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The Big Book of BBQ: Not as meaty as paper version

If you haven’t yet noticed, your iPad is an extraordinary tool for reading digital books, newspapers and magazines.

Whether it’s the stunningly thin 9.7-inch screen, wireless connectivity, long battery life or App Store with more content than you know what to do with, it seems this tablet was simply built for those who love to read.

And so we were salivating over the availability of Southern Living’s The Big Book of BBQ, a new iPad app with mouth-watering recipes, barbecue cooking tips and high-resolution photography — just in time for summer.

While it certainly sizzles, the app isn’t without its shortcomings. But let’s start with what makes it a delicious pick for outdoor-cooking fans.

As you’d expect with an electronic book called The Big Book of BBQ, you’ve got access to more than 100 recipes and dozens of barbecuing tips and tricks. From the main page you’ll see sections such as Low & Slow (baby back ribs, brisket and smoked trout), Speed BBQ (kabobs, fajitas and burgers), Scrumptious Sides (corn, beans, salads and dips) and Sweet Stuff (cakes, dessert bars and more).

You’ll also find cooking tips and tricks — on everything from cleaning grates to applying sauces to using charcoal — including some step-by-step audio and video sections from award-winning barbecue chef and Southern Living contributor Troy Black.

“Tools of the Trade” covers essential gear — brushes, pans, spatulas and thermometers — while “Que and A” answers commonly asked questions on buying meat in bulk, the difference between charcoal types and cooking evenly on the grill. The “Tips” section has a chart of metric equivalents — but not a conversion calculator, which would’ve been more handy.

Another “beef” with this app: You can’t adjust the number of people you’re cooking for, as you can with many other recipe e-books for iPad. For example, the recipe for caramel pecan bars makes 12 servings, but what if you have 20 people over for a summer barbecue? With other apps, you can change the number of servings, and it will automatically adjust the quantity of ingredients.

Also, this app gives you only about half of the recipes found in the best-selling paper book it’s based on. Why not all of them?

On a related note, The Big Book of BBQ is a relatively pricey purchase at $8 (and going up to $13 after the Fourth of July) — while many other digital versions of paper books are half this price. That, and you can pick up a copy of the paper version for about $13 on Amazon.

Shortcomings aside, this app is a great-looking, well-organized collection of hand-picked barbecue recipes and tips that should make for a tasty companion this summer.

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