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Rice Makes Impact On Meals, Economy
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rice production is big business in Mississippi, and September has been set aside nationally to recognize this important food staple.
Last year, Mississippi farmers produced more than 18 million pounds of rice on 260,000 acres. The crop's value reached nearly $100 million.
Bolivar County is one of the state's largest rice producing counties. Each year Delta Rice Promotions holds a rice-tasting luncheon to celebrate September as National Rice Month.
"We celebrate national rice month as a form of thanks to the families, farmers, producers and agricultural supporters of rice who work so diligently. Our purpose in hosting our Rice-Tasting Luncheon is to expand the awareness of the versatility of rice in menu- planning and the economic impact it has in Bolivar County," said Sharon Allen, Bolivar County home economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
From the average attendance at the luncheon, which now reaches near 2,000, one can summize that rice is worth a second look. The luncheon even caught national attention and won the first ever USA Rice Federation Award for best September Rice Month Promotion.
Although sometimes labeled as a bland food, rice can add jazz to numerous delicacies. Whether in appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, side dishes or desserts, rice graces the table in nearly every fashion.
Here are some recipes from "Between the Levees," a cookbook of Delta Rice Promotions in Cleveland:
Pecan Wild Rice
1 (4-ounce) package wild rice
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Cook wild rice according to package directions, omitting salt. Saute onion and pecans in butter; add seasoned salt. Stir in wild rice, and cook until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with parsley. Yields 4 side-dish servings.
Each serving provides 317 calories, 22.4 grams fat, 31 milligrams of cholesterol, 706 milligrams sodium.
Herbed Brown Rice
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 1/3 cups water
1 (10 3/4 -ounce) can chicken broth, undiluted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
Saute onion and garlic in butter until tender; add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 35 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Discard bay leaf. Yields 6 servings.
Each serving provides 159 calories, 5 grams fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 203 milligrams sodium.
Red Bean and Rice
1 pound dried red beans
1 ham hock (1 pound)
3 quarts water
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 bay leaves
6 cups hot cooked rice
Sort and wash beans. Combine beans, ham hock, and water in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Mash about two-thirds of beans against side of Dutch oven with the back of a spoon. Add onion and next 6 ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook, uncovered, 1 hour or to desired doneness, stirring often. Discard bay leaves; serve over rice. Yields 6 main-dish servings.
Each serving provides 651 calories, 6 grams fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 2,181 milligrams sodium.
Rice fits in with a growing awareness of diet health. It is fat- , sodium- and cholesterol-free. It is even non-allergenic and gluten- free for those allergic to other grains. When stored correctly, rice needs no refrigeration. It also more than triples in volume after cooking.
Rice sustains nearly two-thirds the world's population, and Americans consume 26 pounds per person per year.
Contact: Sharon Allen, (662) 843-8361