No stove, but I have a rice cooker

When I decided to move into a studio apartment that didn’t have and would never have a stove I thought it would be great.  After 21 years of preparing meals for my family I would have an excuse why I no longer cared to cook for just myself.

I didn’t take long to realize I was going to have some adjustments to make.  Days after moving in the temperatures fell and we had rain for close to a week.  I craved a bowl of soup, but couldn’t make a big pot in the slow cooker because I hadn’t bought a fridge yet either.  Enter the rice cooker.

I had a can of Amy’s Lentil Soup that sounded so good. But how was I going to warm it without a stove or hot plate?  I looked through my cabinet and spotted the rice cooker.  It was just what I needed.

This led me to wonder what else I could do with the rice cooker.  If it was versatile enough I could pass up buying a hot plate to cook with.  It has been versatile, here’s a few of the things I figured out I could do with it.

What follows are the things I use the rice cooker most often for.  But probably just about any recipe that can be made on a stove top can also be made in the rice cooker.  One advantage to using this for my cooking is that I can comfortably allow the 3-year-old grand-kids cook without worrying about them getting burned.   Although they complain that mom doesn’t trust them to cook on the stove at home.

Applesauce:   In the fall I enjoy a bowl of homemade applesauce.  If I am making a large batch I will use the slow cooker, but if all I want is some for dinner, I use the rice cooker.  Simply cut up the apples, add a tiny amount of water, add cinnamon and nutmeg and cook.  When apples are tender, mash with a potato masher and enjoy.

Spaghetti: Fill  cooker with water, bring to boil.  Add pasta and cook normally.  I’ve made every type of pasta in the rice cooker.  When done, drain and add sauce.  If I am making a large pot of spaghetti and want it done quickly I make the pasta in the rice cooker, then transfer it to the slow cooker to keep it warm.  With my son visiting from out-of-town, I will have a meal ready when he gets here, but traffic makes it hard to pinpoint exactly when he will arrive, so the slow cooker keeps it just the right temp until they show up.

Steamed Vegetables: My rice cooker came with a steamer tray that can be set inside to steam foods.  This is how I usually cook my vegetables, whether fresh or frozen.  If I am making a meal and have pasta or potatoes below cooking in water, I will add the veggies near the end of the cooking time.  Can’t forget veggies, especially for the children :-)

Fried potatoes and Eggs:  This is something I grew up with and still love.  Without a fry pan could I make these.  Yep!  I ran out of Olive Oil and even needed to adjust the recipe.  I added a dash of Newman’s Own Italian dressing to the pan for the oil and toss the potatoes, onions, peppers, leeks (this varies by what is on hand).  I find that the heating element gets pretty hot and will switch to warm about the time the potatoes just need a tiny bit more softening.

Once the potatoes are ready I add eggs and stir.  By this time the rice cooker will allow me to switch it back to cook (from warm) and the eggs cook perfectly.

Potatoes:  The rice cooker is perfect for doing potatoes. I can easily boil them to make mashed potatoes.  By adding onions, garlic, and a little broth in the pan I can have creamy garlic-y mashed potatoes.  I’ve also made mashed cauliflower, which has similar consistency of mashed potatoes.

Warming Foods:  If I don’t want to eat my leftovers cold I simply toss them in the rice cooker to warm them up, it will only take a couple of minutes, most times it seems to be faster than an electric stove was.

Children’s favorites: When the grand-kids come over many times they bring foods with them for lunch (one is very picky so this helps to make sure he eats).  We’ve made boxed macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, warmed soups, heated baked beans, and even cooked a thin piece of steak in the rice cooker.

Chili:  Who can live without chili?  If I am making just enough for myself for a day or two I will save time and make it in the rice cooker instead of the slow cooker.  Meat will brown nicely if you like to add meat to your chili.

Beans: Most of the beans I eat I make from dry beans.  I love cooking the beans in a slow cooker, no watching the pot, but it takes forever.  If I get a hankering for beans in a meal and don’t have any ready, I simply pull out the rice cooker again,  it works the same as a stove to cook beans and takes the same if not shorter time to cook.

But what about breakfast?

Hot cereal: You can make oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits… Simply cook the same way you would if you had a stove top.  When I make oatmeal I usually chop up an apple or peach and toss that in the water with the oats. When cooked the fruit will give it just enough sweetness that I don’t need to add sugar.

