A long time ago, back when the internet was still assembling itself, there was a service called Prodigy. I used Prodigy more than I’d like to admit, usually for things that weren’t especially productive. One of the few exceptions to this was when I wanted to find a new recipe for an appetizer.
There were distinct silos of information on the Prodigy service, similar to AOL’s keywords. If I remember correctly, the food section had a small selection of recipes, but nothing terribly impressive. The main draw were the message boards, where people were actively swapping their favorite appetizers, entrees and desserts.
After creating a new topic on the board, someone replied with a recipe that sounded perfect, so I printed it out. There was no other way to save it, really — besides, it was the only practical way to cook the recipe. I didn’t want to run between the kitchen and study whenever I needed to refer to the instructions.
Many years later, technology has improved considerably. Message boards are no longer the focus, but, if you have the time, you can find just about any recipe you want. But one thing remains the same: if you want to preserve your recipe, the best method is to print it out.
Oh, sure, there are websites that let you bookmark your favorite recipes in a virtual recipe box. Food Network has one. Epicurious has one. I’m sure there are others, too. But since when was it a good idea to have three recipe boxes in your kitchen, with recipes randomly distributed between them?
And what about cooking them? Are you supposed to drag your laptop into the kitchen while you cook? I’ve tried that, and it’s not practical — if for no other reason than it takes up a lot of counter space.
There have been some software solutions over the years. The best right now are locked onto Apple’s OS X/iOS platforms. That’s fine and dandy if you’ve bought into that ecosystem, but most people haven’t.
No, the best solution for an omnipresent need ("what do I want to eat?") is an omnipresent platform. All that time ago, Prodigy had the right idea. But now that technology has evolved, it’s time to evolve those original ideas.
That is the goal of Project Nom.
Admittedly, I’m not very far in the project yet. But the reason is because I want it to work well, and I want it to work right. I want it to be my primary method of storing, finding and using my recipes. I want it to be as easy to browse as it is easy to search. I want it to be beautiful.
I want it to work on any device. I want to use the recipes I find without having to print them out. I want the ability to share a recipe with a friend if they want to know how, exactly, do you make the cheese sauce for Macaroni and Cheese. And most importantly, I want it to be easy to add recipes to. After all, if it’s a chore to get your recipe library in there in the first place, then what use is it?
That’s the plan, that’s the call to action. I’m tailoring it to be exactly what I want in a recipe storage system, but I’m also hoping others will find it useful. If my proposal sounds interesting to you, then I invite you to sign up, or follow the project on Twitter at @ProjectNom.