It's often occurred to me that the trend for larger and larger houses with more rooms, enormous kitchens, and many bathrooms (but incidentally very little yard!), has evolved because of the amount of 'stuff' we now accumulate.
I reckon a lot of us wouldn't need a bigger house if we just decluttered more often. I've proven this myself time and time again.
Rice Cookers are a perfect case in point. Now I know some of you will say 'but I love my rice cooker and I can use it for other things!'. But if you have a stovetop and a saucepan, you simply do not need a rice cooker cluttering up your cupboard.
Here's my no-fail steamed rice recipe, which I learned at the elbow of a Chinese Chef when I was 11 years old and my Mum worked nights at the local Chinese Takeaway. The Chef used to let me sit in a corner, wrapping serviettes around plastic cutlery, and would occasionally let me come into the kitchen to watch her do preparation for that nights business.
All you need is:
A large saucepan or wok with a tight fitting lid
Then you just:
Measure one and a half cups of water to each cup of rice, bring to the boil, stir to loosen any grains attached to the bottom of the pan, put the lid on firmly, and switch off. Yes OFF. Now the important part here is to not lift the lid for twenty minutes at least. No peeking, or it won't work. The rice is cooking on stored heat and if you lift the lid, the heat will escape and your rice won't cook. This works best on electric hotplates where the heat is retained for several minutes. If you have gas, it will still work, but I'd give it another blast of heat after about 10 minutes to bring it back up to the boil, before stirring again and replacing the lid. It'll still work just fine. After 20-30 minutes...TA-DA...perfect fluffy rice. Just fluff carefully with a fork, cool on a large platter so that the grains all cool and separate (or crumble them with clean hands once cold to separate), and store in a sealed container in the fridge or in a ziplock bag in the freezer.
This method is also very energy efficient, and can be used for many other dishes. I'll be sharing some of those over the coming weeks.
So...declutter by getting rid of the rice cooker (unless it has some enormous sentimental value!), cook with very little energy, produce perfect fluffy rice every single time.
I constantly have a batch of steamed rice in the fridge. I use it for quick lunches with a small tin of tuna and some rocket stirred through, for fried rice, for side dishes for Thai Red Curry and stir fries, and for rice salads. It's just so handy to have it there, ready to go, and I can't believe anyone would pay $3 for two incey-wincey half cups of cooked rice at the supermarket, when it's so easy to do at home. Granted, it's not a lot of money for the convenience, but comparatively speaking, for a $3 bag of rice and very little time, I'd be able to prepare around 30 half cups of cooked rice. So $3 for two serves of cooked rice, or $3 for 30 serves of cooked rice. Hmmm...15 times the number of serves? I know which one I'd pick!
To make your own Fried Rice:
2 cups cold precooked rice
1 chicken stock cube
1 cup inexpensive frozen mixed vegetables
1 dessertspoon soy sauce (I use GF Tamari)
1 dessertspoon Oyster sauce (be careful of seafood allergies!)
2 teaspoons Sesame oil
1/4 cup diced ham or bacon if you have it
One egg, beaten
A smidge of water (about 4 tablespoons in a glass ready to go)
Heat your wok till it's smoking and spray with Cooking Spray.
Pour the beaten egg in. It will cook quickly like a pancake. Once it's cooked through (you don't even need to flip it), remove and quickly slice into long shreds.
Spray the wok with more cooking spray and toss in your cold rice. Let it sizzle for about a minute to absorb those smoky flavours. While it's doing that, cook a cup of inexpensive frozen mixed veges on HIGH in the microwave for one minute to take the chill off them.
Toss the veges in along with the ham or bacon if you're using it. Keep tossing it around with a couple of spatulas to keep it moving and heating through.
Crumble the stock cube over the lot and add just a smidge of water to help it mix and dissolve.
Add your shredded egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, and oyster sauce. Toss well and serve immediately.
This batch of fried rice would cost you at least $8 from your local takeaway and feed your family once. Your home cooked batch costs about $2-$3 and will feed four of you once as a meal, or 6-8 as a side dish, with, if you're lucky, a bit left over for your own lunch the next day.