I went from 2328 recipes in Pepperplate to 1649, a decrease of 679 recipes. When you consider that I have Pepperplate on both my iPad and my iPhone, you will understand why I wanted to reduce the space Pepperplate was consuming.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said

“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–

And whether hot dog manufacturers and hot dog bun bakers will ever agree on sizes.

Here’s what I mean:

For most of my life, hot dogs came in packages of 8, while buns came in packages of 6. Or was it the other way around? I really don’t remember. But it really doesn’t matter. The point is that you ended up with either a shortage of one or an excess of the other, which clever marketing technique forced you into buying one more of one of them.

This was probably the shrewdest piece of marketing since some unsung advertising executive decided to put “And repeat” on shampoo bottles.

But the excess problem has been resolved: I can now buy both hot dogs and buns in packages of 8.

So why am I complaining? For the simple reason that when I made my lunch today, I discovered that the packaging geniuses pulled a bait-and-switch: sure, the number of dogs and buns match, but now the dogs are so fat that the buns can’t hold them!

Today’s hot dog buns are barely wide enough to hold a hot dog, let alone the onions, sauerkraut, cream cheese, and jalapenos I want to add to it.

So I guess I’ll just go back to skinny hot dogs. Either that, or wait for the weather to cool and bake my own buns.

seattle dog

Writing Your First Cookbook

“ACK!” you say. “I don’t want to write a cookbook!”

I agree. That’s never been an item on my bucket list. I have Pepperplate and Pinterest to keep track of my recipes, and they both do an excellent job of that task.

But consider: if you’re like me, you’re on a limited income, so you can’t afford to buy expensive gifts for birthdays, weddings, Christmas, or any of the many other occasions we celebrate by giving gifts.

Enter The Custom Cookbook

But wait! There is something you can give that hardly costs anything more than your time. Not only that, but it is a personal gift of your own creation.

I’m talking about gathering together all your favorite recipes and kitchen tips and creating your very own electronic cookbook! Once you’ve created it, it’s a simple task to burn it to CD or DVD and give it to your friends or loved ones on an appropriate occasion.

And again, if you’re like me, you’ve already got an extensive recipe collection in electronic form in Pepperplate. It’s just a matter of copying those recipes and combining them into a single file. That’s something I did years ago (long before Pepperplate) in Microsoft Word, but now there’s a better way.

Scrivener “is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.” That’s what the web site says, but let me try to put it into practical terms.

Scrivener is a complete writing environment. From initial research through to final publication, every single task involved in creating (in this case) a cookbook can be done within Scrivener. In fact, that’s how I write this blog. Any research I do, I file under the Research heading. Each year has a folder, inside which there is a separate folder for each month of the year. And inside each monthly folder is where I write the actual entry for a given day.

When I’m satisfied with an entry, I copy and paste it into Open Live Writer (OLW) and post it to the blog. I’ve found OLW to be the best tool available to preview the entry and then post it.

Formatting A Cookbook

In the case of a cookbook, instead of a folder for each year, you could have a folder for each recipe type. For example:

  • Meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Breads
  • Dairy
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Each of those folders could, depending on how far down you wanted to break each category (”Meats,” for example, could contain “Beef,” Lamb,” “Pork,” etc.) contain sub-folders. Regardless, once you’ve got things structured as you want, you can start adding recipes, either by creating a new document and then copying & pasting from your existing recipe, or by using Scrivener’s Import function.

For details on everything Scrivener, I would address your attention to Scrivener’s support pages. They do a far better job of explaining things than I can!

Scrivener Versions

For the longest time Scrivener only came in two versions: Windows or Mac OS. But this week they announced the long-awaited (and much desired) iOS version for the iPhone and iPad. Naturally, I bought my copy!

I’ve configured both my iPad and laptop versions to save their files to Dropbox, so I can access them anywhere I have an Internet connection. This will be especially handy next month, which will find me on the road (well, to be honest, the rail) to Seattle, WA. Stacey and I have finally decided the time is right to head home to the Upper Left Coast. I’ll be traveling by Amtrak, and I’m bringing my iPad, laptop, and camera to document my journey. Stacey and Fyona will follow later by car.

So I would strongly urge you to investigate Scrivener, even if you have no desire to write a cookbook. It is the perfect writing tool for all your creative endeavors. You can download an evaluation copy, which is free to use for 30 days of writing. And that’s 30 actual days. For example, if you write every day, it’s 30 days. If you only use it two days a week, that’s 15 weeks of use.

As your mother used to tell you, “You’ll thank me later.”

Robyn Jane

Collections and Hoardings

I’m a collector. It’s a habit I developed rather late in life, when I was in my early 30s. That’s when I got my first personal computer and discovered the world of public domain software. And in those early days of the computer revolution, with the exception of a few big-name, brand-name programs, that’s pretty much all there was. WordStar was the de facto word processing program, the Microsoft Word of its day. Because of several shortcomings in the program—mostly due to technical issues in the CP/M operating system—several add-on programs became available. SpellStar was a spell-checker which was later included with WordStar, as was DataStar, a program used to generate mass mailings. Eventually, a spreadsheet program, CalcStar, rounded out the package.

WordStar also needed help with academic writing. Again, because of hardware limitations and weaknesses in the O/S, it didn’t do such academic requirements as endnotes and bibliographies. That’s when I took it upon myself to learn to program in Turbo Pascal in order to write a couple of programs to overcome those limitations. This, in turn, developed into an obsession the habit of collecting Pascal source code, because hey! you never know!

Sadly (at least for my programming career), computers grew more powerful and programming languages grew more complex. BASIC and Pascal gave way to C and then C++. CP/M yielded to MS-DOS and PC-DOS, which in turn became Windows. Dr. Dobb’s Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontics (Running Light Without Overbyte) morphed into Dr. Dobb’s Journal of Propaganda for and People Who Program Exclusively in C and C++ For Windows. No longer could I whip out a nifty little utility in a couple of hours, and so I just gave up and let my compiler disks gather dust. There were a couple of DOS-based programs I wrote for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, but that was almost 40 years ago, and I’m sure they’ve moved on to Windows by now.

But I still have my obsession with collecting things. It’s no longer centered around software, since just about everything and anything I could possibly want is available on the Internet, but now concerns recipes.

Collecting and Organizing Recipes

My iPad Mini has replaced my floppy disk storage boxes for housing my collections. There are three main programs I use: Pepperplate, Evernote, and The New York Times Cooking app (available for both Android and iOS). My web browser has buttons that allow me to import recipes directly into either Pepperplate of the NYT app. In addition, my NY Times account is linked to my Evernote account, so everything I save to one app is also saved to the other. Currently, I have 166 recipes in NYT, 137 of which were imported from Evernote. My Pepperplate account has 2355 recipes.

All of these recipes are available on my iPad, which is why I rarely buy cookbooks anymore.

But as I said before, it’s an obsession. Why do I call it an obsession, as opposed to a hobby? Well, do I really need 15 different recipes for fried chicken? How about 8 recipes for pies and hand pies, when I’ve never made either in my life? And that doesn’t even count the number of recipes I’ve pinned or re-pinned on Pinterest!

And I almost forgot! I’ve also got a few in OneNote!

See? I told you it was an obsession!

Robyn Jane