Thursday, September 17, 2009

National Rice Month: "Grown in the USA"

The first National Rice Month was proclaimed in 1991 by President George Bush. Sponsored by the USA Rice Federation, National Rice Month helps increase awareness of rice and recognizes the contribution the U.S. rice industry makes to America's economy.

Did you know rice is one of the United State's oldest agricultural crops? I bet there's lots of interesting grains of trivia yet to be discovered about rice farming in America. For instance, do you know which six states produce nearly all the rice grown in the United States? They are, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. About 240,000 acres of rice is planted annually in Mississippi alone. The oldest working rice mill in America, Conrad Rice Mill, is located in New Iberia, Louisiana. Mike Davis, owner of the mill was featured last year on American Profile. However, Arkansas is the number one rice producing state in the United States. I didn't know that, did you? See what Chef Capi Peck has to say about Arkansas' food culture.

The "Grown in the USA" logo you see on packages containing rice grown and packaged in the U.S. was initiated last year for National Rice Month. Companies such as family owned and operated Falcon Rice Mill, Inc. based in Crowley, Louisiana have joined the ever growing list of participants. (watch for the Crowley Rice Festival in October) There is a more current list of companies who have licensed the "Grown in the USA" logo available at the USA Rice Federation website. Below is a list as of January 2009.

The companies, who were honored by USA Rice at its annual meeting as founding licensees, represent nearly 70 percent of total domestic rice shipments. They are: American Rice, Doguet’s Rice, Falcon Rice Mill, Farmers Rice Milling, Hoppe Farms, Louisiana Mill, Lowell Farms, Mars Food, Producers Rice Mill, Rice Tec, Riceland Foods, Riviana Foods, Sem Chi Rice Products, Specialty Rice, and Sunwest Foods.

Not only does choosing U.S. grown rice help preserve economic growth in rice producing states, it also creates wetlands and habitats for migrating birds, as well as various species of reptiles and mammals.
California's rice fields also support a healthy environment. On the same 500,000 acres where we grow the world's finest rice, California's rice farmers are providing habitat, food and breeding ground for 235 species of wildlife. An estimated 10 to 12 million waterfowl use the Central Valley's wetland habitats each year, including 60 percent of the total number of waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway.
Rice production can also enhance water quality. Why not take a quick U.S. Rice Farm-to-Table Tour:

Rice Recipes
According to the California Rice Commission, and I quote, "Every piece of sushi made in the United States uses California rice." Does that statement surprise you? It certainly surprised me. The Commission also states:
California rice is the foundation for cuisine that spans the globe. Sushi from Japan, rice bowls from Korea, paella from Spain, risotto from Italy and pilaf from Turkey are all made from the short and medium grain varieties grown primarily in the Sacramento Valley.
Asian and Middle Eastern consumers have always prized the moist, sticky characteristics of California rice. Today, the grain is catching on with the mainstream public in the U.S.
When my kids were small, I always had rice in the freezer. It is a practice I am going to follow again. Yes, you can freeze rice! Rice freezes perfectly for up to 8 months. I use to freeze it proportionately so I could just grab it out of the freezer. That's what's great about rice. It's so versatile. If you have it in the freezer, you're more apt to add it to soup, meat loaf, stuffing, or use it in any number of imaginative ways. And, if your like me, you don't relish the thought of cooking up rice. I've finally "mastered" it but boy oh boy, it sure took a while. Double the batches when your cooking it up and freeze the leftovers. I remember a few times where I cooked it right out of the freezer as a rice au gratin. I remember because, the kids loved it!!! If your really in a hurry, I bet you can thaw it in the microwave.
Today I would like to share a little "Carolina Golde" with you.

