Small multi-use automatic cooker for oatmeal?

GeddesHouseDecember 23, 2007

In the evenings, I'd like to set up for having 1 or 2 servings (sometimes more) of steel-cut oatmeal automatically ready first thing in the morning (so I don't have to depend on little instant packets for a fast breakfast).

Would also like an excuse to get rid of my c1975 (~3 qt) slow cooker and c1967 (4 or 5 qt) Nesco oval roaster. (They're too big for my normal needs. When I need to cook large quantities, I have other cookware for that.)

Need help in identifying and comparing new options for a versatile appliance that will get used often for small quantities.

Have been looking at (1) the 5-1/2-cup SANYO MICOM RICE COOKER / SLOW COOKER combo

( http://www.amazon.com/Sanyo-ECJ-HC55S-2-Cup-Micro-Computerized-Cooker/dp/B000X8VBWU/ref=pd_sbs_k_title_16 )

for steaming veggies as well as making brown rice and oatmeal.

Also (2) the 5-1/2-cup SANYO MICOM RICE COOKER / PRESSURE COOKER combo

( http://www.amazon.com/Sanyo-ECJ-PX50S-Micro-Computerized-Pressure-Steamer/dp/B000SNWJ3A/ref=pd_sbs_k_title_5 )

for pressure cooking whatever in addition to having the above functionality, but it's REALLY pricey.

Does anyone know if I'm correct in assuming the capacity of both the above choices is about 2 quarts of total "cooked stuff"?

Does anyone know the MINIMUM feasible amount of oatmeal that can be cooked in one of the above?

Am also looking at (3) the 3-cup ZOJIRUSHI MICOM RICE COOKER

( http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-NS-KCC05-Programmable-Cooker-Warmer/dp/B00004S57C/ref=pd_sbs_hg?ie=UTF8&qid=1198378003&sr=1-28 ).

Is the total capacity of the above about 1 quart? Anyone know the minimum amount that can be cooked?

Does anyone have any experience with or other wisdom to impart about these or similar models or brands? Is the quality & dependability comparable? Does one brand have a superior (least likely to wear or flake) nonstick surface? Anyone got better options?

Again, my main requirement is for 1 or 2 servings of steel-cut oatmeal first thing in the morning. My secondary need is for an automatic small slow cooker. Any additional functionality, including rice cooking, veggie/entre steaming, soup making, poaching, roasting, baking, etc., is in the "nice to have" category.

Thanks for any advice!

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joe_blowe

"Again, my main requirement is for 1 or 2 servings of steel-cut oatmeal first thing in the morning. My secondary need is for an automatic small slow cooker. Any additional functionality, including rice cooking, veggie/entre steaming, soup making, poaching, roasting, baking, etc., is in the "nice to have" category."

Yes, a recent-model computerized rice cooker will handily take care of demand number one. It will not act as a secondary slow cooker, though. But, there are several rice cooker cookbooks out there that can get you started on the rest of your demands.

BTW, I have a Zojirushi ZCC18 rice cooker, and would recommend that you look at that brand and capacity as well (you'll need the bigger size for some of those recipes). But, between you and me, any of these state-of-the-art rice cookers will be great -- it just depends on the feature set you want.

And finally, without fail someone will show up in this thread and spout off about how they never needed a rice cooker to make oatmeal, etc. Ignore them. You know what you want, go get it!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 12:33PM
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joe_blowe

I should've said, "A majority of rice cookers will not act as a secondary slow cooker, though."

The Sanyo looks great for that if you don't mind the capacity...

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 12:37PM
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GeddesHouse

Thanks. The Zojirushi seems to be the gold standard. Have perused several of your cookbook suggestions and will order at least one. I'll probably take a trip into Chinatown to hopefully be able to check out the difference between the 3- and 5.5-cup sizes as well as compare brands. Not knowing the minimum & maximum capacities of either size in terms of quarts of "total stuff" gives me no real basis of comparison regarding practicality. If none of the larger ones won't handle a single serving of oatmeal, and if the small size seems like too much money for too little functionality/flexibility, then I'll just give up and stick with the little instant packets :-( ... Or start making big batches on weekends on the stove (LeCreuset works dandy) to divvy up into individual servings that can be nuked during the week ... And keep my ancient slow cooker or replace it with an automatic model (quite a bit less money than a micom rice cooker). LeCreuset surely will do a decent job on brown rice too, which doesn't need to be ready first thing in the morning anyway. But the idea of a little rice cooker that does easy fresh oatmeal each morning AND some other valuable tricks sure does sound nice.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 9:47PM
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velodoug

geddeshouse, The simplest way I've found to cook steel cut oats overnight is in a wide mouth thermos. There are lots of recipes on the net. I pre-heat the thermos with two cups of boiling water, pour it out, add 1/2 cup of oats and 2 more cups of boiling water, screw the top on and put the thermos on top of the fridge overnight.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 10:15PM
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arley_gw

I agree with velodoug. The thermos is low tech, foolproof, and works great. You can actually add butter, brown sugar, etc. the night before. In the a.m. all you need to do is stir it up. And there's no way you can overcook it.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 11:18PM
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GeddesHouse

Thanks, guys! NEVER would have thought of the thermos technique.

What brand/model thermos do you recommend?
Have you had any difficulty cleaning it afterward?

BTW, it probably wouldn't hurt to wrap it in a towel either and stick it in a tote bag by the door for overnight. Also, will be easy to keep real maple syrup and refrigerated flaxseed oil at the office.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 4:02AM
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awm03

There are discussions in this forum about the Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 slow cooker. It has 3 sizes of bowls for 1 cooker. The small bowl is good for cooking oatmeal overnight, according to some posters.

As for steaming veggies, you could resort to the microwave, which is just a sort of steaming technique anyway. I prefer the microwave to steaming on a cooktop: the vegetables are less watery.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 11:41AM
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velodoug

geddeshouse, I have an ancient Thermos brand wide mouth vacuum bottle that holds about three cups. I've heard that the foam insulated bottles don't work as well.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 12:49PM
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GeddesHouse

Thanks much, again. Have wondered about the HB 3-in-1. Will take a closer gander at it. Have always steamed veggies stove-top (have multiple devices for doing it, including a large Scanpan stainless stackable steamer atop a LeCreuset 5.5-qt round oven, and a smaller AllClad steamer atop a Scanpan 8" stockpot, as well as a silicone raised steamer that fits into almost any pan [a design & materials improvement on the old collapsible steel ones]). Never tried nuking them, but ought to try to see if I like it.

Below is a thermos I'm eyeing:

Here is a link that might be useful: Stanley 20oz Food Jar

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 1:47PM
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