Guest Blog from Bettina Stern, co-founder of Loulie's:
Today is World Food Day. A time to reflect on where our food comes from: the abundance for some and lack of for so many others. It is also a time to think about the history and future of our food.
Observed on this date since 1981, World Food Day brings more than 150 nations together to help increase awareness and understanding of the plight of hunger, malnutrition, and poverty on our nations. Severe food insecurity continues to afflict more than 850 million people. It also leaves little time for a nation to do much else in terms of development. In Gambia, for example, almost all of the population are "subsistence farmers" - which means that day in and day out, year after year, their lives are devoted to planting and harvesting food just to support their families. "Remember food is precious", says Alice Waters, author of The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. "Food should never be taken for granted". (Check out and sign up for Loulies's Cook the Book Club.)
Rice, the seed of a semi-aquatic grass, is the world's number one food crop. It is the most important staple crop for more than 50 percent of the global population. In China, the word for "rice" is actually a synonym for "food". In Japan, the word for "cooked rice" means the same as the word "meal".
FIVE WAYS TO COOK RICE:
Coconut Rice - 1 c. raw rice cooked with 1 ½ c. water and ½ c. coconut milk, 2 Tbls. shredded, unsweetened coconut, 2 Tbls. honey, ½ tsp. salt, and a pinch of allspice.
Curried Rice - 1 c. raw rice cooked with 2 c. chicken or vegetable broth, 1 tsp. curry powder and 3 Tbls. dried currants.
Ginger-Soy Rice - 1c. raw rice cooked with 2 c. water, 2 tsp. each soy sauce and grated fresh ginger, and 2 whole cloves.
Lemon Rice - 1 c. raw rice cooked with 2 c. water, ½ tsp salt, 2 strips lemon zest, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Saffron Rice - 1 c. raw rice cooked with 2 c. vegetable or chicken broth and a pinch of saffron.
TIP: Basmati and long grain rice can be interchangeable. Basmati, though, has a distinctive fragrance and should be rinsed and soaked before cooking.
1. To Wash Rice: place in a large bowl, fill with water and let rice settle to bottom. After 2-3 seconds, tilt bowl to pour off water. Repeat several times or until the water runs clear. Washing removes the polishing residue and helps keep the grains separate.
2. To Soak Rice: add twice the amount of cold water as there is raw rice. Let soak for thirty minutes, then drain. Soaking helps to ensure that the grain cooks evenly and it really does make a difference.