Monday, July 12, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Honey Cake

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Honey Cake:

Ingredients:
2.5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup honey 
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1/2 cup coffee
1/4 cup water 

Directions: 

Grease and flour the inside of your crockpot. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, and then add the wet. 

Mix on high speed for 2 minutes. Pour into your prepared crockpot. 

Cover, but vent with a chopstick or the end of a wooden spoon.

Cook on high for 2 hours, then check. When the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the crock, uncover and continue to cook on high, checking every 20 minutes. The cake will be moist, but a toothpick should come out clean. 


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Monday, July 5, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Chocolate Mousse

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Chocolate Mousse:

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
3 Tablespoons baker's sugar 
1/3 cup cold, strong coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Use a 4 quart crockpot.  In your crockpot, add the heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and coffee. Whip until combined with a whisk. Add the two cups of chocolate chips.

Cover and cook on high for about an hour, or on low for about two. You are looking for little bubbles in the surface of the cream and melted chocolate.

Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. You'll get about 2.5 to 3 cups of liquid. Blend on high until it expands to about 5 to 6 cups.

Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Top with whipped cream or berries or eat just how it is! 


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Monday, June 28, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Tapioca Pudding

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Tapioca Pudding:

Ingredients:
2 quarts of 1% milk 
1.5 cups white sugar 
1 cup small pearl tapioca 
3 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: 

In a four quart crockpot, combine the milk, sugar, and tapioca pearls. Stir well to mix. Cover and cook on high for 2-5 hours. 
In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with the vanilla. Take a 1/2 cup of the hot milk and tapioca mixture and whisk it into the egg bowl. Add another 1/2 cup of the hot milk and tapioca, and whisk that into the eggs, too. Then add yet another. 

Pour the contents of the bowl into the crockpot, and whisk until it is all thoroughly combined.

Cover your crockpot and cook on high for another 30-45 minutes, or until the tapioca is pudding-like in consistency. Unplug and let it sit for about an hour to cool.

Chill in the refrigerator.


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Monday, June 21, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Sugared Cinnamon Almonds

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Sugared Cinnamon Almonds:

Ingredients:
cooking spray
1.5 cups sugar 
3 Tablespoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg white
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups whole raw almonds 
aluminum foil or parchment paper

Directions: 

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Spray the insert well with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set this bowl aside.

In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla extract. Pour the almonds into this bowl and stir well to coat. Add your cinnamon mixture to the top of the nuts and toss with spoons to fully coat.
Put the almonds into the slow cooker and cover. Cook on high for 2 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes or so.

When the nuts are all hot and toasty, let them cool fully on a length of foil or parchment paper. When fully cool, store in an air-tight container.


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Monday, June 14, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Baked Apples

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Baked Apples:

Ingredients:
4-6 medium apples
1/3 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnut halves or pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup water

Directions: 

Pour the 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of your crockpot and swirl in the vanilla. Wash and core your apples. Put the apples into the bottom of the crock, on top of the vanilla water. Stuff the apples with the toppings, and shove a bit of brown sugar into each core. If you have extra brown sugar and toppings, heap the extra toppings and sugar on top of the apples.

Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. 

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Friday, May 7, 2021

New Stretch Goals!

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Hey, all! I can't thank you enough for your pledges, but I want to try! Once we hit 40, 50, and 75 backers, I'm going to send all of you some amazing prints that were done by Josh Lyman for my first book, Tales from the Toy Store. I love them and I hope that all of you do too! Keep spreading the word and let's get some prints out there! Head on over to the Kickstarter now!

Just click here!







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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

We're Live on Kickstarter!

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Guys, we're live! We've actually been live for a few days now, but life has kept me away from the keyboard. Our goal is $1000 and that will go to pay for the art, covers, and my amazing blurb writer. It will also go for the rewards and shipping everything out to everyone. I'm so excited to be sharing Apo's Army with all of you. It's a great book of 20+ stories about cats and their secret lives that we're not aware of. 

If you'd like to pre-order your copy and choose from other cool rewards, including copies of Tales From the Toy Store, go on over to Kickstarter and check out the campaign! Remember no money will be taken from your account until May 31st so you have plenty of time to get the funds ready to go.




