9 ways Amazon Alexa can help you in the kitchen

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Between playing music, reading the news, sounding morning alarms and playing games, the Amazon Echo smart speaker and its Alexa assistant can be useful all over the house.

The kitchen, though, is arguably where Alexa can be most useful. In addition to the assistant’s baked-in abilities to convert measurements, keep track of multiple timers and talk to smart appliances, there are also a wide range of ‘skills’ — apps for Alexa — that are useful for looking up recipes, suggesting cocktails, pairing wines and more.

Here is the GearBrain guide to using Alexa in the kitchen.

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Make a grocery shopping list

First up, Alexa is good at keeping lists. Whether it’s a to-do list, an Amazon wishlist or a list that’s kept in an app like Evernote, Alexa has you covered.

All you have to do is say: “Alexa add [item] to my shopping/grocery list” and she’ll do exactly that. This function requires no previous setup. The lists you keep can be viewed in the Alexa smartphone app at any time.

Alternatively, you can sync lists up to a range of list-making services, such as Any.do, Cozi Lists, Picniic and Todoist. With a bit of IFTTT (If This, Then That) magic, Evernote can join the party, too.

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Set multiple timers

This is also a simple function — just say: “Alexa, set a timer for [X] minutes” and she will alert you when it reaches zero. However, if you give the timer a name, you can set several at once. Say: “Alexa, set a timer for [task]” and she will ask for an ETA. Say the length of time you want, and it will start automatically. You can add more timers by giving each one a different name. You can also ask Alexa how much time is left on a given timer or cancel one altogether.

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Unit conversions

Alexa can convert almost any measurement into a different unit. For example, you can say: “Alexa, how many grams is five ounces?” and she’ll tell you. You can even ask more complex questions, like “how much does a cup of flour weigh?”

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Cooking times

Alexa can answer this question in a variety of ways. For simple questions like “how long does it take to poach an egg?,” she can tell you without looking it up. More complex questions, like the length of time needed to roast a chicken, require Reference.com.

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Recipe ideas

This is where the huge Alexa Skills catalog begins to shine. Alexa doesn’t have any recipes baked in, but you can enable a wide range of recipe skills if you head to the Alexa app or to Amazon.

We installed Recipedia, which sprung into action when we asked for meals ranging from omelettes to coq au vin. After finding the recipe, Alexa tells you how long it will take to prepare and cook, how many it serves and how difficult it is to prepare.

Once you have decided on a recipe, you can have Alexa read out each instruction. You can tell her to repeat a step if you get stuck and when you’re ready to move to the next one. Alternatively, you can read the instructions yourself from the Alexa app. We have found that the reading format is how most of Alexa’s recipe skills work.

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Wine pairing

There are a handful of Alexa skills for pairing wine with food. Wine Guru works surprisingly well, offering some good options when we asked it to pair a wine with a meal. You can also ask for more information, which prompts Alexa to read out a useful paragraph or so about the chosen wine.

We also found that WineWhich works quite well, but it is fairly basic in its execution and is only be helpful to those who know little about wine. That said, if you are short on ideas for your evening meal and fancy trying something different, Alexa might suggest a grape variety you hadn’t thought of before.

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Make coffee

There are several smart coffee makers to pick from, including the $169 Behmor Connected, which can integrate with Alexa and brew a beverage at your command. The Behmor Connected also features a smartphone app for more control.

Alternatively, you can plug a regular coffee maker into a smart plug and control that with Alexa. However, you’ll need to make sure that the machine starts working the moment it is switched on at the socket or Alexa won’t be able to help.

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Cocktail ideas

The Bar is an Alexa skill for making cocktails. Once the skill has been launched (say: “Alexa, open The Bar”), you can pick a specific cocktail, hear a list of ingredients and instructions, or answer a series of questions to help Alexa pick a drink for you. The skill’s questionnaire starts by asking what main spirit you’d like to use, then asks if you’d like a long and light drink or a short, stronger one. Finally, it asks if you prefer sweet or sour flavors.

Like food recipe skills, this skill waits for you to say that you are ready for the next step, making it easy enough to follow along at your own pace.

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Remind you to take the garbage out

Alexa can be asked to remind you about almost anything, which can be handy if you always forget to take the garbage out. Just say: “Alexa, remind me to take the garbage out at [time and day].” Alexa will then remind you both out loud and via the smartphone app whenever garbage day arrives.

Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker, to see the other compatible products that work with Amazon Alexa.

This article originally appeared on GearBrain and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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