Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone and Android
Creativity in the kitchen is so much simpler these days: with a couple mouse clicks or finger taps, you can get easy info on just about every cuisine, ingredient and technique there is. You don’t need a giant collection of cookbooks, much less purchasing a cookbook that’s a dud or too complicated for your skills. There are thousands of sites of sites on the web and multiple iphone apps. If you are tired of the effete & complicated recipes on Epicurious, give Big Oven a try. This lifestyle app has solicited over 170,000 dishes from it user base – so these should be easy for most home cooks to tackle. Big Oven can be accessed on the web or on multiple smart phone devices. You can create a profile and use it to save dishes so you can cook them later. Big Oven’s mobile offering also has a feature where you can list three items in your pantry you want included in your dish. This function is not as robust as Supercook but is fine for a mobile application. While you can download this app for free, additional features can be accessed for $15.99 (Mobile Food Glossary with ingredient substitutions, track dishes previously made, nutrition info and much more).
Download From The App Store
While gas prices have fallen slightly from their all-time highs this spring, they still are not the bargain they were years ago. SmartFuel®, for the Iphone, integrates with Google Maps and Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), and provides you the fuel prices at the gas stations in your area or along your chosen route. SmartFuel® is free for 30 days and then has a number of pricing plans for you to choose from ($4.99 for 6 months, $8.99 for one year, $14.99 for two years). The app also enables you to track your fuel costs and savings. For me, the 30 day trial period was enough for me to figure out which stations were cheapest in my area, but if you live in a large metropolitan area or travel frequently, SmartFuel® would be a solid investment. Every time I drop off a rental car, I’m annoyed by the higher prices near every US airport. Developer Iridium reports that SmartFuel will be available on Android phones later this year.
Download From Itunes
While I never considered myself a ‘metrosexual‘ in any sense of the word, perhaps there were some tendencies that I had at one time or another, which merited such labelling. Yes, I was and probably still am a bit of a neat freak: I need things to be organized before I can even do anything. While this can also be attributed to being a procrastinator, it expanded into a basic philosophy that all things in my life needed to be put in a certain order. Whether it’s the decor of my house, how bottles of hand sanitizer with sticks of lip balm were organized in the glove compartments of each of my vehicles, or the need to color coordinate tops, bottoms and shoes, regardless of the ordinary quality of the pieces, there was a thoughtful ‘neatness’ to it all. However, now that I’m married and have a son, my home decor sensibilities has given way to my wife’s insatiable proclivities for Daiso products and I only carry one bottle of hand sanitizer and one stick of lip balm in my work bag. Yet, the wardrobe issue is still just that: an issue. First recommended to me by my wife, I gave New Vision Interactive’s My Style Fashion Assistant a spin, which has worked out pretty well for me so far. First, I can take a picture of each top, bottom, and pair of shoes I own as well as any outerwear (I love hoodies) and uniformed looks, which includes suits or anything with sportscoats from my closet. Next, I can plan ahead to know what I will wear during the week as well as into the future with the built-in calendar. This also helps keep track of how often I wear a specific piece or look, even critiquing myself in the process as I review archived dates. But the best part of this application is knowing that if I do find something I like as I window shop online or in person, I can take a picture of the piece and mix and match it with what I have. It really helps, especially if you don’t want to buy a duplicate piece that you already have. As the product’s marketing text states, you do “save time and money by shopping smarter.” Nice clean and easy to use interface. Price: $3.99.
Whether it’s eating pan fried milkfish at home, sauteed white fish in Choo Chee Curry at Zabb Cuisine (Thai), or even grilled salmon at Riva’s Fish House, my family loves to eat fish. Obviously, in this day and age, we consume fish in moderation because of recent toxicology reports where mercury levels in fish have risen almost exponentially. Plus, we’re conscientious on what kind of fish we do eat because of overfishing and how it has harmed the environment, which has led us to buy products like albacore tuna because of it’s sustainable fisheries. Now, I wouldn’t call myself a conservationist or an environmentalist, but considering we do love eating fish, we just want to make sure they’re still around in the future. A good way to have an impact is using the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Guide, which is an application that helps you make sustainable seafood choices at your favorite restaurants or local market. Using it’s Seafood Watch Program information, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s trusted recommendations are provided to you in a quick and easy regional guide outlining the best seafood in each area of the country. Updated regularly, a huge plus for sushi lovers is the Sushi Guide, which not only gives you the best choices of seafood to eat, but also lists fish by Japanese name along with it’s common name. Highly recommended. Price: Free.
