All About Rice
This is a free excerpt from God's Banquet Table!
The simplicity and ease of cooking with rice make it a great addition to a heavier, more sustaining meal. If your day is hectic and the pressure is on with hungry mouths to feed, rice is a perfect solution. Two cups of rice, thrown into 5 cups of water, can simmer in a covered pot needing no stirring or attention. Come back in about an hour and you have a pot full of hardy, filling, carbohydrate-packed food. Rice can be dressed up with any vegetable, seasoning or used as a bed for tomato sauces or cooked vegetables. Rice, purchased in bulk, can be as low as 30 cents per pound. A 10 lb. bag of rice in the cupboard is a great cache of food in difficult financial times.
When canoeing for a week in the interior of Algonquin Park, we always brought 4-5 lb. of long grain brown rice. At night we soaked some rice to cut the cooking time in half. The problem is that soaking rice is a perfect invitation for a visiting bear. We solved this problem by throwing a rope over a high limb and hoisting the pot 10 feet in the air. In the morning, we would lower our treasure and cook a meal that would sustain us through rigorous canoeing, hiking and exploring God’s beautiful creation. It seems that when the pot blew in those cool night breezes, it added a certain flavor and mystique to our morning meal. A bowl of rice as the sun comes up, sitting by a crackling campfire, seemed to take on the flavors of an environment untouched by man.
Many think of rice as being a Chinese food. Not any more! It has become a part of America’s diet and has grown in popularity over the last 25 years and is eaten all over the world. It is not ranked as being the most nutritious of grains, but it has been essential to many culture’s survival. In some parts of the world, rice consumption ranges up to 300 lb. per person a year. A pound of rice delivers four times the food energy as the same serving of potatoes or pasta. One cup of uncooked rice contains 700 calories. It consists of 80% starch making it primarily a carbohydrate. It is also a good source of protein, thiamin, phosphorus and potassium.
There are over 7,000 varieties of rice grown around the world. We are going to look at five of those varieties that we consider most nutritious. Ninety-eight percent of the rice consumed in North America is white rice. The husk, bran and germ have been stripped away to create a fluffy, white, textured rice that is useless in nutritional value. Brown rice takes a little longer to cook and has a slightly stickier consistency, but the taste buds easily grow accustomed to the delicious nutty flavor.
Long Grain Brown Rice A rice that is high in fiber and takes about 50 minutes to completely cook. As with all brown rice, it can be soaked beforehand to reduce the cooking time to 20 minutes.
Medium Grain Brown Rice These types of rice are shorter and more plump and have a high degree of amylopectin starch. This rice is most commonly used for stuffing vegetables, like peppers. It is excellent for soups and because of its starch is able to thicken broth.
Short Grain Brown Rice This rice is as plump as it is long and rich in amylopectin starch, making it considerably stickier. It is considered the most nutritious of all rice and is also great for stuffing.
Basmati, Texmati and Aromatic Long Grain Brown Rice The best Basmati rice with its famous aromatic smell comes from India and Pakistan. The California variety is less expensive but lacks the full-bodied flavor of the Indian Basmati. Always rinse thoroughly, releasing some of its starchy residue and allowing it to be less sticky when cooked.
The Texas Texmati, California’s Calmati, Wehani and Dela rice are all popular American varieties which have strong aromas and unique flavors when cooked. Experiment with some of these wonderful types of rice and you will discover a favorite.
Wild Rice Hundreds of years ago, in the swamps and back waters around the Great Lakes Regions, it would be a familiar sight to find two native American women in a canoe harvesting wild rice. One would sit in the stern, maneuvering the canoe through the tall grasses. The other would bend the green stems of the wild rice over the canoe, shaking them to release the seeds into the bottom. As the sun would set, painting brilliant hues of red across a darkened blue sky, the women would paddle home laden with their cargo. The native Americans harvested without harm or stress in an environment that supplied all their needs. The food industry has caught on to a vast market, hungry for this nutty tasting, aquatic seed. Canoes were useless and expensive. Natural rice patties only produced a yield of 50 lb. per acre which was unacceptable for profit. Through flooding and draining, using chemical fertilizers, installing barriers for birds, deer and muskrat, and using huge combine harvesters, modern cultivation resulted in massive destruction of marshes and wetlands. We encourage you to look for natural, Indian-harvested wild rice which will be indicated on the package.
Natural wild rice can be pricey, but is well worth the money. It is a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. A perfect filling meal for those who are reducing calories. One cup of cooked, wild rice contains only 130 calories. One cup of wild rice needs 3 cups of water, taking up to an hour to become tender and ready to eat.
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