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The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  212 ratings  ·  45 reviews
In The Pot and How to Use It, Roger Ebert — Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic, admitted "competent cook," and longtime electric rice cooker enthusiast — gives readers a charming, practical guide to this handy and often overlooked kitchen appliance.

Although The Pot and How to Use It contains numerous and surprisingly varied recipes for electric rice cookers, it is much mor
Paperback, 128 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
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3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  212 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Feb 08, 2011 rated it liked it
"We don't want no stinking cookbooks."

This quote from Roger Ebert's witty, irreverent guidebook illustrates his no-nonsense approach to cooking, using the simplest of tools (the rice pot) and ingredients (brown rice, oatmeal, beans and such, enhanced by a few "secret ingredients"). This approach is far from refined or pretentious. It is, in fact, the antithesis of pretension. Ebert's opening salvo states, "This is a little book for people who would like to be able to prepare meals simply and qui
Julie Davis
Dec 24, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a gift from a friend who enjoys reading Roger Ebert's reviews and journal. I also enjoy reading Ebert's writing, so this was a safe bet. I had read quite a bit of this already as the rice pot journal post that Ebert wrote in 2008 (?) which excited quite a bit of response which was fun to read. Roger Ebert has for many years done lots of complete meal/dish cooking in his rice cooker. This reads as an overall essay of the theory of such cooking. As such it is interesting and would be inst ...more
This was...not what I expected. Written by Roger Ebert (yes, THAT Roger Ebert) on the joy of cooking simply and in small spaces with a rice cooker, it's a somewhat hilarious ramble on just that, and light on recipes. Still, reading that Ebert lost 100 pounds by eating healthier, cooking for himself, and walking (this is before he became ill with cancer) makes me take a second look at making meals this way. I, too, am a very lazy cook.
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Roger Ebert wrote a blog post with the same title on how to cook with a rice cooker, and this is the extended, better edited version of it. One third of the book is him talking casually about how to cook different things in a rice cooker, one third is blog comments from the original blog post, and the last third is more formal recipes. Ebert is a great writer, so the first third is fun to read, but it doesn't work very well as a cookbook. By this I mean, there just aren't any recipes or techniqu ...more
James W.  Harris
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it
The good parts: I was curious about rice cookers, and this entertaining slim book provided me with some useful answers. Roger Ebert is a charming, delightful and courageous man, and an excellent writer. His personality shines through this book, and if you are interested in Ebert the man, you might well enjoy this book from that perspective.

The downside: a lot of the book is written by other people, friends and people who comment on Ebert's blog. I didn't find that nearly so interesting as Ebert
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: less-than-200pgs
Before going any further, I will admit that there weren't as many recipes as I'd have liked. I know some of that is due to differences between rice cookers' timing mechanisms and other related issues. Still. Essentially, it lets you know that you can use a rice cooker to make a variety of dishes (with rice! ... or noodles, or oatmeal, etc...) as one pot meals without using a stove. A lot of these, though, you can use a slow cooker for or cook on the stove in one pot. It is a nice tool for summer ...more
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
I picked this up at the library, because I'm thinking about getting a rice cooker. While the book was very enthusiastic about the topic of rice cookers, it wasn't for me. I like Ebert as a writer, but this book is for people who are just getting started in cooking (i.e., give it to your favorite college student). I've been cooking for the past 20 or so years--using real cookbooks and everything--and didn't see anything in this book that interested me, or would help me improve.

That being said, I'
Christine Whittington
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
No, not THAT kind of pot! This book is 1/3 about how Roger Ebert came to know and love his rice cooker and his philosophy of food, cooking, and rice cookers, 1/3 blog responses to his rice cooker philosophy, and 1/3 recipes, with contributions from Anna Thomas, author of the Vegetarian Epicure books and film producer/director. It is clear that everyone involved with this book was having a ton of fun. I bought a rice cooker at the same time and plan to cook my way through the vegetarian recipes i ...more
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very quick and fun read. Ebert's humor is lovely throughout and I am tempted to buy a rice cooker. It might be wonderful for camping potlucks (we camp in a trailer with electricity.)

