Does technology have a place in the kitchen? You might think this is an easy answer but I don’t think there is a single more debated kitchen question. Some of our most celebrated chefs are adamant about it being a natural of a process and cook with nothing but fire. Some take it to a mind altering extent and bring science and technology together to transform ingredients into marvels and wonders, but where does that leave the home cook?
Over the years I have taken this journey and it doesn’t look like it is ending anytime soon. Leaving aside the technology that is actually designed for the kitchen this post is going to take a look at tech I find indispensable that is designed for anything and everything, but more importantly that two pieces I would feel lost without.
From early on I always wanted a computer in the kitchen. This may seem crazy but having a digital library of all of my recipes meant they were fully searchable. Have leftover whipping cream? Type it in to a recipe program and it can show you everything you make that uses whipping cream. That would take quite the memory to do with a traditional recipe box. Then there’s the issue of needing a recipe I don’t have. Google has made finding recipes easier than ever. Need to know how many tablespoons in an ounce. Google again to the rescue. Whether you need to convert from cups to grams or tablespoons to ounces I can’t stress the ease this is with having a computer in the kitchen.
What about when a recipe calls for a cup of chopped pecans? Did you know a cup chopped is different that a cup of halves? Do you end up chopping too much? Not enough? Did you know there are differences from each design of measuring cup? The site I go to all the time for getting ingredient measurements is the USDA Food Composition Database. This site will tell you how many grams a cup of chopped pecans is. This way you can use your scale and measure the halves and have exactly what you need and THEN chop them.
This issue was this: The kitchen already has limited space so putting a computer on the counter takes valuable space. Then you need to put it somewhere safe. You don’t want anything splashing on it. Worse yet it something powdery getting on the keyboard and into the small impossible to clean crevasses. Then when Apple launched the iPad Pro I made the switch. I still have my desk top computer in my office but instead of a laptop I now only use my iPad. One of the many things I love about it is the design of the keyboard. It’s covered in one solid piece so I can simply wipe off anything from liquid to powder and it’s not a problem. It also has a much smaller foot print and is easy to quickly get out of the way.
The other piece of tech that has become essential to how I work in the kitchen is my Apple Watch. Often a recipe will say something like “bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes”. Have you ever had to try to set a timer when you have something at a boil? Maybe it needs constant stirring? With the Apple watch I can just say “Hey Siri, set a timer for 4 minutes”, she does and then it vibrates when the time is up… I never have to look at my watch or the timer. Also with the vibration it also means that no one else needs to be bothered with and annoying beeping. It’s also great when I have multiple things going on. When I have breads rising, cookies baking, and laundry going, for each of these things I simply tell siri to remind me in 1 hour to check on the laundry, in 9 minutes remind me to take the cookies out of the oven, remind me in 2 hours to punch down the dough… This way no matter what I am doing or where in the house I may be I get a simple tap on the wrist with a reminder of what needed to be done and I don’t have to try to remember everything. It’s also great for all the math I have to do on the fly. When I need to know how much cake batter is in my mixing bowl I can simply ask Siri what is 1989 -1150 (being the weight of the empty bowl). Then I can ask what’s half of that number. Then I know how much cake batter to put into each cake pan so it bakes evenly.
Tech might not be the answer for everyone but it sure has made my experience in the kitchen much more enjoyable.