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Dreaming of a wired kitchen

By Erica Hill
CNN Headline News

The Multi-Media refrigerator from LG Electronics
The Multi-Media refrigerator from LG Electronics

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(CNN) -- I love to cook. I have my standbys, and, of course, my favorite recipes. One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is my Mom's meatloaf. It's amazing. The smell of it baking in the oven used to drive me crazy as a kid -- it always seemed to take much too long to make, but it was worth it.

I've had her recipe for years but never gotten around to making it until today.

I know you're thinking, "What the heck does meatloaf have to do with technology?"

Great question, and I have a great answer for you.

The meatloaf schedule was a little thrown off, due to a roving dog in the neighborhood and my forgetting the onion at the grocery store. The loaves o' meat didn't make it into the oven until an hour later than planned. The problem? I needed to pick up my partner from law school, get home, finish lunch, write this column and get my butt to work.

It was today that I realized the beauty of a connected kitchen. I was fretting during the entire 30-minute round trip between home and law school. Would Dave be kept late in class? Would the meatloaf burn? Would the house burn down? Wouldn't it be much easier if I could "talk" to my oven? The answer to the last is a resounding yes.

There is talk of connected refrigerators, air conditioners and microwaves, but I think the oven is where it's at. Mark my words: Those days are not far off.

Already, the Internet Fridge, which seemed so hokey, is on sale.

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Last year, four Britons experimented with it while they played "Internet Family" for a few days in the windows of London's famous Harrod's department store.

That event was hokey. I can say it, I was there. I covered the story of the family in the window, and the shameless plugs for the refrigerator and air conditioner that could be controlled via the Internet. Why would anyone need this? I thought. Now I have the answer.

I recently saw a gadget that remotely monitors the temperature of whatever you're cooking. The concept is simple: stick the thermometer in your turkey, roast or meatloaf, and monitor it from up to 300 feet away with a wireless gizmo that will tell you the temp of what you're cooking. Sure, it wouldn't work in the car between home and law school, but it's the first step.

Imagine Thanksgiving dinner cooked remotely while you're at the game. Of course, for someone like me who enjoys cooking, that takes the fun out of my day. But the peace of mind wouldn't hurt.

Until then, I'll have to rely on luck and better planning.


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