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WTF went wrong with rice cookers?

Posted January 26 into Food & Drink by John Birmingham

Seriously, after long using a basic model Sunbeam and replacing it only every 3-4 years, I've had to buy six rice cookers in the past twelve months. They keep burning out.
Granted, a couple of the replacements I bought were cheap no-name units from Woolies. I got everything I deserved dropping any money on them.
But even the Sunbeam, and most recently a Russell Hobbs unit all burned out after one or two uses.
I really don't want to go back to cooking rice on the stove top. I've had to relearn that arcane skill recently and there is nothing to recommend it. I'll happily check out any model anybody reading this is happy with.

15 Responses to ‘WTF went wrong with rice cookers?’

w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted January 26
You've had bad luck, I think. My rice cooker packed it in after about 7 years but I haven't replaced it yet.
Of the rice cookers Choice reviewed, 4 of the top 6 were Breville.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted January 27
I’m also looking at a Panasonic.

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted January 27
have you checked if you have recently desecrated a shrine, or committed an offence against Inari Okami, the Shinto Godess of rice? inari-zushi is a packaged shusi roll of fried tofu used as an offering, though I doubt I could bring myself to offer that to anything.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted January 27
Fried tofu? Are you trying to get me cursed?

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted January 27
If I want rice I just order take out.

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Brad asserts...

Posted January 27
Zojirushi is where it's at... the 230V models seem to be a bit more expensive than the 115V ones, and in other news I'm shocked to find gambling in this establishment.

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27
Rice on the stovetop is not that hard. What's the problem? I have two ways of doing it. One taught to me by my Malaysian ex-MIL, and one forced upon me by ms insomniac when it was a WTF-are-you-doing-with-the-rice moment.

Dave W asserts...

Posted January 29
Is it heresy to also talk about microwave rice?

1 cup of rice. 2 cups of water. 14 minutes on high. Done.

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Ceramic ducks in to say...

Posted January 27
Ugh, bl***y every thing is designed to self-destruct these days. Its awful and such a waste of money. I have about ten headphones that I want to get fixed/ fix one day when I can work out how.

Re: rice, cooker, got no idea. Might getting an industrial restaurant quality one help?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 28
That’s not a bad idea. I might ask around a few restaurants

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Bangar mutters...

Posted January 28
Any idea of what your supply voltage is? Your inverter should display it. Being above 230V could be the problem.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted January 29
i can't help in this regard - due to limited cupboard space i put a ban on electrical goods that could be replicated by a saucepan or frying pan. I use the Kylie Kwong method (which i'm pretty sure is bog standard) and it has never failed me.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 29
WHAT IS THE KYLIE KWONG METHOD????

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted January 30
Stove top. 1 part rice to 2 parts water. On high uncovered till it starts boiling. Turn down to low, lid on for 10mins. Take off heat and let sit for 10mins (do not under any circumstance take lid off). Draw back is this requires a small amount of attention whereas with a rice cooker you turn on and walk away.

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spankee has opinions thus...

Posted January 31
I'm a +1 for the Breville. On our 2nd one in 14 years. Bonus is that there is a 2nds shop in Tinglapa.

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Under the knife

Posted January 25 by John Birmingham

Not much work done today. I went into surgery this morning to have a bunch of BCCs cut out of my back and chest. Seven in all, although some weren't deep enough to warrant the full Jack the Ripper treatment so they got burned into craters with lasers or some shit.

Anyway, I've got an afternoon of codeine and beer ahead of me, I reckon, which almost makes it all worthwhile. I might even catch up on my Netflix stack.

7 Responses to ‘Under the knife’

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted January 25
The removal of the skin cancers is timely given the ABC story from last years National Sunscreen Summit recommends we apply sunscreen daily.

Look forward to hearing what gems you unearth on Netflix for me to watch, no lets be honest, add to my steadily growing 'to watch list'.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 25
I'm watching The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. It's pretty full on.

Nocturnalist reckons...

Posted January 27
Loved that film. Which was your favourite?

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Ceramic puts forth...

Posted January 25
Get well soon mate.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 25
Cheers mate

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she_jedi asserts...

Posted January 25
Ouch, enjoy your beer, codeine and Netflix, I think you've earned it!

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted January 25
I really have.

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Raw vegan dirt

Posted January 24 into Books by John Birmingham

From the Orbital Operations newsletter by Mr Warren Ellis: "I personally enjoy the 21st Century consumer affordance of carrying a small slate that contains a couple of hundred books and can quickly and wirelessly grab more. Slave of platform capitalism, yes yes, go and live on the fucking land and raise your memes on bespoke raw vegan dirt. Living in the future has had many disappointments, but my electric books are a personal positive."

