Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Of Rice and Then

Way back when I first started blogging, I wrote about a slight concern I had about replacing my crockpot the minute it broke. Was this materialistic of me? I remember pondering the question.

No such question has arisen tonight, when the rice cooker decided that seven and a half years of preparing rice on a weekly basis for our family was justification enough for dying in a sputter of its two front lights and a decided crackle as it shorted out and began smoking threateningly. The crockpot I could make do without, if I had to. The rice cooker is a totally different story.

To begin with, it's not technically mine. My mother gave it to my DH as a birthday gift, since he had spent several years in Japan in the military and definitely prefers his rice to be cooked nearly dry and very fluffy, Asian style. My method of cooking rice, sans rice cooker, is to spread it at the bottom of a casserole dish, add minced onions and some water, place chicken breasts on top of that, and pour some Italian salad dressing over the whole thing, which then bakes for about an hour at 350, with tinfoil on it for the first half hour or so. The rice is very flavorful, but no one would call it dry.

So my mom bought DH the rice cooker so I would be able to cook rice his favorite way. And over the years, with our various health-conscious cooking efforts, we've found it to be invaluable for cooking such time-consuming rices as brown rice and wild rice. At this point I can't imagine doing without a cooker like this one, especially since everyone in our family likes rice and I consider it a fairly healthy starch food.

Oh, just like the crockpot, I know it's not really necessary. I could probably learn to cook rice the way my DH likes it, and I bet I wouldn't scorch more than a handful of pans trying to do so. But in addition to my need to master this sort of rice cookery, there's also the question of time and convenience.

It's pretty easy to scoop a couple of cups of rice and water into the cooker, place the lid on, plug it in, and come back half an hour later to a nice side dish. It frees up some of my dinner preparation time so I can focus on other things, which is especially nice during the school year. Even if other things I'm making require my attention or some last minute checking and adjusting, the rice never does; it just burbles away merrily, sending out clouds of warm inviting steam. And it's nice to have something I can count on, especially at the dinner hour.

School days can run long. Chores and errands can pile up. Sometimes by the time I head into the kitchen to start thinking about dinner I'm long on ideas but short on time. So until someone decides to write "5000 Easy Healthy Dinners You Can Make in Thirty Minutes or Less With Ingredients Normal Human Beings Actually Have in their Kitchens" I'll take all the help I can get.

The rice cooker will definitely be replaced. How many other things do you know of that will give you this much cheerful service for twenty dollars?

3 comments:

Jennifer F. said...

It's funny, I was just trying to decide whether or not I should get a rice cooker. Would you mind saying what brand it is that you like? I have no idea where to start!

Red Cardigan said...

Our old one was a little Oster rice cooker that just cooked rice (not a steamer, in other words). To tell you the truth, I don't know what we'll be buying, since they're different now than they were 7 years ago! My DH will probably research them before we decide. :)

Michele Quigley said...

Red,

Did you know you can cook rice the same way in a microwave? For 2 cups of rice I add a little under 4 cups of water, and cook for 25 minutes. Perfect! Fluffy and dry (my preferred way too). I use a large microwave safe bowl with a lid. Of course you have to actually HAVE a microwave to do this (which i no longer do) but it IS easy and you can set it and leave it.