It is Friday afternoon and the most common thought I have in my head for the weekend is: “what on Earth am I going to cook for the next 7 meals of the weekend for all 5 of us?!” I often take into account what other activities are scheduled, where we will be, and how much time I will have to prepare and actually cook the meals.
In continuing with my previous post, Is Cooking Really a Joy?, there are some kitchen appliances that can be used for a plethora of things and make cooking faster, easier, and tastier.
Because I so enjoy building up anticipation, today I will focus on my third favorite appliance: the rice cooker.
A rice cooker is an appliance that is plugged into a wall outlet and cooks rice and has the ability to steam vegetables and cook meat.
Rice is a difficult food to cook properly because the ratios of rice to water, the time the food cooks, and the heat at which it cooks changes the consistency of the cooked rice.
My reasoning behind this getting a number 3 pick is that you can cook your entire meal within this device. Mostly, this is true when cooking for just my husband and I (cooking the entire meal for 5 wouldn’t yield much food). But it still comes in handy for cooking rice when cooking for all 5 of us.
There are only three settings one must choose from in using this cooker-white rice, brown rice, or steam. You don’t even have to tell it how long to cook for.
My favorite meal to cook is brown rice (and the water) with a can of mixed peas, corn, and carrots for the bottom of the cooking pot and some fresh broccoli and pork chops seasoned with Mrs. Dash in the top simmer basket.
The only less-than-raving comment I receive about this meal is the texture of the meat. When steaming meat it gets a tiny bit tough, but this is only a concern if you are very picky about how you eat your meat.
Another plus to this appliance is that because you can cook raw meat, veggies, and rice in less than 30 minutes, it is an option for on the go cooking. It is feasible (depending on what you do for a living) to take this to your job and cook a healthy lunch rather than ordering out. As long as you refrigerate your veggies and meat you can start cooking your food about 20 minutes before you plan to eat.
Contrary to my advice on easy grocery shopping and cooking, looking up recipes will give you a great place to start when making dishes with your rice cooker. Search at both at www.foodnetwork.com and www.food.com type in rice cooker in to the search. You will find recipes on how to make different styles of rice, risottos, oatmeal, beans, and entire meals.
As always, my favorite advice when cooking: after you have looked up some recipes and found what flavors work and what doesn’t, get creative! Using ingredients you stock regularly and mixing them around will help you create many new possibilities to plain old rice!