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Monday, April 26, 2021

Apo's Army Update!

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So much has happened and I've been slack in updating everyone! For this book, I brought on a new artist. Her name is Maxx and she's fabulous. Let me show off a couple of her pieces:


Aren't they smashing? I love the little fish in that second kitty's mouth. She takes the time to really add personality to each drawing. I can't wait for all of you to see the rest of the pictures that she's done. She's also doing keychains and little figurines for the Kickstarter.

Speaking of the Kickstarter, that will launch on May 1st. I'm so excited to be bringing this to all of you. It's going to run for 30 days and you'll have the opportunity to buy not only Apo's Army, but Tales from the Toy Store, handcrafted keychains, and figurines. I already have ideas for stretch goals including bookmarks and stickers. 

My favorite reward tier is the final one. I'm going to create custom stories for five people. They'll tell me about their pet (preferably cat) and I'll write a story that will be in the actual book! I'm only offering up five of these because of the time commitment involved so if that's one that you're interested, you're going to want to pledge right away. 

If you'd like a reminder for when the campaign goes live, make sure that you click the link above and Kickstarter will email you after I hit that launch button!






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Monday, February 1, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Chicken Makhani

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Looking for a change of pace? This ought to do it! 

Chicken Makhani:

Ingredients:
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs 
1 onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
4 Tablespoons butter
15 cardamom pods (sewn together!)
2 teaspoons curry
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 can coconut milk 
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt (to add at the end, I used fat free)

Directions:

Use a 5 quart or larger crockpot. Carefully sew together the cardamom pods using a needle and thread. You can put them in a little cheese cloth bundle, instead, if you have that in the house. Put chicken in crockpot, and add onion, garlic, and all of the dry spices. Toss in the butter and tomato paste. Add lemon juice and coconut milk. 

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4. The chicken should shred easily with 2 forks when fully cooked.

Stir in plain yogurt 15 minutes before serving. Discard cardamom pods. 

Serve with white or brown basmati rice. 







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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

King of the Schoolyard

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In honor of my baby turning 20...egads, I no longer have teenagers! How did that happen? Anyway, lol...I wanted to share another story from my upcoming book, Apo's Army

King of the Schoolyard

When we were young, we all knew that being King of the Hill was the highest honor that there was on the school’s playground. Whoever was king got to walk at the front of the line wherever we went. They decided which games we played at lunch. They were the unspoken ruler of our class.


Regal was just a small kitten when he started going to school. Like most kittens, he would watch the recess competitions to see who would win. King of the Hill didn’t happen every recess. It only happened a few times during the year, so whoever won would be king for at least three months. It was a very big deal at our school.


Every time there was a challenge, Regal would be there watching. He really wanted to be king, but you had to be at least a third grader before you were allowed. Third graders never won though. It was almost always a fifth grader. Regal didn’t care though. He practiced whenever he had a chance. Unless there was a competition happening, the hill was empty. Every recess we would watch Regal running up and down it. To become king, you had to be the first cat up the hill.


Regal did this for over a year. He grew bigger and all of the practicing made him really fast. He was so fast that he was the first kitten chosen to be for any race. As soon as someone yelled go, he’d be the first kitten off of the starting line. It didn’t matter if it was a regular race or one that had hurdles. He would fly down the track and always came in first.


When he was in third grade, he knew that it would be his chance to be king. He’d trained for it. He’d worked so hard. He knew that he was ready and that he could win. He just had to wait for lunchtime. The morning seemed to go on forever. He had a hard time paying attention during math and instead was doodling pictures of him running up a big hill. Lunchtime was even harder.  He didn’t want to eat the turkey and gravy that the cafeteria was serving. He just wanted to get outside to race up that giant hill.


As soon as the bell rang to release us from the lunchroom, Regal was the first of us out the door. He ran right to the bottom of the hill and started stretching. Tons of other kittens joined him. A few of us climbed up the hill so that we could judge who made it to the top first. Then, once everyone was in place, a whistle was blown, and the kittens were off!


