Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pancake recipe!

The following recipe comes from Suzanne, one of our great customers in Chico. She grinds our wheat berries to flour using a KoMo grain mill that she purchased at Enjoy!

Massa Organics whole wheat pancakes

In large measuring cup, melt 2 T butter (in microwave), add 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt, heat till warm, stir in 1 egg. In a separate bowl mix: 1 cup fresh ground (warm) Massa whole wheat flour, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda. Stir in wet ingredients till just mixed. Add small amount of warm water if batter seems too stiff. Cook on hot griddle. Yummm!
Thanks so much for the delicious rice & wheat. Suzanne

Friday, November 21, 2008


A few months ago, a parent at our kids' school asked for help in putting together a shipping container full of relief supplies to send to Ethiopia. His friend operates an orphanage there, and described the situation as very dire. Food is in short supply, and the kids have nothing at all. Many people in our community stepped up and donated all sorts of things, from soccer balls to food, diapers to school supplies. (See a description of the project here. That's our rice and wheat on those pallets).

Two weeks ago, one of my close friends (a fellow farmer) had a hemorrhagic stroke while visiting San Diego. His situation was also dire. His paralysis is now easing, and he appears able to understand speech, though he can't talk himself. He was moved out of the ICU this week, and hopes to be able to move to a rehab facility closer to home soon.

This week, I'll be giving Thanks for life, health, family and food.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rice pudding with pistachios, raisins

It's here! This is the rice pudding we have been serving as samples at the Davis Farmers Market. It's one of the most requested recipes we've ever had, so here you go! Now you can make it at home. Enjoy!

Rice pudding with pistachios, raisins
Serves 6
1 cup Massa Organics brown rice
2 cups water
2 qt whole milk
1 cup Brown sugar
6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons ghee or butter
1/2 cup shelled natural pistachios
1/2 cup golden raisins

Cook brown rice according to package directions.
Simmer milk with cooked brown rice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamomin in a 7- to 8-quart heavy pot, stirring often, until reduced by half, 45 to 50 minutes. Discard cardamom. Pudding should thicken and the brown rice will start breakdown.

Heat ghee or butter in a heavy skillet over a medium heat setting until melted, then cook pistachios and raisins, stirring, until nuts are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir half of pistachio mixture into rice pudding and sprinkle remainder on top.

Recipe courtesy of:

Rhonda & Tony Gruska
Monticello Bistro
5 East Main Street
Winters, CA 95694
(530) 792-8066

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Almonds are ready!

You may have read my previous post about almond harvest back in August. Well, the nuts are finally ready for sale! We'll have raw, roasted, and sliced almonds, as well as almond butter at many of our farmer's markets this weekend. They are also listed on our website now if you don't have a market near you.

So, why does it take so long between harvest and eating? Basically, there are several steps of post-harvest processing, and they all take time. First, once the nuts are knocked off the trees, they need to dry in the sun for about 10 days. This allows the hulls and shells to dry out enough that they can be removed easily by the hulling and shelling machinery without damaging the nuts. Once they are dry, I haul them to a processor for hulling/shelling. Of course, once there they have to wait in line. The hullers run 24 hours a day this time of year, but there are a LOT of nuts to process in California--about 1.5 billion pounds this year. After shelling, our nuts went to another processor to be sorted. Sorting takes out all the damaged nuts, half kernals, etc. The perfect nuts are then packaged, and sent to the freezer for about a month to make sure there are no viable insect eggs hitching along. (The alternative to this step in non-organic production is fumigation or pasteurization.) Only after all of this are the nuts ready to be sold. Of course, I've been eating them all along--even right off the trees--so I know they are fantastic!

To celebrate the release of our almonds, here's a new recipe for you--our first recipe on this blog that doesn't include rice! This recipe comes from Marianne Brenner, a local chef and columnist in Chico.

Hot-Sweet Black and White Sesame Almonds

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups raw whole almonds

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the spices, pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and mix well.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and cook over medium heat until melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the almonds and cook, stirring, until they are coated with the sugar syrup.

Add a small amount of the sesame seed mixture to the almonds, stirring all the while. Add the remaining mixture, a little at a time, and toss until all the mixture has been used.

Transfer nuts to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer; separate the almonds with a fork or your hands and set aside to cool before serving.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Come Visit Us! (volume 2)

Here is yet another chance to live the dream! Come visit us on the farm next weekend as part of the Sierra-Oro Farm Trail Passport weekend. On October 11-12, you can visit us and 25 other farms and wineries in the Chico-Oroville area, including our neighbors, Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Company. After a visit, make a risotto with our rice and their Northern Gold Cheese--you won't believe how incredible it is! (For a great farm blog, check out Mandy's Dairy Princess Diaries).

