November 2000

Getting Text Recipes Into NYC

Here is the technique to use to get text recipes from scanner, newsgroup, websites, and other miscellaneous sources into your NYC cookbook.

NYC's generic text file format is useful for importing scanned recipes or recipes obtained from the internet usegroups.  The first task is to get the recipes into a text file (not a word processor file).  If you are using a scanner, you must be familiar with your scanner's OCR (optical character recognition) capability and be able to create a text file from your scan.

Then you touch up the recipe with a text editor (or Notepad) until it is in NYC generic text format.  This is a free format that separates recipe components with blank lines.  Use a good text editor for this if you have large files (Professional File Editor (PFE), TextPad, UltraEdit, etc.). The generic text format is easy -- it basically requires major components of a recipe in a specific order with blank lines in between each component.  Recipes start with 5 @s.  After the 5 @ signs, add the major recipe components (title, categories list, ingredient list, directions), leaving a blank line between each component.  Make sure you use a text editor and you do not have any special characters in your recipe, such as tabs.  The generic text format looks like this:

     (at least 1 blank line here)
RECIPE NAME  (all on one line - 60 chars max.)
     (at least 1 blank line here)
CATEGORIES  (e.g., desserts, pies, fruit)  if none , enter "none", continue to next line with trailing comma
    (at least 1 blank line here)
QTY  UNIT  INGRED;  PREPARATION  (precede continuation line with "-") or ingred header like
    - - - - FROSTING - - - - with no qty or unit; if none, enter "none"
     (at least 1 blank line here)
     (everything to end of file or to next @@@@@ is assumed to be directions unless preceded with "Yield:", "Contributor:", or "Preparation Time:")

This arrangement resembles most recipes that you find.  Thus, you will usually just need to place the "@@@@@" line at top of each recipe, put in a categories line, and then make sure you have blank lines between recipe elements.  You can separate recipe ingredients with a header that starts and ends with 5 dashes (e.g.,  -----TOPPINGS-----).  Here is a real example:

-----------START OF EXAMPLE------------

meat, mexican,

1 lb hamburger
1 lb cheddar cheese; grated
1 pkg taco spice
12 x taco shells
1 head lettuce; chopped
1 jar (8 oz) salsa or picante sauce

Brown hamburger.  Drain meat.  Stuff ingredients in shells.
Add salsa.  Eat hot.

Yield:  12 servings
Contributor:  Gary Hauser
Preparation Time:  00:10
----------END OF EXAMPLE-------------

Notes on categories input:

To specify categories, simply separate them with commas between the categories.  You can continue categories onto the next line, but make sure each categories line ends with a comma and do not wrap a multi-word category from one line to the next (i.e., always end each category line with a complete category and comma).

NYC expects a categories line.  You should try to always use a categories line, using "none" if you wish to specify no categorization.  NYC will attempt to handle a missing categories line by checking if the next character encountered after the recipe title is a numeric.  If so, NYC takes this as an ingredient line and assumes no categories input.  If this character is alpha, NYC assumes the line (and those after it until the next blank line) contains categories.  Thus, if you see a lot of quantities and ingredients errantly imported as categories after an import, you can bet that you had a missing categories line in one of your generic text imports.

Notes on ingredient input:

Every recipe requires at least one ingredient.

In recipe ingredients for generic imports, you should always try to have a qty, unit, and ingredient description.   The minimal ingredient input is the ingredient description (blank qty and unit), but for best results it is good practice to always use a non-blank qty, unit, and ingredient.

NYC will properly interpret a blank qty AND blank unit (i.e., just an ingredient description), but if you want just the qty or unit to be blank, you must use the placeholders described below.

To force NYC to leave the qty field blank, enter "0" for the qty.   For qty, you can use decimal or fraction.  If you use fractions, use this convention for compound fractions:  "1 1/4".  Never use special characters in your compound fractions (like "1+1/4").

To force NYC to leave the unit field blank, use "x" for the unit, as shown in the tacos example above.   For units, you can use "clove (0.5 oz)" or similar unit to accurately specify unit size.  While "4 apples" is acceptable to NYC, "4 green apples" is not acceptable, because NYC cannot determine whether "green" is a unit or part of the ingredient description.  To avoid this ambiguity, use "4 x green apples" and the "x" will be interpreted as a blank unit.

To add a  preparation (e.g., "sliced", "chopped", "peeled, sliced"), add a ";" to the end of the ingredient description, then add the preparation.

To separate groups of ingredients, use an ingredient header.  An ingredient header has blank qty and unit, and for the ingredient description, use a descriptor surrounded by at least 4 dashes, like "-----TOPPINGS-----" in the tacos example above.

Notes on directions input:

NYC will remove single carriage returns when formatting your directions.  Use 2 carriage returns to force a blank line to appear in your directions.  Make sure not to use reserved strings like 5 @ signs, multiple dashes, "meal-master" or "mastercook" .

Directions are optional in recipes.

Notes on other additions:

After the recipe directions, you can optionally add a yield line, contributor line, and preparation time line as shown here:

Yield:  3 servings
Contributor:  Gary Hauser
Preparation Time:  00:10

You can also use Glen Hosey's MM Buster program to put generic text recipes into MM format, which can then be imported directly into NYC using File... Import Recipes...

You can also import text recipes pasted to a text box using Recipes... Screen Import... (v5.20 and higher).  Paste recipe(s) in the textbox, then highlight major components and identify them with a button click, then press the Import button.

Once your recipes are in generic text format, you can run NYC and use File… Import Recipes… to import the recipe file into your NYC cookbook.

See previous NYC Tips

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