Some raced as fast as they could, but then slowed down about halfway up the hill. Others took off slowly and actually passed those who slowed down. But, where was Regal? At first we didn’t see him. Then, as the crowd thinned out, we saw him. He had passed those who gave up halfway up and was passing those who had taken off slowly at first. He was already almost to the top!


Then, just as we were all sure that Regal was going to win, a grey cat named Swiffer ran right past him and up to the top! Swiffer was a fifth grader and had won King of the Hill the year before. When Regal got to the top, he was disappointed to see Swiffer there, but still clapped and cheered for him. When I talked to him later, he said there would always be more races and he wasn’t going to give up.


Except Regal didn’t win any of the races that year. Swiffer won every single one of them. We all thought for sure that Regal would give up, but he never did. He kept training and he kept racing. The next year, he was right there at the front of the pack when the whistle blew.


He took his time getting up the hardest part of the hill. Once he got past that though, he took off so fast! He was a cream blur as he ran past the other kittens. As he got to the top, he almost ran right past us and back down the other side but came to a sliding stop just in time. Everyone clapped and cheered for him. He had worked hard and now was king!


In fact, he was the longest reigning king. He was king for all of fourth grade and all of fifth grade. Nobody really minded though because he was always super nice. He listened to everyone and when he had to make a decision, he always thought about what everyone wanted to do. He may be the greatest king that we ever had at our school.


Now that we’re all much older, a lot of us still live near the school. Regal is now in charge of all of us who live in the area and I like to think that he’s such a good leader because of the kind of king of the hill he was all those years ago. Sometimes we sit around and we talk about those days, but mostly Regal is always looking for ways to make our lives better now. 



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Monday, January 25, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Chicken Nachos

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I love nachos. I don't think I've ever met a nacho that I didn't like. How about you?

Chicken Nachos:

Ingredients:
2 cut up raw chicken breasts 
Large package of Velveeta , cut into slices
Can of tomatoes and chilies (Rotel)
Your favorite nacho toppings
Tortilla Chips

Directions:

Put chicken in bottom of crockpot. Cover with cheese slices and pour can of tomatoes and chilies over top.

Cook on low for 6 hours, or high for 3-4. Stir thoroughly and then serve over chips with your favorite toppings!









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Monday, January 18, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Chicken Nuggets

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Mmm...Chicken nuggets...

Chicken Nuggets:

Ingredients:
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
4 Tablespoons butter or olive oil 
4 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon flax seed meal (optional)

Directions:

Make sure the chicken is fully thawed. Cut into child-size pieces. Pieces that are about 2 inches in size will cook the best.

In a bowl, mix the melted butter or oil with the egg. Pour breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl or plate and mix in the seasonings.

Spray your crockpot with cooking spray. 

Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, and then toss in the crumbs. Put a layer of battered chicken pieces in the bottom of the crock. When the bottom is full, add a piece of aluminum foil. Poke tiny holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. The holes are important. Without them, your nuggets will come out soggy.

Cover your crockpot, but vent the lid with a wooden spoon or chopstick. Cook on high for 2-4 hours. 





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Friday, January 15, 2021

Norduck's Adventure

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As some of you may know, my oldest turned 21 this week. I cannot believe that it's possible, but here we are! To celebrate such a momentous occasion in my family, I wanted to share one of the stories from my upcoming book, Apo's Army. The plan is to bring the book to Kickstarter in March, but more on that later. Let's get to the story! 

Norduck's Adventure

    Just the other day, I went for a walk with my family. There were six of us, seven if you counted my mom. We liked to go for walks. We never knew what we might see. Quite often we would end up walking on this grassy area that was next to a huge parking lot and a school.  I liked the school area. There was always so much to see. There would be kids running around, people hanging out in the parking lot, and my secret favorite, tons of cats! The cats never paid us much attention, but I would watch them as we walked around. My family all looked the same, but every one of the cats looked different. They were so cool.

