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This steamer from Lakeland is perfect for making quick and easy microwave rice or vegetables. It is very straight forward and simply consists of an inner container with narrow slots in the base and a slightly larger outer container into which the first one fits. The lid fits over them both and also has slots in it for steam to escape during cooking. I always use mine to make rice as it is so much simpler than cooking it on the hob. There is no need to constantly watch or stir the rice when using this steamer unlike when using a hob, so you are free to occupy your time elsewhere while it is cooking. Before having one of these I would also sometimes cook rice in a glass bowl in the microwave but found that it would often boil over and make a mess. I have never had that problem when using this steamer. It is very simple to use. Rice or vegetables are placed into the inner container. The slots in the bottom are narrow enough to stop grains of rice falling through. Then you simply pour the appropriate amount of water on the top, put the lid on and place it in the microwave. The great thing is that to drain it, all you have to do is lift out the inner container. There is no need to transfer the whole lot into a sieve which then gets gummed up with sticky rice water. And there is no need to hold the lid of a saucepan over the top of the pan trying to leave a tiny gap so you can tip the water away down the sink whilst running the risk of sending half your rice down the plug hole with it! A couple of other points worth mentioning are that it is stain-proof so if you like to put exotic spices in your rice then the plastic should stay clear an not pick up that unpleasant orange colour food containers sometimes get. It is also freezer safe apparently though I have no idea why anyone would ever need to put it in the freezer. This feature seems a bit pointless unless I am missing something? It has a 2.5L capacity and measures 22cm in diameter and 17cm in height - a bit extra when the lid is on. The only slight disadvantage is that it takes up a bit of cupboard space and like anything, needs storing somewhere when not in use which may or may not be an issue depending on your kitchen size. It is generally easy to clean. Sometimes cooked rice gets stuck in the slots in the base of the inner container so it is more effective to poke at it with a washing up brush which can get into the gaps rather than washing it with a cloth or a sponge. If you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher, you will miss out on all that excitement as the whole thing is dishwasher safe. My steamer is clear in colour but I have just discovered that this is also available in a funky red colour as well. Another advantage is that at £10.99 it is considerably cheaper than buying an electronic rice steamer. You can get hold of one of these from the Lakeland catalogue or their website of if you live somewhere fancy enough to have one of their shops then you can also visit a store!
As soon as a friend introduced me to the wonderful world of Lakeland it has rapidly become one of my all time favourite stores. Unfortunately for me there is no actual shop near me so I have to do the majority of what I buy from them through their website and luckily nearly everything that I have recieved has been both useful and functional as well as high quality and it is rare that I have bought a kitchen gadget from them and used it once only for it to be thrown in the far reaches of my cupboards never to be seen again. The stain proof microwave multi steamer is one such item that I have bought from Lakeland that has proven it's worth by being used on at least a weekly basis. It is a pretty basic design but that makes it no less effective. There is a bowl the food goes into that has holes on the bottom and this goes into a larger bowl and there is then a lid to cover it which also has holes in it to allow the steam to escape. It really is incredibly simple to use and doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out but there is a little instruction booklet included which also gives you the times needed to cook particular food. I personally found the times in the booklet to be a little off and so even though it is really very easy to use you will need to have a few goes and adjust the timing to suit your microwave to make sure that the food is perfect everytime. Once you have the hang of the timing there is no way even the poorest cook would be able to mess it up. As I have mentioned it is incredibly easy to steam food in it and all you have to do is add what you are steaming (rice, veg, etc) to the bowl with a little water and then place the lid on and microwave for the required time. Rice is especially good done in the steamer and I find at it comes out everytime fluffy and cooked to perfection and I never have a problem with it being sticky or clumpy like I used to do when boiling it on the stove. I have started being more adventurous with the cooking added different spices to my rice and this has been a revelation making it much more tasty and fulfilling instead of just plain old boiled rice. Vegetables are another thing which the steamer does perfectly but as I mentioned this does take a little trial and error to get them to how you like them. I personally don't like to have too much of a bite in mine and the suggested cooking time given for vegetables was far too inadequate for my liking. It is made from a polycarbonate material which is stain proof and I can vouch for it's effectivness in this as no matter what spices I put in it they just wash away with a quick wipe. You can put it in the dishwasher but I do find it so much easier to just give it a quick rinse as I find this is enough and I enjoy the fact there is no scrubbing needed. It does get hot in the microwave but this is to be expected but I find I can still lift it out of the microwave by the handles without the need of a towel as these seem to be more heat resistent. I paid £8.99 for the multi steamer and I wouldn't hesitate to buy it again as it has been so useful and I absolutely love it. I went on the website to price it now and it has gone up by £1 making it £9.99 and for a penny under a tenner it still represents great value for money as far as I am concerned. I did notice on the website that people were complaining that their steamers had suffered cracks in the polycarbonate but this is something which hasn't troubled mine even though I use it so often. In fact my one looks almost immaculate and as if it has hardly ever been used so as far as I am concerned it is of a really high quality especially considering it's price. If you are looking for a way to cook a little healthier or even just something that will help you cook a meal a bit quicker then I highly recommend the Lakeland multi steamer and think you will get a lot of use out of it.
