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We’ve all heard their horrific tales:

The chef who loses part of his tongue — and taste — to cancer.
The brain surgeon who gets a tumor.
The TV film critic who loses his voice.

But while most of these stories don’t have altogether happy endings, they are uplifting nonetheless, as our protagonists fight back, emerging victorious and changed on the other side, having found new ways to live, communicate and cope.

Roger Ebert is one such man. America’s most famous thumb-wagging film critic hasn’t spoken a peep since 2006, when, following an operation for jaw cancer, complications led to a tracheotomy and a total loss of speech.

Photo Blog October 20 Roger Ebert

That didn’t stop the prolific writer from communicating. He took to Twitter and the Internet, where he blogs regularly on his wildly popular website. He’s still the Chicago Sun-Times film critic (has been since 1967!), but perhaps most impressive for someone who can no longer eat, he has just released his first cookbook, The Pot and How to Use It (2010 Andrews McMeel Publishing).

Photo Blog October 20 Roger Ebert Book

I’ll be frank; it’s not a great cookbook. It’s thin and wan with no photos and not a ton of recipes either. Plus, you need to cook everything in a rice cooker, Ebert’s favourite countertop appliance and the raison d’etre for the book, which is great if you have a rice cooker, but lousy if you don’t. 

That said, the book does have a lot of good stuff going for it, including the author’s inimitable voice. Also, Ebert was an enthusiastic follower of the Pritikin program; he got healthy and lost a lot of weight just before he got sick. So he passes along some healthy lessons learned; the importance of soup, cutting back on sodium, boosting foods with herbs and spices, and getting some protein in there, too.

Almost half of the book is composed of email correspondences Ebert has had with likewise rice cooker fanatics, and most of the recipes come from friends like them, including this easy rice pudding recipe. Give it a try.

Miss Ina’s Down-Home Rice Pudding

(serves 4 to 6)

By Ina New-Jones on November 15, 2008

2 cups rice
3 cups water
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup brown or granulated sugar

Step 1: Combine all the ingredients in the rice cooker. The cooker will turn off when done.

Step 2: Heat the oven to 350°F.

Step 3: Pour the cooked rice into a greased baking dish; cook in the oven for 30 or 40 minutes.

Browse our website for more easy rice dishes, like Barley Leek Risotto and Moroccan Quinoa.

Photo credits:
1. Screencrave.com
2. The Pot and How to Use It (2010 Andrews McMeel Publishing)

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