How to organize recipes, part 2 - recipeShelf
January 28th, 2010

I know that most of you come here for the recipes and rest assured, I have something sweet up my sleeve (and perhaps a little intimidating on first sight) – just not today. Today is about a topic that is close to my heart and – as all your copious comments on an earlier post on delicious:days have shown – close to yours, too: how to organize recipes. Having used an imperfect, sometimes chaotic mix of online bookmarking tools, a couple of folders for rip-outs and handwritten Moleskine recipe books, I was never really satisfied with the situation.

Always on the hunt for the perfect solution and being an avid computer user, I tried to warm up to different recipe tools – several times! But nothing really stuck and convinced me to stay, either because of lacking functionality or rather bland layout style. Too impractical, neither flexible nor accessible enough. And on top, as soon as the iPhone moved in with us, the wish to access my favorite recipes from just anywhere grew exponentially. Still, the perfect tool for my needs was nowhere to be found. Then one day last summer I thought out loud. The fatal words: Why not design and program my dream tool ourselves?


What began as a crackpot idea soon turned into a little project (as if we needed to spend extra time in front of the screens). Due to job obligations our little project sometimes took a longer break, yet it began to take shape. I wanted this program to basically store my favorite recipes. It should offer multiple search options (extensive recipe categories, tags, search terms). And of course it should have a cool and easy to handle interface, that would make it pure fun to use. In September I was able to actually use the first stable version on our web server and began to enter the first recipes. Soon after we had made the software iPhone-compatible (streamlined user interface) new ideas popped up. I wanted the application to keep track of cooking ideas (my to-try-list), for whom I had cooked certain dishes and of course the recipes’ origin, not to miss a function for emailing and printing.

Oh, and of course our baby was still in need for a cute name. Before I even started pondering different options, Oliver hit the nail on the head with the perfect idea: recipeShelf was born.

I am using it ever since. It’s exactly what I was looking for, has all the functionality I wanted and nothing more. Whenever I open it, it makes me smile -  it’s really fun to use and even satisfies my designer’s heart, as you can pick and choose your favorite background design depending on your mood (ok, probably a girls’ thingy…).

That was that. A following conversation with a friend of mine – I was asked how I kept track of my recipes – now sparked a thought process and I was pondering the idea about whether or not our recipeShelf could indeed be of interest to others. The feedback fellow food bloggers (Thank you, Elise, Matt, Hande!) and non-blogging cooking friends gave us was pretty straightforward enthusiastic. This is why we decided to share recipeShelf with you.

Here is the link to the home page of recipeShelf with more detailed information and a feature list. If you just want to give it a whirl without actually installing it on your own web server, you can log into a demo version here: full web application, iPhone application (login: demo/password: demo).

PS: The default language is English, but can be changed to German as part of the installation. If you’d like to contribute a language, let us know at dev [at] myrecipeshelf [dot] com or via our contact form.

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