People are always telling mums to use slow cookers. It’s true they are very convenient, but they have one big problem.
The problem with slow cookers is that they are slow!
To benefit from a slow cooker, you need to be thinking about what you’re going to eat six to eight hours in advance. Many new mothers are operating at a very different level – living in the moment, staring into their newborn’s eyes, unconcerned with the passage of time. And this is a good thing!
Now if you have a partner living with you who is very organised and will be in charge of meal planning, that’s great. But often it takes the full energy of two grown adults to keep one little baby clean, fed & content. And then you get to the end of the day and you two are exhausted, and you suddenly remember about dinner. So a slow cooker is no good. You want a FAST cooker, not a SLOW cooker.
Of course a pressure cooker is crazy fast. But it’s also demanding and bossy, screaming at you when it’s done. No, what you need is a fast-cooking non-burning appliance that is also silent.
Luckily this magical item already exists. It’s called a rice cooker. Yes, an electric rice cooker that you plug into the wall. You can use it for anything, not just rice. You can use it for soup, stews, porridge, curries, any kinds of grains, and even CAKE!
You can wrangle a newborn and a rice cooker simultaneously without too much trouble. And you don’t need to keep an eye on your rice cooker. It’s ready when it’s ready. Then it automatically stops cooking, and keeps your food warm. Perfect if you have a last minute poo explosion at dinnertime. (And you will. Many.)
Rice cookers are usually very affordable – K-mart or Target stock them for around $15-25.
Here’s a barley stew recipe that you can make in your rice cooker. It is very simple because there is only 1 of each vegetable. If you don’t have some of the vegetables, just substitute any other vegetable.
Savoury Barley Stew
Ingredients (makes 4 serves)
- 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
- 1 onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 celery stick
- 1 carrot
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 tomato
- 1/2 cup of barley
- 10 cups of water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Turn your rice cooker to “cook.” Add the oil or ghee. Then start chopping the vegetables in the order they appear above. Add them one at a time, so that the onion is starting to cook while you are chopping the garlic and so on. Add the water and spices.
Now go have a nap or feed your baby or listen to your favourite playlist. Soon a savoury scent will fill your house and you will remember that the food is cooking. But don’t worry! It won’t burn. When it finishes cooking, the cooker setting will automatically switch to “warm.”
If you like, you can add a handful of herbs and greens at the end and let them wilt, before serving. Spinach leaves, kale, coriander, parsley or watercress are all nice additions.
This is just one example. You can use your rice cooker for so many different meals. It’s really the ideal appliance to support a newborn mother’s nutritional requirements, without creating a messy kitchen or requiring a lot of planning ahead.
Happy cooking in your rice cooker!