The tour is lots of fun, and there is truly some incredible food in this part of California--olive oil, jam, grass-fed beef, wine, wine, wine, and of course, Massa Organics brown rice, wheat berries, and our newest addition, organic almonds! We'll be serving some interesting rice dishes made by our friends at Roots Catering--you'll see rice in a whole new way. We'll also be hosting our local chapter of Slow Food, who will be selling box lunches using all local products, put together by local chef and columnist Marianne Brenner. See you next weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Come visit us!

Admit it. You've always wanted to visit a rice farm. See some wildlife, sit in the cab of a combine, and touch the walls of a strawbale house. Well, now you can live that dream! On September 28, we are hosting a tour group from the San Francisco Bay Area, and there are still tickets available. The trip is sponsored by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), the organization that runs the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. We are actually the second stop on the tour, the first being Carl Rosato's Woodleaf Farm. Check out the tour description and buy tickets at:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Slow Food Nation

Today was Day 1 of Slow Food Nation in San Francisco, and what a busy day it was! I had lots of great conversations with interested people, and reconnected with people that I haven't seen in a while. We served a sample of Brown Rice Peach Crisp, which everyone loved! Come early Saturday if you want a shot at tasting it before we run out. If you miss out, not to fear, because you can make it at home--the recipe is below.

Come visit with us--we're booth number 6 in the marketplace at the SF Civic Center.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Post on

I finally got around to writing another post for in preparation for Slow Food Nation this weekend in San Francisco. Here it is below, and here's a link to their site.

A Sense of Place

We’re rice farmers, and as I mentioned in my last post here on Culinate, we’re unusual among rice farmers in that we direct-market our organic brown rice at farmers’ markets. We’re up to nine farmers’ markets a week now, and this week, we’ll also be selling rice in the Marketplace at Slow Food Nation in San Francisco.

The rice we grow is called Calrose, a high-quality, medium-grain rice unique to California. It’s the variety that grows best in our soil and climate. But it’s also the most common variety grown in California. So what qualifies our farm for recognition at Slow Food Nation?

Quite simply, we do a better job of growing tasty rice than others do.

The biggest difference between our rice and others you may have tried is the taste. Many of our first-time customers are surprised simply to discover that rice has any flavor at all!

The key is that we let our rice fully mature on the plant, which leads to a more complex flavor. It’s nutty but sweet, able to stand up to the most flavorful dishes on your plate or even to become the centerpiece of a meal.

People often ask if we grow jasmine or basmati rice, both aromatic long-grain rices. The answer is that we could grow them, and many in California do. But the jasmine we would grow would be inferior to our Calrose, and bear little resemblance to the jasmine that comes from Thailand, where the variety originated.

Jasmine rice responds best to the climate, soil, and farming methods of Thailand, where it attains its full flavor and aroma.

Another reason for us to not grow jasmine is that that variety was developed through the efforts of many successive generations of Thai farmers. Jasmine is their genetic heritage, and growing it in California feels wrong — like stealing something precious.

Visiting with Thai rice farmers, as well as hosting them on our farm, convinced us that we should stick with what we do well, and let them do what they do well.

This is another of Slow Food’s principles: Food has a story, which should not be taken out of context.

If you’ll be in San Francisco this Labor Day weekend, come see our booth at the Civic Center. I’ll be there all day on Friday, and helping out the rest of the weekend.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Brown rice peach crisp

Today's sample dish at the Chico Farmers Market was a big hit!


• 2 Cups cooked Massa Organics Brown Rice
• 2 Cups fresh peach (sliced)
• ½ Cup brown sugar (divided)
• 1 tsp. fresh ginger (grated)
• ½ c. whole wheat or regular flour
• ½ tsp. cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp. cloves
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds

1. Combine rice, peaches and ¼ c. brown sugar and ginger.
2. Pour into a 9x9 buttered pan
3. Combine flour, remaining ¼ c. brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
4. Cut in butter.
5. Sprinkle mixture over rice
6. Sprinkle nuts on top
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes

Friday, August 1, 2008

Almond Harvest has begun!

