Can we talk about how this Zojirushi rice cooker changed my life?

The Zojirushi NS-TSC10 rice cooker aka my Rice Robot
This is embarrassing, but I've only just discovered the secret that millions (billions?) of people worldwide already know: RICE COOKERS ARE FREAKING AWESOME.

Do any of you remember me rambling about bentos a while back, explaining about how back in the mid-'00s I was so obsessed with the Mr. Bento lunch container that I started a whole online community dedicated to collecting pictures of people's lunches? Yeah. Obsessed.

Zojirushi, the same company that makes Mr. Bento (and a whole dang family of bento lunch jars) recently sent me this rice cooker to test out, and now I'm just like… you know how obsessed I was with my Mr. Bento? I might be even more obsessed with this rice cooker, which I lovingly refer to as my Rice Robot.

Again, I fully recognize that I'm one of the last people on the planet to discover rice cookers. I'm also fully aware that cooking rice shouldn't be hard, right? It's just a pan with water. IT'S JUST A PAN WITH WATER. So why can't I ever make rice without burning it? Why is it always undercooked or burnt and blackened at the bottom of the pan? The answer is simple: I'm stupid and I suck at cooking. I mean, I'm no Megan (sorry, bitch!) but I'm just not very proficient in the kitchen.

Enter the Rice Robot. One reviewer on Amazon described it as the "Mercedes Benz of rice cookers," and yeah. They're not wrong there. It's got all these different settings for different rices, and seems to magically make every single one perfectly, I think thanks to something they call "micro computerized fuzzy logic technology." It's got a timer you can set so that your rice is waiting for you at just the right time. It's got a steamer tray for veggies or animal protein (if that's your jam). It can make oatmeal (I like setting it up the night before, with the timer set to have the oatmeal waiting for me at 7am). It can make cake! I think it sings lullabyes to me at night while I'm sleeping.

Ok, ok. It's just a freaking rice cooker, right? But here's the thing: when I have warm, perfectly cooked rice waiting for me at 6pm, it makes it really hard for me to justify eating something stupid like cheese microwaved to a plate (that I then lovingly scrape off with my fingernails). You think I'm kidding, but seriously, when I get hungry I get HANGRY and I lose all ability to make rational, healthy eating choices. When I have rice waiting for me each evening, it's much easier for me to chop up three vegetables and drop them in a pan to slap on a blob of rice and top with soy sauce (or cheese, if I'm feeling like I need my fix). Again, here's what billions of people in Asia already know: rice is cheap and filling. Since the rice robot came into the house, not only have I been eating better… but I've been saving a fortune on food.

Since I fully understand that I'm the last to get on this rice cooking fandom/bandwagon, I'd love to ask y'all: what are your favorite one-pot rice cooker recipes?

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