Monday, July 19, 2010

Of Rice and Men

Many of you are aware of the recent tragedy to strike our family, and by our family I mean ‘me’. I’m sure Angel didn’t mean to break the lid to my Rival 6 Cup Rice Cooker, but she did. Accidents happen, especially with Angel. In the past we’ve been to Urgent Care for slicing pineapple, opening a coconut and a while back for a grievous curling iron incident.

She said she was putting the little red rice cooker away when the glass lid slid off and shattered into 13.7 billion tiny shards.

I was distraught. The rice cooker was a Christmas present from Angel a couple of years ago. I had expressed a desire for one, that one in particular after reading hundreds of online reviews. I even sent her links to online sites that carried it as well as maps to local retailers that supposedly had it in stock.

Then I made rice.

Which is odd since I really never liked rice except for the fried rice you get at finer Asian Restaurants. By finer Asian restaurants I mean the ones in Springfield Mo. Light, fluffy, a few veggies, a few chunks of chicken, a few drops of soy sauce then stir-fried for just a short time.

But I had decided that I could learn to like rice if I could control its ingredients. After all rice is like potatoes, by themselves bland and starchy, but with the right toppings and cooking method, potentially awesome.

I tried a couple of batches right away and was disappointed. I downloaded recipes from the wide world of web, nothing worked, and I gave up. I put it away and thought little more of it.

At some point last year I decided to try again. I devoted three straight weekends to making small portions with recipes from all cuisines, Italian, French, Mexican, Mediterranean, Southwestern, Cajun, Norwegian, even Indian. The place was a mess of course, but I was on a mission, and if one of my missions means a little more work for Angel, well that’s a small price to pay.

Somewhere along the line I picked up a tip. Add a couple of bouillon cubes to the water.

Voila! All the rice dishes I tried came out better.

Soon I was dragging out the little red rice cooker every couple of weeks or so. Rice is cheap, add-ins’ are cheap, it only takes about twenty minutes. Nobody else in the family likes my more exotic rice dishes very much, Adam only likes rice plain, no ingredients at all, not even the small amount of diced onion I usually throw in to cook with the rice.

Angel says some of them are okay, though she’s never actually requested any of them.

I don’t mind, self gratification can be the best gratification. So I make rice, enough for everyone whether they eat any or not. If they don’t, no problem, as long as I’m satisfied it’s only gravy if someone else enjoys it as well.

My go-to rice dish is oddly enough Asian style, without the frying part. Here it is:

Into the rice cooker:

2 ‘cups’ of rice (the cup that came with the rice cooker)

2 cups of water (real cups)

3 chicken bullion cubes

1 TBSP finely diced onion

1 TBSP butter

Mix together in the rice cooker the butter, rice and onions. Dissolve the cubes in the water and pour into the rice cooker up to just below the ‘2 cup’ line, it won’t take the whole amount. I like my rice on the dry side, that’s the reason for shorting the mark.


To the steamer basket add any or all the following, substitute any of these with your favorites.


Green peppers



You don’t need that much. All combined you’ll only need about a quarter cup total.

Avoid strong tastes like green peas. Avoid cauliflower and broccoli altogether because they’re just disgusting.

Fresh veggies are great if you have them. I buy bell peppers celery, carrots in large packages and dice up a bunch and freeze them. That way I always have some on hand when I get a sudden hankering for either chili or rice. Onions I prefer fresh, we always have a couple around.

While the rice is cooking:

1 Boneless chicken breast, frozen/thawed is fine. Make it your favorite way without breading it, you’re going to chop it up anyhow. Here’s how I roll:

In a small skillet add 1 TBSP or less of olive oil and 1 to 12 TBSP’s of butter. Chop the breast into one inch cubes and start them cooking. About half way done, add ¼ cup of your favorite boxed chardonnay (or a couple drops of lemon / lime juice for you teetotalers) and 1 TSP of fresh or minced garlic. Once that starts to boil off add just a shake of soy sauce, don’t overdo it. Cook until the chicken is tender and done through.

Remove the chunks and let them sit in a bowl. When they’ve cooled enough chop up the chicken chunks to ¼ inch or less.

Pour off the juice and wipe out the skillet.

In a little, a very little oil, canola, whatever, fry two eggs completely, no runny yolk, pepper optional.

Chop up the eggs and add to the chicken.

About now the rice will be done.

Fetch a bowl twice as big as you think it might take. Pour everything into the bowl and mix it all up. Near the end of the mixing start adding a little soy sauce, swirl it around, taste, repeat until your taste buds throw you a party.


This stuff reheats rather nicely too.

Notice I didn’t add salt. Between the salt in the butter and the soy sauce I find this is plenty salty by itself. Feel free to add more if you like.

Serve with… well just scoop some into a cereal bowl, grab a fork and chow down. This dish is best served with fresh Luzianne ice tea, beer, or even Sake.

Now back to the crisis.

Angel told me, reluctantly, what had happened. I of course was furious, or at least made it appear that I was. I screamed at her (in my head) and stomped through the house yelling “This is why I never get you nice things!”

I logged into the internet on my spiffy little ASUS Netbook and started researching replacement lids. Well, no such thing popped up. There’s a reason for that. Brand new the awesome Rival 6 Cup Rice cocker only costs about fifteen bucks. Individually a lid would cost about, I don’t know five to eight bucks? Then if you have to get it shipped. . .

So here’s what we’re going to do. This weekend, because I only cook rice on weekends, I’ll stop off at either Target or Wally-world and pick up a new one, hopefully the same model. I’ll take it home, open up the box, take out the lid, then close the box up and put it in a safe place, instant spare parts.

Then I’m making some more rice.

So thanks to all of you that have expressed genuine or exaggerated condolences over the loss of my treasured appliance. We will get through this crisis; it’ll just take some time, and about fifteen bucks. When you have words about this with Angel, try to be nice. She means well even if it does often seem like she hates me.