I forget what Ellis was talking about, other than his unnatural physcial love for his Kindle, but I am down with him for this. I took my fancy Kindle on my recent travels; the funny shaped one with the removable battery case. You take that case/cover off and it's both incredibly light and pleasing to hold because of the odd, ergonomic design. I also took my iPad, loaded with Season 3 of Travelers, but I didn't fire up the Netflix app once while I was away. That's not a humblebrag. I just didnt find myself in the mood.

I did, however, finish reading Peter F. Hamilton's latest space opera, Salvation. I'll post a review separately, but long story short, it was enough to keep me entertained along with Steve Stirling's finale to the Change series, The Sky Blue Wolves.

I tended bed down with Salvation at the end of the day and read for half an hour or so. With Steve's book, in which I get a cameo, I chose to do most of my reading on my phone while we were out and about and I found myself with, say, five or six minutes to spare and no scenery or adventures to distract me.

Under those circumstances I'd normally fire up Twitter, or in really desperate straits Facebook, but I made a conscious decision to stay the fuck away from social media while we travelled.

It helped. There's an obsessive-compulsive neediness engineered into those networks that really gets the hooks in. It was the reason I deleted their apps from my phone a year or so back. But even the terrible web interfaces can be addictive. So instead, whenever I found myself at a loose end I'd open up the Kindle app and just read for a few pages.

I honestly think it improved my mood as much as being away for a few weeks. It's why I'm trying to blog more since I got back. Rather than wasting time in Twitter's burning cesspit, I'd prefer to waste it here.

And that's also three books I've read in the last month, (including Alicia WB's Blood of Heirs) a real turn around after a long fallow period. I'm finding it restful to read, in a way I dont find it relaxing at all to contemplate my nearly infinite unwatched stack o' streaming TV. Hence Tuesday's Blunty. One of the things I'd forgotten about books is the way you can pick them up and put them down after just a minute or two if you need to do something else. There's none of the same sense of frustration I feel when I have to stop and start video. Not sure why, but that difference is a real thing.

Next I'm going to move on to Dan Moren's The Bayern Agenda. (I have a sneaky pre-release copy)

And then, after that, I might even attempt a non genre title!

9 Responses to ‘Raw vegan dirt’

Rob puts forth...

Posted January 24
argh the Twitters. Where everyone's voice is as loud as everyone elses. Where that voice seems as important as the President of the United States. And where that voice is one of a 14 year old boy who listened to his first anarcho-punk record from the 80s , decides he doesn't need to learn anything because he knows it all and decides to shout what ever woke crap comes out of his head. Or its Karen.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted January 24
Ugh. Karen.

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Oldy ducks in to say...

Posted January 24
Travelers Season 3 is pretty good, with some clever writing to tie up some of those things that I thought got a little out of control in Season 2.

And the finale was pretty darn neat. I'm hoping for Season 4, but if it doesn't happen, they didn't leave us hanging.

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted January 24
good to welcome you back to the league of readers. With a couple of hours a day on public transport I find plenty of opportunities to read, a task enhanced by you outstanding tips, eg Blood of Heirs so grateful if you can keep reading and maing recommendations.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 24
I have more.

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted January 24
iBooks now has a funky "want to read" bucket where you can either add titles you've already got in there, or add stuff that you will purchase and read later, and it's great but also turning into a long list of to-be-read-shame that I keep adding to. In addition to the to-be-read-pile-of-shame of analogue books on my bedside table, which thankfully hasn't grown since I added Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall to it so I looked intellectual to my real estate agent when she does my rent inspections.

I've remained committed to reading every night in bed before sleep, but the last couple of months I've found that I fall asleep before any real reading happens, and then I wake up in the middle of the night, turn my light off and go back to sleep. When once I was smashing through a couple of books a week, now I've been trying to finish Alice Isn't Dead for at least a month. Is this what middle age is? Does crossing the year 40 threshold eliminate your ability to consume fiction? Asking for me :(

The third season of Travellers was excellent, and the ending was both a WTAF moment and immensely satisfying. You should definitely get around to it JB :)

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 24
OMG. I have so many unread copies of Wolf Hall I could start one of those pop up Japanese bookstores that only stock one title. Plus the audiobook.

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 25
I remember your post on Wolf Hall and how Mantel’s incredible prose broke your brain and you couldn’t finish it, and I was reading Wolf Hall at the time and I had a moment going “OMG JB’s right,” and I persevered a bit longer and then I gave up on it too. And it sits reproachfully on my bedside table in the laughable illusion that I will go back to it one day and try to finish it...

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jason ducks in to say...

Posted January 25
A writer who didn't read. I've been looking for a definition for irony and i think i found it.