Fruit compotes: I love to take fresh fruit and cook it down to make a compote.  I can eat it plain or over yogurt or ice cream.  Again this is the same process as if you are using a pan and stove top.

Tea: When I am alone I have a small pot that will heat enough water to make about two large cups of tea (or hot chocolate)  but when I have company or want to make a pitcher of iced tea I use the rice cooker.  Simply boil the water, seep and pour or scoop into cups.  I will pour into a pitcher to chill in the fridge for iced tea during the warmer months.

As you can see, once I put my mind to it, I realized I had everything I needed to survive without a stove.  My original thought was that I would get a hot plate, but haven’t needed it yet.   So if I can survive more than a year without it, I probably will never get one.  Oh and did I mention that the pan itself fits nicely in the tiny fridge I have so I don’t need storage containers for leftovers.  Just pull out of the fridge, plop it in the “cooker” and reheat.

Do you have a rice cooker?  What have you used yours for?

57 thoughts on “No stove, but I have a rice cooker

    • Laura, I hope you find more uses for the rice cooker. Apple sauce is so easy, it’s one of those foods that has just enough sweetness it needs nothing else. If you come up with more ideas I hope you’ll share them.

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  1. I never have had a rice cooker, but do have two slow cookers in two sizes. Mom purchased herself a new small slow cooker and gave me her old one because I didn’t mind a scratched up looking one as long as it still worked. We use it for like for warming up little sausages in barbeque sauce. I’ve made bread in the slow cooker in a gallon sized coffee can in a water bath. I’ve also had an electric skillet and used it until it fell apart, so if the rice cooker is like it perhaps I might like to have one. My husband likes gadgets and asked me sometime ago if I’d like to have one, but I didn’t see any sense in getting one to only cook rice in it, besides, I have a recipe for cooking rice in the microwave that’s really good. My husband likes fried hamburger patties in mushroom soup and a girlfriend gave me a recipe for crockpot lasagna which is very good.

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    • Rush’d Lady, it sounds as if you have gotten quite a bit of good use out of your slow cookers. I am not one for gadgets so I probably wouldn’t buy a rice cooker if I had a stove. That said it is a very safe appliance to allow children to cook with as the outside doesn’t get hot enough to cause burns. I have learned that pretty much anything I used to be able to make on a stove top I can make in my rice cooker. I originally planned to purchase a hot plate but found the rice cooker works so well for me I decided against it.

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    • Carolina, aren’t they great. My first one was a gift and had a non-stick surface. As I use this nearly every day I gifted myself at Christmas to a stainless steel model. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Scrumptious, I’m so glad you enjoyed this and now have a few more ideas for using your rice cooker. Until I lived without a fridge my rice cooker was something I only used once or twice a year. The rest of the time it took up space in the cupboard.

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  2. This is by far the best rice cooker article I’ve come across so far! We just moved into a basement apt which cannot have a stove – I was feeling a little like “we’re the only ones in the world without a stove” so far we’ve made do with all our little appliances, electric griddle, toaster oven, and rice cooker…. But we only ever made rice in the rice cooker. I got a bit curious as to weather I could make pasta because I’ve made barley in it, so why not pasta?!? Now I’ve read this… So many possibilities! And some of the user comments… Cake!?! That’s fantastic. Can’t wait to put the rice cooker to more use! I may have to buy a second one!!

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    • Tina, no you are not alone living without a stove. I happen to live in a building where 12 of the apartments aren’t able to ever have a stove. It’s been fun learning alongside my neighbors how to still enjoy our favorite foods. Yes, the rice cooker is an amazing appliance, one that I can admit I wasn’t real thrilled to at first receive. (I’ve made up for that by letting the person who gave it to me know how valuable it is to me) :-) The bottom line is really if you could cook it in a pan on the top of the stove, you can make it in a rice cooker. I’m currently planning to upgrade to a stainless steel one for better health, but at such a low price yes buying more than one is feasible.

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  3. I felt nice reading this.I am cooking in a ricecooker since 10 yrs.I carry it around whenever I travel,yes it is tiny.All these experience led me to start my own blog.I find that closing the lid helps me to change the warm mode back to cook mode easily.

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    • Rekha, I never thought to replace the lid to switch the cooker from warm I will give that a try. I have learned to simply give it a few minutes to cool down and then push the button down. I never thought about my rice cooker as being something to travel with, what a great idea! It really is much small and easier to transport than a stove. :-)

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  4. Pingback: moving and refrigeration and coffee, oh my! | living lagom

  5. Boy am I happy to have found this post. Two months ago we moved into a house with very complicated areas and no easy or safe place for a stove or hot plate. Previous tenant abandoned a rice cooker here so I started wondering….tomorrow will start trying!

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    • Orana, I am so glad you will take advantage of the rice cooker. It really has made my life easier. It may take a little getting used to, for instance mine when it gets so hot will switch to warm. After a few minutes when it’s had time to cool down a bit I turn it back to cook. But for the most part I find it works just like a pan on the stove top. Love to hear what you think when you have given it a chance.

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  6. Thanks for your post! I was feeling lost, as my hot plate just died. But a little Googling led me here – and I just made fried rice with vegetables and eggs, and it worked like a charm!

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  7. wow…just recently learned of your blog (from Cozy Little House), and slowly been going through..
    Nice work, already can tell I like your sensible suggestions..

    re Rice Cooker, wow….. I do have a small one, but had no idea how versatile. I will be trying out a few things..
    You talked about eggs / potatoes…I am betting it will do well for poached eggs as well. Had not thought of the huge variety of things which you have whipped up in yours. Thanks for the ideas.

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    • Hello, Lynn! The rice cooker was a gift that sat mostly unused until I moved here and began experimenting. It really is a versatile appliance after all. I’d love to hear what you found you can make that I may not have thought of.

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      • hi again..
        well, i was so taken with the idea of multi tasking a Rice Cooker…(and I’m not short of appliances..but)..i had to try it out..Last night i mixed up a bought cake mix which had been sitting around for a year.
        i put about three quarters to one cup of the mix in the Rice Cooker..turned on. then i turned on once more.. the cake was well cooked, stuck slightly, and bit gooey on top… Next batch i slightly oiled the Rice Cooker.. even better, still gooey on top, but even so, tasted very good. All in all I got four mini cakes. Last one i put a bit of brown sugar and spice on top.

        this morning i cooked some macroni, as per your directions… Didnt drain the excess water at end, but added some grated cheese, and had a very nice cheesy/creamy sauce that way..

        All in all, i have to repeat WOW…had no idea.

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          • you’re welcome…am tickled i thought of something new..

            re the Brownies..bet they would work really well, as i have heard folks say they should be a bit chewy/moist..

            as i say, the top stayed a bit sort of moist/chewy (not bad tasting at all though), and if you made brownies, should be similar..cream cheese or crushed nuts would go good too on top of brownies..

            these little cakes i made are pretty thin, only between three quarters to one cup batter…

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  8. I live in a college dorm so rice cooker is an amazing thing to have. I can make rice, mashed potatoes (from scratch), matzoh ball soup. Its an amazing little appliance.. I’ve learned how to make coffee in it but i have yet to master the skill.

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  9. I never had a problem cooking rice so I never saw the reason to get a rice cooker. But that little piece of equipment now sounds a whole lot more versatile. I love smaller cooking appliances. I have a stove, but I prefer my slow cooker. Set it and forget it. I love my electric grill plan, so much easier to clean than the stove grill.

    As I suspected for a long time, the stove and oven are largely overated!! LOL

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    • I thought the same thing when I received my rice cooker for a gift, but now I’m glad I have it. Ovens are overrated. I love my slow cooker, I use it a lot for the holidays and to make soups and such all winter long. The only advantages to an oven are to heat up your home on cold days and to bake cookies. Most other things can be made in a slow cooker. I can even bake in it!

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  10. I am thoroughly impressed, and you have redeemed the rice cooker in my mind. I always thought it was sort of idiotic to have an appliance that was so specialized that all it could do was cook rice… I suppose if you were some sort of a rice addict it would make sense, but I only make maybe one batch per month max. But you have changed my thinking on the topic.

    And I’m totally in love with the idea of cooking potatoes and eggs in Italian salad dressing. I may have to give that one a try!

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    • Yes, my first thought when I got it was it would rarely be used. But now I’m so glad I have it. Like you I would make a batch and freeze it in small packages for meals so it was a once a month or less often used appliance.

      I’m glad you like the idea of using the salad dressing, it was a desperation move on my part but I don’t think I’m going back to plain oil again.

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