a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

#6 What If . . . RICE -- when the grocery shelves are empty!

Continuing the series to prepare you for a time when the store
shelves are empty and you have to get by on what you have on hand.
RICE is the staple grain for more than half of the world's population.

It has been commonly known and used since ancient times, and has been grown in America since 1668.

Rice is easy to store, takes little storage space, and has no waste since it is completely edible. It is a good source of energy and can supply vitamins and minerals to the diet. It is generally classified as a grain, but in family meals it can be used as a cereal, a vegetable (substitute for potatoes, as a base for meat or in soups), in puddings and custards as a dessert, and even as a beverage.

Rice for Storing

While there are 7,000+ varieties of rice in the world, long-grain white rice is recommended for long-term food storage. Brown rice, while much healthier, has a short shelf-life because of its oil content. In these times of plenty you can experiment with your favorite type of rice. Basically there are three lengths of rice and five kinds.

Lengths of Rice
  1. Long Grain Rice's length is 4-5 times its width. The grains are translucent. They remain separate after cooking, and are light and fluffy.
  2. Medium Grain Rice is about 3 times as long as it is wide. This type is less expensive than long grain because it requires a shorter growing season and produces a higher yield per acre. It is easier to mill than the long-grained variety. When cooked, it is more moist and more tender than long grain rice.
  3. Short Grain Rice is only 1-1/2-2 times as long as it is wide. It is generally the least expensive of the three lengths. It tends to cling together when cooked.
Kinds of Rice
  1. Brown Rice is the whole, unpolished grain of rice with only the outer fibrous, inedible hull removed. Brown rice requires more water and longer cooking time  than white rice. It has a chewy texture with a distinctive nut-like flavor. Again, because of the oil content, and how rapidly it becomes rancid, brown rice is not a long-term storage item. Refrigerating or freezing brown rice in self-seal plastic gas will extend the storage time considerably. The bags must be completely airtight or moisture buildup will occur inside the packet.
  2. Regular Milled White Rice is rice from which hulls, germ, outer bran layers and most of the inner bran are removed in the milling process. The grains are bland in flavor and are fluffy and distinct when cooking directions are followed.
  3. Parboiled Rice, Also called Converted or Processed Rice, has been treated to keep some of the natural vitamins and minerals the whole grain contains. It has been cooked before milling by a special steam pressure process. This is often the type of rice recommended when cooking it in a slow cooker.
  4. Instant or "Minute Rice" is completely cooked. It needs only to stand in boiling water to be ready for serving. It is a gummy-type rice.
  5. Fortified or Enriched Rice is a combination of highly fortified rice and ordinary milled rice. A coating of vitamins and minerals -- thiamine, niacin, iron and sometimes riboflavin -- is used to fortify rice. This coating adheres to the rice and does not dissolve with ordinary washing or cooking.
Wild Rice is not rice at all, but the seed of a wild water grass found around the Great Lakes region. The demand for this "rice" is almost greater than the supply, causing it to be much more expensive than the types of rice described above.

To retain the most nutrition and have the best results, there are some rules that should be followed when cooking rice.
  • Do not wash rice before cooking, nor rinse it after cooking. Rice is one of the most sanitary foods. Rice grown and milled in the United States is clean. Nutrients on the surface of the rice are washed away if it is washed or rinsed before cooking.
  • Do not use too much water when cooking rice. Any water drained off means wasted food value. 
  • Do not stir rice after it comes to a boil, as this breaks up the grains and makes the rice gummy.
  • Do not leave rice in the pan in which it is cooked for more than 5-10 minutes or the cooked rice will pack.
  • When cooking rice  you may want to cook extra for future use. Store the cooked rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat chilled or frozen rice, in a saucepan add 2 T liquid (water, broth, etc.) for each cup of rice. Cover and heat on top of the stove for about 5 minutes or until the rice is heated through.
Cooking Long-grain White Rice

Stove-top Method: Bring 2 parts water to one part grain to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Slow Cooker Method: Pour 4 cups long grain rice, 10 cups water and 4 tsp salt into slow cooker that has been greased with 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine. Cover. Cook on high 2-3 hours or until rice is tender, but not overcooked. During cooking time, leaving he lid off as short of time as possible, stir occasionally. Makes 10 servings.

