Considering a rice cooker
I follow instructions on rice but am frequently not as happy with my home results compared to the rice I get in a restaurant. So I'm curious to get your thoughts on these questions:
Do you use a rice cooker or your existing kitchen equipment to cook rice (i.e., pot in most cases, maybe microwave, steamer for sticky rice, etc.)?
If you bought a rice cooker, was your reaction after having it awhile (a) how did I ever live without this or (b) great, now I have another gadget to clutter up my kitchen?
Is there a limit to the type of rice a cooker will cook? Can it handle long grain? Short grain in a given. Basmati? Jasmine? Wild rice? Brown rice? You get this gist. I won't be making my risotto in there I know...
Do you need to go through extra steps compared to a saucepot, such as rinsing and soaking? Or can you throw it all together in the 1/2 hour that it takes to make rice with a pot and some boiling water?
Finally, if the consensus is positive, what is a good middle of the range brand?
I love my rice cooker, have had it about 2 years. Before this, I made rice on the stovetop, w/ a saucepan or corningware casserole, that's pretty easy, also, but the rice cooker is idiot-proof (not aimed at anyone). I have a Zojirushi, I just put the rice in the bowl & don't soak. I have cooked brown rice & I've purchased the Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger, but I haven't really branched out from basic rice. I cook rice about every other day & my rice cooker has a permanent spot on my countertop...
Back in college (many years ago) I used a stovetop pot to make rice. Though it's easy, careless me often ended up with substandard rice, so I ended up buying a super-cheap rice cooker (hey, I was a poor college student) and since then, my kitchen counter would be incomplete without one. If you make rice at all regularly, I say it's a must-have since you just toss in the rice and water, plug it in, and forget about it -- it keeps the rice hot and perfect until you're ready to eat. I have a mid-range cooker (Tiger, one of their better models) and make long, medium, and short grain jasmine rice. I've also made basmati with good results. Some friends swear by Zojirushi but it seems overly expensive to me for just a rice cooker.
I've had the same rice cooker, a basic model, since college - that's 18 years now! It handles jasmine rice, basmati rice, brown rice, purple rice, no problem. I'm not sure what it would do with 100% wild rice, but it would undoubtedly be fine with a wild rice/other rice blend. As you say, you won't be making risottos in it, and similarly it doesn't do Thai sticky rice. I think you would do fine with a National brand cooker.
Could you share the brand?, she did, last sentence "a National brand cooker."
I also have a National. Panasonic sold electronics in the United States under the National brand. Panasonic was concerned about acceptance of Japanese products in the US market, so they used the National brand, starting with transistor radios.
My National is probably 30 years old, has an on/off switch, cooks all kinds of rice, including wild rice blend, haven't tried just wild rice.
I have a very cheap rice cooker and I really love having it. I would like to upgrade but this has worked fine for a number of years. The rice never gets burned. I make white & brown rice w/ no problem. I also through in vegetables (carrots, brocolli, peas) to make rice w/ vegetables and it works very well. I've never made oatmeal in it but guess that's another option. I recommend rice cookers to all my friends and family that don't have them. So, go for it!
I have a basic rice cooker, no locking cover, made by Panasonic. I bought it at LNT. It came with a vegetable steamer. I've only used it with Jasmine long grain and medium grain so far, no short, and its worked great. I never could make rice over the stove top.