Editor's Note: The web site reviewed in this article has changed location and name. SOAR is now known as Recipe Source and can be found at http://www.recipesource.com.
If you're looking for that perfect recipe for strawberry-rhubarb pie or a little-known casserole that's served at your favorite diner, you often need to look no further than SOAR. SOAR stands for "The Searchable Online Archive of Recipes" and is hosted and maintained on a University of California - Berkeley server. The inspiration (and a lot of the work) behind SOAR was supplied by one of UC - Berkeley's students, Jennifer Snider Coopersmith. Many thanks to Jennifer, as what started out as an experiment in bringing recipes on the web to one central location has turned into an archive of almost 70,000 recipes as of March 2000.
What makes SOAR such a valuable resource is the plethora of ways that the recipes are organized for visitors. In addition to the search forms -- which vary from simple keyword searches to more advanced forms that allow a visitor to specify things like case sensitivity and the maximum number of returned recipes -- recipes are also organized into a large number of different categories. Each category has sub-categories to help direct visitors to the recipes they desire. Once a sub-category has been chosen, the recipes are then split into alphabetized sections containing about 50 recipes each. This is to reduce the download times and improve access. Of course, each visitor also has the option to get a full list of the recipes in a given category. Once a visitor has found a recipe that he or she would like to see, one click on the title reveals the entire recipe. It's that simple.
To give you an idea of the scope of SOAR, here is a rundown of the main categories and their subcategories that greet any visitor to SOAR's homepage:
Fish & Seafood
Soups & Stews
Fruits, Grains & Vegetables
Beans & Grains
On the Side
Jams & Jellies
Sweets & Desserts
Snacks & Appetizers
Dips & Spreads
Restricted & Special Diets
Canning & Preserving
Cat Treats & Food
Cooking for/with Kids
Dog Food & Treats
Extraterrestrial & Bizarre
Hair & Skin Products
Hints & Helpful Information
And ... as if that's not enough, the recipes are also organized according to regions & ethnic groups! No one can say that the people who created SOAR weren't thinking of its visitors!
Unfortunately, because this database is so large, download times are slow. Expect to wait several minutes before reaching a desired recipe. SOAR's category breakdown improves download times, but the shear size of even the smallest categories makes it a slow process nonetheless.
However, the size of the database is also SOAR's greatest asset. Whether you are searching for traditional favorites or recipes that are downright weird, you're bound to find it in SOAR's extensive database. And, once you've found the recipe you've been searching for, printing from the database is a snap. You can also easily copy and paste recipes into email messages or files for later use. Finally, the organization and search capabilities cater to visitors who know exactly what they are looking for and those that would rather browse through the category of their choice. If it's recipes you're looking for, it's SOAR you want to use.
Web Site Name: SOAR: The Searchable Online Archive of Recipes
Web Site URL:http://soar.berkeley.edu/recipes/Seasoned Cooking Rating (5 = BEST): 5 STARS - winner of Seasoned Cooking's Five-Star Site Award
Editor's Note: The web site reviewed in this article was chosen from among those included in Seasoned Cooking's automated list of related sites. Anyone can add links to their favorite site related to food, cooking, health, fitness or hobbies by visiting our Seasoned Links page and clicking on the "Add/Edit a Site" button. We welcome your additions. Who knows? Maybe your favorite site will be the next one reviewed!