Rice is a busy mom's dream food. It's inexpensive, quick-cooking and tolerated by most children. Brown rice is the most nutritious, but takes a bit longer to cook than white rice and doesn't store well. White rice cooks in about 20 to 30 minutes, while instant rice is the fastest of all – cooking in under five minutes. Almost any large pot with a well-fitting lid will do for cooking rice.
The Best Pot
Rice triples in size during the cooking process, so the most important consideration is to select a pot large enough to hold the rice. If the pot is too small, the water will likely boil over the sides, resulting in a mess on the stove and unsatisfactory rice. Choose a pot with tall sides and a heavy bottom so the rice doesn't burn. A tight-fitting lid allows steam to gather, cooking the rice more quickly and evenly.
Consider investing in a rice cooker. Few home cooks have room in their kitchens to store appliances that only perform one function, but the cooker may be worth it if you eat rice frequently. These small electric appliances have an inner chamber that senses when the rice is done. Follow the manufacturer's directions and you'll have perfect rice every time.
Measure water and rice quantities carefully. Too much water results in soggy, gummy rice. Too little may cause the rice to scorch or lack tenderness. In general, use 1 part white rice to 2 parts water. For brown rice and wild rice, use 1 part rice to 2 1/2 to 3 parts water. Do not stir the rice after it begins to boil. Doing so will cause the rice grains to stick together and become gummy. Remove the pan from the heat once the rice is tender and the water is absorbed. Allow it to rest for five minutes. Fluff with a fork and move to a serving dish.
Rice has a mild flavor that appeals to most kids and adults. Use it as a basis for casseroles, add it to soups or serve it as a side dish. Pair rice with chiles and beans for Mexican flavor, or soy sauce, cilantro, garlic and lime in Asian cuisine. Hawaiians often serve rice warm for breakfast with sugar, cinnamon and milk. Rice is a comforting food for a child recovering from the flu or other illness, as well.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."