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Eating in Vietnam

Posted January 23 into Food & Drink by John Birmingham

Last time I was in Hanoi, it was for work and somebody else was picking up my tab. Apart from a few business lunches, I mostly just ate at my hotel, the fabulous Metropole. (It was French Cheese Week. Don't you judge me).

This time with the fam in tow and a long way from Cheese Week I was forced onto the streets. Most people seem to eat most of their meals on the footpath in Hanoi. As I mentioned last time, there seems to be little if no regulation of street level businesses – or more likely little to no observance of any regulation. Literally hundreds of thousands of punters simply open for business on the street out in front of the family home.

We had breakfast comped as part of our hotel deals pretty much everywhere we went, but that left us to forage for lunch and dinner. I ate well, but dropped a couple of belt notches, which I was happy about. Partly it was the 12-15kms of walking every day, but partly it was also eating like the locals. There's not a lot of muffin content in Vietnamese cuisine.

They do have bread, of course. The famous Banh Mi, adapted from the French baguettes of the colonial era. I had two worth a shout out. One at a Hanoi cafe called Banh Mi 25 in the northern reaches of the Old Quarter, which was nice but not a patch on the fiery pork roll I had at a place in Hoi An made famous by Anthony Bourdian in his Netflix gourmet travel series.

I'll fess to be being skeptical of Banh Mi Phuong. There was always a long line of tourists out the front—like always, every hour of the night and day—and they were there because Bourdain had been there. How could any business retain its mojo under that onslaught.

But it seems they have. Our last night in Hoi An we took advantage of a small drop off in custom to dive in and grab some rolls for dinner. I had a spicy pork banh mi that came generously slathered with Phuong's secret sauce. Repairing to the craft beer joint down the street, which invited you to wash your banh mi down with their beer, I was frankly fucking blown away by just how good a simple meat and salad roll could be. Good enough that it was lucky we waited until the last night to eat there, otherwise I might never have gone anywhere else and I'd have missed out on this lady's rice pancakes; cooked over a mobile grill in the Hoi An markets.

She ladled some mystery fish and a rainbow spread of spices, leaves and vegetables into the pancake before nuking it with bright chili sauce and yoghurt. Thomas and I knocked that one over while the ladies were off clothes shopping. (Every second shop in Hoi An is a tailor or shoe maker).

By the time we were done in Hanoi, we were inhaling all sorts of roadside food and I developed a taste for the little Vietnamese donuts that village women sell for a few cents each.

Developed a taste for cheap beer and cocktails too. Wine is super expensive and not easy to get compared to spirits and ales; perhaps a final fuck you to the French. I coped. We stumbled across Beer Street by accident, while out exploring the old quarter one evening. It was a bit of a zoo scene, full of western backpackers and I could imagine it getting very untidy.

But there was also a pretty sweet gin bar we found near the Cathedral. The Mad Botanist. Five flights of steps up above a bbq pork place. I wouldn't want to negotiate the climb down after a solid session, but for quiet visit at cocktail hour it was just about perfect.

3 Responses to ‘Eating in Vietnam’

Oldy would have you know...

Posted January 23
I've got a mate who spent some time over there with Ausaid, and fell in love with it. Listening to him wax homesick about it, and reading this, it's definitely on my to do list.

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happy buddha reckons...

Posted January 23
I've been there a couple of times, once in the late 90's and again about 7 years ago.
The food is brilliant, never had bad food anywhere.
Only once or twice even had average food, and that was in Saigon.

I'd go back to Hanoi in a heartbeat, with a side trip to Hoi An,

We rode old russian Urals from Hanoi down to Hoi An.
Great haircuts in Hoi An.

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jason swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 24
In Hoi An there is a chap sitting outside an orphanage with a big bucket of what looks like sump oil. I thought he was doing road side servicing. In fact he was selling black sesame seed soup. I had two a day while i was there. Heaven.

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Back from the Nam

Posted January 21 by John Birmingham

We spent a couple of weeks in Vietnam, flying out on New Year's Eve (when the price of airfares falls away for some reason) and returning about a week ago. Mostly we hung out in Hanoi, which is a crazy, crowded, joyous mess of a city that I'd happily return to next week.

Staying in the Old Quarter, about fifteen minutes walk from the lake in the centre of town, I was a fair way removed from the spendy tourist enclave of the Metropole Hotel where I fetched up last time, but only five minutes walk from the 18 cent beers of Beer Street. (There's plenty of pricier, imported beer options too, but who can go past an 18 cent mug).

I spent a lot of time walking the insanely busy back alleys, taking photos and notes which informed the copy edit of THE CRUEL STARS, mostly by filling in colour and detail for the space habitat scenes on Eassar. Turns out nothing brings a space hab to life like open air butchery and pour-your-own beer stands.

