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15 Items for a Smarter Kitchen

Using these items can help make cooking just a little bit easier.

1. Tfal Optigrill, $159

Depending on where you live, you might not have space for a true grill, or be allowed to use one. And even if you did, knowing when stuff is properly cooked can sometimes be a challenge. Enter the Tfal Optigrill. This apartment-friendly device takes the guesswork out of grilling: It uses sensors to perfectly grill everything from burgers and chicken breasts to sausages and fish and even paninis, making it a lot less likely that you’re going to give yourself—or those you’re cooking for—food poisoning. Take a hamburger, for example: Want it done rare, medium, or well? The Optigrill beeps at each stage so the meat is just how you like it.

Buy on Amazon

2. Gunter Wilhelm 7” santoku knife, $65

You might be thinking that $65 is a lot to spend on a single knife, but trust us: It’s worth it. The Santoku is great for mincing, slicing, dicing, and chopping, and the dimples create air pockets that keep food from sticking while you cut. Plus, it’s made with an alloy of high carbon and stainless steels, so it will last forever (and if something happens to go wrong, the knife has a lifetime warranty). Also comes with bragging rights: Tell your friends you’re using the same brand of knife as professional chefs and the people who cook for the President, and they’re sure to be impressed.

Buy on Amazon

3. Pop Chart Lab Cooking Measurements Tea Towel, $16

Converting measurements while you're cooking can be a pain. Keep this towel on hand to make it easier. (Plus, it's nice to look at!)

Buy on Pop Chart Lab

4. Quirky Mocubu Cutting Board, $24

This cutting board also functions as an organizational device, storing foods you’ve already chopped in handy drawers underneath until you’re ready to use them.

Buy on Amazon

5. Adjustable Rolling Pin, $20

Sure, you can guesstimate the thickness of your dough. Or you could buy this rolling pin, which has discs you screw on to the ends so you can roll to exact thickness; measurements etched into the pin itself help you nail the width, too.

Buy on Amazon

6. Slip-on Bowl Spout, $7

Stop drips and spills with this handy little device, which slips onto bowls for easy pouring.

Buy on Amazon

7. Perfect Bake, $50

Baking is an art, of course, but it’s also a science. Brookstone’s Perfect Bake™ App-Controlled Smart Baking is a scale that connects to an iPad app to help you nail those recipes every time. It not only guides you through each recipe, but helps you determine what you can make based on what ingredients you have on hand.

Buy on Amazon

8. Compact Folding Bookstand, $27

Whatever you choose to read your recipe off of—a cookbook, your iPad or iPhone, a single piece of paper—this will hold it all. If you’re using your iPad, outfit it in these sleeves to keep the screen flour- and grease-free.

Buy on Amazon

9. Paperchef Parchment Cooking Bags, $8

Make like the French and cook “en papillote,” or “in parchment" with these bags, which can be used in the oven, on the upper shelf of BBQs, and even in the microwave. It won’t just enhance food’s natural flavors, but also make cleanup a lot easier!

Buy on Amazon

10. Onion Goggles, $20

It’s one thing to put metaphorical sweat and tears into a meal. It’s another entirely to do it because you’re crying from chopping onions. (Here’s why they make you cry, by the way.) These goggles will keep you from shedding tears, and might also be useful if you’re taking a road trip in a motorcycle sidecar.

Buy on Amazon

11. Grape and Tomato Cutter, $10

Slicing grapes and tomatoes the old fashioned way takes forever. If you’re not interested in doing the two plates-and-a-knife method, as demonstrated by this brilliant dad, pick up this handy device.

Buy on Amazon

12. Nesting Bowls, $195

If space is at a premium in your kitchen, consider investing in this set of stainless steel nesting prep bowls, which also includes a colander, a mesh sieve, and measuring cups. (There’s also a plastic set for half the price.)

Buy on Amazon

13. Lifefactory Glass Food Storage, $17

These glass containers serve as both food storage and bakeware—even the silicone sleeve can go in the oven! Comes in three sizes: one cup, two cup, and four cup.

