By Mike Thayer
In my childhood years and one of four kids (3 sisters and "No, I don't want to play Barbie dolls with you and NO, the Ken doll will NOT work as a GI Joe!") we didn't eat a whole lot of rice in the Thayer household. When we did, it was usually the Minute Rice stuff with Chunky beef soup poured over the top for a quick meal.
In my early adult years and marriage #1, I still didn't eat much rice, it wasn't really a staple in the Mike Thayer household and if rice was consumed, it was usually at a Chinese restaurant.
But as I got into cooking, my appreciation for rice grew and we're talking real rice, not the Minute Rice stuff. It was old school white rice, the 2-1 water/rice ratio in a pan with a little butter, salt and pepper on the stove for 20 minutes. Mastering that, my appreciation for rice grew tenfold through marriage #2 and three boys, with rice becoming a big time staple in the pantry, as in 20 pound bags staple. White rice, brown rice, Basmati rice, Arborio rice, Jasmine rice and graduating from cooking simply with water, butter, salt and pepper to using beef, chicken or vegetable stock, aromatics, and/or a variety of spices. But the cooking for the most part was still old school, sautee for a bit in butter or olive oil and the 2-1 liquid/rice ratio in a pan on the stove top. I do like to cook rice on the grill using a cast iron skillet with a glass lid and that cast iron does a nice job giving the rice a nice crispy edge to it.
Kicking rice up another level with the Cuisinart Rice and Grain Multicooker
Kudos to Cindy C in getting me a rice cooker (she's so good to me!). I've never had one before and wow does it make a HUGE difference in what goes on the plate or in a bowl! Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I would have invested in a rice cooker long ago. Rice comes out perfect every time and the one pot meal capability - AWESOME. You can "set it and forget it" until the timer goes off, dinner is ready!
Here's the promo piece on the Cuisinart website: Cuisinart® gives home chefs so many ways to cook – and so many different foods to cook – in one pot! The Cuisinart® Rice and Grains Multicooker redefines versatility. With 18 pre-programmed settings, perfect results are guaranteed whatever is in the pot, and Cuisinart® includes lots of recipes that demonstrate the full range of functions. This multicooker even has a preset for Pre-wash, making cleanup exceptionally quick and easy. With its family-sized, removable pot and easy-to-navigate Selector knob and LCD screen, this is sure to become every cook’s favorite countertop cooking appliance.
This thing is indeed a multicooker! It sautees, steams, keeps items warm. You can do rice, oatmeal, beans, all kinds of grains, risotto, pasta, it's great for one pot meals or just a bunch of rice for a side and yes, I can even get that nice crispy edge if desired like I do from the cast iron. This appliance is seeing regular use. I don't store 20 pound bags of rice anymore just being a household of one, but I do have a variety of rices and grains to choose from in the one to two pound bag range. I've steamed eggs for a perfect 'boil' in making egg salad and I'm looking forward to doing a sausage and shrimp Jambalaya.
The Cuisinart Rice and Grain Multicooker is available for about $140 and you can find it at Walmart, Kohl's and other retailers. With it's versatility, consistency and ease of use - punching up a one pot meal on this appliance is easy peasy - I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. It's also easy to clean, even after doing a pot of baked beans with bacon. It's worthy of a place on your countertop.