I am clueless. I fail to understand even quite straightforward aspects of the world's workings. Geography was one of my worst subjects at school: the explanations for such phenomena as the building of cities by rivers were opaque to me. Learning to cook has been a slow wrestle with this natural disability. When I first made a Bolognese sauce, I did not grasp that the reason why the contents of my uncovered pan were drying up was that the liquid was evaporating. That is how clueless I am.
A branch of the budget supermarket Lidl opened in Finsbury Park last week, offering a vegetable/rice steamer for the irresistible price of £9.99. You put the rice basket inside the steamer basket. I tried it; 20 minutes later, my rice was still dry and hard. I checked Sri Owen's Rice Book, and discovered that you're supposed to put rice AND WATER into the basket. Doh!
I tried again, using my usual formula with Tilda basmati rice: one part rice by volume to two parts water. The rice was cooked after 20 minutes, but still sitting in water.
For my third attempt, I used just enough water to submerge the rice. Not bad, but a little clumpy. Perhaps the grains would have separated had I stirred a little butter or oil through them. The advantage of the steamer was that the rice did not stick to the basket.
My only fail-safe method of cooking rice is to boil it in plenty of water. Drained after 10 minutes, the grains are separate and of a perfect consistency. The "absorption method" -- by which you cook the rice in just the amount of water it will soak up -- preserves more flavour and nutrients; but, despite long experience of cooking the same brand of rice, I still get variable results. The quest goes on.