Appliance love

Rice CookerNo, not that sort of appliance.  This is a G rated post!

Ever had the experience where you encounter an item you had never considered buying, and then discovered that you can’t live without it?

Recently our 15 year old washing machine gave up the ghost. Along with the best price on the market for a Panasonic front loader, and very speedy service, the lovely folks at Magness Benrow sent us a complimentary Panasonic rice cooker (RRP$179).

Now, I’m not an appliance geek.  As far as I’m concerned, most things in the kitchen can be accomplished with a pot and a good knife.  I know how to cook rice. I’ve never considered a rice cooker.  And really, who wants another device cluttering up those valuable clear sufaces? So the unopened box sat on the table for two weeks as we considered flogging it on Trademe, before we were curious enough to try it.

And it was OK, it was rice, it was cooked, probably needed a little more water next time.  I did appreciate the lack of a big pot to clean and the absence of boiled over rice water on the stove.  Also the quantity was sufficient that we were able to save some for fried rice the next evening, always handy with three hungry boys.

The breakthough came when we noticed the ‘porridge’ setting and the very simple timer.  Our kids love porridge.  Often the first creaky words they utter in the morning re “is there porridge?”.  It’s warm, it’s satisfying, it’s low GI. It’s love in a bowl really.  The kids add their own milk and too much brown sugar (a large part of the appeal I’m sure). Sometimes we get a bit fancy and add sultanas, grated apple or a shake of cinnamon.

But who has time to stand there patiently stirring rolled oats when you need to be flapping about in your dressing gown, shrieking “you’re late, you’re late, have you brushed your teeth, what school trip? where’s your homework book?  You forgot your lunch, what is this sticky thing in your bag? Aaaaaaaarggghhhh!!!”.  And the pot, oh that pot full of cold stuck porridge which sits sullen and sticky in the sink all day because the porridge caught while you were flapping about.  Why is there never time to scrape the burned offering off the bottom?

Even assuming you’re more organised and less shouty than I am, you could still enjoy the feeling of gliding in to your kitchen to meet warm hearty porridge, perfectly timed and kept warm for you each morning.

The non-stick bowl just takes a wipe and replace.  Although convincing the family they shouldn’t be digging into it with metal spoons is something of an ongoing issue.  With the five cup model, there’s plenty for the four of us who like porridge and sufficient left over for our frequent visitors.  It’s easy enough for the seven year old to set it up with no drama.

An unexpected bonus is that Mr 12 likes to reheat porridge for a warm snack when he gets back from school.  It’s healthier, cheaper and more filling than the awful salty yellow two minute noodles he otherwise favours.  Win/Win.

Families are busy and chaotic places at the best of times (I’m reliably informed it’s not just ours). All those swirling pressures and agendas can add such a lot of tension, especially in the morning.  I’m always looking for ways to bring a little peace and ease to the fraught times, so I’m fully in favour of anything which helps us feel warm, cared for and happy in an efficient, low pressure way.  The Panasonic porridgemaker does just this. It has a permanent place on my bench. LOVE.

Is there an appliance you can’t live without?