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My Robots Made My Dinner

By Katy Killilea

Even though I love to cook, I also love playing “Jetsons.” I set up an army of robots along the kitchen counter in the morning, leave for the day in my flying bubble car, and come home to the delicious smells of hot food.

Zojirushi Rizo
Robot 1: Rice maker
– Ease of use: A
(Give it an A+ if you don’t know how to properly make rice.) With a rice maker, you measure rice and water into the thing and turn it on.

– Quality of outcome: A
You can set it up well ahead of dinnertime, and it will keep your rice hot for as long as you like. The model used at our house gives you a thirteen-hour window in which to enjoy the yummy hot rice. This is important for us because we never know how long that soccer game will run.

– Other considerations: You can steam fish or vegetables or prepare risotto, porridge, or other stuff in most rice makers. And look how cute my rice cooker is! On the counter it looks like EVE to my toaster’s Wall-E. I wish all of my robots were as lovely. (The Zojirushi Rizo Rice Cooker is even cuter than its picture.)

Zojirushi Home Bakery SupremeRobot 2: Bread maker
– Ease of use: B
A bread machine will knead, rise, punch down, and bake your bread. The whole shebang. You just measure. (You need to measure very precisely.)

– Quality of outcome: A/C
The “A” part is because bread makers make excellent dough. If you make lots of yeast breads or pizza dough, it’s handy to have a robot that can handle the kneading, create the right temperature for rising, and then knock down the dough at the right time, without supervision. I think the dough is just as good as handmade, mixer-made, or Cuisinart-made dough.
The “C” grade is for bread that bakes in the machine. It is good, and it smells great, but compared to bread shaped by hand and baked in a regular oven, it does not compare well.

– Other considerations: You could argue that it’s a tie with bacon, but fresh bread is supreme aromatherapy. With these robots, you can choose the time you want to eat hot bread. This means you can set the peak of good-smellingness to happen right as you walk through the door or just as you wake up in the morning. Bread makers can also make chutney and jam. The Zojirushi “Home Bakery Supreme” is considered by most users to be the crème de la crème of bread machines. It is unique in that its pan makes a loaf that looks like a normal loaf of bread, instead of a more cube-y looking one, as other machines do.

All-Clad-Slow-CookerRobot 3: Slow cooker
– Ease of use: A
Slow cookers offer so many very easy recipes for soup, stew, dal, curry, and pretty much everything else we seem to eat when the weather is chilly. Of course, the easiness varies greatly depending on what you’re cooking. Many delicious meals can be made by just popping a bunch of ingredients in and turning the thing on. Others require some sautéing in advance, or making a sauce afterwards.

– Quality of outcome: A
Use good ingredients and you’re practically guaranteed excellent results.

– Other considerations:
Slow cooker manufacturers are working hard to shake off the hideous mantle of cream of mushroom soup and cheap cuts of meat that were prevalent in the 1970s/80s. Publishers are cranking out wonderful slow-cookbooks that are up to snuff. The best have recipes for the foods we eat today, cooked slowly. Not a mish mash of canned glop.

I wish I could report on Robot #4, the self-charging robot vacuum. But I do not have one.

Do you have a favorite robot? A favorite use for yours? Please share your tips and ideas with us.

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  • My favorite slow cooker use is to make black beans: one pound of dry beans in water to cover with: chopped onion, garlic & a chipotle in adobo (or liquid smoke), and some cilantro. ANd salt at the end. We eat this all of the time. I keep thinking I need to branch out to another bean…baked beans, maybe…I love beans.

  • I simply have to have that rice cooker!

    First off, I currently prepare rice two ways, bone dry or burnt. But also, it’s just so darn cute!

  • is it just me or is this rice robot cute? anyway, sarah — here is a slow cooker recipe that i like and it is way easy. it’s called “baked slow cooker chicken” and it is basically like roasting a whole chicken but it cooks slowly in the slow cooker. it comes out amazingly tender and is an easy clean-up. directions: 1. wad (yes, the original recipe says “wad”) 3 pieces of aluminum foil into 3-4″ balls and place them at the bottom of the slow cooker. 2. rinse a whole chicken inside and out under cold water and then pat dry; place the chicken on top of the foil balls (like a roasting rack). i then add a little olive oil and some herbs (maybe poultry seasoning), maybe a little white cooking wine. 3. set the slow cooker to high for 1 hour then turn down to low for about 8-10 hours or until the chicken in no longer pink and the juices run clear. yum!