Spoiler alert! If you don’t mind paying two dollars for an app that is little more than an infomercial with commercial breaks, and you’re desperate for holiday party dining tips, Fine Cooking: Cooking for the Holidays isn’t a bad deal. It saves you having to organize info with web searches. If you already have lots of recipes at your disposal and know how to throw a party, you probably already know more than Fine Cooking can possibly offer.
There is a catch, however. It doesn’t run with iOS 4. So if you’ve already upgraded and you want this app, pray for an updated release. If you want to try Fine Cooking, wait to screen shot the recipes before you upgrade because I don’t know if the developers will update or not.
Ah, the Christmas season. Six weeks of peace, love, joy wrapped in guilt for not being a good enough host or housekeeper, and the ceaseless barrage of messages to stimulate the economy by feeding your money to corporations who make their Christmas products offshore so they can pay their employees less than Santa pays his elves.
The elves, at least, get love and Santa-safe working conditions, and they don’t need a union because they work for kindly old Santa and not a faceless corporation with offices in the US and bank accounts hidden far away from government scrutiny.
I would love to keep the Christ in Christmas, but I don’t think the holiday has been about him in a long, long time. Where were the Christmas trinkets in your Christian book store made? Probably in countries where the employees are Buddhist, Taoist or Moslem and paid about as much as laborers were in Jesus’ day, which is well below minimum wage.
Fine Cooking: Cooking for the Holidays helps put us back into the spirit of Christmas the way advertisers intended, with recipes and ads to help you decide how to best give them money.
If I sound overly cynical it’s because the app features a link to subscription information for the magazine Fine Cooking on the splash page. The next screen proudly displays a full-screen ad. Then you get a table of contents. Then another ad. Then a page with holiday planning information. Then another ad.
In fact, if you count what is known as a “house ad” on the splash screen, there may be more ad displays than information panels.
Once you get past that, however, Fine Cooking is slicker and more informative than a number of similar “info-apps,” (such as the two Thanksgiving apps I reviewed a few weeks back). And if you don’t already have a holiday planning guide, this one is decent and relatively inexpensive.
I should also point out that packing ads into apps is less objectionable than free iPad games with back end expenses. Games, I might add, that I play and enjoy.
Fine Cooking basically offers tips and recipes for dinner parties and family dinners, including drinks, appetizers and desserts. My sister Aimee would laugh at this information, but she’s a seasoned party planner.
Time for full disclosure:
I hate parties. I would rather be tied up, dipped in chocolate and fed to ants than attend a party. Dinner with two or three close friends I can do, but turn it into a party and I would rather be chained to a bare metal chair while women whip my back and tell me what a jerk I am for an entire weekend.
Now that I say that, I realize I know some guys who would say the same thing, but they wouldn’t see the chair, women and whips as a bad thing. I may have to quit using this example because for some reason Carol never seems to believe me and keeps dragging me to parties.
Let’s try this again: I would rather be forced to stand straight up for three days while listening to George Bush crack his moronic jokes and laugh his Beavis and Butthead laugh than go to a party.
But if I was forced to throw a party at gunpoint….
No, wait. I think I’d let them shoot me.
But if I had to choose between throwing a dinner party or being roasted to death slowly over several weeks while receiving visions of Republican landslide elections in 2012, 2o14, 2o16, 2o18, 2020, etc., all the while listening to Tammy Wynette singing, well, anything over and over again the entire time, I would probably be glad I had Fine Cooking: Cooking for the Holidays as my guide.
Because for party novices the information isn’t bad and the recipes sound kind of good. You get a complete breakdown on how to roast a turkey, or, if you’re an East Coast liberal, a prime rib. Prime rib actually sounds pretty good for a New Year’s party, and New Year’s is part of the holidays.
Or find a recipe for delicious prime rib.
The app also provides several good appetizer recipes, sides that take a step away from the same old boring sweet potatoes and dressing without feeling totally foreign, and some decorative desserts.
So for all my pissing and moaning and cynicism, I have to admit that Fine Cooking: Cooking for the Holidays could actually be useful for the novice party planner, or for someone looking to go in a new direction for their holiday meal. Yes, you could find all of this information on the Internet, but making a coherent whole from the information would be a lot more difficult.
And you would still have to suffer through all those banner and search engine ads. These ads are magazine quality.
Would I recommend it for seasoned party planners? Probably not.
Jenny Manytoes rates Fine Cooking: Cooking for the Holidays
Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to Fine Cooking if it still ran under iOS 4. It could be useful to a very narrow audience, and it is slicker than most info-apps. But we just can’t forgive the concept of paying for ads in our iPad apps. And until the developers update, it’s only useful to iPad users who stick with the old OS. So Jenny Manytoes will bunch her tail right now.
The Jenny Manytoes Rating System
Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
- When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
- When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
- When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
- When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
- When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.
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