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Rice Cooker Meals

By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | February 10, 2009


Way back when I wrote the Tiny Choices Meal List, Shawnee commented that she’d been using her rice cooker to make one-pot meals.  I found the concept fascinating and delightful! While I love homemade meals (for health and financial reasons) I’m just not home enough to cook– so keeping it quick and easy is key for me.

I got a small sized rice cooker as a gift, so have been able to put it to the test.  First off, it cooks rice perfectly– which is a goddess-send for those of us who were born rice-challenged.  If that doesn’t describe you then you just don’t know the trauma of having pot after pot of rice come out either mushy, sticky or undercooked… so, three Tiny cheers for taking it out of my hands and into those of a rice robot!

Next, I tried a rice-cooker meal.  I put in brown rice and a handful of lentils, and upped the water content a bit, and left the room to go do Important Things elsewhere.  When there was about ten minutes left for the rice to cook (I brought a kitchen timer with me so I wouldn’t forget), I added some cubed marinated/baked tofu, and torn up kale, and soy sauce, and again left the room, trusting the robot to do what it was created to do.  When I came back a bit later the cooker had switched itself to “warm” mode, keeping my dinner ready for me.

The verdict: Brilliant! Brilliant!  Brilliant!  I ended up with a perfectly cooked meal, and I didn’t have to hang around for the cooking part, just the prep part.  Which means I got a healthy home-cooked meal while putting in half the time I usually would, and also was able to accomplish other tasks (I’m nothing if not a multi-tasker).

The only downside is that my rice cooker has a non-stick coating, which seems pretty perilous at this point.  A friend recently bought a Lotus Foods Stainless Steel Rice Cooker , which I’m considering as an upgrade.

Also, I’m not sure about the energy audit– rice cooker vs. stovetop/gas– but if this gets me to cook more often then I’m getting less takeout and creating far less non-recyclable/compostable trash, which is a good thing.

The NYT ran an interesting article on this very topic: The Steamy Way to Dinner

Have you ever made a rice cooker meal?  Have meal ideas to share?

[Image by anomalous4 via Creative Commons]

Topics: Food | 20 Comments »

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Comment by Jenn S.
2009-02-10 08:26:52

I LOVE my rice cooker – it is definitely my favorite appliance in the kitchen, and I use it 2-3 times per week….yes, it does make rice beautifully, but it’s the *other* stuff that really makes me spread the word about the wonder of the rice cooker.

I make a lot of meals like you made – rice + whatever veggies, tossed in at the end, and I love to mix it up, seasoning the rice with coconut milk, or curry powder, garlic, ginger…whatever I’m feeling like that night. I’ve made soup in it, and beautiful pots of slow-cooked beans.

But the true goddessend of this little electrical wonder…the porridge cycle. I love steel cut oats. There’s nothing I’d rather have for breakfast in the winter than a warm bowl of oats, studded with fruit. The variations are endless – my current favorite is steelcuts cooking in almond milk, with a couple peeled/cubed granny smith apples, a handful of diced dried apricots, and lots of cinnamon, and a sprinkle of nutmeg and anise. YUM. I’ve blogged about it here:

Comment by Jenn (Tiny Choices)
2009-02-10 08:44:58

Wow, that’s a fancy one! Porridge setting! Timer! Both super handy features…And, thanks for the oats recipe, it sounds divine. I’ve got some oats in the cupboard so I’ll give this a shot. Also, love the idea of cooking up rice with coconut milk, etc– thanks for the ideas!

2009-02-10 09:09:48

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Comment by greta
2009-02-10 15:54:32

Love this idea, but how long does it take for the food to cook? It seems like it might take too long to make a regular weeknight meal (unless you like to eat late).

Comment by Jenn (Tiny Choices)
2009-02-11 22:58:05

Hey Greta– I think it takes about a half-hour for the rice cooker to cook up rice, which would have to happen anyway, even if I’m cooking the veggie/tofu part on the stove. So now I don’t have to do the stove part– just put the rice to cook, and come back to toss in the other ingredients about 3/4 of the way through. So, the total cooking time is the same but way less dedicated kitchen time is required, freeing me up to do other things while dinner is cooking itself.

2009-02-11 05:26:19

I love my rice cooker, but the container is made from aluminum, which I worry a bit about. Good to know about the stainless steel model.

Comment by Jenn (Tiny Choices)
2009-02-11 22:59:41

Hey Beth! I think there are a bunch of stainless steel models on the market, they just take some sleuthing to find. as Jenn S. (who is *not* me) stated above, her model has a timer… which I could see coming in very very handy. So I wonder if I could find a stainless + timer model… will keep you posted!

Comment by Sophie
2009-02-13 05:16:07

I got a rice cooker for christmas (like the one Jenn S has with a porridge mode, wonderful). I’m still working up to making a whole meal in there rather than just the rice so thanks for the reminder and ideas!

Comment by Jenn
2009-04-21 22:45:21

Just came across this and adding it to the list: Pandora’s Feast

Comment by Jenn
2009-04-21 22:47:32

And also:
Caribbean Rice in a Rice Cooker

Comment by Jenn
Comment by Jenn
Comment by Jenn
Comment by Rice Cook
2009-09-07 11:40:38

I have to agree with you, using a rice cooker is so wonderful for rice! I can’t imagine using anything else, I come originally from Thailand and have used a rice cooker my entire life. When I came to the US, my husband didn’t have one and I tried making it in a pot. It was not a good thing :O

2009-12-31 12:12:51

[...] the massive amount of take-out containers I seem to accumulate in my home.  Ya’ll know about my issues with cooking (though I do have the best of intentions), so it’s no surprise that I eat out and bring-home [...]

2010-01-21 15:55:31

[...] I’m constantly searching for ways to make it realistic for me to cook more meals at home, and bring more meals for [...]

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Comment by ??????
2010-08-16 13:55:20

I enjoyed your article here mate. Infact I’m a fan of the site in general to be very honest. It’s the fourth ocasion I’ve been back here but I kept forgeting to save the site in my saved website list so I have to keep going through the search engines to find it. SAVED this time haha . Best of luck.

2010-12-23 12:39:28

Love this idea, but how long does it take for the food to cook? It seems like it might take too long to make a regular weeknight meal (unless you like to eat late).


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