Buy on Amazon

14. Pancake Batter Dispenser, $10

Making pancakes has never been this clean: Load the batter in the stainless steel dispenser, hold it over your griddle, and squeeze the handle. Goodbye wasted batter, hello perfectly round pancakes!

Buy on Amazon

15. Cuisinart Combo Steam and Convection Oven, $300

Another smart combination device for small spaces, this oven broils, bakes, and toasts. There’s no oil, so your dishes are healthier, and steam heat cuts cooking time by 40 percent. You can even proof bread in this bad boy!

Buy on Amazon

BONUS: Hedley & Bennett Commis Apron, $83

No chef should look like a hot mess when he leaves the kitchen. Keep it clean and stylish with this apron.

Buy on Amazon

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WWF
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Animals
Watch an Antarctic Minke Whale Feed in a First-of-Its-Kind Video
WWF
WWF

New research from the World Wildlife Fund is giving us a rare glimpse into the world of the mysterious minke whale. The WWF worked with Australian Antarctic researchers to tag minke whales with cameras for the first time, watching where and how the animals feed.

The camera attaches to the whale's body with suction cups. In the case of the video below, the camera accidentally slid down the side of the minke whale's body, providing an unexpected look at the way its throat moves as it feeds.

Minke whales are one of the smallest baleen whales, but they're still pretty substantial animals, growing 30 to 35 feet long and weighing up to 20,000 pounds. Unlike other baleen whales, though, they're small enough to maneuver in tight spaces like within sea ice, a helpful adaptation for living in Antarctic waters. They feed by lunging through the sea, gulping huge amounts of water along with krill and small fish, and then filtering the mix through their baleen.

The WWF video shows just how quickly the minke can process this treat-laden water. The whale could lunge, process, and lunge again every 10 seconds. "He was like a Pac-Man continuously feeding," Ari Friedlaender, the lead scientist on the project, described in a press statement.

The video research, conducted under the International Whaling Commission's Southern Ocean Research Partnership, is part of WWF's efforts to protect critical feeding areas for whales in the region.

If that's not enough whale for you, you can also watch the full 13-minute research video below:

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technology
AI Could Help Scientists Detect Earthquakes More Effectively
iStock
iStock

Thanks in part to the rise of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, earthquakes are becoming more frequent in the U.S. Even though it doesn't fall on a fault line, Oklahoma, where gas and oil drilling activity doubled between 2010 and 2013, is now a major earthquake hot spot. As our landscape shifts (literally), our earthquake-detecting technology must evolve to keep up with it. Now, a team of researchers is changing the game with a new system that uses AI to identify seismic activity, Futurism reports.

The team, led by deep learning researcher Thibaut Perol, published the study detailing their new neural network in the journal Science Advances. Dubbed ConvNetQuake, it uses an algorithm to analyze the measurements of ground movements, a.k.a. seismograms, and determines which are small earthquakes and which are just noise. Seismic noise describes the vibrations that are almost constantly running through the ground, either due to wind, traffic, or other activity at surface level. It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between noise and legitimate quakes, which is why most detection methods focus on medium and large earthquakes instead of smaller ones.

But better understanding natural and manmade earthquakes means studying them at every level. With ConvNetQuake, that could soon become a reality. After testing the system in Oklahoma, the team reports it detected 17 times more earthquakes than what was recorded by the Oklahoma Geological Survey earthquake catalog.

That level of performance is more than just good news for seismologists studying quakes caused by humans. The technology could be built into current earthquake detection methods set up to alert the public to dangerous disasters. California alone is home to 400 seismic stations waiting for "The Big One." On a smaller scale, there's an app that uses a smartphone's accelerometers to detect tremors and alert the user directly. If earthquake detection methods could sense big earthquakes right as they were beginning using AI, that could afford people more potentially life-saving moments to prepare.

[h/t Futurism]

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