Kitchen rice cooker
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The $20 kitchen appliance that makes breakfast a snap

I can’t believe that I was thirty-mumble-mumble before I bought a rice cooker. I knew friends who had them. I figured that rice cookers were just for people who were cooking giant vats of rice for family tables of twenty. Or maybe for sushi restaurants. Anyhow, I wasn’t much of a rice eater anyway, so why bother getting some super fussy, one-purpose, highly specialized kitchen gadget? How wrong I was. I’m so glad that I discovered this oversight.

In retrospect, I don’t even know what prompted me to buy a rice cooker. It was some time during the pandemic. Maybe I’d been cooking a bit more rice than usual, and was tired of watching the pot or accidentally scorching it on the bottom. I think there might have been a good sale. To be honest, I don’t remember my journey to owning a rice cooker. But I’m so glad I stumbled into this.

I remember being hesitant to invest in a rice cooker, plus feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the options. Why are there so many buttons and settings? I wasn’t sure I’d be making use of them, so I opted for one with a simple on-off switch. I decided that I could always upgrade to one with more bells and whistles if I needed to in the future. And so far, I’m very happy with my super basic, no-frills rice cooker. I have a Salton 6-cup automatic rice cooker— the regular price is supposedly $50 per the Salton website, but I see it listed for sale for under $20 right now from a few different retailers.

I use my rice cooker for:

  • Dump-and-forget it rice or quinoa as a side or a meal base (rice + salt + butter + water + press the button = magic)
  • Rice cooker oatmeal (large-flake oats + water + salt in the proportion on the package = hands-off filling breakfast in about 10 minutes)
  • Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal (cereal + water + salt in proportion on the package = no-stir breakfast)
  • Rice cooker frittata (I use eggs + milk + cheese + baby spinach + minced garlic + dill + olive oil)

It’s especially helpful in the mornings, as I can dump oatmeal or Bob’s Red Mill cereal into the rice cooker, add the water and salt, then just let it cook merrily along (no stirring! no watching! no boiling over! no scorching). Once it’s ready, it politely clicks over to “keep warm” to await whenever I’ve stopped running around and have a moment to sit down and eat. I love it. Best $20 ever.

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