Microwave Method: In a 2-3 quart microwave dish, blend together 2 cups rice, 1 T vegetable oil, 3-1/2 cups water and 1 tsp salt. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 17-19 minutes. Do not stir or lift lid while cooking. Let stand 5-10 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Hints for Using Rice
  • Cook rice in beef or chicken broth instead of water.
  • Mix cooked rice with a variety of things -- sliced mushrooms, sauteed onions, crumbled bacon, slivered almonds,  grated cheese, etc.
  • Try sour cream and chives mixed into cooked rice.
  • For breakfast cereal, cook rice as usual. Drizzle with honey or sugar. Chopped fruit, fresh or canned, can be added. Top with warm milk or cream if desired.
  • Herbs can be added to the cooking water when preparing rice: 1/2 tsp dried thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, basil or savory; 1/2 tsp celery seeds or dried dill, seasoned salt instead of regular salt; 3/4 tsp dried marjoram.
  • Make "potato" salad replacing the potatoes with rice.
Rice Stir-Ins Ideas
  • Dried cranberries, chopped pecans, sliced green onions, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Thawed frozen peas and chopped smoked ham.
  • Chopped roasted chicken, toasted sliced almonds, sliced green onions and orange marmalade.
  • Scrambled eggs, chopped Canadian bacon, and chopped chives or green onions.
  • Orange segments, toasted sliced almonds, and sliced green onions.
  • Granola, vanilla yogurt and golden raisins.
  • Butter, lemon zest and fresh lemon juice.
  • Minced garlic and mushrooms sauteed in butter.
  • Diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, and shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Vanilla ice cream and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Scrambled eggs, crumbled cooked sausage, cream cheese cubes, sliced green onions, dash of poultry seasoning.
  • Yogurt and fresh fruit.
  • Zucchini and carrot "matchsticks" sauteed in butter or olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
  • Sliced apples sauteed in butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, chopped nuts and vanilla yogurt.
  • Thawed frozen corn, mild green chilies and sour cream.
Rice is the Great "Stretcher"
Rice helps a main dish like stew, chili, beans, etc. go a lot farther by serving them over rice. We learned this stomach-filling trick several years ago when we lived on an isolated atoll in the Equatorial Pacific. Container ships were scheduled (loosely) every six weeks or thereabouts.

Rice as a Beverage!

Horchata (or-CHA-tah) is an old-world drink that was enjoyed by the Aztecs. Today it is served throughout Mexico, and is appearing on more and more menus in authentic Mexican Restaurants in the United States. It is a cool and soothing enhancement to spice food.

There are many recipes on the internet. Some are dairy-free, making it a great drink for those with lactose intolerance. The ingredients and preparation methods are similar, and all require a several hour "setting" time and the necessity of straining. Serve horchata over ice.

Lola's Horchata
1 cup uncooked white long-grain rice
5 cups water
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 T. vanilla extract
1/2 T. ground cinnamon
Pour the rice and water into a blender container; blend until the rice just begins to break up, about 1 minute. Let the rice and water stand at room temperature for a minimum of 3 hours. Strain the rice water into a pitcher and discard the rice. Stir the milk, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar into the rice water. Chill. Stir before serving over ice.

Lola's recipe is from allrecipes.com. Comments from the site include:

  • This is the best horchata recipe I have ever found. I found that ground cinnamon floats on the stop so I let 2 cinnamon sticks soak with the rice and water for 3 hours.
  • I have made this three times and found the trick to perfecting this the second time around! Here's my recommendation for "authentic" homemade horchata: put 1-1/3 cups rice in the blender jar. Add about 2 cups water and 2 cinnamon sticks and blend until he rice and cinnamon are roughly ground. Add the remaining water and blend thoroughly. Pour into a pitcher and place in the refrigerator to soak (overnight is best) -- or at the very least 4-5 hours. Strain the mixture through a sieve. I doubled the amount of milk called for. I used about half the sugar ( a generous 1/3 cup as I like mine not too sweet) and a generous splash of vanilla.
  • I found that the flavor was better the longer it sat so I served it the following day. There was a lot of undissolved cinnamon, but I found the perfect solution is to strain the entire mixture through a coffee filter just before serving. Because it sat overnight, the flavor was still full, but you did not get undissolved cinnamon with each sip. My measurements for 10 servings is the following: 1-2/3 cup uncooked white long-grain rice, 8 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 cups milk; 3/4 cup+2 T sweetened condensed milk; 2-1/2 tsp vanilla.

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