Search This Blog


"We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie." David Mamet

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

bill's favorite gadget

The Down-Home Holiday Guide to Kitchen Gadgets
"...the Panasonic SR-NA 18...Sure, it looks like a fugitive alien from a Pixar movie...but I LOVE it!"
Bill makes an airtight case for the rice cookerBeing partially of Middle Eastern descent, rice has always been my staple staple, favored over potatoes and pasta. I have cooked it for over thirty years according to the directions of my grandmother and mother - 2:1 water to white long grain rice, a can of tomato sauce. Oh, I have changed the tablespoon of chicken fat to a sprinkle of olive oil, but I'm sure that I can be forgiven. Let's just say that we Americans don't need as much fat in our diets as our ancestors did.
Of course, in recent years, many variations of ingredients have joined the repertoire, which include saffron, mushroom broth, coconut milk, Sazon, brown rice, black rice, red rice...yummmm!
Yet, for reasons I have yet to comprehend, my rice cooking skills did not improve with age. Most times, my rice would come out fine, but other times... well, to my taste, a failure.  And predictably, I would be having a big dinner party, maybe with a Thai curry chicken as the main dish, only to discover upon removing the lid on a big traditional pot, that all that beautiful Basmati rice had gone as gluggy as the Elmer's glue that my kid keeps finding spilled in his book bag.

Now I happen to be a man who likes consistency. I'm too old for surprises that require creative solutions.  Lemme just have my rice perfect and I'm good.  I like my rice like I like my pasta - al dente!  Look, I've given up wishing for free love and the for the Yankees to always finish last. Is it too much to ask that my rice will always be fluffy?
I've always had reservations about kitchen gadgets; observing how pasta makers, ice-cream makers, bread makers, fondue cookers and crock pots usually spend more time in people's closets than their kitchens. So, when I first heard of rice cookers, I was skeptical. Why have an appliance that cooks only one kind of food?  Ever hear of a frying pan for eggs only?  Or a can opener that's dedicated only for creamed corn? [Editor's note: see Lori's Tuna Chopper/Double Mezzaluna]
But, reckoning that millions of Asians must know something I don't, I decided, finally, to get me a rice cooker!  Well, that was the easy part. The hard part... which one?  Do I spend $29 and fly with no frills, or go for the 'phisitcated $129 jobbie with the tech pedigree?  After a little research, I figured it to be better to go for a unit nearer to the top than the bottom. But, I decided against the more "prestigious" and expensive Zojirushi brand and took a chancem, and picked up the Panasonic Model SR-NA 18. Sure, it looks like an egg-like fugitive alien from a Pixar movie; but the bottom line is, I LOVE it!
One might wonder why somebody would be enamored with a cooking device that is made by a company better known for big ass flat screen TVs and sound equipment than for the more intimate role of preparing organic matter that ends up in one's belly? All I can answer is that if you ever had to rely on one of the terrible food appliances made by another crossover company, like Black & Decker, you might be willing to try anything... who knows, maybe even steak knives by Scotch Tape or a blender by Boeing.
But Panasonic always had a long history of getting things right.  And so it is with their rice cooker. No more embarrassing servings of 3 bears porridge.  Brown, white, or sushi rice, it's fluffy and perfect every time. 
Put up the rice in the morning before work, set the timer and your rice will be ready when you get home. If you're late, don't worry. It will keep warm for two more hours. And there's even a bonus. As the cooker nears the end of its cooking cycle, the steam escapes from its little blow hole and fills the kitchen with the most delicious aroma. Guests walk in the door and always remark how delicious it smells. 
Only one thing about this rice cooker is a problem. I use it so often that I can't store it in the closet.

No comments: