Jerseygator's Blog

Moving Toward Meatless: The Pot

Posted in Cooking,vegetarian by jerseygator on June 3, 2011

No, not that kind of pot.

Those who know my know that I’m not the family cook.  I’m not the cook at all, actually.  Browse through the blog and you’ll notice that most of the cooking action shots involve Darrol.  But as I am working to make my diet healthier I am learning more techniques.  My latest adventure it a rice cooker.

I’ve always avoided rice cookers.  Seemed stupid.  With my chemistry background, I proudly proclaimed I could cook rice and boiled eggs…both require timing.  Why get a rice cooker?  Then I started following Roger Ebert on twitter, then facebook.  Prior to his cancer, Ebert lost around 100 pounds with diet and exercise change.  Subsequently, he had numerous surgeries that prevent his eating…he gets his nutrition via liquid nutrients only.  However, he continues to cook healthy meals for his wife and friends.  Ebert is a devout follower of “The Pot,” as he calls it.  After reading his tweeted recipes and facebook posts, I broke down and bought an inexpensive rice cooker ($16.99 at Target).

I bought The Pot three days ago and have made things in it: barley, grits (real southern grits and easier than anything), oatmeal, and basmati rice.  I’m hooked!  The rice cooker is fast, non-stick, doesn’t heat up the kitchen and is intuitive.  Plus, for a cook like me, it’s simple.  On and warm.  Plus it turns itself to warm when it’s done cooking, so I don’t even have to monitor it!  Lazy cooks dream.

Last night I cooked dinner (don’t faint…I even cleaned up) and made a dish using the pot that was a great hit.  I adapted it from a couple of Mark Bittman’s recipes.  I started by cooking couscous in the pot, and while it was cooking a sauteed some chopped onion, garlic and chopped roasted red pepper in a little olive oil.  When the couscous was done I added it to the vegetables with a little more olive oil (this one was basil infused, something my husband had made last month).  I topped this with a topping that Bittman featured on one of his minimalist recipes.  Not sure what it’s called, but basically pureed 1 Tbsp smoked paprika, 2 garlic cloves and about 1/4 cup olive oil in the food processor, then added a couple slices of pumpernickel bread (rye is also very good) to the processor and ground it into wet breadcrumbs.  This taste like chorizo sausage and is amazingly good and very pretty.  Bittman used it in a lamb recipe, but I just put this over the couscous and popped it under the broiler for a couple of minutes.  Everyone loved it, it’s vegan (although not low-fat!) and it looked pretty on the plate.

This morning I got up and cooked some oatmeal while getting ready for work.  This has become my morning ritual.  After I emptied the oatmeal out of the pot I put some barley in to cook to take to lunch.  I’ll have it with some white beans and dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, herbs) plus a slice of that leftover pumpernickel.  If you have a rice cooker, dust it off and do some experimenting.  If not, less than $20 may be a good investment for you.  Enjoy!


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