A few years ago, rice prices were extremely low, and we decided we needed to diversify our crops and marketing. That led to planting 30 acres of organic almonds, as well as direct marketing our rice. Four years after planting, we're harvesting our first crop of almonds! Our trees are small, so we're hand harvesting by knocking the nuts off of the trees onto tarps. The nuts are loaded into a cart and then spread out at the edge of the field to dry in the sun for about 10 days. The next step is to take them to a processor that will remove the hull and shell. The photos below show the kids out there doing the jobs, but in reality we had a very hard working crew do most of it!

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rising from the ashes...


As you might remember, we lost half of our wheat crop to a fire in June. We harvested the other half, had it cleaned and bagged, and today, nine months of work came together for us in two loaves of sourdough bread! Our friend Dave Miller of Miller's Bakehouse in Yankee Hill, CA ground some of our wheat to flour and baked some bread with it. It is so much fun to taste great bread made with wheat that you planted, tended and harvested.

Look for wheat to appear at our farmers market booths soon, as well as on our website. And maybe if I can convince Dave to grind it for us, we'll have flour too!
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

How to cook brown rice

We've had a couple requests for basic cooking instructions, and really, I should have posted them here long ago. I'll cover several methods, and you can choose which one you like.

1. Directions on package: Rinse rice and drain. Combine 2 parts water with one part rice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and cover. Cook approximately 45 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Let stand for a few minutes, then fluff with fork and serve. **This method works best with small amounts of rice (a cup or two). For larger amounts of rice, you might like to drop the water down to 1 3/4 parts water to 1 part rice. In our rice cooker, we use less water than 2:1.

2. The finger method: Rinse rice and drain. Place desired amount of rice in saucepan and add water. The correct amount of water is reached when you touch the rice with the tip of your index finger, and the water level rises to your first knuckle. I'm told this is the method people in Japan use. *This method seems accurate for almost any quantity of rice, at least for my fingers! Also works well in our rice cooker.

3. The Saveur Magazine method: When Saveur featured our rice in the May 2008 issue, they kindly included this unique method, which many of our customers have described as an epiphany in cooking brown rice. Here it is, adapted from the Saveur website:

1 cup Massa Organics brown rice
Kosher salt, to taste

1. Rinse rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Bring 12 cups water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Add the rice, stir it once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer over the sink.

2. Let the rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot, off the heat. Cover the pot and set it aside to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover the rice, fluff with a fork, and season with salt.

This recipe was first published in Saveur in Issue #111

Sunday, July 13, 2008

First Post on

In preparation for Slow Food Nation, held in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend, I've been asked to guest blog for Culinate on the basics of rice farming. My first post went up this week, and with permission from my Culinate editor, here it is (but please also visit their site!).
Rice dream
What rice farming is really like
By Greg Massa
July 10, 2008

Most people in the U.S. don’t realize it, but rice is the most important food crop in the world.

Two-thirds of the world’s population (more than 4 billion people) eat rice every day, and for too many people, a bowl of rice will be their only meal. Global rice production totals more than 400 million tons, much of it consumed within just a few miles of where it was grown.

The exception to this local consumption of rice is the United States, where half of the crop is exported and the largest purchaser of rice is Anhauser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser beer.

U.S. rice is a globally traded commodity, and most rice farmers have no idea what happens to their rice once it leaves their fields. The grains get commingled with rice from other farmers, with no thought as to whose rice might actually taste good.

As a commodity, rice prices tend to be so low that farmers make just enough to keep farming another year. With little profit and no connection to people who actually eat rice, it is a very unsatisfying way to farm.

This is the world of rice farming that I have known since I was a kid. I’m the fourth generation of my family to grow rice in California — a 92-year-long string of rice crops. The system of rice growing and marketing that I grew up with turned me off of farming, and my wife, Raquel, and I actually worked as tropical biologists in Costa Rica for about five years before returning to the farm.

What drew us back were the opportunities for hands-on conservation and social work that farming provided. We are converting more and more of our family’s farm to organic farming methods, while also raising our five children (all were adopted, three of them from foster care).

The biggest change we have made in the way our farm operates is to actually take responsibility for the marketing as well as the production of our crop. This is a highly unusual thing for a commodity farmer to do. Most farmers do well with production but let large grain corporations handle the marketing; the farmers end up taking whatever price they’re offered for their crops. This is not a strategy for staying in business long-term, so for the last two years, we’ve been direct-marketing our organic brown rice through farmers’ markets, restaurants, schools, and hospitals.

As far as I know, we are the only rice farmers in the country to sell rice at farmers’ markets. The monetary return is better, but the most positive aspect of the way we market is the connection that our farm now has to our community in northern California. Where once we had no idea whether our rice ended up in a can of beer or got put on a ship headed for Japan, we now have people calling our cell phones asking for tips on the best way to cook our rice.

It is a powerful experience the first time someone tells you their kids loved the rice they had for dinner last night, and that yours is the only rice they will buy from now on.

Direct marketing has been a powerful tool for us. We are now free to focus our efforts on growing great-tasting rice, rather than just high yields. Our kids have a more tangible understanding of what we do, and are proud that their pictures adorn our packaging. And in true Slow Food tradition, we have connected our customers to a previously anonymous food.

Farmers Market Samples this week

From the Ferry Plaza:

sesame seeds
soy sauce

From Davis:
A very popular and tasty Indian rice pudding! I'll post the recipe as soon as I get it from Marisol. Check back here!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What's happening on the farm

Here's a quick list of what will be going on this week...

1) Almond hulls are starting to split, meaning harvest is only weeks away. Soon the nuts will start to dry and ripen. We should have nuts at our market stands by October (it takes time to process the nuts, including a month in the freezer for post-harvest sanitation.)

2) Our wheat was cleaned last week, and will be bagged on Monday in 50-lb sacks. Our main market for the wheat will be bakeries, but we'll likely sell wheat berries by the pound at the farmers markets as well. Look for it in the next couple weeks, and let me know if you are interested in larger quantities. I already have a few orders for 100 lbs each. I'll be looking for some recipes for you. Here's one.

3) The rice is in the tillering stage, meaning that side shoots are forming from the base of the plant. Each tiller is capable of producing grains, so the more tillers the better.

4) Tractor repair. The small tractor that we use for mowing our orchard broke down last week. I hope to have it back soon (at a cost of $6000!). We're also replacing the cylinder teeth (which separate rice grains from straw) in our old combine this week.

5) Rice deliveries. Almost every week I end up driving somewhere with a pallet of rice. This week it will be Davis, to restock our storage area for the Davis and Sacramento farmers markets.

6) Paperwork! I'm still trying to get the insurance to cover our losses from the wheat fire that happened last month. I also need to start preparing for our annual organic inspection with CCOF. And of course there are always bills (see item 4).

I promise a more interesting post soon...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bad Air Day


Actually, it is more like a bad air month. Our area of northern California was hit by a lightening storm three weeks ago, and the mountains have been on fire ever since, We started with hundreds of fires, and are now down to about 30 or so. Several of them have combined into quite large fires, and have caused a terrible amount of damage. Many thousands of people have been evacuated. The air has been calm, so the smoke is just hanging in the valley, and we have a layer of ash on everything that sits outside. The air quality is now defined as "hazardous," and we are being urged to stay inside and not work or play. Visibility today was less than half a mile. At times, the sun actually disappears like we're in a thick fog. Effects on the crops are minor compared to people losing their homes and the damage to our lungs, but I expect rice yields will be somewhat reduced by the lack of sunshine and excessive smoke this month.
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Guest Blogging at Culinate

I was recently asked to be a guest blogger for the Dinner Guest series at Culinate. I'll be doing a series of 5 or 6 posts over the next two months. My first post went up today, so please visit them and check it out!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

We're in the LA Times!

Today's LA Times has a very nice story about us titled, "Spreading their ideals organically." The story covers our strawbale home, farming philosophy, and our foster care work. Unfortunately, the photos that appeared in the paper didn't make it to the online edition, but you can read the story on the Times website:,0,4577023.story

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wheat Harvest

Note (7-3-2008): I actually posted this a week ago, but after several people told me it was really geeky I took it down. Now they've convinced me to put it back up. It's still geeky, but if you haven't ever been on a combine before, you might find it interesting. --Greg

We harvested what remained of the wheat yesterday, and I shot the following video. YouTube reduced the video quality quite a bit when I uploaded it, but you can still see everything. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Feeling Lucky

First, we're ok, and the house is ok. We were very lucky today. Some burning debris blew off of a truck going down the highway near our house. It ignited the grass on the edge of the road, and 40 mph winds blew the fire into our wheat field. The fire burned about 20 acres of wheat in just a few minutes. It mostly burned itself out when it hit the rice field next to the house, though it continued down the highway and started to burn up the driveway. We also had a spot fire break out next to the house from flying embers. Luckily we had four guys here working on the addition to our house and they were able to wet everything down and protect the house until the fire crews arrived. Raquel was here with four of our five kids and had to evacuate to get out of the intense smoke. I arrived just as she was leaving, but there was little I could do at that point except make sure that the house and tractors were safe. Fire engines from seven local fire departments showed up and put out what remained of the fire, and then spent several hours mopping up and making sure that the fire was really out.

