Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Perfect Food, Cooked Perfectly

I can't believe I've written 8 posts already and have not yet discussed rice, or my beloved Zojirushi rice cooker!! Rice, the most basic food, the world's most popular grain, the diet staple of many countries. Dress it up, serve it plain. Sweetened for breakfast, savory for supper, leftover for lunch. What could be better? I have always liked rice, but, I must confess, unless it was cooked at an ethnic restaurant, my rice attempts barely went beyond Minute Rice. As I began experimenting with vegetarian cooking, I knew I needed to make some decent rice.

I browsed the bins at Whole Foods, totally bewildered. Basmati, Texmati, arborio, forbidden rice, red rice, black rice, Jasmine rice... very confusing. I experimented, but I thought to myself, "Surely, there is an expert amongst us??" And, I was right! Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann wrote "The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook," which has become my rice bible. They taught me everything about rice, where the varieties come from, what they taste like, how to cook them, how to serve them, basic recipes and hundreds of variations. They also taught me everything about rice cookers, the appliance I never knew I couldn't live without.
Long ago, I had a rice cooker/ steamer. The rice often burned and stuck to the bottom, and brown rice was hit or miss. After much research, I decided to invest in a REAL rice cooker. I bought this little beauty, the Zojirushi. She has neuro fuzzy logic-- very fancy, indeed! She cooks any and all rice to perfection. Don't be confused: this is not a machine to cook rice quickly. She is often slower than stovetop. However, it is always perfect. There is a warming cycle to keep it warm for hours. There is a porridge cycle that makes creamy, warm porridge. There is a brown rice cycle, and then you can choose softer or harder rice. If you buy the rice cooker AND the cookbook, Zojirushi becomes even more. She cooks all sorts of grains, pilafs, polenta, puddings, applesauce and poached fruits. And more. It's a good thing.

By popular demand, here are the finished loaves of bread. We went through 1-1/2 loaves at dinner that night; the rest never made it to the freezer:-)

On the knitting front, here is my JayWalker sock:
That's right, completely gone. Here's my story: I kept thinking it looked kind of big, but I checked and re-checked my gauge and it was right on. I had about an inch to go on sock #1 before the toe decreases. I was admiring the beauty of the pattern, and I suddenly noticed how dense the fabric seemed to be. It was NOT very stretchy at all. I ignored this for a day or two, feeling that dreaded feeling in the pit of my stomach. Today I decided to try it on. It would not stretch over my heel. I couldn't get it on. I lined up my kids, like Cinderella and her step-sisters trying on the glass slipper. Unfortunately, I didn't find my Cinderella. No one could get the darn thing on their foot. Off I trotted to the frog pond. I think I'll look for a different pattern to try!

It's snowing like crazy right now and my bird feeder is the most popular spot in town. If only they wore socks!!!!

1 comment:

Mike said...

Neuro Fuzzy Logic... has to be the coolest thing you'll ever find. Cheryl began looking for volume pricing so she could buy one for all her friends and family, but I had to make her listen to reason... anyone that's ever tried her rice (et al) has certainly already gotten their own.