Someone’s in the Kitchen with...
By PHIL SEIBEL
All right, let’s talk turkey. No, literally. This week in Tech Savvy we wanted to take a look into how technology has changed the way we work in our kitchens.
I love to cook, my mom encouraged me to learn as much as I could and she helped me understand the basics of cooking and precise measurements (except when it comes to chocolate). At an early age, I knew I’d be spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
Fast forward to today, I have a beautiful wife who was wowed by my culinary prowess (at least that’s what I tell myself), and great kids who have had the opportunity to try some unique things for their age. My oldest daughter’s favorite kind of pizza is my homemade smoked duck breast pizza that has caramelized onions, spinach and feta cheese drizzled with a balsamic glaze. I have to defend my mint plants and other herbs from both my daughters during the summer, and my son ... well fortunately for me he’s not eating solid food yet.
Genetic modification of food aside (that’d be a conversation for another day) technology has changed the way I prepare my meals. I’m still a little old school, I have a charcoal grill and I still do most of my prep work by hand rather than use a food processor or things like that. I like the tradition in the process; it can be very therapeutic for me to prep a pork roast for smoking and then tending to it every 20 minutes or so to adjust temperature and smoke. My big challenge is I often have the attention span of a squirrel and it’s easy for me to get distracted and forget to check on things. Here’s where tech plays a part.
Timers, good old timers; remember the manual timers that you had to dial from a few years back? Then those were replaced by digital timers that had push button settings? Now, there is a plethora of options that spatula-slingers have at their disposal. Take, for instance, the KitchenPad Timer for iPad ($1.99). It gives you a visual display of a 4-burner stovetop, four racks in your oven and a warmer plate that you can set separate timers for each and individually name them! Never forget about checking on your roast again! Conversely you can use it for remembering processes in stages — bread comes to mind and you can also store your most frequently made items as a Favorite for easy reference.
Temperatures of finished meat is incredibly important, nothing will ruin your barbeque quite as fast as someone getting sick from raw chicken. I have about a dozen thermometers lying around my kitchen, by my grill, in my “cooking box” that I take on the road and I still never seem to have enough, or I forget where I leave them. Now, at least I won’t have to look so hard. The iGrill app and thermometer ($99) works with iOS and Android and connects to a peripheral thermometer that you set in your roast, turn on your app, set your temp and it will notify you when it is done. Get a perfect medium-rare prime, fully cooked chicken and pork and enjoy your meal without worrying about your safety.
Just looking for ideas? You are more than covered here. Most of the major food networks and chefs have apps or cookbooks available in both marketplaces, along with some of my favorite go to recipe sites like AllRecipes.com and Epicurious. I tend to look a lot of recipes up on the Internet either for ideas or I tweak them as I go but my Android phone and iPad have made this so much easier. I can call up websites with recipes, watch video tutorials or call my mom for advice all from the comfort of my kitchen. Now, with Skype and Google Hangouts I can connect directly for advice and using my Brydge+ (www.thebrydge.com) I can use my iPad as a standalone cookbook and reference station.
In Case You Missed It
Google Maps for iOS
This past week Google (finally and with much anticipation) release their Google Maps App for iOS. Currently optimized for the iPhone5 but expect to see improvements soon. It brings to Apple everything that was missing in Apple Maps, check it out, it’s safe to upgrade to iOS6 now.
This is one of my favorite photo filtering and editing apps. It’s fast, clean cut UI and easy to use. It was acquired by Google last year and users were unsure of what that would mean in the end. It turns out that what it meant was that it would be coming to Android and is now free! (It was $4.99 for iOS only!) Check it out for a great app!
DNA and Windows 8
Jessi and I both have had the opportunity, courtesy of Verizon Wireless, to demo and review the HTC Droid DNA and the HTC Windows 8 phone that they currently have. We are currently in the process of putting them through the tests and putting together some videos and in mid-January you can expect to see our detailed reviews on both of these products. (Sneak peek ... so far they are FABULOUS!)
If you didn’t see it yet
Check out the Tech Page (www.brainerddispatch.com/lifestyle/tech) for my full review on The Brydge+ that we featured in our Gift Guide, better yet, if you happen to see me, just ask and I’d be happy to tell you what I love about it! (www.thebrydge.com)
Android vs. Apple vs. Windows 8 vs. Blackberry — where is it all going?
I have almost daily discussions with coworkers about this. Which ship do you want to be on when the rest go down? How do you know what device to buy now so you are ahead of the curve?
To me, the answer is obvious. Even though I consider myself a pretty diehard Android backer, my mantra is that people should buy the devices that they can use. Don’t base your purchase on the hardware specs alone, you need to take several things into account — hardware and basic phone capabilities, the network you are running on and generally what you are planning on using your device for.
If you have no problem learning how to use new tech and want to expand your abilities, you may want to consider a newer device, but if you are not incredibly tech savvy and you just want some of the basics, it’s a good idea to get a device that is more familiar. Try them out in a store. There are fewer and fewer retailers that actually have live demo models in store but if you can find one try the devices out so you know what you are getting into.
Know what capabilities your phone will need based on what you want to do — photos, video, Facebook and Social Media, all of these things have different requirements when determining what will be your optimal choice.
This Christmas season as you contemplate what upgrades to consider and the new devices on the market, don’t bog yourself down trying to discern hardware and firmware specs, find something you are going to be comfortable using and go with that.