In honor of the NBA season starting in a couple of weeks, I’m gonna take a short break from Games and talk about Great Big Apps’ free informational Lifestyle app, Nice Kicks, which gives readers updates on sneaker previews, reviews, and stories from avid fans. Pulling from their website, not only to get info on your fave kicks, but also new releases with hands-on details, which may entice you to go on your own adventure in search of high quality and/or limited availability product. Furthermore, see photos of soon-to-be-released shoes as well as specific details as they become available. But most entertaining are the stories you’ll read of people just like us and their experiences looking for specific kicks. Covering most of the major brands, such as Air Jordan, Nike, adidas, New Balance, Puma, Converse (now owned by Nike), Reebok, Supra and Vans, Nice Kicks is an exhaustive resource for consumer information, which should help you make a more conscientious purchase in the future, especially given the economy and the likelihood that manufacturers are tighening up their lineups and production runs. While it is a bit heavy on the Nike side of things, the app is nevertheless presented with crisp, clean graphics and content, all for free. Overall, very handy and informative. Price: Free.
My son’s birthday is coming up soon, which usually causes a level of friction between my wife and I as we stress out trying to figure out what to do. We buy plenty of books (such as Kids’ Adventures Around San Francisco Bay) and are given plenty of books (such as Weekend Adventures in San Francisco & Northern California) that we page through looking for the perfect birthday setting. Yet, even after we settle on a location, we still need to figure out what’s on the menu, where to get the cake, what the favors will be, and what activities to coordinate. Well, at least, we may have some help with the activities using Kidtivities, an app which provides 100 easy and fun activities for kids. Everything from the Alphabet Game to What Am I? is included in this quick reference guide, which can filter results based on outdoor vs. indoor activities. Also, Kidtivities provides recommended ages for each activity. As a starting point, this app definitely helps you get the creative juices flowing to ensure your kids and their guests are entertained. Price: 99¢.
I’m no fashion plate by any means. My friends and colleagues will attest to that. Hell, even my own family is willing to testify for the record. However, those who know me know I love to watch Project Runway (now on Lifetime by the way), which is a guilty little pleasure that should be embarrassing, yet isn’t. Think about it: people working creatively and their work getting openly critiqued for a chance to win fame and fortune. What’s so embarrassing about enjoying that concept? Many of us have jobs based on the same premise. But, the bigger issue here? What will I do until the season premiere in August? Watch Bravo’s replacement show, The Fashion Show? No thanks! I rather spend my free time on this Style.com app, which shows you the latest styles for both men and women from fashion shows around the world. Select a specific designer from an alphabetical list and flip through a grid of different shots from their line, which include critical reviews. As a bonus, get updated videos, party coverage and Looks of the Day. A very sleek and highly recommended resource for the trendy, the slaves and the fashionably curious.
While I realize that many of you may not be Catholic, I do think this app is very significant since it shows that this segment of the population, which is fairly conservative, is open to saving the environment by using less paper and thus slightly modernizing. Does this mean that the Vatican will support all birth control anytime soon? Of course not, but at least this keeps hope alive that one day they may support it as well as female priests and married clergy. In the meantime, iMissal is more convenient than searching for a Missal/Missalette in between pews during mass, especially if you are late. The main app features are a Liturgical Calendar, all prayers sorted by alphabetical order, daily verses, and lastly and most importantly, all the correct readings for each day’s mass. While it’s not free like traditional Missals/Missalettes, it’s as affordable as a single and humble Sunday collection. Price: $4.99.
Have you ever gotten a bite to eat with a vegetarian or vegan at a Chinese restaurant and ordered a vegetable plate only to find that it consists primarily of celery, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts? It’s like getting a main course filled with condiments. Well, those dark days are over with this little app, VegOut (powered by our friends at Happy Cow), which provides you with a list of both reputable vegetarian and vegan restaurants as well as restaurants that are vegetarian friendly around the world. With over 9000 listings, dine with confidence at the right places for you, your family and friends. Constantly updated for accuracy, don’t be satisfied with makeshift dishes and instead have a real delectable vegetarian or vegan meal made to order. Price: $2.99.
Recommended by new reader, Tom R., through Facebook (follow us also on Twitter), we checked out DrinkBuddy by comparing it to others and we were pretty impressed. Granted, some of us on staff aren’t big drinkers, but we were impressed with the quick interface, including preloaded popular drinks and beers, that had us already imbibing rather than tinkering around with the app. Customizable (add/delete/edit drinks) and supports multiple profiles (gender/weight/time), this is a useful way to estimate your blood-alcohol content (BAC). However, this should NOT be used for legal purposes, i.e. DUI, by any means. Purely for reference. Price: $3.99.