Last night, I didn’t burn the rice. This was a considerable accomplishment. When Troy and I were beginning our life together, I always microwaved rice, which happens to be one of Troy’s favorite dishes. It seemed that each and every time I attempted to make a side of Rice-a-Roni it came out burned. It didn’t matter how intently I read the stupid box, the outcome was the same. I’d open the dish to discover a few spoonfuls of edible rice in the center of crusty hardtack. It took quite some time, and several other burn victims from separate food groups, to realize that our microwave cooked much quicker than the average “cooking times included on the box” microwave. A bag of popcorn, for instance took approximately 82 seconds. “Ah ha!” thought I, “Vindication. I do not have a personal problem when it comes to rice." I was a little worried that with all the teeny tiny waves of especially speedy radiation we were being subjected to, our unborn children might have thirty two arms or we might experience premature balding or worse, spontaneously combust, but I’ve never been one to shy away from death, particularly if I save myself time in the process. Just ask my family about the near death experience my poor little Honda had when I practically drag raced her across the dirt lot behind Arco all in the name of beating Troy home from church. But back to the rice. So I opted to make rice on the stovetop, like any sensible person born before 1950 would do. Perhaps it is the pan that I choose to perform the art of rice making in. Perhaps it’s the fact that said pan does not have a decent fitting lid. Perhaps it’s the fact that one time I forgot to cover the rice and another time I forgot to turn the heat down. In truth, there are probably a million explanations for my lack of success where rice is concerned. There have to be. I refuse to believe that it is operator error. I’ve managed to salvage enough of the center, on each occasion, to feed my husband and, occasionally, myself. That wonderful man has gone so far as to say, “I like the crunchy rice.” Of course it is a dear and sweet thing to say but the keyword here is crunchy which does not even belong in the same sentence as the word rice, much less as an adjective to describe it. I mean, if we’re going to be a family who eats crunchy rice, we might as well just nibble it, grain by grain, straight from the box. When they came out with rice in the packet that you stick in the microwave and it’s finished in 90 seconds, I threw a party. We’ve been living on pouch rice ever since.
Until last night. Last night I wisely chose a pan. I wisely chose a lid. I wisely read the instructions word for word three times. I painstakingly found the perfect temperature on the gas burner. (I’ve never used a gas burner before to make rice and I was just sure that this detail alone would foil my side dish). I enlisted the husband to corral the boy. I stared at the rice for twenty minutes while it simmered. I repeatedly scrutinized whether it was simmering or burning. And I am pleased to announce that delicious rice was had and enjoyed by all members of the family.
When I was cleaning up the dishes I turned my attention to the microwave, that murderous and demonic rice killer. It was then that I remembered. While I was in San Diego our speed heater made a horrendous popping sound and proceeded to breathe its last. Troy removed its lifeless corpse from our kitchen and replaced it with a newer, cleaner, and altogether more attractive microwave. I mean, I don’t know what you want in your nuker but I think she’s a real looker. As I stared pensively at this new model I thought to myself, “I bet you would cook rice just perfectly, according to the directions on the box.” I might not have had to stare at my bubbling concoction for twenty minutes straight. Maybe some day I will try it. I mean, worst case scenario is that if the new microwave burns the dish, my husband will get the crunchy rice he knows and loves.