Like I said, we were all going for a walk. My mom decided to cut across the parking lot instead of staying on the grassy area. One by one, we followed her. I wasn’t really paying attention to where we were going though. I was busy watching all of the cats. There was a really cool black and white one hanging around. He kept walking up to the other cats and swatting them. I was trying to figure out why he was doing that when…

Thwoop! 
The next thing I knew, I was falling! 
Splash!

I landed in some water and once my heart stopped beating a hundred miles an hour, I looked around to see what had happened. Everything was dark though. I couldn’t really see anything. I looked up and I could see light, but it was so far away and broken up by dark stripes. I didn’t see my mom or my sisters or brothers anywhere. 

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed that there were tunnels that branched off of the space that I was in. I was floating in the water but thought that I could hear my family down one of the tunnels, so off I swam. 

I swam and I swam and I swam, but the tunnel was dark and I couldn’t find my family anywhere. I tried calling for them, my quack bouncing off of the walls of the tunnel. They didn’t answer though, and I was getting scared. I decided to go back. Maybe the other tunnel would lead to them. They must have noticed by now that I wasn’t with them. My mom would be really worried. I had to figure out how to get out of here and back to them.

Paddling my tiny legs, I swam back to where I had fallen in. I noticed that there wasn’t as much light coming in, but I didn’t let that bother me. I knew that I would be back with my family before it got dark. When it was dark, we would all cuddle up together and sleep. They wouldn’t go to sleep without me, right?

I tried the other tunnel, but it didn’t go very far. When I reached the end, I turned around and went back. I cried out again for my family, but I didn’t hear them. I did hear someone talking though. It sounded like they were coming closer. I was scared so I hid in the tunnel entry. I watched the place where the light came in and scooted back even further when there was a loud noise and the grate was moved. The space was filled with light, and as I looked up, something dark leaned over the hole. I could hear it talking, but I was too scared to listen. 

Then, it disappeared, and I breathed a sigh of relief. It hadn’t seen me. Then suddenly it was back, and it was talking to me. It knew I was there! I didn’t know what to do, so I stayed hiding in the shadows. I watched as it lowered a big stick into the water with a box attached to it. What was it doing? Why was it putting a box into the water? I could still hear it talking, but it didn’t seem to be talking to me. Who was it talking to?

Then it went away again. I could still hear it talking, but it wasn’t leaning over where I was. I decided that I had better not stick around to see what it was going to do next. I swam back down the long tunnel. I kept quiet for a long time as I floated there in the dark. I’m just a small duck and I was getting so tired. It had to be close to my bedtime by now. 

I couldn’t help it. I started to cry. I just wanted my family and to go home. I was tired of swimming. I just wanted to go to sleep. I was crying so much that I didn’t notice at first that there was someone standing above the grate that I was under. They were talking excitedly but I didn’t hear them through my tears. As I cried, I drifted back into the tunnel, so I didn’t see it when the grate was removed. Then, through my tears, I heard not just one person but two people talking. 

I sniffled and started to listen. They were looking for me. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I heard them mention my mom. Did they know my mom? Could they help me find her and my family? Did they say that my mom was by where I had fallen in? I wasn’t sure, but I hurried back just in case. I called out to my mom a few times, but she didn’t answer.  Instead, something swooped towards me and before I could move, I was scooped up and put down onto the grass. I was scared and sat very still. Whatever had scooped me up was on top of me and I couldn’t really move.

The two men leaned over me, talking about how great it was that they had saved me. It was great, but didn’t they know that I didn’t like being squished? Why didn’t they just take me to my mom? It was dark out and way past my bedtime. I didn’t want to get into trouble. I decided that I would just lay really still and hopefully they would let me out soon. 

I yawned, but nobody saw it. I kept hearing the one man talking, but there wasn’t anyone else there. The other man had left to go to the store. I wasn’t sure what a store was, but I hope that it meant he was bringing back my mom and some food. I was really hungry from all of that swimming. The man kept talking and talking. He seemed really excited. He said something about putting me with some other ducks. I didn’t know any other ducks, so I didn’t think that this sounded like a good idea at all. Then, I heard a boop boop boop noise and he was talking again. He told someone his name and about me! 
Then, I heard another boop noise and the man started talking to nobody again. He said something about a phone number, whatever that is. Then there was more booping, more of him talking, and then another boop. I had no idea what was going on. 

