Monday, May 24, 2010

America's Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking for the Nintendo DS

I'm a little bit of a disaster in the kitchen, so I am happy to try out anything that might make my life a little easier there. With this mind, I was excited to try out America's Test Kitchen, Let's Get Cooking for the Nintendo DS.

This is a cool little program that is packed full of features to help you plan menus and cook for your family. It includes helpful tips on different kinds of cooking equipment and techniques to help you along the way and it comes with 300 recipes direct from the public television cooking show, America's Test Kitchen.

There is some set up time involved. I liked that you can adjust how fast the game talks to you. There is nothing more frustrating than listening You don't have to do that with this game. You can create profiles for each member of your family so you can track what they like, what recipes they want to try, and what they can do to help with the recipes (are they allowed to use knives and the stove?).

You select who is going to help cook and the game assigns each of you tasks.

By far the best things about this game in my opinion are the recipes. There is a wide range of recipes including appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches, breads, pasta, pizza, seafood, desserts, and more. You can browse through the recipes and then mark any you are interested in making in the future so they will be easy to find. Once you make them, you can mark how much each member of your family liked them to help you decide if you want to make them again.

Honestly, I think the way I would use this game the most is if I were out and about with my DSi and didn't know what to make for dinner. You can easily find a recipe, mark the ingredients you don't have to create a shopping list, and then take your DS to the store to do the shopping.

This is the shopping list function. It lets you see which recipe
you are buying the ingredient for, which is very helpful.

I tried out a couple of the recipes, a chocolate chip cookie recipe and baked ziti. Both were delicious.

Here is my cooking assistant for the cookies. He had a great time.

A huge part of the game is the cooking part, however. It gives you step by step instructions that you can either read and use the stylus to move to the next step or you can listen to the instructions and give voice commands to move on. I felt that this function was the most troublesome.

First of all, I am not the world's cleanest cook so I was worried that I would get the DSi dirty. I've spilled soda on a computer and it wasn't pretty, so I wasn't interested in seeing what happened if my kid cracked an egg all over a gaming system.

Theoretically the voice commands should eliminate this problem as you should be able to say "continue" or "last step" to move back and forth through the steps. It was a little tough to get the game to understand us. It turns out that if a kid excitedly yells, "I did it!" after cracking an egg or a different kid yells "ratta tatta tatta tatta" from an entirely different room, the game interprets that as "continue." It was difficult to get it to understand "last step" at all, at least for me. Eventually I gave up and used the stylus to move between steps, which made me worry again about getting food on the thing.

Also, I found myself whispering so that the game wouldn't misinterpret something I said and go on to the next step without me. We had a lot of fun with the game, but it was frustrating at times.

One other thing that I saw as a flaw was when the game told me to mix in the chocolate chips for our cookies. It didn't tell me to add in a certain amount, so I had to go back to the ingredient list to find the number. I could have eliminated that problem by measuring before I started, but I think I already mentioned that I'm not all that organized in the kitchen.

I did really like the timer feature. If you had to stir something for 2 minutes, you could start the timer right there so you knew when to stop.

I mentioned above that there are cooking technique and equipment tips included in the game. I really like that part. If you are unsure how to do something or what one of the items on the equipment list is, you are one click away from the answer.

For the record, I didn't use the parchment paper and the cookies were still delicious.

Honestly, there are a lot of things I haven't had a chance to try out on this game yet. It really does have a lot of options. I'm going to have to search through the "Cooking A to Z" section some more. While the game can be a little frustrating while you're actually doing the cooking, I think that the recipes and the menu planning functions are excellent. America's Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking sells for $19.99.

Honesty Clause: I am a Nintendo Brand Enthusiast and received this product for free to review through that program. They also sent me a number of cooking accessories (bamboo cutting board, onion goggles, a Cuisinart pot, and an apron) at the same time to help me out with my cooking.


mailmichal said...

ONION GOGGLES!? Do they work? I may have to get me some of them.

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