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Not long ago, I discovered yet another use for the slow cooker: use it as a rice cooker! After making soups, stews, dips, ciders, oatmeal and even cakes in the slow cooker, I have realized how much I truly love this appliance.

Cooking rice in a slow cooker is a cinch. Simply grease the crock generously so the rice doesn't stick, add your long grain rice, water or broth, and salt or seasonings if desired. Turn it to low and let the slow cooker do its thing for about 2 to 3 hours. In the end, you will have delicious sticky rice. Yes, it does get a bit a sticky if you're not careful, but maybe a little rice glue is really what your dish needs; think sushi or Thai rice pudding. A little monitoring towards the end of the cooking process will help you avoid a big sticky mush. Once the water has reduced by half, check every 10 to 15 minutes, by lifting the lid and stirring.

Once the point you ask? A slow cooker takes less energy, frees up space on your stove top, and doesn't heat up the kitchen. It also allows you to avoid any clean-up of having boiled over rice water on your range. Plus, if you're like me, you enjoy the taste of long grain rice versus instant, but you don't like the long cooking times. This problem is solved by freezing leftover rice in single serving freezer containers for easy, convenient quick-heating when you need it. For best quality, freeze for no longer than 6 months.

Try brown or wild rice, which are whole grains and offer more nutrients and dietary fiber. They may take just a bit longer to cook but are definitely worth it. A slower cooker is just one more way to get rice on your plate.


Slow Cooker Rice

1 cup long grain rice

2 cups water or broth

1 Tablespoon butter or preferred cooking oil

½ teaspoon salt (optional)

Generously rub butter or oil on the inside of your slow cooker crock. Pour in the rice. Stir in the water or broth and salt. Cover and cook on low 2 ½-3 hours, checking and stirring every 10-15 minutes once the water is reduced by half.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional analysis per ½ cup serving: 130 calories, 3 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 200 milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein