In the Kitchen with Alexa

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In the kitchen with alexa

A while back I wrote an article about how Siri can help you out in the kitchen. Recently, I purchased an Amazon Echo Dot and placed it in the kitchen. I’ve found that it’s even more useful than Siri. This is quite a statement coming from an Apple fan such as me. In the kitchen, Alexa can entertain you, keep a grocery list, order items, read recipes, do math and much more! Siri excels in finding answers to random questions on the web (that you then have to read with your EYES and not your ears), but Alexa’s built-in features along with the third party skills that you can add make it an extremely helpful completely hands-free device in a place like the kitchen, where your hands are typically wet or dirty.

If you don’t have an Echo device yet, the two most popular models are the Amazon Echo and the Echo Dot. The larger and more expensive echo has a larger built-in speaker. The smaller and less expensive Echo Dot has a smaller speaker, but otherwise, it has all of the functionality of the larger Echo. You can connect the Echo Dot to an external speaker if you’d like better sound quality for playing music, but it’s loud enough to hear over the dishwasher, faucet, and whatever is cooking on the stove. I personally have 2 Dots – one in the kitchen and one in the master bathroom.

Click here to purchase an Echo Dot (the smaller one)
Click here to purchase an Echo

Stay entertained while you work in the kitchen

While you’re cooking or washing dishes, you can ask Alexa to entertain you with music, talk or books. Here are a few of the things you can ask her to do while you’re working in the kitchen:

If you have Amazon Prime, Spotify, or Pandora you can ask her to play music for you.

  • “Alexa, play classic rock”
  • “Alexa, play music by George Michael”
  • “Alexa, play the song that has the lyrics, ‘I like big butts’”
  • “Alexa, ask Spotify to play my favorites playlist on Spotify”

She can also summon iHeartRadio to play many of your favorite local radio stations

  • “Alexa, play KRBE”

Want to play the latest episode of your favorite podcast? Ask her to find it for you.

  • “Alexa, play the Reply All podcast.”

If you have an Audible account through Amazon for audiobooks, you can listen to your favorite books while you cook.

  • “Alexa, play the audiobook, [book title]”

If you don’t mind her robotic voice, she can also read books to you from your Kindle collection.

You can also adjust the volume and tell her to start and stop without touching the device

  • “Alexa, set the volume to 6”
  • “Alexa, stop”

In the settings section of your Alexa app, you can choose your sports, weather and news preferences and she will give you a briefing.

  • “Alexa, give me my flash briefing”
  • “Alexa, what’s my sports update”

If you have kids running underfoot, you can keep them busy with a choose your own adventure game

  • “Alexa, open the magic door”
  • “Alexa, play 20 questions”

Let Alexa keep your grocery list

One of the most important jobs in the kitchen is keeping a running grocery list that everyone in the house can add to. Why bother using a handwritten list when anyone in the house can tell Alexa to add to the shopping list. When it’s time to shop, just open the Alexa app. It’s a very simple, straightforward to do list that you can add to and check off completed items.

  • “Alexa, add milk to my shopping list”

She adds the items to a checklist that you can view and manage in your Alexa app. You can also set it up to use apps such as todoist or if you’d rather use a more robust list application.

It’s important to know that when someone adds an item to your list, Alexa is not actually making a purchase. If you want to purchase items, you’d use the word “order” or “reorder” as in, “Alexa, reorder a water filter.”  You can also set a secret PIN number to avoid allowing anyone in the house to order items on your behalf.

Find local business information

Don’t feel like cooking at all? You can order directly from your Alexa from certain restaurants such as Dominos and Pizza Hut (I’m sure more will come soon).

After enabling the Pizza Hut skill in your Alexa app, just say, “Alexa, ask Pizza Hut for a pizza.”

You can also find out of local businesses are open, what their hours are, and phone number.

  • “Alexa, what are Walgreens hours?”
  • “Alexa, where is the closest Whataburger?”

Let Alexa read recipes

Use the AllRecipes skill to read recipes to you, search for recipes that contain certain ingredients

  • “Alexa, ask AllRecipes for a recipe with chicken, broccoli, and rice.”

Ask her for unit conversions

  • “Alexa, how many cups are in a quart?”

She can set multiple timers

  • “Alexa, set a timer for 20 minutes”
  • “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes”

Let Alexa do the math

  • “Alexa, what is 3/4 times 2?”

Ask her for nutritional values

  • “Alexa, how many calories are in ice cream?”

Let her keep track of the dishes in the dishwasher

Enable the refrigerator skill. When you start the dishwasher say, “Alexa, tell the dishwasher that the dishes are clean.”

After you empty the dishwasher, say, “Alexa, tell the dishwasher that the dishes are dirty.”

If you do that every time, anyone can walk up and ask, “Alexa, ask the dishwasher about the dishes and she’ll tell you if they’re clean or dirty without even opening it.

Change the room temperature

If you can’t take the heat, don’t get out of the kitchen! Just tell Alexa to turn down your thermostat. The Echo works with popular thermostats such as the Nest, Lyric T5, Ecobee 3, Sensi and thermostats that are part of the Vivint Sky security system.

  • “Alexa, tell Vivint to set the thermostat to 70″

Change the lighting

Whenever the work is finished and it’s time for dinner or time to leave the kitchen, don’t worry about switches. If you purchase a smart light bulb kit that is compatible with Alexa, you can just say, “Alexa, turn off the kitchen lights” or “Alexa, set the dining room lights to 70%”

Some of the most popular bulbs and lighting kits that are compatible with Alexa are: