While You Don’t Often See Television Chefs Using Computers, AutoHotkey Offers Guidance When Cooking “Jack Stuffed Cheeseburgers” at Home
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While I came up with a pretty cool barebones recipe script for this AutoHotkey blog, I’m not sure how well computers and cooking mix. From what I’ve seen, professional chefs don’t have much time to mess with technology—except for possibly writing cookbooks—in which case, I would refer them to “Why AutoHotkey for Writers, Bloggers, and Editors?.”
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Using a computer while cooking presents a challenging task. Although looking up a recipe on a smartphone works great, poking at the device with fingers covered in cookie dough proves impractical. Ideally, any kitchen machine is lightweight and stands upright on its own.
Although a little pricey, the Microsoft Surface Pro (or another less expensive Windows ultralight laptop computer) might do the job. Large enough to read the screen, yet easy to move around a cooking area, these computers help any budding chef or dietician who needs to check recipes—as long as no one dumps boiling water on the keyboard. For size and convenience, finding equipment more practical than a lightweight laptop proves difficult.
While my smartphone works great for finding specific recipes, I don’t like needing to pick up the device—plus, messy fingers make poor touchscreen tools. I would prefer a standalone computer in the kitchen, but (full disclosure) I don’t have one. So, this blog discusses a hypothetical situation where the cook actually maintains a Windows computer in the food preparation zone.
Note: As an alternative (and possibly the most practical approach), printing a recipe on paper eliminates any concern about destroying either the computer or a cookbook. You can easily replicate a smudged piece of paper—but you don’t need AutoHotkey for that.
Jack Stuffed Cheeseburgers
I put together this barebones AutoHotkey recipe script which displays the steps for making “Jack Stuffed Cheeseburgers.” Any novice AutoHotkey user can easily modify the script to work with other recipes. The app uses a cool technique which allows the cook to jump directly to any step, anywhere in the series (Ingredients, Prepare, Cook, or Serve). See the pop-up menu at the right. After selecting a step, the remaining actions automatically display after closing each successive window.
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New to AutoHotkey? Check out “Installing AutoHotkey and Writing Your First Script.”
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When browsing recipes with a smartphone, I found that the Web sites can get pretty annoying. Forget that the phone turns off every few seconds. The screen movement and pop-up ads often make reading anything a challenging experience. That’s why I looked for a stable method for exhibiting cooking steps on a Windows computer. In this recipe script, the standard AutoHotkey MsgBox command uses the built-in Windows dialogue box to display text. After selecting the first step (Ingredients), the MsgBox pops up the list embedded in the script.
After clicking OK, rather than stopping, the script continues on to the next step (Prepare). This requires no special AutoHotkey tricks since each MsgBox occurs in sequence in the script.
The real trick involves jumping directly to any step without passing through all the preceding MsgBox windows. Merely select the target item from the System Tray icon right-click menu. This works through a simple, yet little understood, characteristic of AutoHotkey Label names.
You can easily adapt this script to any other recipe with copy-and-paste in any text editor (Notepad). Replace the appropriate text between the two parentheses with that matching section copied from a Web recipe page (or any other digital source). See the script for Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger at ComputorEdge AutoHotkey script downloads.
For those who like to get into the weeds of AutoHotkey scripting, I plan to discuss the details of the tricks in the Cheeseburger.ahk script in my next blog. You can add many more features to this script through the MsgBox techniques discussed in “Tips for Optimizing the Standard AutoHotkey Message Box (MsgBox) Command (AutoHotkey Quick Reference Part Six).” I’ve attempted to keep this one a little simpler. In the future, I plan to add printing to the script for those who can’t afford a computer in the kitchen.
More Nutrition and Recipe AutoHotkey Scripts
In past years, I’ve written a number of scripts for the food category. Most of these exist for the purpose of demonstrating particular AutoHotkey commands or techniques. (However, I actually did use the calorie counting script for a number of months and lost a good bit of weight. But, alas, as with most diets, it fell into disuse—although I have not regained the lost weight.) I include the Egg Timer script which turns any computer into a kitchen timer. (Overkill?) The Calorie Count script extracts calories for specific foods from a Web page, then totals and tracks the data, then saving it to a file. Lastly, the Recipe Tree script demonstrates a more complex method for saving and displaying your favorite culinary innovations.
The Egg Timer
The EggTimer app works by opening a window (after loading, press CTRL+F12) in which you set the desired time interval (default three minutes), then click Start (see image at right). The timer counts down to zero in the edit windows (minutes and seconds) while a progress bar works it way from left to right. Once the countdown increments down to zero, the bell rings, the computer voice says “Your eggs are ready!”, and a window pops up with the same message. You now have the perfect soft boiled egg.
A more complex script, CalorieCount.ahk highlights the AutoHotkey ListView command— logging and tracking daily calorie counts. Find a discussion of these CalorieCount.ahk techniques in the AutoHotkey Applications e-book.
This AutoHotkey script keeps a daily log of calories consumed. The script demonstrates the possibilities when using AutoHotkey GUI (Graphical User Interface) windows. The GUI window embeds ListView, ListBox, GroupBox, and DateTime controls, as well as, the more standard Text, Edit, and Button controls. The script offers a special feature for importing specific food calories directly from the Internet, plus saves all data to a file.
You can convert this type of script for tracking other nutritional information such carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
The RecipeTree.ahk script demonstrates more AutoHotkey possibilities by implementing the TreeView GUI control. Also included in the AutoHotkey Applications e-book, the script uses a tree format similar to Windows Explorer for tracking and displaying multiple recipes. The six-part series in the book demonstrate an alternative application for the TreeView AutoHotkey GUI control.
This AutoHotkey script uses a fairly advanced technique for attaching TreeView branches to GUI Edit control data fields by saving variable names within variables. Not a beginning AutoHotkey script, the techniques used here offer insight into building more complex applications.
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Like anybody else, I have expenses and a need to make ends meet. As Jack’s AutoHotkey Blog increases in popularity, coding the test scripts and writing the blogs takes up more of my time. That means I’ve less time to pursue other income earning opportunities. I don’t plan to ever move Jack’s AutoHotkey Blog behind a paywall, but if you think my efforts are worth a bit of your hard-earned cash, then you can offer a token of your appreciation by purchasing one or two of my AutoHotkey books. You may not need the references yourself, but you might know someone who can benefit from one or two of them.