Friday, December 28, 2007

Boulettes recipe for Dec 22

As mentioned before, generally, Boulettes soaks our rice overnight, then cooks it with a bit of sea salt in the water. The other ingredients are added to the hot rice after cooking. All proportions are "to taste." Here is the dish served at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Dec. 22, 2007:

Massa Organics brown rice
apple cider vinegar
black currants
new olive oil
flax seeds

Friday, December 21, 2007

Harvest video

Way back in October, we took some video of rice harvest. Since many of our customers live in urban areas and don't see rice fields very often, we thought it would be fun to post the video on YouTube so that people could see what harvest is like. Of course, I only got around to posting the video this week!

Rice harvest is completely mechanized in the United States, and uses very large, very expensive machinery. Much of the rest of the world still harvests by hand or with small equipment. You can see some of this if you search YouTube. In our case, we use a John Deere 9760 STS with a "stripper header." When you watch the video, the header is the blue and white thing on the front of the combine. Stripper headers are a relatively new technology, which greatly improves the efficiency of harvest by stripping the grain off the plant and leaving the plant stem standing in the field. By contrast, the older style headers cut off the entire plant and feed it into the combine, which then separates grain from straw. This takes much more time and fuel.

Here's the video of the combine with a stripper header:

Here is a video of the combine dumping rice into a truck.

Here is a view from the driver's seat. It's not great quality, but you get the idea.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Boulettes Larder recipe for Dec. 15

See post from December 8 for more info about how Boulettes Larder cooks our rice.

saturday's ingredients-

black currants
extra virgin olive oil
sherry vinegar
herbs (rosemary, parsley, some people said lavender - it might have been a homemade herbs de provence, but we're not sure)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Chard Dolmas

A good customer in Chico sent us this recipe recently. He notes that it is simple and easy, and would also be good with other veggies or spices added to the rice mixture. We'd love to hear your modifications to the recipe. Enjoy!

Swiss Chard Dolmas

1 bunch Swiss chard
3 cups cooked Massa Organics brown rice, at room temperature
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried dill
Salt and pepper

Combine rice, olive oil, vinegar and dill in a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Wash and trim the stems from the Swiss chard. Bring a large kettle of water to a boil and blanch the largest whole Swiss chard leaves for about 1 minute, until just tender. Remove the leaves from the water with tongs and transfer to a large cutting board. When the chard leaves have cooled, place the leaves face down one at a time on the board and use a sharp knifeto remove the thick central spine from the leaves, about two-thirds of the way up, leaving the fan of the leaves intact. Overlap the lower halves of each leaf to form a half-inch seam.

Place two heaping tablespoons of the rice mixture in the center of each Swiss chard leaf, leaving the edges free for tucking to form the ends of the roll. Fold the lower edge of the leaf upwards around the rice, tuck in the sides and continue rollling to the upper edge. Transfer Swiss chard rolls to a baking dish and brush with olive oil. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, until rice is heated all the way through.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Sickle of Honor

A few weeks ago, we were asked by the local representative of the Pesticide Action Network if we would be willing to participate in absentia at a ceremony honoring rice farmers at PAN’s international meeting in Penang, Malaysia. They asked for a photo and two bags of rice for “symbolic international sharing.” Today Greg and I found out that we’d actually each been awarded the Sickle of Honor from PAN International. The handle of each is engraved with: “TO RAQUEL KRACH (GREG MASSA), DEFENDER OF RICE FARMERS’ RIGHTS, FROM PAN, 2007”. It was presented at their meetings earlier this month and was accepted for us by a California PAN representative. Said accepter arrived at our home this afternoon, sickles in hand. He also brought us a nice cloth bag, a Book of Rice, and a DVD of “Rice – The Life of Asia.” We’re bummed we couldn’t be there, we would have enjoyed the two Malaysian “rice harvest” dances.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Recipe from Boulettes Larder

Those of you who are lucky enough to be able to shop at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market in San Francisco are probably familiar with Boulettes Larder, a fantastic food shop in the Ferry Building. And, if you have bought our rice at the market, you probably know that Boulettes makes a rice dish for us to sample each week--a new one every week. Now that we have a blog, I thought it would be a good place to post the ingredients for the weekly sample dish.

Generally, Boulettes soaks our rice overnight, then cooks it with a bit of sea salt in the water. The other ingredients are added to the hot rice after cooking. All proportions are "to taste." Here is the dish served today:

Massa Organics Brown Rice
toasted sage
black currants
extra virgin olive oil
black pepper
plum vinegar


Friday, December 7, 2007

Our Strawbale House

If you’ve ever wondered why there is a house on the front of our packaging, the answer is that it’s our house. It’s a Straw bale house, that we built with the rice straw out of our fields that surround the house. This is one of the photos we gave to the illustrator when we were designing the bag. We wanted to show you that we were living with our numerous children in the middle of the fields, which is why we work so hard at farming in a safe and healthy manner.

The house has been a labor of love, and one that unlike our children, we actually birthed. We are reliving that process now because we have outgrown the original 1600 square feet we built. We started with two kids, and now have five.

Gestation begins with baling the straw, and since rice harvest is just over, we baled the straw a couple of weeks ago. Looking out over the field of bales, you start to imagine how all those individual blocks will come together, and visualize the finished project. Mostly I dream about the extra space for beds, toys, computer and piano. Maybe Daddy with even get his office back.

Having a whole lot of baled straw around is pretty fun. The kids played for hours on the big stacks over the Thanksgiving break, and we even loaded up a few on the trailer and took a “hay” ride around the farm. (We don’t have livestock, so we don’t actually grow hay.) Stay tuned for the updates on the building process. We’ve almost got the permits and contractor ready to go (we’re not doing it all ourselves this time). Sometime in the late spring or summer we’ll be having a “bale-raising”, a community building project to get the bales stacked in the walls. See you then!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Wheat crop update

Here are a few visitors to the wheat field--sandhill cranes, one of my favorite birds. They come to the farm in the fall and spend the winter with us before heading back to Canada and Alaska in the spring. They are huge birds, standing 4-5 feet tall, with 6 foot wingspans. They like to dig around in soft soil looking for invertebrates to eat. I usually don't worry about them in the fallow rice fields, but I'm a little concerned about them in my young wheat field. When the plants are small like this, it doesn't take much to uproot them. It's a tough transition to suddenly think of my winter friends as a pest!

The wheat crop has been in the ground for a couple weeks now, and even though we haven't had any rain at all, there was enough residual moisture in the soil to sprout much of it. The concern now is if there is enough moisture in the ground to keep it going until it does rain. We've had a very dry fall, and I saw several wheat fields being irrigated last week. I'd rather not have to turn on the pump, because organic wheat planted in an old conventional rice field isn't likely to have a huge yield, and I need to watch my costs very closely. Pray for rain!