Recipe CDs combine Betty Crocker, videos

January 17, 2000|By Lonnie Brown | Lonnie Brown,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Now that Y2K has passed and home computers are still running, let's assume the gas, electric and water services are working. That way, The Complete MasterCook Suite Featuring Betty Crocker can be put to work in the kitchen.

The program (Windows, $50) is not simply another cooking program, notes publisher Sierra- Home. It is five complete recipe collections, making it the largest collection of Betty Crocker recipes on CD-ROM. There are about 1,000 recipes from Betty Crocker and another 5,000 from Master-Cook Deluxe.

The program allows users to search through recipes by ingredient, watch video clips for instructions and develop plan-ahead menus. Recipes can be imported from the Internet, and the program can provide an instant analysis of any recipe.

The recipes can also be sent through e-mail to friends.

One of the most impressive new features is an "import assistant," which lets users take recipes from the Web and drop them directly into the program.

In addition, a rating system allows cooks to customize a recipe's attributes based on personal judgment to rank the recipe's spiciness, preparation time and other qualities.

The suite includes:

Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics, with more than 100 simple favorites.

Betty Crocker's Best of Baking, featuring 350 baked recipes ranging from breakfast to desserts.

Betty Crocker's Best of Healthy and Hearty Cooking has more than 400 recipes.

Betty Crocker's Cookie Book offers 225 cookie recipes.

MasterCook Deluxe 5.0 is a collection of more than 5,000 recipes from food associations, well-known chefs and other sources.

The suite also has a pantry management system and more advanced search capabilities.

`Mind-Gym'

Here's a fun program that works the brain harder than the mouse: Mind-Gym from Simon & Schuster Interactive. This series of mental exercises with an attitude won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' Best Comedy CD award.

The program's interface is like a gym, and a changing room provides the center of activity. There, first-time users are told to sign in, then given a series of puzzles and challenges to determine mental strengths and weaknesses.

From there, it's off to three areas: a game room; a pool of ideas; and a think tank. There are progress reports along the way and the challenges get harder as the player gets better.

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