Monday, April 19, 2010

The Right Thing At the Right Time

My friend Grace Davis decided to start a review blog late last year.

More Women (or, as Laurie White dubbed it in a nod to both LOLcats AND radical feminism "MOAR WOMYN") was a short-lived project, as medical issues in Grace's family intervened to make balancing one more project impossible.

More Women didn't pass from this earth without providing an invaluable benefit to me, though. Grace convinced the people at Cuisinart to send me a rice cooker to try out.
The rice cooker is here!

I have to admit it took me a while to make friends with the complicatedly named Cuisinart Rice Plus™ Multi-Cooker with Fuzzy Logic Technology.

I was used to my old Zojirushi rice cooker that had one button that you pushed down to start rice cooking. One. That was it. The same button popped up when the rice was done. My kind of operation. A simple rice cooker for simple people.

On the other hand, the Cuisinart Rice Plus™ Multi-Cooker with Fuzzy Logic Technology (I just have to put that in bold because a name that long sort of deserves boldness, doesn't it?) has a big glowing blue screen on front with a bunch of choices of everything from White Rice Soft and White Rice Hard to Risotto and Oatmeal.

For the first few weeks, the instruction manual was my best friend. Then the pages got all stuck together from sitting it on the wet counter and I just had to wing it.

I also have to admit that I never figured out what "Fuzzy Logic Technology" was, either. Onward.

I believe that the Gods must have wanted me to cook a lot of rice, because they not only delivered this rice cooker to me, they also delivered, in the form of a gift from my nutty friend Ish, a 20 pound bag of very fine white rice - Koda Farms Kokuko Rose Heirloom Varietal. It is gorgeous rice, with every grain fat, uniform and perfect.

Did I mention I don't usually eat white rice? And that 20 pounds is a LOT of rice?
When is my Cuisinart rice cooker getting here? I have 20 lbs of gourmet rice
Thankfully, I have some rice-loving friends who helped me by taking a lot of it off my hands. It's nice to share.

The cooker claimed it had a short cord, and I was worried because I have a an old, weird kitchen with almost no counter space and even fewer electric outlets, but it reached:
Cuisinart slice

I tried cooking the white rice: perfect.
Koda Farms Kohuko Rose white rice

I tried cooking brown rice and it, too, turned out perfectly. It takes almost 2 hours, which seems really long.

I don't remember the old rice cooker taking that long, but I also lost the little measuring cup for that rice cooker, and the instructions were impossible to remember for brown rice without it, so it had been a long time since I made brown rice in anything but a pan on a stove.

I made risotto. Eh. The machine has a feature where you can first saute, then put the rice in to finish the risotto. I'm too much of a control freak for this. The saute didn't seem hot enough or fast enough (I remember my cooking school chef instructor yelling "Sauté means TO JUMP!") for me, and I like adding the stock bit by bit and stirring on the stovetop, so I could live without this.

My risotto with red wine, carrots and shallots came out tasting good, though. Not as starchy and glistening as I might like, but very edible.
Risotto made with red wine, shallots, carrots

Where this machine shines, though, is scheduling. You can put ingredients in, set a finish time, and it will start cooking at the appropriate time to finish on schedule. How cool is that?

I eat oatmeal every single day but have never made steel-cut oats because I don't like to cook and stir for half an hour before I have had coffee. That's just the way I am.

But now I can put the steel-cut oats and the water in the night before, set a finish time and wake up to breakfast! Yessssss. Now THAT is a feature I can get behind. It will also hold finished food up to 24 hours.
Steel Cut Oats

The other thing I like about this is the dark-colored, non-stick cooking pot. The dark color allows the light-colored markings inside the pan to show up so you can see them to add water, and the non-stick is, well, non-stick. After many late-night bouts of scrubbing crusty rice out of the old rice cooker, I really appreciate easy clean-up.

You can also use it to steam veg, make soup etc, but those are features I admit I will probably never take advantage of. A pot on the stove vs. a pot on the counter - it's kind of a toss-up and I can keep a better eye on the stove. But if you are a regular crock-pot user, you might be able to consolidate appliances here to save counter and storage space.

It is easy to use, easy to clean and retails for about $149. It was definitely the right machine at the right time in my life.

I use it pretty much every day because I make a LOT of rice, mostly brown, for my dog Goldie's food and because brown rice is a great thing to eat when you are funemployed and are trying to conserve money.

It would make a great wedding gift or foodie birthday present for somebody you like enough to spend $149 on.

Thanks, Cuisinart. Send more free stuff.

1 comment:

Deodand said...

That explains the last time I was at the local Asian market. They have a big wall of Asian-sourced rice cookers and some of them were labelled "fuzzy rice cooker". I was wondering about fuzzy rice.