Can Roger Ebert Make Your Toddler Give Mealtime a Thumbs-Up?

Andrew Dalton

Roger Ebert has quickly gone from goofy TV personality to Renaissance man to national treasure.

Since cancer and several failed surgeries forced him to lose his jaw and his voice, he's become a silent writing machine. Ebert is a priceless presence on Twitter, his blog has become an essential forum for all kinds of issues and he still reviews movies for the Chicago Sun-Times. (Esquire recently gave all the details of his horrible but inspiring story.)

As if that weren't enough, he may now be helping you -- and your toddler -- in the kitchen. His inspiration? A rice cooker.

Despite the fact that he can no longer eat, Ebert has written a cookbook where every recipe comes out of a rice cooker.

The Pot and How to Use It (Andrews McMeel publishing, $14.99, out in three weeks) is aimed at culinary-challenged adults, but the simple recipes in it scream "feed me to your 2-year-old!" They're heavy on simple grains -- oatmeal, lentils, and rice, of course -- and fresh fruits and vegetables, slow cooked until they're sweet, mild and kid-friendly.

Ebert was on a big health kick while he was still part of the eating community and brought in Anna Thomas, author of The Vegetarian Epicure, as a consultant.

The book began with a blog post where he gave a shout-out to parents and many others:

"I am thinking of you, student in your dorm room. You, solitary writer, artist, musician, potter, plumber, builder, hermit. You, parents with kids. You, night watchman ... You, in the witness protection program. You, nutritional wingnut. You, in a wheelchair."

Even better, these one-pot meals are perfect chances for making your toddler your sous-chef. I used to love having my preschool daughter help me make dinner, but was bummed that she had to bow out when it came time to turn on the stove. With a rice cooker, it's two settings, no flames. Ebert even suggests you get the simplest ones you can find. Even the squirmiest little tot can stick with you through the whole process.

Will you check out Ebert's new cookbook?


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