FARGO — Move over, Alexa. There’s a new girl in town.
She can tell you, with a single sniff, if the prime rib is done. She can rattle off the exact measurements for a DIY poultry seasoning in seconds, tell you if that blouse makes you look too hippy and share health tips for everything from eye bags to a sprained toe (“more vitamin C.”)
Her name is Mom-lexa. At this point, my family is jealously guarding the prototype, but once word spreads on Mom-lexa’s voluminous knowledge of bread dough and how to remove ketchup stains from white carpet, we fear the Googazons of the world will stop at nothing to mimic her technology.
Mom-lexa, of course, is actually my mom. We’ve had glimmers of her capabilities before, but never really got to see her in action until Christmas break.
Mom, you see, has been fighting cancer with chemotherapy treatments, which have drained her of her usual abilities to leap tall buildings and cook an entire turkey dinner for 16 in a single bound. So, instead of confidently ruling over the kitchen as head chef, issuing orders to a fleet of obedient sous chefs (aka her daughters), Mom spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ensconced in her favorite chair in the living room. This left the holiday cooking and baking to us.
Normally, this wouldn't be as intimidating. But we quickly realized that, even if Mom didn’t have the physical strength to take a 15-pound turkey out of the oven, she still possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of how to make all components of a turkey dinner be ready at precisely the same time.
Unlike Alexa, Mom-lexa has several remarkable capabilities, including “at-a-glance recipe diagnosis” and “virtual olfactory technology.” For instance, you can show her the overly crumbly dough for thumbprint cookies, and — just by looking at it — she can tell you that it needs another tablespoon of butter and 3 tablespoons of cream.
Stuffing seem too dry? Bring the pan to Mom. With the single poke of a crouton, she can tell you that another ½ cup of chicken broth is needed.
Wondering if the prime rib is done? No need to drag out a pesky instant-read thermometer. With a single sniff, Mom can tell you it needs another three minutes which, once you factor in resting time, will bring it to 134 degrees.
She also knows the precise location of every single pot, pan, spoon and bag of flour in the whole house. “The paprika is in the spice cabinet, right next to the lemon pepper.”
“The chocolate chips are in the tall, yellow Tupperware in the lower, east-side lazy Susan.” (Warning: You will need to get out your compass, as Mom-lexa always uses “east,” “west” or “south” vs. “left,” “right,” or “behind you.”)
In fact, this may be the only aspect of Mom-lexa that could use some fine-tuning. Mom-lexa may know where everything is, but engineers are still working on how she relays that information to users.
Sometimes, under duress, she will lapse into vague generalities: “It’s in the pantry by the gray thing,” or, “It’s in that utensil drawer” (when, in fact, there are two eating-utensil drawers and two kitchen-utensil drawers in the kitchen).
Overall, however, Mom-lexa is the perfect domestic assistant for even the most clueless housekeeper, baker or cook.
Just don’t ask her the value of pi. She will tell you it’s the perfect alternative to cake.
Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at email@example.com.