Food Stuff 


Even though I mostly enjoy cooking, I still think the time it takes costs too much of my limited youth.

Therefore, I started looking for the perfect cookware, which I could use to make delicious meals but wouldn’t need to pay much attention to.

I wanted something I could just put ingredients into, and have it do the rest – with, of course, great results. Finally, I found it – in science fiction.

Seriously, though, I decided to go against my instincts, and try using a slow cooker.

It is a wonderful idea. The slow cooker is close to being my dream cookware. It’s nothing new, and you can get it in any department store for about $20.

Cooking with a slow cooker is simple. Just put your ingredients (meat, vegetables, grains) and water and flavoring into the slow cooker, plug it in and there will be a delicious stew or soup after several hours.

Although it takes more time than cooking on the stove, you don’t need to pay any attention. Therefore, you can do something else, such as cook other dishes on the stove, go out shopping, or read recipes for more slow cooker dishes.

But my quest for the perfect cookware didn’t end there. One day when I went to have dinner with my friend, Catherine Chang, she introduced me to another piece of dream cookware – the thermal cooker.

This is a new kind of cookware from Japan, which uses very simple principles: It blocks heat inside.

First, you put the food on the stove in the thermal cooker’s inner pot, and bring it to a boil. Then, you place the inner pot inside the thermal cooker, and it will continue boiling for a long time. Wait several hours, and you will have a good stew dish, just like you made with your slow cooker.

The advantage of the thermal cooker is that it doesn’t plug in, so it costs you no extra electricity. And because it blocks heat in it, it also blocks the smell in, too. You don’t need to worry that the smell of your stew will linger around your house for days.

The disadvantage is that it seems to be popular only in Japan, Taiwan and Canada, but not in the United States. I can’t find it in local stores. My friend brought her thermal cooker from Taiwan. Another friend got hers in Toronto where it cost her $200 (Canadian) and four hours’ driving each way.

Although I’ve now tried both the slow cooker and the thermal cooker, I still haven’t solved my cooking problem. These devices work well for stew, but not for other recipes. I’ll still need to stand in front of my oven for several hours to cook my turkey next Thanksgiving – I wonder where I can get a turkey precooked?

– Yu-Ru Lee


The Unique Restaurant Corporation is presenting a series of creative vegetarian feasts this week. Wednesday, March 24 it’s at Morels (30100 Telegraph, Bingham Farms, 248-642-1094), March 25 at Northern Lakes Seafood (1475 Woodward, Bloomfield Hills, 248-646-7900) and March 26 at No. VI Chophouse and Lobster Bar (27790 Novi Rd., Novi, 248-305-5210). Call the restaurants for reservations and info. ... Planning a wedding? Pike Street Restaurant (18 W. Pike, Pontiac, 248-334-7878) is developing its banquet and catering facilities. Watch for a new banquet menu soon!

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