Living in New York usually means limited space. I go through an automatic justification process in my head on how much space a specific item will occupy even before considering its price. I have a stovetop coffee maker for its compact size and a hand mixer instead of a kitchen aid. There are so many other things I just decided not to get because it wasn't worth trying to re-define the kitchen boundary (can I keep an ice cream machine next to my couch?).
Then it dawned on me that the biggest instrument sitting on the kitchen countertop is my rice cooker. The frequency of use somewhat makes up for its permanent occupancy, but even after reading all about the things I could/should be making with my rice cooker, I've made so many of the same plain rice for so long. Time to change it up and get more rent out of the rice cooker.
Hence the carrot-mushroom rice. This is an abridged version of my Japanese host mother's takikomi gohan (I lived in Japan for a year a long time ago), rice mixed with chicken, sliced carrots, shitake mushrooms, fried tofu skin (abura age), and burdock roots (gobou), seasoned with soy sauce and sake, then cooked in dashi water. Variations are easily found on the internet.
To Make Carrot-Mushroom Rice) To make rice for 2, make dashi water with a piece of kelp (size of any of your 2 fingers) soaked in 2 cups of water for an hour or boil then cool down. Soak 1 cup of rice in dashi water for an hour. Add thinly sliced vegetables, in this case, carrots and shitake mushrooms. Add one tablespoon of soy sauce. Adjust the water level to barely cover all ingredients sittng flat on the rice cooker bowl (may not need all 2 cups of dashi water). Press the 'cook' button and walk away. When the rice is done, crack an egg into the rice cooker, and start the rice cooker again. Check after 5 minutes (may need more/less time) for a perfectly cooked egg to put on top of the rice bowl. Don't forget to turn off the rice cooker!
The ratio of water to rice is the tricky part and also varies slightly depending on the rice cooker. Dashi water is optional, you can use just plain water. I also used sticky brown rice (=glutinous brown rice, sweet brown rice), which is my favorite kind of rice because of its stickiness and texture (vs. short-grain brown rice lacks stickiness, short-grain white rice lacks texture).
The title of 'Rice Cooker Series' is more for me - to encourage myself to make more varied use of my rice cooker. This could be one of my new year's resolutions!