Chances are, you know who (or what, rather) Alexa is. If you've been gracefully avoiding pop culture and social media in all forms for the last year, Alexa is the voice service that powers the small, but mighty Amazon Echo. The Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice by communicating with Alexa from anywhere in the room using immersive sound. Did you ever see the Disney channel movie, Smart House? It's basically that - without the ability to completely shutter the house.
Alexa is becoming a popular service due to its ease of use and considering the price of smartphones today, the Amazon Echo isn't that terribly expensive and unattainable. Priced at $179.99 with free 2-day shipping for Prime Members, the Amazon Echo comes in black or white, and is fairly simple to set up.
It's important to note that Alexa can access Skills - these are the equivalent of iPhone app.
The number of Skills grows each day as developers tap into Alexa's technology and create useful products.
A food-related example of this is Alexa's ability to order a pizza from Dominos. Check this out.
So where does Alexa step in when it comes to the kitchen?
1. Baking and cooking conversions
My most favorite thing right now is the amazon Alexa. I have used it for music, to set timers, reminders it's the best. I m still learning it so if you have any tips or anything you loved about it please share. I m a little mad it won't play my favorite artist @michaelbuble.. but I m sure I ll figure it out. Other then that I love it. #amazonalexa #amazon #productreview
Do you want to make that recipe, but it uses the metric system? Use Alexa to solve cooking and baking conversions by asking her to convert those 100 grams into approximate tablespoons or cups.
Without slowing down your cooking rhythm, Alexa can help you get dinner on the table quickly.
2. Caffeine, please
Did you know Echo owners can now use Alexa to order their usual Starbucks order? For this to fully work, you have to be a Starbucks card member so you can save favorite recipes, but there's nothing like mobile ordering from Starbucks.
Here's a list of Starbucks secret menu frappuccinos for those kinds of days, too.
3. Music you can chop to
One of Alexa's finest-tuned skills so far is her ability to play music due to integrations with popular music services like Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, and iHeartRadio, to name a few.
Simply ask Alexa to play the song or playlist that really defines cooking to you, and you're on your way to an enjoyable experience in the kitchen.
4. Recipe guidance
With Alexa's ability to link to Audible and cookbooks like Dump Dinners: The Absolute Best Dump Dinners Cookbook with 75 Amazingly Easy Recipes, simply let her walk you through an entire recipe one ingredient and step at a time.
This is the perfect way to get dinner on the table when you're feeling especially drained. As Audible and Alexa's Skills expand, there will no doubt be more cookbooks added to her database.
5. Keep time
You know those recipes that very specifically state you need to incorporate mixes for three minutes, or that you need to simmer the sauce for six hours?
Simply ask Alexa to start a timer and she'll notify you through the Echo device when that time is up. You'll never need a bulky little oven timer again.
6. Update your shopping list
Once you set up a grocery list, simply add items to it as needed. Did you peek in the refrigerator and notice the milk expires tomorrow?
Ask Alexa to add milk to your grocery list, and never worry about forgetting to check the pantry and refrigerator before you head to the store again.
Additionally, Alexa can also email your shopping list before you head out the door - something that's invaluable if you don't have the luxury of time to sit down and write out a store list.
7. Order supplies from Amazon Prime
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Did you favorite wooden spoon finally split in half? Has your baking sheet reached the point of no return?
As you run out of kitchen items and supplies, simply ask Alexa to purchase and ship these items to you. While before you could only repurchase items, you can now order from the whole selection of Prime services, from Prime Pantry to Prime Now.
8. Appropriate pairings
Alexa has two particular skills, MySomm and What Beer, that allow users to ask for specific pairings.
Having pasta primavera? Ask Wine Gal what wine pairs best with spring vegetables. Is it Taco Tuesday? Ask Alexa what beer pairs best with pork carnitas.
9. Settle dinner debates
Can't decide where to go for dinner? Ask Alexa to flip a coin and generate her randomized decision between two options.
Additionally, she can also roll dice and activate her Magic 8-Ball skill.
10. Control appliances
If you have any GE appliances, you can simply ask Alexa to tell Geneva to preheat your oven or check on the clothes load in the dryer. While this is GE-specific, there is no doubt that any smart appliances in your home will soon link to Alexa.
In fact, we're currently giving away a WiFi-enabled Crock-Pot that you can also control using Alexa through the WeMo service, the same one that links to your smartphone's app.
11. Safety checks
Meat Thermometer helps Alexa tell you which temperatures are safe to eat for which cuts of meat.
Everything from chicken to pork is listed, and you'll never be unsure of correct cooking times and temperatures again.
12. Proper cooking techniques
With Alexa's access to Wikipedia, you have an entire encyclopedia at your voice command. Ask Alexa how to braise a pork shoulder or the proper way to chop an onion for hands-on directions.
You'll never be left wondering how to properly cook a butternut squash ever again.
13. A back-up plan
One of Alexa's most prized skills is a fan favorite. If you have a Dominos account, sync it to Alexa, and ask her to order your Domino's Easy Order. Just like that, you're on your way to a back-up dinner.
You can even ask her to track your order to find out what stage of preparation it's in. Don't act like you don't already monitor it on the screen already.