Monday, December 7, 2009

The Intel Reader Is My Sous Chef

There are many traits embedded in my DNA. One of my best inheritances is the joy of cooking. My passion for the food experience begins with the thought, the prep, then moves through the process, the aromas, the taste, and ends with a great sense of satisfaction.

The cooking gene was dominant in my father, who passed to me a penchant for turning Sundays into culinary events. He would fill the day with food and football, running in and out of the kitchen, so as never to miss a touchdown or a Hail Mary Pass, while garlic and herbs wafted about the house.

My mother’s genetics in the kitchen were a bit more recessive, but none the less, she instilled in me an early interest in the delicious chemistry of baking cakes and cookies. Instead of giving me a requested Easy Bake Oven at the age of 8, she got me started with my own set of cookbooks, baking the real thing.

My joy appeared to be in jeopardy, when my vision declined below the acuity required for cookbook reading. Of course, I did not put the cookbooks on the shelf without a fight. I tried magnifiers. I tried funky glasses. I typed recipe favorites into my computer and made the font very large. I pulled up recipes on the Internet and ran, back and forth, from kitchen to computer, measuring and mixing, one step at a time. I became very good at memorizing and improvisation but had to cut back on the baking, because the chemistry of sugar with butter and flour with baking soda requires strict adherence to measurement.

Cut to now.

The Intel Reader is my Sous Chef; it photographed a bunch of my favorites like Apple Cheesecake Tart, the best Banana Yogurt Bread on earth, Zebra Shortbread and Chocolate Decadence Cake.

Hearing my recipes, converted to speech by the Intel reader, was like being reborn. It works like a charm…a cup of this, a tablespoon of that. I can stop and start the reading with the push of a button, or go back and review with the push of another. Some recipes are formatted perfectly, while others require a bit of toggling between ingredients and instructions. Sometimes the pronunciation is funny, in which case I look at it in the screen (zoomed to big letters), or listen to the spelling by holding down the “ok” button. I have to admit, sticky fingers may be a potential hazard; remember, the Intel Reader is not dishwasher safe.
I think this is another one of those things that happens to be good for me, but really could be better for everyone. Last week I watched a segment of Martha Stewart and one of her guests was a Wall Street Journal reporter who brought a new digital recipe reader. I watched with intense anticipation, waiting for it to speak, but there was no voice: this ‘reader’ required you to read to yourself. Isn’t that so last year?

Coming next…how I used the Intel Reader with forms and meeting notes.