I really suck at making brown rice on the stove. White rice? I'm a pro. But Brown rice? The long-cook kind? Just about every time it comes out crunchy.
I knew about rice cookers (Who doesn't know about rice cookers?), but I thought it would wind up being just another appliance that was more trouble than it was worth and after two frustrating attempts it'd wind up in a garage sale. That is, until I posted another whiney status update on Facebook saying that I, once again, broke the brown rice. That prompted someone (may have been Carolyn, who told me to suck it up and get a coffee grinder for my flaxseed: www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
) to tell me that rice cookers do a great job at making brown rice the way it should be (non-crunchy), and that they aren't hard to use OR hard to clean, which were my biggest concerns.
So I asked for a rice cooker for my birthday, and my husband gave me one. I told him to please not get me the kind that vacuums the carpets and does taxes. I just wanted the most basic model possible, because I never use the extra stuff on appliances. He was obedient and got me the basic model by Aroma:
It comes with a steamer insert thingy, so that you can cook veggies on top (It has yet to be put into action. See? I don't use extra stuff), and a measuring cup. The inside is non-stick and the inside of the top of the lid pops off for super-easy cleanup:
The process for making rice with this thing couldn't be simpler- Toss the rice and water in there, close the lid down tight, plug it in, and turn it on. It somehow senses when the rice is done and moves it to the "keep warm" setting for several hours. No watching for water to boil, cleaning up of boil-overs on my stove, or scrubbing burnt rice of of the bottom of a pan because I accidentally cooked it too long. Additionally, I can set it off to the side and all my burners are still free for anything else I might be cooking. As an added bonus, it's ready in about half the time it takes to make rice on the stove.
The ratio of water to rice are different for brown rice than white, so I still have to look it up in the manual each time I use it, but let me tell ya something; this thing couldn't be easier to use. And the rice has never once turned out anything other than wonderful! Sometimes I use chicken broth instead of water, for some extra flavor. I almost always cook up more than we need and store the leftover in the fridge to use as a healthy carb over the next few days. (Did you know that cold brown rice makes a wonderful addition to salads?)
As is always the case, though, I started thinking: I usually have oatmeal for breakfast, which I cook in my Micro Steamer (blogged about it here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
). But I've wanted to try steel cut oats. The thing is, they take so blessed long to cook that I only tried them once. I'm just too hungry in the mornings to wait that long to eat, plus I had to keep stirring them because they threatened to burn to the bottom of my pot. Since the cooking method for steel-cut oats is very similar to rice, I started wondering if I could cook them in the rice cooker. I did a quick Google search and, sure enough, you can. One part oats and three parts water, but don't fill the cooker more than half full, because oats like to foam up when they cook. This is REALLY cool, because I can jump out of bed, dump the oats and water in the rice cooker, then run off to the bedroom to make the bed, brush my teeth, and do my normal morning "stuff". When I get to the kitchen, the oats are pretty much done. I just give them a quick stir because there is water on top, then close the lid back down and let it absorb a bit while I get my vitamins together, feed the dog, and make my eggs or mix up a protein shake.
So there 'ya have it- My third and final gadget blog. (To link my first one, click here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
The link to the second one is above in the coffee grinder link.) Useful things I use regularly and make my life a lot easier AND healthier. Let me know what you think! (And tell me what you use YOUR rice cooker for- I'm always looking for new ideas!)