The other man came back, and he had a box thing in his hands. I had no idea what that was for and really just wished that they would let me go. Nope. They put me in the box! Can you believe it? They rescued me and then trapped me! I was really starting to wonder if they even knew my mom. I don’t think that they did. 

The next thing I knew, I was being put into an even bigger box thing and one of the men got in with me. There was a lot of discussion about being thirsty and something called tea. I guess that’s something that people drink. I just wanted to go to sleep so I did. Maybe when I woke up I wouldn’t be stuck in the box. 

Later that night, I was let out of the box and put into another one. This one was bigger though and didn’t have a lid so I could see out. There wasn’t a lot to see. The sky was a funny color, but at least I had some water and a cozy place to sleep. The man who had brought me here kept looking at me. A couple of times he took me out of the box and put me on his shoulder. I don’t know why he did that. I’m not a parrot, I’m a duck. 

Soon I got tired again and I curled up in the corner of my box. When I woke up again, I was back in the giant box. I didn’t know what to do so I just sat there. After a little while, the giant box stopped moving and the man got out. He picked me up and we went up to a big building. A lady came out the door and she looked at me. She ran her finger over my head, and it felt nice. Then she took me from the man, and we went inside the building. I don’t know where the man went, but I haven’t seen him again. I hope that he knows that I’m glad he got me out of that dark place. Maybe the lady told him.

All of this happened a while ago. I still live with that lady. It’s not just me though. There are a lot of ducks here. We like to sit around and tell our stories. We all came from different places. Sometimes a new duck comes, and they’re hurt. We all do our best to help them feel welcome. I like it here, but I still miss my family. I hope that they’re okay and all my brothers and sisters grow up to be big and strong. I wish I could tell them to make sure to watch where they’re going, but I’m sure that they know.  After all, they never fell into the scary place. I still wonder why that black and white cat was hitting the other cats. That sure wasn’t nice of him. We don’t have any cats here or I would ask them. 

Oh my gosh, guys, I forgot to tell you…those two guys who saved me? They told me that my name was Norduck. It seems like a funny sort of name to me, but I like it. When the other ducks ask me how I got the name, I tell them that once upon a time (like two weeks ago), I knew a man named Nortoh who helped me get out of a scary place. We don’t really use long names here, but I do like telling the ducks that my full name is Norduck Poinsettia. Doesn’t that sound big and important? I may be small now, but I’m going to grow up to big a big and important duck. 


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Monday, January 11, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Marmalade Curry Chicken

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Here we go with week 2 of chicken! This one sounds amazingly delicious and I can't wait to get it cooking away. 

Marmalade Curry Chicken:

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or thighs
1 (18-ounce) jar orange marmalade 
1.5 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chicken broth

Directions:

Put the chicken into the bottom of your slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the marmalade with the dry spices and chicken broth. You'll end up with a slimy orange gel that smells like ginger. Pour this on top of the chicken. 

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for about 4. If when fully cooked the chicken isn't quite as moist as you'd like, you can cut it into strips, then return it to the pot to soak in even more of the delicious sauce. 

Serve over brown basmati rice. 







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Monday, January 4, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Fiesta Chicken Casserole

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Welcome to 2021! The past year has been a struggle for all of us in different ways. For me, it led to me cutting back on blog posts and keeping in touch with all of you. I make no promises, but I'm trying to be back! 

Fiesta Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:
1.5 cups raw brown rice, rinsed
1/2 cup broth
1 cup prepared salsa
1 (15.25-ounce) can corn (don’t drain!)
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 to 4 chicken breast halves 
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Spray the inside of your stoneware. Place the rinsed rice into the bottom of your crockpot. Stir in the broth, salsa, the entire can of corn, and the drained black beans. Place the chicken breast halves on top, and then the sliced cheese. 

Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours, or on high for 4 hours. If the rice is still hard after this time, cook longer (check every 30 minutes or so).




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