It's a weird place, Vietnam. Still a one-party state of course, but bizarrely libertarian in its economics. Everybody is running wild and free to make a dollar. I didn't see much evidence of any laws being enforced, alhough armed enforcers of the state are everywhere. In some ways it seemed people had much greater freedom. If you wanted to start a chicken strangling business, you just started strangling chickens on the footpath. Whether your venture lived or died depended entirely on the market demand for chicken murder. (But you better believe that if you did make a few bucks, the whole street would be overrun with competitors and feathery corpses within days).

I'll post a few pics and stories over the next few days. I never do live updates because I don't like telling the world I'm away from home and the golden hovercraft is undguarded.

11 Responses to ‘Back from the Nam’

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted January 22
In some ways, sounds like South Korea in 1993.

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted January 22
Sounds like a good trip. I'm sure H could be trusted with the hovercraft. The hovercraft that is not the keys.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 23
The last time I did that he installed a stripper pole and YouTubed himself breaking it in.

Bangar asserts...

Posted January 23
I figured he couldn't do anymore damage ... though that video does stay with you

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jason has opinions thus...

Posted January 23
Been to Vietnam three times traveled from top to bottom. Love everything about it. Hanoi is great fro crazy but try Hoi An for slightly quieter and food and coffee heaven.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted January 23
We did about four days in Hoi An. Loved it! Jane and the kids were all getting clothes made up at the BeBe Tailor Deathstar. I hunted out some off Broadway feeds and taught Thomas how to bargain. He turned into a much more ferocious haggler than I could ever hope to be.

jason asserts...

Posted January 23
I had a secret weapon. Red haired pale skinned cute eight year old daughter. The stall owners were falling over themselves to sell her something.

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Dave W mumbles...

Posted January 23
The crazy micro/hyper commercialism of Vietnam just about freaked me out, even Hoi An.

And the heat. The goddamn heat. My pasty white skin can't handle that kind of sun.

I much preferred Cambodia, with just the right amount of hustling and hassling and a bit of a slower pace about things.

Is the street life colour a bit like the street scenes in Altered Carbon?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted January 23
Yes!

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted January 23
This is wonderful, Vietnam is definitely on my bucket list. My uncle served there in the war, so my childhood perspective of Vietnam was filtered through his experiences there (he was awarded a citation or commendation thingy when all the officers in his group were killed and left him the highest ranking person, and he had to coordinate a battle for 15 hours until reinforcements arrived). For a long time Vietnam as a tourist destination was a weird concept for me because of this, but it would be amazing to see it now.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted January 29
Kerching! Get back from a week off looking after kids and doing those projects around the house that need doing and my lunchtime break suddenly becomes less boring. Question is how do i not binge on these entries all at once?

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Surrounded by sea

Posted January 15 by John Birmingham

I'm just back from a couple of weeks in Vietnam, part family holiday, part research trip. (Seriously,the backstreets of Hanoi are a perfect setting for a space habitat novel). This is my first day back at the desk and I wanted to share this vid I saw on the Twitz this morning. It's a recruitment ad for the RAN and it is brilliant because it doesnt look like a recruitment ad for the RAN.

5 Responses to ‘Surrounded by sea’

Leftarc is gonna tell you...

Posted January 15
Nice. Very Thinky.
Extra points if the voice-over said girt instead of surrounded.
Or we need to change the National Anthem.

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Vovchara asserts...

Posted January 17
nicely done.

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted January 17
It looks a lot less like a recruitment ad when the sound is off. The vibe is totally different.

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jl is gonna tell you...

Posted January 19
Different country, wrong area of interest, and much too late in life. And it still makes me want to join up. Effective.

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Dave W mutters...

Posted January 23
I'm clearly not the target audience.

It was white and right. The lifestyle scenes that need to be protected are like some halcyon b.s.- where are the kids skateboarding, for eg?

As for the shipping lanes- I get that trade (and food supply) is important, but is military support for multi-million $ (and generally foreign owned transport companies) really what it should focus on?

Finally, the dead cat should be thrown onto the table- times of peace and war: yes to aid, yes to necessary war, but silence on sovereign borders. Well, ok, understandably that ain't going to make it into a recruitment vid, but ... but. That just doesn't sit comfortably for me.

I think this was actually part party-political advertising. The key line in it was "we are investing in the navy for new equipment". Submarines and other gear, I think. Which government do you trust to spend on military stuff? The recruitment line at the end seemed like almost an add-on.

I would also have liked, right at the end of the clip, after 3-4 seconds of silence, if the dude had said:

"Girt"

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