Growing up in an Asian family, I always used rice cookers. I never even considered cooking rice in a pot (who cooks rice in a POT?!) until my late teens when my white friends cheerfully informed me that they *always* cooked rice in a pot. I was aghast. Rice cookers are marvelous inventions. You just add a scoop or two of rice, a scoop or two of water (depending on the type of rice!) and hit the on button. Half an hour later, you have rice!
Brian and I would usually by the cheap Black and Decker rice cookers for $10 to $20. We’d use one for a year or two until the Teflon wore out, then we’d buy a new one once they went on sale. They worked quite well but with minor hiccups. You couldn’t leave it in the pot for too long after finishing, for example, because the “Keep Warm” setting would dry out the rice. It was also sometimes a pain to clean – the rice on the bottom would be dry and stick together or to the sides of the pot. We usually always wasted a scoop or two of rice because of that issue. But all in all, these rice cookers worked for us in terms of price and convenience. In the years that Brian and I have been together, we’ve gone through about 5 of these cheap rice cookers.
Then my life changed.
A co-worker who was moving back to Europe gave me his rice cooker as a thank you for selling his stuff on Craigslist. It was a Japanese model that originally cost $300. It has a digital display, options for white or brown rice and can make porridge, and a timer.
I was skeptical at first. A $300 rice cooker? Can a simple rice cooker really add 10x the value of the cheap model?
I finally tried it out the other day. OMG. On the first try, it made beautiful rice – each grain was perfectly cooked, there were no dry or burned patches, and there was ZERO rice stuck to the sides of the pot. (It also played a pleasant melody when it finished, adding to my growing list of appliances that make music at me). I left the rice in the pot on the “Keep Warm” setting overnight and BOOM – still hard perfect, warm rice when I got up in the morning.
I haven’t tried using the timer or any of the other rice settings yet, but I was sold. I use my rice cooker at least 3 times a week. With the new rice cooker, I save about 1 cup of rice a week (2 meals worth) due to less waste and I won’t have to spend time cleaning burned bits off the sides of the pot. Throw in options for cooking brown rice and making timed pots of rice on busy worknights – definitely worth the increased price tag.
I had a hard time believing that I’d ever find enough benefit in expensive appliances, but this new rice cooker really made me a believer. I guess it is like the avid baker who buys a price KitchenAid standing mixer. If you use something enough, the value and cost-per-usage makes it all worth it.
What expensive appliances do you own or wish you owned? How do they make your life better?