History of Rice in South Carolina: To attain its three hundreth anniversary, South Carolina has lived in part or all of four centuries. The colony was only about twenty-five years old when rice was introduced, the first in America. A brigantine, enroute from Madagascar, put into Charles Towne harbor in distress. To repay the kindness of the colonists, the master of the ship presented to them some seed of rice.
From these "Seeds From Madagastar" came rice plantations which flourished and produced the main crop of South Carolina for more than a hundred years. Rice became the South Carolina low-country's "Gold."
In 1690, the colonists in South Carolina asked to pay their taxes in rice rather than in gold or silver. When their petition was granted, Carolinians started to grow rice in large quantities. Farmers soon realized that rice was a reliable cash crop - meaning it could be grown for sale not just personal consumption. Large rice plantations sprung up all over South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida. Enslaved Africans and Asian Americans, often those with experience from rice-producing areas of their native continents, performed the backbreaking work of rice cultivation, spending hours standing in knee-deep water. (source)
It never ceases to amaze me as to what you will uncover in a recipe book. Rice Recipes was first published by the Georgetown County Historical Commission in 1970. I'm delighted to have the 1974 2nd printing with me today. Carolina Plantation Rice is still produced today. Guess who was of its biggest fans?
The respected Thomas Jefferson traveled to the low country of the Carolinas to find out why Italian rice, at the time, fetched a higher price in the Paris market than Carolina rice. He became its biggest fan. In fact there were at least one hundred MAJOR rice plantations in the region, with names like: Hobcaw Barony, Beneventum, Chicora Wood and Hasty Point, to name a few…
From Rice Recipes:
The Rice Museum, a unique institution on the East Coast, is devoted to the story of rice--the crop that completely dominated life in Georgetown County, South Carolina, for decades. Prior to the Civil War and beginning in the 18th century, this area of the Low County was a society based entirely on the culture of rice.
I was quite tempted to include a recipe for Red rice —"The South's classiest classic" from a book titled the Savannah Sampler Cookbook but when I found this article by Laura Binder, I thought it best to for her to give you a taste of the cultural influence associated with a dish of red rice. Instead, I've chosen an "old" recipe for Rice Bread. If you would like a recipe for a more modern version of Rice Bread, I found one at My Diverse Kitchen.
Rice Bread: Boil a pint of rice soft, add a pint of leaven, then three quarts of rice flour, put it to rise in a tin or eathern vessel until it has raised sufficiently; divide it into three parts, and bake it as other bread, and you will have three large loaves, or scald the flour, and when cold mix half wheat flour or corn meal, raised with leaven in the usual way. ANOTHER.— One quart of rice flour, make it into a stiff pap, by wetting with warm water, not so hot as to make it lumpy, when well wet add boiling water, as much as two or three quarts, stir it continually until it boils, put in half pint of yeast when it cools, and a little salt, knead in as much wheat flour as will make it a proper dough for bread, put it to rise, and when risen add a little more wheat flour, let it stand in a warm place half an hour, and bake it. This same mixture only made thinner and baked in rings make excellent muffins.
I couldn't resist including this next recipe from a leaflet published by the Rice Council titled New Fashions in Rice. It is undated, I'm thinking 60s:) I'm delighted to be planning a birthday party in PA for my grand-daughter Tabitha who will be seven in November. The family is coming to celebrate her birthday and Thanksgiving. Although Tabi wants a Strawberry Shortcake for her party cake, (she also wants Strawberry Shortcake decorations:) the recipe for Milky Way Rice Rockets sounds easy enough and I think Noah will like them too!!! (I'll try making them with soy milk for him:) Any good Strawberry Shortcake Recipes out there? You know me and baking:) Where does one find strawberries in November anyway?
Milky Way Rice Rockets
1 package (3-1/4 oz) prepared vanilla pudding
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup chopped candied cherries
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped nuts
8 wafer ice cream cones cups
Combine vanilla pudding mix and milk in saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until pudding thickens. Add vanilla and rice; mix well. Cool until mixture is almost set.
Fold in the cherries, marshmallows and nuts. Pile mixture into wafer ice cream cups to form tall peaked cones.
If you like, serve dishes of nuts, cherries, and gum drops for decorating.
1. Substitute 1 cup shredded coconut and 1/2 cup orange marmalade for cherries and marshmallows
2. Chocolate pudding mix may be used. Mix 1 cup chopped peanuts or crushed peanut brittle.
3. Butterscotch pudding (today is Butterscotch Pudding Day:) mix with 1 cup toasted slivered almonds. Sprinkle candy shots over each rocket.
Apple blossoms are beautiful, but rice dumplings are better.

