I don’t claim to be a great cook. I don’t like unnecessary gadgets. I avoid promoting businesses for no reason.
But, man, do I like my Hitachi Chime-o-matic rice cooker / vegetable steamer / miracle appliance.
I call it a miracle appliance for fun because I can’t figure out how it knows when to turn off, but it does, every time. I like the kitschy name Chime-o-matic.
Mostly I love that it cooks food amazing with almost no work. I don’t even cook rice in it, or at least I haven’t in years. It steams vegetables perfectly almost every time. Legumes too. The last few things I cooked in it are
- An eggplant
- Kidney beans (from dry)
- Garbanzo beans (from dry)
- Split peas (from dry) with carrots
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
- Black-eyed peas
- Most of the vegetables from my CSA
- Tons more
Look, I know I’m no great cook. I don’t claim steaming vegetables is a big deal, but I love having this one part of my life taken care of so it doesn’t cost me much time, money, or hassle, but I enjoy it. It’s great that even take-out in Manhattan, designed to maximize convenience, isn’t as convenient as home-cooked.
With this thing, the time to prepare vegetables becomes the time to wash it, chop it, put it in the Hitachi Chime-o-matic rice cooker / vegetable steamer / miracle appliance, press the button, and I’m done—usually under five minutes. I have to wait for the food to cook, but I don’t have to pay attention. It knows how to finish somehow.
Throw on some olive oil, salt, and pepper and I have most of a delicious, healthy meal.
This thing makes home cooking vegetables faster, easier, healthier, and cheaper than going out.
Also, even when I want to fry or stew vegetables in other dishes, I often steam them halfway first to soften them.
Beans are where this thing shines. Cooking beans from dry takes only a few minutes of my time and they taste better than anything I’ve found in a can. Plus I don’t waste using a can that I have to recycle.
Usually I soak the beans overnight (about one minute to rinse them and cover them with water). Then I add a bunch of olive oil, salt, spices, and herbs, turn it on, and I’m done preparing. About forty minutes later I have a ton of soft, delicious beans.
If I use garbanzo beans, I squeeze half a lemon after.
Split peas are the best. I add chopped carrots, garlic, onion, and ginger, and I get split pea soup as delicious as anything I’ve found in a store. They just dissolve on their own somehow. Hence “miracle” appliance.
I’m sure cooking beans on the stove is easy too, but I haven’t had to do it. The Hitachi Chime-o-matic rice cooker / vegetable steamer / miracle appliance does it right every time.
This thing enables me to buy vegetables I don’t know what to do with. If I can prepare a dish with them I will, but if I can’t think of anything else, I’ll just steam them. So I get stuff on sale to find out what it is to use it later. I end up with more kale, spinach, other greens, and so forth that way.
I’ve also been sampling all the kinds of dried beans, like mung beans, different colors of split peas, and so on that the bulk food store near me has.
I find restaurant food increasingly unsatisfying, even well-rated New York City places. It’s hard to beat home cooked vegetables, under-ten-minute preparation and clean-up time, and delicious.
In my fridge now I happen to have a big container of perfectly cooked kidney beans and a steamed eggplant. So easy!
By the way, I think I bought this thing in college, so it may be twenty years old. I’ve done nothing to maintain it besides washing the pot, steaming plate, and lid after each use.
So I recommend the Hitachi Chime-o-matic rice cooker / vegetable steamer / miracle appliance. I don’t even know if they make it anymore. I’m sure other rice cookers work as well, but I have experience with this one.
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