Alpha Male of the Kitchen

I just picked up a $15 rice cooker at the same store where I once bought a very fine $8 toaster. Do I know value or what. But here is the thing. A rice cooker is passive — you put in the rice and water and turn it on and it does the rest. Do you even have to turn it off? I don’t think so. It just sits there, stewing. Sort of female-like. The cooked rice stimulates one’s appetite. It also takes a long time to get ready in the evening. Tradeoffs.

By contrast, the pressure cooker is a powerful machine. Masculine. It functions well, if not quite coolly, under stress. It makes noise and exudes just a hint of danger. Some people are scared of it. But it gets the job done faster than anything else (brown rice, 20 minutes, QED). Like the Browning M2 heavy machine gun it is sturdily constructed from highest-quality steels and requires an operator’s calm maturity and careful management for successful operation. Precision is important. You can use your massive Breitling (instruments for professional cooks) chronograph to time the broccoli as you would time an instrument approach in your Lockheed Constellation, with the enormous Turbo Compound engines going pocketa pocketa pocketa. Truth be told, I have been a pressure-cooker man for many years, ever since my mom gave me one as a gift.

So, I am wondering if going the rice-cooker way is a beta move. Certainly some things will be easier. But where is the adventure? Also, all that testosterone is making me impatient — I don’t know if I can wait twice as long for my cooked rice.

It may be time to plunge deep into manly culinary risk-taking by buying an electric turkey fryer.

21 thoughts on “Alpha Male of the Kitchen”

  1. Cast iron frying pans are final frontier of manly cookware.

    Or so I am told. I use Teflon pans from thrift stores, myself.

    I only cook to eat, or to feed others, instead of being acutely aware of cooking-as- metaphor?

    Perhaps there is a richness to the experience I am missing?

  2. Yes, agree — cast iron frying pans are manly utensils indeed.

    There is a richness to the experience, as long as you add enough grease.

  3. You don’t need grease in a cast iron frying pan. Season with a light oil and clean with boiling water. Never soap.

    Cooking is fun. I’m exploring Tai right now and the hot stuff, Tai curries and peanuts and peanut butter make some heavenly sauces. Rice noodles are a different way to do rice as well.

  4. “It may be time to plunge deep into manly culinary risk-taking by buying an electric turkey fryer.”
    Well, as long as you don’t set off an explosion with it that burns down your garage…
    I understand that the trick with that is to ensure that the bird is wholly thawed, first.
    Frozen Bird + Boiling Oil = Massive Fireball.

  5. *sigh*

    I have to vote a rice cooker as a beta move; unless it is a big one for commercial cooking. I am Chinese, and have been been cooking rice for half a century. 1 pan, 20-25 minutes, 15 of which are unattended and no problem. Perfect rice.

    I will go with cast iron as manly; and I hunt and recondition old cast iron pans. A cast iron dutch oven is one of the most versatile cooking implements ever made.

    As far as an electric turkey fryer, as the old saying goes; “It scares me, and I’m fearless.”. Electric fryers are used indoors. Home kitchens are not set up for that large deep-fryers. The only relatively safe way to deep fry a turkey is:

    1) Propane fryer
    2) Outside, with plenty of clearance from flammible structures
    3) Using a tripod and pulley set up to raise and lower it from a distance.

    I commend this to your attention.

    A detailed how-to. Watch especially the section starting at 10:36.

    Subotai Bahadur
    [raised in restaurants]

  6. A rice cooking trick. Yeah I agree, a rice cooker, what for? A pot with a good lid is all you need.

    The trick. For brown rice especially, it’s to avoid the mealy taste and texture you sometimes get. Saute the raw dry rice in a little butter in the bottom of your rice cooking pot. I put the right amount of water on to boil and saute the rice till the water boils, then carefully pour the boiling water over the sauteed rice and finish as usual.

  7. I still have my mother’s cast iron skillet. It was all I wanted when she died. With it, she would prepare a whole meal, pot roast and potatoes, etc., when I would visit her in her later years.

  8. Celia,

    You do realize that using a term like “massive fireball” only increases the appeal. Some of us are just fry-curious.

    Subotai et al,

    I know you can cook rice in an ordinary pot. The point of the cooker is to not have to watch it. Fire and forget.

    But beta, yes. I’ll have to compensate by lifting weights or propositioning more women at the supermarket.

  9. I heartily endorse pressure cookers. Because of the loss of a gas stove, I put my stovetop Presto into storage and purchased an electric Presto pressure cooker. It is faster than the stovetop Presto I had used for years. To cook already soaked beans in the stovetop Presto pressure cooker took 15-30 minutes once it got up to pressure. With the electric Presto pressure cooker, it takes only 5-6 minutes to cook soaked beans once it gets up to pressure. I was skeptical about the manual stating it took only 3-6 minutes to cook beans, but it turned out it was right.

  10. “But beta, yes. I’ll have to compensate by lifting weights or propositioning more women at the supermarket.”

    It depends how old you are but at around 48 or so you will start to lose muscle, about a pound a year. There is only a few ways around this fact. Weights or good body weight exercises. Weights are simpler.

  11. “Fry Curious”?
    OK, then – just google ‘deep-fried turkey fireball’ – many of the survivors have posted videos. Which are interesting, in the way of ‘slow down on the highway and gawk at the carnage’ interesting.
    I am informed, though, that deep-fried turkey is very good … just move the base of operations well beyond the reach of anything flammable. Or just go for brining and roasting in the BBQ. Saves wear and tear on the furniture and outbuildings.

  12. I used a rice cooker for a while, but went back to the good ‘ol 2 quart pot. Not sure why. Probably because the cheap assed rice cooker failed. I will never go back.

    As far as the turkey fryer goes, meh. I have had fried turkeys and they are awesome but SO much work and mess and then you have to go out under cover of darkness and dump the used oil down the…strike that last part.

  13. My brother in law does 2 or 3 deep fried turkeys for Thanksgiving every year (we have a large family), and they are delicious. Propane is the only way to go. Just move it away from the house and have fire extinquisher closeby.

    The rice cooker is definitely beta…..

  14. Every Chinese person I know has a rice cooker. Beta, maybe, but they are focused solely on efficiency.

  15. The peanut oil used for turkey cooking gets better with age. You want to cool it off, filter through cheesecloth, and pour back into the jugs it came out of. Store in a cool place. Over enough time, it can get a sour smell, and that is time to retire it as it may be becoming rancid.
    As a french fry, fish filet, and onion ring cooker forty plus years ago, the frys, onion rings and even fish filets got better the older the oil. New oil would cook the fries but they remained ‘white’, and unappealing.

  16. “then you have to go out under cover of darkness and dump the used oil down the…strike that last part.”

    Not really necessary. Just mix it with gasoline and…

    Is any agency monitoring this blog, do you suppose ?

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