Better Homes and Gardens Great American Cooking
If you want to narrow your options to just one general cooking disc, Better Homes and Gardens Great American Cooking (Multicom) is a smart choice for overall ease of use, breadth of recipes, and inclusion of extra features. Although the “gourmet” isn’t really covered here, this is the only program we found that includes everything from indispensable main courses to fun-for-the-kids items like pretzels. The many options include automatic calorie counters and a meal planner that even calculates the percentage of fat calories for each dish. Not that the creators shy away from fatty foods; onion rings are included, as are a variety of pies and special dishes, most of them named after somebody’s Aunt. You can get to the recipes in any number of ways: by category, by index, or by specifying parameters and then allowing the program to search its own database. There’s the requisite shopping list function (printable) and videos that cleverly do not restrict themselves to a single recipe; for pretzels, for example, the program will direct you to videos concerning rolling flour and letting things rise in general. With this many recipes, that kind of approach is necessary. Great American Cooking is not perfect; it lacks the humor of the Dom Deluise title, the sophistication of the Julia Child title, and the flawless performance that every CD-ROM should demonstrate (returning to the main menu always takes a short eternity, and the videos crashed our system more than once). But if you want a resource that will always have something to contribute to any meal and which takes up a fraction of the shelf space of Joy of Cooking, this disc is the way to go. It’s worth noting that we previously reviewed Better Homes and Gardens Healthy Cooking (Multicom) in Volume 1, Number 5. While ostensibly from the same series, Great American Cooking is a major improvement.
– November 1995