Veteran Tools #3: Rice Cooker

My little 4 cup Rice Cooker has been a godsend.
My little 4 cup Rice Cooker has been a godsend and cooks just enough for me, the missus and the occasional visiting offspring

I used to dread cooking rice. I always had a problem. With the exception of pre-packaged, commercially produced rice which I always cooked in the microwave, the pot would almost always boil over. It would be undercooked or overcooked, burnt or just mush. I just couldn’t get it right. Then, I turned 60… yep 60… and dear friends gave me a generous gift certificate which I turned into a sweet little 4 cup Rice Cooker. I’d heard great things but, for some reason even though we probably had rice twice a week, I resisted.

Forgive me. Don’t take this personally if you were anything like me. I had been a dope! Cooking rice became as easy as falling off a log and suddenly I extended my rice horizon from Uncle Ben’s many delicious but heavily processed options, to simpler, frankly yummier fare. To my old standby, parboiled, long grain white rice, I added Basmati, Jasmine, and Brown Rice which I had always failed at. Sticky rice, and Quinoa followed as did Couscous. I still pull out some favourites from my old ‘Uncle’ but mostly I prepare easier on the system, less processed options.

Rice cookers vary by model. Some are very advanced and really expensive with timers and other digital controls. Some cook 4 cups, some cook a dozen. But, they are all basically the same. You add rice and water, turn it on and it cooks it until its ready. That’s usually it.That’s all! Really, they’re generally all the same and an inexpensive one will do just about the same job as something pricier.

They all let you add just about any liquid in which you want to cook the rice. I like to use soup stocks like chicken, beef or vegetable. I also have used juices like orange, pineapple or even tomato juice. Sometimes, I’ll add some fresh ginger or minced garlic before cooking. Sometimes I’ll ‘steam’ some veggies right at the end of the cooking cycle.

But usually, I just spray the bowl with some olive oil, add rinsed rice and a choice liquid and turn it on. It reliably cooks the rice while I attend to other things in the kitchen. The rice is usually ready in 15 to 20 minutes and cooked to perfection. Occasionally, I add too much water. That’s the only time I have trouble and that is, once again, always my fault.

Scroll through to learn more about how easy it is to work with a Rice Cooker. If you like what you see, don’t forget to ‘like’ and ‘follow’.

White, Brown, Jasmine, Basmati, Arborio, Wild, Sticky, and prepared rice are among the things I prepare in my Rice Cooker.
White, Brown, Jasmine, Basmati, Arborio, Wild, Sticky, and prepared rice are among the things I prepare in my Rice Cooker. I also prepare Quinoa and Couscous.
There's only two settings: Cook and Warm. My unit comes with its own rice paddle (spatula) and a steaming tray accessory.
There’s only two settings: Cook and Warm.
It never boils over and the rice is always cooked well!
My unit comes with its own rice paddle (spatula) and a steaming tray accessory.
I use the plastic measuring cup that came with my unit, pour what I need into a strainer basket and rinse for 30 seconds to a minute before adding it to the cooking bowl.
I use the plastic measuring cup that came with my unit, pour what I need into a strainer basket and rinse for 30 seconds to a minute before adding it to the cooking bowl. Some people recommend pouring the rice into the bowl and just covering it with cold water for a few minutes before rinsing. I tend to skip this step and go right to rinse.
Once the rice has been added, I pour in the recommended amount of water, give it a stir with the paddle, put the lid on and press 'cook'.
I tend to spray the cooking bowl with olive oil before the rice has been prepped and added.
Once the rice has been added, I pour in the recommended amount of water, give it a stir with the paddle, put the lid on and press ‘cook’.
Some people add a little butter or cooking oil to to make it easier to separate the rice once it has been cooked through
The unit's glass lid has a steam vent to allow steam to escape as the water boils and the rice cooks. When the rice is ready, the unit automatically switches to 'warm' mode.
The unit’s glass lid has a steam vent to allow steam to escape as the water boils and the rice cooks. When the rice is ready, the unit automatically switches to ‘warm’ mode.
The rice is not completely cooked when the unit switches to ‘Warm’. It’s best to let it rest on ‘Warm for at least 5 minutes before taking the top off.
After the rice has rested for a few minutes on 'Warm' I remove the lid and fluff up the rice.
After the rice has rested for a few minutes on ‘Warm’ I remove the lid and fluff up the rice.
I sometimes add chopped or sliced raw vegetables as soon as the unit switches to “warm’. I leave it on warm with the lid on to finish off the rice and cook the veggies.

If you like what I have to say about Rice Cookers… even if you don’t… please comment, let’s talk about it!

And, ‘like’ the blog so you can come back and see us some time!

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