~Japanese Proverb~

Hundreds of millions of people depend on rice as an important cereal crop. More than half of them would go hungry without rice. Besides providing sustenance, rice plays an important cultural role in many countries. Rice is Life.
FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Program. They have a sort of question and answer game on there website that was actually quite fun to play. For each answer you get right, the folks at Free Rice donate 10 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program to help end hunger. Over 67 billion grains have been donated to date. I only got as far as donating 560 grains when I played but, I'm going back for more. Click the button to be taken to freerice.org. See you there!!!
Help end world hunger

1. Arkansas Rice Farmers
2. Mississippi Rice Facts
3. Texas Rice Recipes
4. Missouri Rice History
5. California Rice Commission
6. Delta Farm Press
7. The History of Rice (@ foodreference.com)
8. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (youtube video)
9. Georgetown Historical Society
10. Visiting America's Oldest Rice Mill (excellent article from fabulous foods)
11. Vintage Rice Farming Images
12. Rice Varieties
13. What Makes Your Cereal Go Snap, Crackle, and Pop?
14. International Rice Commission
15. Rice an Anatomy Atlas
16. Rice Image from USDA
17. Museum Day September 26, 2009
18. Rice Image from USA Rice
Further Reading
1. The Carolina Rice Kitchen: The African Connection By Karen Hess
2. The Introduction of Rice Culture into South Carolina. (1919)


  1. Thank you for linking to my recipe. The original recipe is Linda's at Out Of The Garden, though. :)

    In my house everyday is rice day as our's is a rice-based cuisine, so at least one meal a day is rice based. :)

  2. I like your comment "grains of trivia" ....well, my husband (who grew up in the south) is a huge fan of rice. I like rice, but more of a potato person. Thanks for the great recipes and this was VERY informative!

  3. Rice is my staple, can't live without it!

  4. Your posts are always thorough and well thought out. I learn something new each time I visit. Thanks for the hard work.

  5. Ack, sorry, I HATE rice! But risotto and rice pudding is yummy, though!

  6. Hi Louise,

    Great post on rice. Just great.


  7. Rice is so versatile and tasty and simple and yummy!

  8. My Pei Pei used to eat cooked white rice cold, with sugar and milk for breakfast.

  9. I was fascinated by the rice fields at the old plantations when I visited in Charleston, but I only recently got a good look at a rice plant. It's such a staple of the culture in the South. Here in the Northeast, I love my steamer, and have a fondness for Jasmine rice, because of the sweet aroma.

  10. What a wonderful rice post. The first time I saw rice fields was in India. They were everywhere. One of the women in our group was from Arkansas where her father was a big rice farmer. Somehow, even though rice is a favorite food I had gone years without knowing much about the growing--and where it was growing. Thanks so much for this great blog. Learn a new thing every day!

  11. Yes. Rice is a staple in Chinese food cuisine/culture.

  12. Wow... you really dig into your subjects! So much info !

    Nothing beats Filipino rice ! :-)

  13. I serve rice often, and just adore rice pudding. I think maybe I'll cook up a batch for this weekend, just for me and my dearly beloved...

  14. Rice is such a great staple!

    Of course, you can "borrow" the link ;-P!



  15. IMHO, Aparna, we too should consume more rice here in the states, especially brown rice. Thanks again for the recipe info...

    Thanks Tina, I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. I do tend to get a wee bit carried away with those "grains of trivia."

    I've added more rice dishes to my go to food list since this post, Veron. Brown rice that is...Thanks for stopping.
    P.S. Those Macarons of yours were a delight.

    Hi Cynthia, Thank you so much for your kind comments. I'm delighted you enjoyed the post. It was fun to do!!!

    You are so funny Sophia. Doesn't risotto and rice pudding count as rice???

  16. Thanks Cindy. It was fun to do!!!

    Yes it is duckie, all of the above:)

    I think when we were kids we use to have leftover cold rice with milk and sugar for breakfast too, Sherry. Ah, the memories:)

    I've was thinking about getting a steamer also, T.W. but I seem to be much better at preparing rice these days. I certainly don't need another gadget:) The Charleston plantations must be a wonder to see. The production of rice is amazing! I confess to anything Jasmine like. It's one of my favorite aromas. I've tried to grow the vine a few times to no avail. I will try again:)

  17. Thanks Janet. I'm so glad you enjoyed your stop over:) It just amazes me that all the times I have been to Arkansas, I've never sought out the rice fields. I sure will next time. Now, India, well, I don't think I will be going there in the near future but I sure would love to see them there too!!!

    Now if I would only learn how to steam rice to Chinese perfection, tigerfish. That would be an accomplishment!

    Yes, Sidney, I do tend to dig a bit. I'd love to try Filipino rice!

    How did that rice pudding of yours come out Marjie? Those no bake cookies sure did look good!!!

    Thank you so much Rosa. Your link fit perfectly.

  18. We should thank Ex President Bush for recognizing the effort of the US rice farmers for producing rice that we eat.


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise