Saturday, September 10, 2016

New technology for the well-wired cook


Do you know those TV competitions where cooks whip up something fabulous from odds and ends like pickles and a leftover chicken breast? My wife can do that with a few simple utensils. But when it’s my turn to cook, I report for duty well-armed with the latest gadgets and gear because I need all the help I can muster.

A slow cooker that works with my mobile phone is my idea of heavy artillery. The WeMo Crock-Pot adds remote control to slow cooking. Start by simply dumping your ingredients into the pot, then walk away.

When it’s time to start cooking you can phone it in. With the free WeMo app on an Apple or Android device, you can start the cooking cycle or schedule a start time. The cooker can be adjusted to high or low and the app give you a progress report throughout the process. The Crock-Pot also keeps food warm after the cooking cycle has finished.

I’ve also fallen in love with the Nutri Ninja, a line of high-powered blenders that can produce instant smoothies quickly pulverize ice into "snow." It can also create soups without boiling away the nutrients in vegetables.

The latest Ninja offerings are models with "Auto-iQ technology," featuring one-touch programming that eliminates the need to stop and scrape down the sides of the container. Want a puree? Just press the Puree button.

The Ninja will also make drinks in a single-serving container, which lets you blend your healthy beverage inside the glass you'll use to drink it.

We’ve talked about getting the Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator to explore the concept of cooking meat in a water bath. The method is called sous vide -- French for "under vacuum." The idea is that by bagging the meat in plastic and exposing it to the measured  heat of circulating water, the meat cooks evenly, from center to surface. It stays juicy, and no fibers get dried out.

The Immersion Circulator uses a heat pump that clamps to the side of any pot you choose to be your sous vide vessel du jour.

I’d be happy if I never had to peel another potato or slice another onion. That’s why I’m intrigued by a couple of new gadgets that make food preparation easier. Avocados are on my hit list. They are full of those nice "good fats," and they're delicious when creamed with garlic and tomatoes into a guacamole dip. Au natural they add interesting notes to salads. But they're also a pain to pit and prep.

The Avocado Cuber from Williams Sonoma looks like a good solution. Using stainless steel wires, it works from the inside out, making cubes without messing with the avocado’s tough skin.

What goes well with that avocado dip? Anything made with fresh pineapple works for me. And Bed Bath & Beyond has a corkscrew-like tool that eliminates the sticky pineapple mess.

It’s called the 4-in-1 Pineapple Corer, Peeler, Slicer and Wedger and yes, it does all of those tasks. Once I’ve extracted the sweet fruit, I plan to serve a fruit medley in the leftover shell and pretend I’m Martha Stewart.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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