As a super-generous-amazing wedding gift, two friends of ours gave us a rice cooker.  But not just any rice cooker.  They gave us the Japanese version of this rice cooker:

I figured this out by squinting at all the tiny pictures of Zojirushi rice cookers online and ascertaining that this model had all the same buttons, in all the right places.  Our version, however, has true rice street-cred because the buttons are in Japanese.  THAT’S RIGHT.  Our buttons have pretty, illegible Japanese characters instead of something as simple as letters.

I think my first reaction to this rice cooker was … “That’s a rice cooker?  But it doesn’t … look like a rice cooker?  Rice cookers are round!  And … round!”

FACT:  For the longest time, I never thought about how a normal rice cooker is basically just a one-function device.  I usually try not to keep things in my kitchen that can’t do more than one thing, but this rice cooker totally slid in under my radar because I grew up in a household where our rice cooker was used so much, it held a permanent spot on our counter. It wasn’t until high school that I realized one could make rice on a stove top instead of in a rice cooker.  Shocking times, those were.

But after I got over that, I realized how awesome this rice cooker was.  It has several modes, among them: Sushi.  Rice Porridge.  Super-healthy-and-long-cook-time Rice.  Brown Rice.  Fried Rice.  That’s right, fried rice!  No more thinking ahead for when I want to make fried rice, this rice cooker will dry it out for me.  (Slightly cooler would have been if it made actual fried rice for me in the pot).  This thing can even make cake.

I guess I could talk about things like how it works, what it does, etc., but you can probably get that from any other site with this rice cooker.  Instead, I will talk about how I made sushi rice last night.  It was a bit tricky at first, trying to translate the Japanese characters into English (no, I didn’t suddenly develop the ability to read Japanese.  Or even how to type it on an American keyboard.  My friend translated the Japanese manual for us.  SMART.).  And I definitely started the process trying to make fried rice instead of sushi rice.  But once I adjusted, it was smooth sailing from there.  It beeped Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star at me, then started a sort of humming noise.  It came with a handy countdown feature of remaining minutes.  I was waiting in anticipation by it for the last 2 minutes of cooking.

VERDICT:  It made the best rice I’ve had in a long time.  I figured that a slightly crispy bottom were de rigueur because of my old rice cooker.  But this turned out a batch of completely-fluffy, nowhere-burned white rice.  I didn’t do anything more than follow the directions and used their recommended fill-lines as well.

I stared into that little pot and felt a big grin stretch across my face.  I was now Rice-Empowered.