Before you know it – thanks to smart phones, tablets, and wireless technology – your home will be connected to the Internet of Things. Sure, home automation costs a few shekels, but just imagine it! You could be the envy of Jane Jetson, receiving text messages from your slow cooker, giving voice commands to water the lawn, and using a smart phone app to open the locks on your door.1 Home automation could help you:
- Save money on heating and cooling. Smart thermostats adjust themselves and estimates suggest they may reduce energy usage by as much as 20 percent.
- Know who comes and goes. The same keyless access system that lets you unlock doors with your smart phone can also monitor home access.
- Turn on the heat, lights, and walls. You can manage climate, lighting, and audio on your drive home. Have your smart walls pull up the artwork you feel like seeing and signal your digital backsplash to display the recipe you need for dinner.
- Enjoy greater peace of mind. You’ll never have to worry that you forgot to turn off an appliance or neglected to turn on the slow cooker. With the right tech, you can check without going back home.
The home automation industry is gaining momentum. It’s expected to grow by double-digits through 2018 when revenues are expected to top $14 billion worldwide.2 However, a lack of standardization means it may not ready for prime time just yet.
Last year, PC Magazine pointed out there are many different communication protocols in use, so not all home automation products will be compatible. One enterprising company has developed a hub that understands multiple protocols so houses whose gadgets speak different languages can communicate.3
If you decide to automate, make sure the products you choose have sound security measures in place. As with anything connected to the Internet, systems can be hacked. Make sure you know how your home is protected.2
The Whole Enchilada
If you’re in the mood for something spicy, try Tyler Florence’s recipe for chicken enchiladas. It’s one of the highest rated recipes on The Food Network.4
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 pounds skinless and boneless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 cans whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 cans chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1-1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes
Coat large sauté pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat; allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder, and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter and allow to cool.
Sauté onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes and sauté 1 minute. Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to sauté pan and combine with vegetables (corn, green chiles, chipotle chiles, and tomatoes). Dust the mixture with flour to help set.
Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds (this softens them and makes them more pliable). Coat the bottom of two (13” x 9”) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling; place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallions, sour cream, and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.
What Do You Know About High-Tech Cooking?
In an article for FoodandWine.com, Katherine Wheelock wrote:5
“It is hard for me to conceive of a cooking experience that doesn’t involve negotiations with heat, a cacophony of sounds, and a tangle of smells. For me, the pleasure of preparing a meal (besides serving it and eating it, of course) is visceral. I love the scent of bacon grease and the sound of the whirring fan in the oven hood. I am lulled by a hand-cramping hour of stirring polenta. My most cherished cooking memories are the ones marked by burnt tongues, tricky pilot lights, and imperfectly browned vegetables.”
Regardless, she gave it all up to prepare Thanksgiving dinner with high-tech appliances. See what you know about high-tech kitchen gadgets by taking this quiz.6
1. What does a sous vide do?
a. Washes, dries, and cuts vegetables
b. Cooks food in vacuum-sealed bags submerged in water baths
c. Weighs food using a digital food scale
2. A high-frequency electromagnet interacts with steel or iron in this cooking appliance:
a. A pressure pan
b. A fusion blender
c. An induction burner
3. A ‘sensor can’ is:
a. A trash receptacle with a lid that opens at the wave of a hand
b. A storage solution that changes color when its contents go bad
c. A waterproof case that makes your tablet kitchen-ready
We Are Mostly Happy
Most Americans are happy. An AARP study called Beyond Happiness: Thriving found about 20 percent of us are really happy, 30 percent are not too happy, and 2 percent aren’t sure whether they’re happy. The rest are just pretty happy.
So, what makes us happy? When asked what was important in their lives, survey participants offered the following:
73% – Health
68% – Relationships
47% – Pleasure
40% – Accomplishments
38% – Meaning
37% – Engagement
34% – Time
31% – Money
Money was last on the list; however, the study found a significant correlation between income and happiness. Fewer people who earned $75,000 or more each year were ‘not too happy’ and more people in that earnings range were ‘very happy.’7
1. B – Cooks food in vacuum-sealed bags submerged in water baths
2. C – An induction burner
3. A – A trash receptacle with a lid that opens at the wave of a hand