My latest acquisition: a rice cooker!
(No advice, please.)
It occurred to me a couple months ago that I like rice, but that I only eat it with takeout food, because I don’t like making it.
My parents taught me how to make rice when I was a kid. (Using the knuckle method for measuring the water.) It’s not especially difficult. But I haven’t done it in decades, because it somehow feels like a big hassle to me.
I think a lot of that has to do with my uncertainty—for example, I think the part that felt hardest for me was the part where I put a lid on the pot and hoped/trusted that it would cook properly (neither too much nor too little) in the allocated time. And the lids of my pots don’t necessarily fit well, and I wasn’t sure how much it was OK for steam to come out, and sometimes the water would boil over the sides of the pot, and and and.
…Yeah, I know there are answers to all of these issues. For example, I now have pots with glass lids, which I never did in the days when I used to occasionally try to make rice. And I now have lots of people in my life who could teach me to make consistent rice, and there are YouTube videos, and so on. So my point here isn’t that making rice is difficult; it’s that making rice has always felt difficult to me, and so I never do it.
So I bought a rice cooker. I ended up picking the one recommended by Wirecutter: the Zōjirushi Neuro Fuzzy NS-ZCC10.
It took a while to get here after I ordered it, and it ended up arriving on a day when I had lots of leftovers, so it took me a few days to get around to using it. But I eventually did.
(On a side note: the rice cooker is super cute. I’ve seen other people’s Zōjirushi rice cookers, but somehow this one seems especially friendly to me—white and round in a really pleasing way. If a black one had been available, I would have bought that; I don’t normally buy white appliances. But in this case, I think the whiteness of it adds to the friendliness of the look. And it’s pleasing in other ways, too; for example, I think this is the first time I’ve ever owned an appliance with a retractable power cord.)
One of the main things that had occurred to me that I could do with a rice cooker was to make burritos. Burritos have always been something that I had made for me, at taquerias or at the deli counter at Piazza’s (the grocery store where I usually shop). But the ingredients that I usually get in burritos are rice and beans and cheese and salsa and lettuce and guacamole. And I always have cheese and salsa on hand at home, and usually some kind of lettuce, and often avocado in some form. So I purchased burrito-sized tortillas, and a bag of Lundberg short-grain brown rice, and a can of black beans, and I made myself a burrito.
And it all went well!
I was disappointed that I still had to rinse the rice (I know that pre-washed rice exists, but that’s not the kind I got), but I was more comfortable with that than I was last time I did it. And I was a little stressed by the rice cooker showing no visible sign of doing anything for most of the time it was running, but there was steam coming out of the vent on the top.
When it was done, the rice was a little too mushy, but that’s because I had put in a little extra water—I like soft rice, so I had intentionally put water in slightly over the appropriate line, under the assumption that the default amount of water would be too little for me.
I heated up the beans. They were a little undersalted to my taste, but fine. (The next day, when I did this again, I added a bit of salt and they were better.)
I warmed a tortilla in my toaster oven, then put some rice and beans and cheese and salsa and lettuce in a little pile in the middle of the tortilla, then did some scrunching around (as I’ve seen burrito-makers do) and folded things over, and voila! I had a homemade burrito!
And I discovered another advantage to making a burrito myself. I quite like the burritos that I buy from various places, but they’re often too big for me to eat in one meal. The Piazza’s ones in particular I tend to cut in half, and have half for dinner one night and half for dinner the next night. So when I was buying tortillas, I got smaller ones; the “burrito-sized” tortillas that I bought are much smaller than the giant-sized ones Piazza’s uses, and the resulting burritos are something I can eat in one meal.
The one that I made was tasty. And I had plenty of everything left over, so I ended up making two more burritos over the next couple days before I ran out of beans and that batch of rice.
During that time, I also had some rice mixed with tomato sauce and cheese and corn and such, which was also tasty.
A day or two later, I made another batch of brown rice with a little less water; that came out better, and I again got a few meals out of it, including a couple of burritos. Good stuff.
So I’m pretty pleased with the whole thing so far. Next up will be more of the same, but I’ll also try making coconut rice—I got some white rice and a can of coconut milk, and I found a recipe for making coconut rice in a rice cooker.
I’m still unlikely to eat all that much rice, but it’ll be really nice to have on hand when I want it. And I’ll probably make some extra and freeze it at some point so it’ll be available even faster.