Two thumbs up

Although thyroid cancer stole film critic Roger Ebert's ability to speak, this Pulitzer prize winning writer has not lost his voice--or his sense of taste. Ebert announced he has written a cookbook that will be released in September. "The Pot and How to Use It. The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker" pays homage to this modest kitchen appliance. In an interview with the Associated Press, Ebert says the inspiration for the cookbook came from a 2008 blog he wrote about rice cookers. Hundreds of readers commented on the blog with recipes and anecdotes of their own. Ebert decided to compile those comments and some of his favorite recipes into a cookbook. During his battle with cancer, Ebert had numerous surgeries, including having his lower jaw removed, and now uses a feeding tube. Even though he cannot eat, Ebert says in the interview that he still loves to cook, and the cookbook is a way for him to "live vicariously."Bravo for Ebert. I'm inspired by his story and his desire to write whatever he wants to write despite physical limitation. I also look forward to reading this cookbook as I hope some of the recipes will help our readers who may have side effects, like mouth sores, and who may seek foods that are easier to eat. I have to confess, though, I grew up with rice cookers, love to cook with them (they are so convenient), and still cook with the one my parents bought me in Japan some 20 years ago, so I may be just a little bias. To learn more about Ebert's journey with thyroid cancer, read his blog for the Chicago Sun-Times. And for another perspective, Esquire's Chris Jones recently wrote a powerful glimpse into Ebert's life.