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Sally's Kitchen

Sally’s Kitchen – The Story
Sally Strackbein

It was summer. It was hot. And we needed to eat. My choices were:

  • Cook on the stove and heat the house more
  • Go out to dinner
  • Get fast food
  • Fire up the barbecue

I discovered another solution – a simple, safe way to cook that is fast, cheap, convenient, and delicious.

Our son came up with the solution.

Tim, our son, came home from college one weekend asking how to cook in his dorm room. He had just moved from a 4-person room to a 2-person room for the summer session. The two other roommates took their microwave and refrigerator with them when they went home for the summer. He had recently decided to change his food habits, searching for a more healthy diet. I suggested we go shopping to discover what might work for him.

Tim’s new diet consists of rice, vegetables and fish, so he wanted to look at rice cookers. I tried to steer him to a more normal kind of electric hot pot, although I’ve used a rice cooker for years and love it. I thought you only cooked rice in a rice cooker. He showed me a rice cooker box and it mentioned cooking soups and stews. "Hmmm. This may work," I mumbled.

Rice CookerThe solution is a rice cooker.

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. If he could cook foods other than rice, what a safe appliance it would be for a dorm! A rice cooker turns itself down to "warm" and not burn the food if he gets distracted.

Still, all he wanted to use his rice cooker for was rice and ramen noodles. The more I thought about it, the more I visualized one pot meals like I had created for Emergency Kitchen.

I got home and threw some spaghetti, spaghetti sauce and water in my rice cooker and turned it on. I had to keep adding water, but it finally cooked and tasted quite good. The spaghetti had absorbed the flavor of the sauce and remained al dente. Not bad!

It‘s all one-step.

It was simple. I just threw all of the raw ingredients together in the rice cooker. I didn’t have to cook the spaghetti, then risk scalding myself while dumping the spaghetti water down the sink, cook the sauce, then decide whether to mix them together or serve them separately.

The best part is that I dirtied only one pan. I love cooking and I hate pan washing.

The spaghetti stuck to the pan. So I bought another rice cooker. This one has a non-stick pan. What a difference! I was on a roll.

Who needs rice cookers?

  • College students (and their parents who don’t want them distracted while cooking on a hot plate)
  • People who want to cook without heating their homes in the summer
  • People who want to save money and eat nutritious, home made fast food
  • Busy parents who would like to teach their children to cook
  • Senior citizens in small apartments who might forget to turn a burner off

What can I cook in a rice cooker?

Almost anything! For the last 6 weeks, whatever we’ve eaten has been cooked in the rice cooker. I’d like to change the name from "rice cooker" to "Everything Cooker." (note: 3 years later, I am still cooking almost everything in my rice cookers)

Here is a partial list of food I cooked in my rice cooker:

Why do I use a rice cooker instead of a pot on the stove?

Using a rice cooker is simple, cheap, and convenient. A rice cooker is an electric pot that is designed to boil water fast, then automatically turn down the heat when the rice is cooked to avoid burning the rice. It has two settings: 1) cook like mad, and 2) keep food warm forever. Because rice cookers are designed to never burn rice, I discovered a rice cooker never burns anything!

The best part is that they are safe for unattended cooking. If the phone rings, I feel safe just walking away from my cooking for a minute. I know that the rice cooker will not burn the food or start a fire because it automatically and instantly reduces the heat before the food burns and then holds the food at a nice warm 140 degrees until I come back and switch it back to cook.

Like many great discoveries, mine was almost an accident motivated by a problem.

I discovered a simple, safe way to cook that is also fast, cheap, convenient, and delicious. Rice cookers are cheap. You can buy them almost anywhere.

A rice cooker turns itself from "cook" to "warm" when the liquid in the pot has been absorbed. Food will not catch on fire if I forget to watch the stove.

  • The heat stays in the rice cooker. It doesn’t heat the kitchen.
  • I don’t need to dump boiling water in the sink and risk scalding myself.
  • For many recipes, I just dump the ingredients in the pot, turn it on and go do something else.
  • Most recipes cook quickly - in a half hour or less.
  • Vegetables stay crunchy and healthful.
  • The rice cooker is almost as fast as the microwave and safer because the food is always cooked all the way through, with no raw or cold spots.

I’m so happy with my rice cooker ideas that I want to share them with you! Rice cooker cooking is the ideal way to cook simple, delicious meals in an ever-busy world. Rice cookers provide a safe way for both new and experienced cooks to cook without creating a huge mess and without burning food.

Copyright © Sally Strackbein

Copyright © Sally Strackbein

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