I am a very confident cook, but it offers such "you can't miss it" style tips that I'm still a bit concerned about making room in my cupboard for something I might not use. I already have an electric rice and veggie steamer.

5 Stars for the writing, offset by 3 stars for clarity.
Do read it if you like thinking about
Renee Crites
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Roger Ebert, what a guy. He couldn't even EAT anymore and yet shared with us his passion for the rice cooker and its versatility. Wow! The book is a great and quick read, includes some fun recipes, but I believe it was really meant as inspiration for us to try something easy and different with simple cooking and use our own tastes and ideas! Loved the book!
Apr 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, paper, 2013
Such a good book. It was a better blog, but I'm glad he published it so it could be read by others. As much as remember Roger Ebert as a fine film critic, this book is the piece of writing (in blog form) that made me want to read his words on a regular basis.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Yvonne by: NYTimes re Roger Ebert's death
The rice cooker will cook more than rice. That pretty well sums up this book.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
If you are expecting a cookbook with recipes, you are doomed to disappointment. If you are expecting Roger Ebert's voice, style, and attitude to ring through, you will be pleased. This slim volume is more about the attitude and philosophy of cooking rather than ingredients.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved the humor in Ebert's writing of this book, the kind of cooking book I might reread yet never lift the lid off the pot.
Mar 07, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a short, fun book that entertained me for at least an hour. I've always respected the late Roger Ebert's opinions, and getting this tantalizing view into his home life was enjoyable and a little sad after the fact. He wrote this love letter to rice cookers after his condition prevented him from eating on his own, and that makes it all the more touching.

But enough about that, let's talk rice cookers. I personally love my own rice cooker very much, and have for years, but I've always bee
May 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cookbook
I bought a rice cooker some years ago, in part because of numerous people saying "it's really versatile, you can use it for more than just rice!" I bought a small one and it didn't come with any recipes to give me a sense of what you could make beyond rice. I felt cheated. Rice in the rice pot takes longer than on the stove, so if I hadn't planned the menu ahead it wasn't necessarily convenient either.

Fast forward to 2013. I read in an Ebert obit that he'd published this book about rice cookers
Jake McCrary
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it
A recent addition to my life has been a fancy rice cooker. The Pot (as Ebert calls it) has cooked up numerous cups of rice with minimal fuss. I heard rumors of rice cookers being used for more than just rice and was lead to acquire this short book that claims to explain the mystery and romance of the rice cooker.

This is a book that encourages its reader to experiment. The book starts with Ebert explaining why the Pot is the most important tool in your kitchen. He claims this magical device can b
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book could be subtitled, "The zen of rice cookers." Reading Roger Ebert's thoughts about his beloved rice cooker and how it can be used to make *anything* is a treat for those of us who miss his wit and unique voice. The book is essentially split into three sections: 1) Roger's musings about the simple but profound usefulness of a rice cooker, 2) His blog readers' reactions to his rice cooker posts, and 3) Numerous recipes contributed by his blog readers. We've already established that Roge ...more
Dec 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Yes, THAT Roger Ebert. The man just loves his rice cooker, and this book is adapted from a post, or posts, on his blog about the topic. As such, the information is quite thin--lots of display pages and reprints of blog comments (not fun to read in a book form, by the way). I am thinking about getting a rice cooker now, and this did give me some ideas about ways to use it, but I wanted more. More recipes, more nutritional information, more information on whether a rice cooker would be redundant w ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
The portions of the book written by Ebert are great and his interest and talent for writing shine through. Since this book is essentially an expanded version of a blog post about the same subject the rest of the book highlights comments to the article, his occasional reply, and some recipes in the back.

