Tech and the kitchen

I think I spend most of my time in the kitchen: cooking, tidying up, or simply hanging out. It’s the room with the most light in the house, so it’s easy to just pull up a chair and write or draw at the kitchen table.

There’s been decades of buzz around smarter kitchens – fridges that track and reorder groceries, gadgets that enable new cooking methods. Still, it’s been a little easier for me to imagine tech’s application to sewing than to cooking (at least in our household. I think it’s because we deliberately try to avoid cluttering our kitchen with the endless stream of gadgets sold in stores, on television, and now the Internet: from the “It slices! It dices! It even juliennes!” mandoline, to spiral slicers, to even workhorses like the slow cooker.

2015-04-28c Gadget trade-offs in the kitchen -- index card #tech-and-home #technodomesticity #tradeoffs #gadgets #kitchen #cooking #decision

2015-04-28c Gadget trade-offs in the kitchen – index card #tech-and-home #technodomesticity #tradeoffs #gadgets #kitchen #cooking #decision

It seems that innovations in tech and the home tend to cluster around:

  • the kitchen: cooking, eating, organizing, stocking
  • entertainment
  • automation, sensing, and control: thermostats, lights, energy consumption
  • sleep, health, exercise
  • working from home

Mmm. In terms of the kitchen, where do I want to explore? This might not overlap with where most of the startups are focusing on. Divergence can be quite interesting.

2015-04-28b Tech and the kitchen -- index card #tech-and-home #technodomesticity #kitchen #cooking

2015-04-28b Tech and the kitchen – index card #tech-and-home #technodomesticity #kitchen #cooking

Hmm… There’s a lot of interest around meal planning, but maybe I can play with the specifics of it. I’ve been working on building more variety by focusing on five colours and five ways, following a thread I found in a few Japanese cookbooks. (And five tastes – that’s another level I want to figure out =) ) It might be interesting to graph several of our favourite combinations, and then cycle through them as I add more variety.

2015-04-27e Imagining meal planning -- index card #cooking #planning #variety

2015-04-27e Imagining meal planning – index card #cooking #planning #variety

I wonder how I can build a tool to help me visualize and plan these things… I could probably get Emacs to display an Org Mode table with the current selections, previous meals, and possibilities, or I could do something more graphical with a web page and SVGs or Javascript. First I need to think of how I want to see it…

  • Alex

    They say that water, fire, salt and fantasy are enough for good cook.

    • I’m nowhere near that level!

  • Hi Sacha,

    I’ve also been thinking about food planning this week. My main concern is getting the meals for the week planned at the beginning of the week so that I don’t have to think every night “so, what am I cooking?”.

    Ages ago I made a weekly food planner which fits on an A4 piece of paper, on the left you list everything you’ve already got in the fridge or freezer that needs eating, on the right you list the things you’ve run out of. In the middle you list meals using the things on the left, as you go along you add ingredients for the meals to the list on the right. It’s all manual.

    My new thing is to have a working list of all the food stuff that I regularly buy and one day a week go through that list and see what we’ve still got and what we need, eg registering that we’ve only got 4 onions triggers me to put onions on my shopping list. It’s also a pen on paper thing.

    I like your five colours and five ways meal planning card, super idea. Meal planning is a very complex activity, it’s one area where experienced humans can make good decisions, and produce a valid menu very quickly. Having said that I’m also fascinated by how you might program that ability.


    • I’ve been thinking about marking off areas on our fridge door (“This week”, “Eat this soon”) and using index cards and magnets, at least for status-tracking.

      Pantry lists are handy, for sure. I have one (in Emacs and Org Mode, because I’m weird that way) and I’m starting to build up tables of recipe ingredients that can be cross-checked against that list.

      My husband and I use the OurGroceries app to synchronize shopping lists, and that’s been handy. I haven’t figured out how to integrate Emacs with that, so I just do the entry manually.

      Colors, ways of cooking, and tastes are lots of fun to think with. They simplify planning by providing guidelines. =)