I steam a lot of my vegetables and of course rice as well and we have a conventional Tao steamer which is very good however it can be a bit fiddly to clean, that is why I have been so pleased with this product by Lakeland as now I can steam rice or vegetable in the microwave, I still use my Tao one for steaming fish as I trust it more using non microwave methods on things like fish and meat (not that I steam meat) but this multi steamer is excellent for rice and vegetables. It cost £9 in Lakeland which is not a bad price given the amount of use that I get out of the product. It is basically a clear plastic container with a bowl on the inside, the bowl has vents both in the bottom and then a lid with air vents also secures onto the top of them so that it looks like a conventional caserole dish with a bowl inside of it. You simply add the water to the container and then switch the microwave on with it set to full power and leave it to steam the rice or vegetables, the cooking times are a bit trial and error and if I'm doing rice I do stir the rice to prevent it from clumping together. With vegeatble it took me a while to get it right, the first couple of times they were over cooked but now I'm a lot more accurate with it. There is a small instruction book with suggested cooking times and I have adapted these to my own tastes, personally I found that they suggested slightly longer than was normally required. The great thing about this product is that it is really easy to clean, I tend to wash it by hand but it is also dishwasher friendly. It is a hard wearing product and one that is a real time saver when it comes to preparing rice and vegetables.
I've always been a fan of rice and I find myself eating it with almost every meal. Sometimes I find it makes a good and filling breakfast. However, I've never had much sucess cooking rice on a stove. Nowadays I find myself relying on my Stain-Proof Microwave Multi Steamer for rice. You can buy one for £8.99 from Lakeland and I have found mine to be very good value for money. The product is a clear plastic bowl with holes in the bottom which sits within a plastic holder. It also has a a vented lid. **What can it be used for?** Well it can be used for rice and vegetables. It's a very healthy way of cooking your vegetables as it boils them and then streams them, meaning that all the vitamins are retained in the food. This means that it is probably the healthiest way of cooking your vegetables. **Using it** My rice of choice is basmati rice. There's no exact science to how much water or rice to put in, but I usually go by one mug of rice and 850ml of boiling water to make enough for 2. (I've made rice so much that now it's become very much a case of guess work, it really doesn't need to be exact at all). I then put it in the microwave on full power for 12 minutes. (I know some people say stir half way through, but we've never bothered. I've always just waited until the end to stir and the rice still comes out perfectly fluffy throughout). If it's too dry, just shove more water in a put it back in for another few mins. If it's too soggy, drain a bit of water and cook for longer. It's really that easy. It's hard to go wrong. If there's too much, I just wait for it to cool, leave it in the fridge and then use it the next day. If you like flavoured rice there's nothing stopping you from adding herbs and spices to the rice before placing in the microwave. The great thing is that this steamer won't stain even if you add something like tumeric. Even after having mine for about 6 months it still perfectly clear and looks brand new. And if you like vegetable rice, you can add frozen veg like peas and green beans or tinned sweetcorn to the rice in the last 6 or so minutes of cooking. I'm a fan of egg fried rice, so I often cook the rice in the microwave for 12 minutes and then straight afterward I throw it quickly in a wok with egg and vegetables like carrots and peppers which I like crunchy. And maybe throw in a sprinkling of soy sauce. Anyways, enough about rice! This is, after all, a multi steamer. The product does come with a little booklet which suggests microwaving times for different vegetables. However this will depend a lot on how soft or crunchy you like your veg and of course the microwave you use. I come from a crunchy family, and this Microwave Multi Steamer will prevent your veg from becoming over cooked because once you've found the optimum amount of time and water to use, it'll always be the same. I cook most veg for around 4 minutes. I've also found this is a perfect way of making mashed potato. I just pop in a couple of potatoes, shove in the microwave with about an inch of water and cook for 12 minutes, giving nice, squishy, mashable potatoes. This