Since I didn't go into this expecting a cookbook, I'm happy to have read something written by Ebert. The rest of the book I could do without though and, since it's a rather short one, another read
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is crazier than I expected.

It's not at all my style of cookbook. I prefer to have someone tell me exactly what to do... and then I change as much as I like. But I want to have a really specific base line. I don't have a great tolerance for screwing up when I cook, so I'm not one for learning how to prepare stuff "the hard way" as he recommends. This book was a short, interesting, and funny read.

Someone who's more into winging it in the kitchen might enjoy this book more.

I think the bo
Oct 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Roger Ebert is a funny man. Aside from the fact that he clearly loves movies, his writing style and general giddiness is one reason I love to read him. In this, he makes an argument for cooking with "the pot" by which he means a rice cooker. Apparently it's a one-pot cooking wonder. There's a line about men who cook in the introduction that slayed me and his argument was enough to convince me to buy a rice cooker, although I haven't done so at this juncture. Perhaps when I do get one, it won't d ...more
Oct 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cooking
I found this book to be just plain odd. First of all, it should be known that I requested it from my library without knowing it was Roger Ebert. I just wanted a book on things I could make with my rice cooker. Which I kind of got. Except not really. But kinda. I don't know how else to describe it. When I read the first half of the book, I just kept thinking it was really weird. And I might try to cook a few things in the rice cooker, but I'm not sure the recipes in the book, what few there actua ...more
Apr 22, 2014 rated it liked it
A fun and witty book by Roger Ebert. Or rather, a series of blog posts. Parts of the book were reader comments, and the last part of the book included recipes to use with a rice cooker. I sort of imagined this as an "Easy 5 ingredients" type of cookbook, but many of these recipes seemed to have too much going on for a simple rice cooker recipe. I prefer using a slow cooker, something I can prepare in the morning and have it ready by the time I get home from work. Or cooking….I like that too.
Sep 21, 2015 rated it liked it
It's nice to hear the "voice" of Roger Ebert, and the recipes are fine, but not particularly revelatory. It's one of those books that would be good for someone who had never heard of a rice cooker, and needed convincing. Anyone has owned a rice cooker, or even if you just bought one, you'll find a much drier but more useful manual with your purchase.
Dec 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, recipes
Interesting book focusing on Roger Ebert's lifelong fascination with a rice cooker. It makes me want to buy one but I'm not convinced it's the only cooking item one would ever need. It's interesting from a reader's perspective given that Roger Ebert can no longer eat and receives all of his nutrition through a G tube.
Nissa Holtkamp
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was given a copy of this book by Ebert himself, and although I was completely unaware of rice cookers, I had to check it out. I love Ebert's straightforward, informative, and jovial writing style. I had no interest in a rice cookers before reading this, but the humble pot is now on my Christmas list.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically, you can cook any dried good in the rice cooker - beans, grits, grains, and of course rice. You will mess up some times, but you'll usually get it right and be happier for it. Recipes aren't that useful, and this is just an expanded blog post. But I'd read a grocery list that Roger Ebert wrote, so it's good.
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I've read the first couple of chapters and haven't seen an actual recipe yet, but have laughed several times. Also just have to be amazed that this book is written by a man made famous by his taste in films, and who also can no longer eat. But he still cooks. With a rice cooker.

The book was funnier than a normal recipe book, and while I didn't get too many new ideas I enjoyed reading it.
Patrick Fisackerly
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
A blog entry, complete with comments, and a few recipes in the back. Roger Ebert was no Alton Brown when it came to understanding food, but "The Pot" is still a nice little trifle (something I would NOT recommend making in a rice cooker).
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Roger Joseph Ebert was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic and screenwriter.

He was known for his weekly review column (appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and later online) and for the television program Siskel & Ebert at the Movies, which he co-hosted for 23 years with Gene Siskel. After Siskel's death in 1999, he auditioned several potential replacements, ultimately choo