About half of our wheat crop is gone, and the electrical panels for two irrigation pumps burned up. But we are all just fine, and very grateful for that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Brown Rice Lasagna

Here's a really interesting and delicious recipe with a unique twist: Lasagna with rice instead of pasta!

Roots Catering Brown Rice Lasagna

For the Rice:
• 3 c. Massa Organics Brown Rice
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp. salt

1. Cook rice as directed on package along with salt.
2. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and add rice to egg ¼ c. at a time until the egg is warm. Mix well.
3. Press rice into a well oiled standard loaf pan.
4. Place plastic wrap onto the surface of the rice and cool completely in the refrigerator.

For the Marinara Sauce:
• 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
• 2 c. tomato puree
• 2 c. diced tomato (canned or fresh)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 oz. onion, diced small
• 1 oz. celery, diced small
• 1 oz. carrots, diced small
• 2 tbsp. basil (dried)
• 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
• 1 tsp. fennel seed
• ½ tsp. oregano
• ½ c. red wine
• 2 tbsp. honey
• salt & pepper to taste

1. Saute the vegetables in olive oil on medium heat for 5 mins.
2. Add red wine and reduce by half.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, plus 2 c. water
4. Simmer for ½ hr. or until sauce is reduced by about 2 cups, stirring occasionally
5. Season with salt & pepper

For the vegetables:
• Use a combination of your favorite vegetables to equal 2 cups, small diced.
• ¼ tsp. red chili flakes ( or more to taste)
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• Salt & pepper to taste

1. Saute ingredients in olive oil on medium low heat for about 5 minutes and set aside

Putting the lasagna together:
• 1 c. grated parmesan cheese
• ½ c. ricotta cheese
• ½ c. mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Invert the rice onto a cutting board and cut in 1/3 “ slice horizontally.
2. Oil another loaf pan and place some of the sauce on the bottom.
3. Arrange some of the sliced rice to cover the pan.
4. Layer cheese, vegetables and a little more sauce
5. Repeat process one more time ending with rice layer topped with a bit more sauce.
6. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes at 350 until temperature in middle reads 140 F.

(530) 891-4500

Friday, May 23, 2008

Shrimp problems

Late Spring is the most critical time of the year for rice farmers. If you don't get an adequate plant population now, there is little you can do later in the season to increase your yield. And once you have planted the field, there are many factors working against you. As you perhaps saw in the video I posted, we plant the seeds by air into flooded fields. For a few days, all you can find in the fields is rice seed. Then things start to happen. Weeds appear, and race the baby rice plants to the air and sun above the water. The soil-borne eggs of several species of freshwater shrimp hatch after a few days under water. Most of these shrimp species are harmless, but one, the tadpole shrimp, nips the root off the rice plants, effectively killing them. The shrimp also root around in the soil, digging up plants that have rooted, and muddying the water so that little light penetrates to the young leaves. When the weather is warm, algae blooms are possible. The algae forms on the soil surface, where it does little harm, but after a few days, gas bubbles collect underneath the algae and it rises to the surface of the water. Then you are in trouble, as the floating algae forms thick mats that rice cannot penetrate. And to top it all off, Spring is the season of high winds in the Sacramento Valley. If the winds come when the rice is only a few inches tall and shallowly rooted, the wind-generated waves can pull the baby rice out of the ground. They float along with the waves and eventually pile up in the corner of the field, where they die.

All of these problems can be mitigated to some extent (except the wind), but you may have only hours to correct the problem before it causes damage. This year we had a period of very hot temperatures (over 100 degrees F), which caused the shrimp to grow very rapidly. They ate about 6 acres of rice seed before I caught them, so now we have to replant part of the field. The problem is that the weeds are now two weeks ahead of the rice, and will likely outcompete them if we don't do something about them. Draining the field is not an option (takes too long, and will hurt the rest of the field without shrimp damage), so we came up with a unique but drastic solution: "stomping" the field.

A stomper is a large cage roller that is used to push rice straw into the mud after harvest. Mixing the straw with mud helps to decompose the straw over the winter, so that the field will be ready for planting the following spring. A stomper has not been used as a pre-plant tillage implement--until yesterday! I took the stomper out in an effort to kill all the weeds and prepare the field for replanting. I have no idea if it will work, but organic rice farming is not for the faint of heart, and we needed to do something. My initial observations indicate that is did a good job of dislodging many weeds, and pushing the rest of them into the mud. It's a bit like running an eggbeater through the field, so the water became very muddy, which will help kill the weeds also by blocking all the light.

