About 15 years ago, the public relations agency where I worked conducted some major consumer research for a food client about how women, as the primary family cooks, felt about the dinner hour. In focus groups they drew some disturbing pictures: a bomb with a lit fuse…a jagged lightning bolt and roiling black clouds…one woman drew a stick figure of herself hanging from the hands of a kitchen clock set at 6 o’clock.
This research had a lasting impression on me as a working mother in a demanding job with two teen sons. I identified with their situation, although unlike most of the women, I am blessed with a husband who does his share of the cooking and all the grocery shopping. Through the years, I have been looking for a way to help people with solutions to this daily dinnertime dilemma.
That stress of what to make for dinner is constant and many of us respond with avoidance, pushing back the time for decision-making. One study found that at 4 p.m., 70 percent of people still don’t know what they would be cooking for dinner. I see confirmation on Twitter every weekday afternoon as the dinner hour approaches and more people seek help. I jump in the fray, reci-tweeting solutions.
But 140 character tweets are not the solution. Most people need a repertoire of easy-to-fix dinner ideas, suited to the time they have available and their personal tastes.
Special Fork, two years in the making and 15 years in the thinking, is the solution I hope you have been waiting for. It’s a free mobile recipe site for your iPhone, Android phone or Blackberry, designed to solve your dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now, with a collection of professionally developed recipes that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Cooking is extra, but some recipes can be made from start to finish in the 30-minute timeframe.
Mobile is key to Special Fork because it enables people to make a dinnertime decision wherever they happen to be – at the supermarket while they are shopping or on the bus going home from work. But for those who don’t have a smartphone, we are building a conventional website. When you launch your Web browser and type in www.specialfork.com, the server will deliver the mobile version if you are accessing it from a smartphone and the conventional website when you are on a laptop or PC.
We have built many great and unique features into Special Fork. It has a two-sectioned recipe box – one where you can store your Special Fork favorite recipes, and a separate section where you can save recipes you’d like to try later. So when you have a little downtime, waiting for the kids at soccer practice or sitting at the train station, you can peruse Special Fork, looking for recipes you want to cook and have a place to save them so you can find them later.
Since Special Fork is mobile Web and not an app, you can access your recipe box across platforms – on a Blackberry, then an iPad, then your home computer – as I do, and each time, all your saved recipes will be accessible seamlessly.
We have selection and storage information, a preference page where you can pre-set the search to eliminate foods you don’t eat, the ability to make shopping lists you can email to others, a Twitter button so you can share what you are cooking with others…and so much more.
On this week’s Video Friday, Dave, my son and CEO of Special Fork, will demonstrate the many features of our new cooking tool. If I had the germ of an idea – the desire to help people with what-to-cook suggestions in the moment – Dave is the one who has made it happen, building the product and running the business.
We have many terrific food experts screening and selecting our Special Fork recipes. They are former senior staff members of such national magazines as Good Housekeeping, Better Homes & Gardens, Ebony, Country Living and more.
All of our Special Fork bloggers will be featured on the new mobile website. But we will also maintain specialforkblog.com, so you are always welcome to drop by here.
Please take a sneak peek at our new mobile site if you have a smartphone. If you don’t, you can see Special Fork on your computer, just as it appears on the mobile. Later this week, the conventional site will be complete.
Thank you for joining us these months, as we developed Special Fork’s blog and if you’ve been following me on Twitter @specialforksndy. With the completion of Special Fork, we’ll have more to share to be a true solution to your dinnertime dilemma, giving you answers for what to cook now!
Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.