is much much quicker than doing on the hob and a lot easier. It does get hot after use in the microwave, so I always remove it using oven gloves. I also find that the lid can easily be removed with gloves or a tea towel. It's got little holders on the sides as well making it easy to lift. I have heard some people complain that the lid can be hard to remove, or that the holders on the side are hard to grip, but I personally have had no issues here. After use, the water can be easily drained as you can take the plastic bowl out of the holder and shake it over a sink to get rid of most of the water. You can then tip the water out of the holder and place the bowl back in it again. It's all really rather simple. I've found it to be the perfect way of making sure I eat properly at uni. **Caring for it and durability** It has a 21.5cm diameter by 17cm height and is dishwasher safe, meaning it can easily be fitted in. I wash it by hand as we don't have the luxury of dishwashers in my halls of residence and it's very quick and easy to do. To be honest, I wouldn't bother taking up the room in the dishwasher with it as it can be washed so quickly and easily by hand. The dirt just slides off and I've never had anything stick to it. This is all thanks to the tough non-stick polycarbonate material. I've found this model to be very durable. I've had it for months now and it's put up with quite a bit of use and quite a bit of battering. Our previous multi-steamers did have a habit of cracking (and apparently this was a very common fault with the previous models). However, they have improved the product and this multi-steamer has been made from a much more durable plastic. I have had absolutely no problems with it at all. The fact that it is stain proof and remains clear means it is very presentable. We've always been happy to serve food straight from it as it looks nice and clean.
If, like me, you struggled to achieve perfectly cooked rice, this product could be the answer. I used to serve up sloppy, watery rice, or have to try to chip it from the saucepan to whence it was welded, until I discovered the miracle that is the Lakeland Stain-Proof Microwave Multi Steamer. It's a clear, plastic "basket" which sits inside a plastic holder, with a vented lid which first boils and then steams to perfection your rice. It can, of course, also be used to cook vegetables, quickly, easily and healthily in the microwave. Rice takes a matter of minutes. I usually cook a scant mug of rice with approximately 1½ pints of boiling water for 6 minutes on full power, stir it, cook for a further 5 minutes on high and allow to stand for a couple of minutes. I tend to then drain it, rinse it with boiling water and fluff up with a fork before serving. That quantity of rice serves two generously. If I am catering for more than four people, I tend to cook the rice in two batches as I find that results just aren't as successful if you try to cook too much at the one time. I sometimes add frozen peas/tinned sweetcorn/mushrooms etc to the rice for the second five minutes of cooking to make easy vegetable rice. If cooking vegetables on their own, I tend to cook peas in 2-3 minutes, broccoli for 4-5 minutes and carrots in 5-6 minutes (depending on quantities) and the beauty of this is that I can then resist that inbuilt Scottish trait of boiling vegetables to within an inch of their lives. Timings will obviously vary depending on your microwave; there is an instruction leaflet enclosed with the product with suggested cooking times for various vegetables etc. This steamer has an advantage over some other similar products in that it does not stain if you add either tumeric or saffron when cooking your rice. Apparently this is because it is made of a polycarbon material. My previous microwave steamer had taken on a very grubby looking hue after cooking various foods in it and had also split at the top. This model, so far, appears much more robust and still looks good as new after many months of use. This steamer looks reasonable presentable too, and I have just served the rice to the table in it when I have had friends over for a casual curry night (I don't really believe in creating washing-up just for the sake of it!) Speaking of which - it's dishwasher proof, although if you have a slim-line dishwasher it may be a little on the large side - it has a diameter of 22cm and it's 12cm high. It does always seems to clean easily though, whether handwashed or in the machine. Available from Lakeland, currently £8.31 (but on a 3 for 2 with other Stain-proof microwave products) Online at http://www.lakeland.co.uk/F/product/10619 Or find your nearest store at http://www.lakeland.co.uk/L?content=our_stores.htm
Microwaveable steamer for rice and vegetables.