The Topic: Fast and Easy Eats
The Dish: Buying in bulk is one of the best money-savers, and I'm all for stocking up on cheap, healthy grains to serve as meal mains. I've been on a quinoa kick lately, but am transitioning back to my undying love for brown rice. While quinoa takes no time on the stove, cooking up the perfect pot of rice can take closer to an hour, which is still worth the investment if I'm planning for the week ahead.
Honestly though, I'm a creature of convenience more than I'd like to admit. Despite having approximately one square foot of counter space in my apartment, I decided to bite the bullet and invest in a rice cooker. Verdict? Best decision ever. I scored a small, 6-cup cooker for a reasonable $15 at the local Target, which is perfect for one person. It even came with a handy steamer basket, so heating up veggies is easy and keeps it to a delightful one-pot meal. I know to the uninitiated it may seem silly to buy an appliance strictly for cooking grains (yes, any grain is fair game), but it makes even the laziest person (me) capable of having a healthy meal with very little effort. Add rice and water, and push a button—ta da! It's really, really hard to mess it up, and at around 22 cents per cup of rice, the price can't be beat. With a little seasoning, steamed veggies, and a few dashes of Tapatio—my favorite hot sauce—I have the perfect meal.
The Final Word: Water to grain ratio varies depending on your rice cooker, as well as the grain used, so make sure and consult the manual for your machine. If you're jonesing for some amaranth and it doesn't mention it, then Google is your friend. I've also heard of people using their cookers for all sorts of culinary adventures, including soups and sauces. Are you a rice cooker devotee? What's your favorite use for it?