Saturday, December 13, 2008

Someone's been eating my porridge...

I am about to let ya'll in on a secret that will change your life. Wait, maybe I'm overselling it a bit. 
I'm going to let ya'll in on a secret that will change your weekday mornings. At least your weekday mornings breakfasts. 

Generally speaking, I am not a believer in small kitchen appliances. As far as I'm concerned everyone needs a stand mixer, food processor, immersion blender and a crock pot. A toaster is handy if you eat a lot of toast I guess. And coffee drinkers seem to think that a coffee maker is as necessary as oxygen. A hot air popcorn popper can save your life when you're home alone at dinner time and don't feel like cooking. 

But that's it really. I don't need or want an electric can opener, bread maker, hot dogger, toaster oven, electric potato peeler or anything made by Ronco. My counter top real estate is just too precious to me to waste on a bunch of silly stuff that gets used now and then and collects dust the rest of the time.

Case in point; A while back I decided that I wanted to eat more rice. Brown rice, white rice, jasmine rice, wild rice. Oh the possibilities! Now, I am perfectly capable of cooking rice in a pot of the stove but in the fantasy world in my head, I believed that an electric rice cooker would free me up to do other things while the side dish was in the works. I could paint! Take voice lessons! Compose a naughty comic opera! Anything would be possible because a rice cooker would be like a time machine, creating 40 minutes out of nowhere every evening between work and dinner.

So I went to amazon and ordered this:

And for a good week, week-and-a-half I made rice. And the rice was good. Very good. But, at the end of the day, how much rice can a person eat, you know?

The rice cooker took up residence in a little-used cupboard where it shamed me every time I reached for something behind it.

Fast forward to my trip to Texas. The first morning I was there my mom made me the most delicious oatmeal. There were all kinds of dried berries and nuts to mix in to it but I was on vacation so I put brown sugar and heavy whipping cream in mine. Ummmmmmmm. It was amazing. And she made it in her rice cooker.

As soon as I got back to New York I got the rice cooker out and discovered two little bits of awesome. First, my Neuro Fuzzy has a "porridge" setting. And secondly you can set a timer to start it anytime you want.

Before I go to bed at night I mix one cup of of McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal with 3 and 2/3 cups water (slightly less than the directions on the back of the can) and set the timer for 5:30 a.m. By the time I get up in the morning the oatmeal is done. It's. Like. Magic.

But here's the best part. Everyone loves the oatmeal, or porridge as we now call it. Even the kids. Do you have any idea how cool that is? For all five of us to agree on anything edible? Magic I tell ya!

The Neuro Fuzzy has now become a beloved member of the family. I'm even thinking of getting it a Christmas stocking.

You don't need to rush out and buy an expensive rice cooker to put the magic to work for you. My mom's is a tiny $20 job she got at Target. Just make sure it has a timer cause it's really all about the timer, you know?


--Deb said...

I LOVE porridge and oatmeal, both. I mean, sure, they're essentially the same thing to start with--except oatmeal is just that ... oats ... while porridge is heartier and can have all sorts of other stuff in it too, like nuts. And if you're starting with the steel-cut stuff instead of the flaked oats, you're already in porridge-territory. (There's also an amount-of-time rider in there--if it takes more than 5 minutes on the stove, it's porridge.)

I actually eat oatmeal every day, except for the occasional weekend day when I want something different. But otherwise? Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats. For special occasions, I brown it in a little butter before adding the water, and maybe some walnuts and cinnamon. (For some reason, I'm not a big fan of fruit in my oatmeal, don't ask me why.)

Sadly, though, our cheap-o rice cooker doesn't have a timer.

Anonymous said...

Susan, I am surprised you have not already discovered the magic combination of slow cooker + rice cooker with timer. My wife and I do this all the time for dinner: crock pot meal (chicken and sauce, or really anything yummy) and rice in the rice cooker. We set it up in the morning or even the night before. When it's dinner time, it's all ready to go!

Oh yeah, and oatmeal set up the night before is awesome. Sometimes it's the only thing that gets my wife out of bed in the morning ;)

Jean said...

I love that oatmeal but it takes forever. Every time we went to Scotland we brought back bags of porridge. It's the Scottish blood runnin' through my veins... or stomach... whatever. I've thought about a rice cooker but now I just might have to make that leap. Thanks!

lupo said...

Expensive oatmeal, cheap oatmeal.

You can buy steel cut oats at natural food stores (Whole Foods or any other store that sells bulk grains) for anywhere from 1/2 to 1/4 the price of McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal.

Same stuff, just as good for you.

Dave (or better know around here as "Mr. Maria")

Susan said...

Dave, you really ARE a genius. The McCann's is good but the price is outrageous. I will check out the Whole Foods bulk section next time I'm there.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy that your ricer works for the oatmeal! Here is another tip I just started after you left, I love making oatmeal each morning but with just two people, I have about a fourth of it left over. Now, I use it as a base for making treats for the dogs. I add a egg, chicken broth, sometimes honey (a little bit) and pumpkin. If it is not thick enough I add a little more oat flour. Put it in a square greased baking pan and bake them for about 30 minutes. The dogs love them, they are very healthy and I don't waste the left over oatmeal.

Jenny said...

If they have tiny rice cookers, I'm sold. I love the idea of oatmeal (or porridge- you're right, it's just more fun) ready for me to eat WHEN I WAKE UP. And maybe Ken would stop eating like, Lucky Charms or Count Chocula or whatever crap he eats in the morning.

woolies said...

Yum. Reminds me of my childhood.

--Deb said...

I had meant to mention that McCann's is good, but oh, so expensive. I keep the TIN, because it's so handy, but I refill it with oats I buy from King Arthur Flour when ordering other stuff.

HatboxRose said...

Nature's Pantry has steel cut oats in bins, buy as little or as much as you like. We put it in the slow cooker and it's ready in the morning. I love Zojirushi products and have a 4 quart electric hot water pot with 4 temps and timer. Hot water for the coffee press and tea, all ready to go first thing in the morning. When I set it before going to bed it plays a few bars of "Beautiful Dreamer", makes me laugh every time.

Turtle said...

ok, after 13+years in hawaii where everyone in our neighborhood (except us..the haole family) owned and lived by their rice cooker...this couls make me want to get a simple one like your mum's! That would be so nice to have for oatmeal, porridge with nuts and berries. My list on the counter is similar to yours but the coffee is espresso and i do also have a spacesaver as this has seriously saved dollars with it's wonderful sealing ability! I may actually have something now to ask santa for!!

Susan said...

That's so funny, Hatbox, cause my rice cooker plays Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when you set it and something else when the oatmeal is ready. It totally cracks me up.
I will check out Nature's Pantry. I've been meaning to go in there...

Shirra said...

I love my rice cooker, but it doesn't have a timer - and it wasn't inexpensive, either. I have rice cooker envy. Do you think I could pass off a new one with a timer as an oatmeal cooker? You would never let ok, right?