Below is a video I shot from the seat of the tractor, so that you can see what I mean. To run in water like this, you need a tractor with tracks instead of wheels, so I took our old Caterpillar D7 out there. My grandfather bought this tractor just after World War II, and it is still in use on our farm!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Brown Rice Horchata

Last week at a very hot farmers market in Chico, we served brown rice Horchata made by our friends at Roots Catering. To say it was good is an understatement. Horchata is a smooth, creamy, sweet rice drink from Mexico. It is traditionally made with white rice, but this brown rice version was easily the best I have ever had. Give it a try!


1/2 c sugar
Meat from 1 coconut, peeled and chopped
¾ c. Massa Organics Brown Rice, soaked overnight, and drained
1 c. blanched almonds, toasted
1 cinnamon stick
¼ c. half-n-half
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Put sugar and 5 tbsp. water into a small saucepan, cover, and boil over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar dissolves, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and allow syrup to cool.
Put coconut and 1½ cups water into a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids with a rubber spatula to extract as much coconut milk as possible, and set aside.
Put rice, almonds, cinnamon and 2 cups water into clean blender and puree until smooth. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible, then return strained mixture to clean blender.
Add ¾ cup of the coconut milk, syrup, half-n-half, vanilla and 2 cups ice cubes to blender and puree until ice is well chopped and drink is frothy. Divide between 2 tall glasses and serve immediately.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Planting Rice by Air

Here's a very amateur video I shot yesterday of how we actually plant rice in California. We do all of our land prep (i.e. disking, leveling, spreading compost), then flood the field. Next we load pre-germinated seed into a crop duster and fly it onto the field. That's what the video shows. You can actually see the seed hit the water. The planes all have GPS navigation systems so they know exactly where to drop the seed.

Those are our pet ducks in the foreground.

Why live on a farm?

Summer is back! It's now 9pm and it is still 90 degrees outside. Good rice growing weather.

Last night was so gorgeous that I had to go outside and take a few photos. I'm no photographer, but I thought these were nice enough to share. The first one isn't so spectacular, but I wanted to point out a couple things. The peak in the background is Mt. Lassen, a volcano. The golden yellow field is our organic wheat crop, which is only a few weeks away from harvest. In the foreground is one of our organic rice fields, which was just flooded and planted this week (more on that later.) These photos were taken from our backyard. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bale Stacking Accomplished!

Saturday was a great day here at our house. We had a bale raising party to stack the bales in the walls of our 800 square foot addition to our straw bale house. We gathered at 9am and the walls were complete by 3pm.

I’m up to 86 people in my count of participants here throughout the day… THANK YOU to all of you for all of the different parts you played!
It took many muscles to lift those eighty pound rice straw bales, more to saw notches in them, and even more to fill all the cracks with mud and straw. We had a lot of kid helpers moving gravel, pounding nails, mixing mud and straw, sweeping, and moving excess straw to where it needed to be. We had so many other helpers preparing and serving food, running errands for us, caring for the children, and our friend Tricia even got four two year olds to take naps amidst the chaos of the festivities. And it truly was a festive occasion. We feel so blessed to have had so many friends, relatives, and acquaintances gather to help us build our new rooms. We even had reporters and photographers here to capture the action and community spirit of the event, so that hopefully we’ll be able to further share this incredible experience.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

We're in Saveur!

Check out the new May issue of Saveur magazine for a GREAT article on our farm and our brown rice! The cover of the magazine says we grow "the best brown rice," while the editor's letter describes our rice as "great, damn great." We couldn't be more pleased with it, and extend our very sincere thanks to writer Peggy Knickerbocker and Editor in Chief James Oseland.

One note on the recipes that accompany the article is that some of them call for other types of rice than what we grow. I can assure you that our rice would work very well in all of those recipes, and that we have cooked the rice in all of those different ways. In fact, one of our favorites is to cook it in coconut milk as described on page 76 of the magazine.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cranberry Pecan Rice Salad

Here's a recipe for a great salad that has gotten lots of comments whenever we serve it as a sample at the Chico Farmers Market. This recipe is courtesy of our friend Karen Avis of Fresh Approach Catering. Enjoy!

Massa Organics Cranberry Pecan Rice Salad

2 cups Massa Brown Rice
1 bunch Parsley
1 cup dried cranberries
¾ cup Pecans
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 Orange
Olive Oil
salt & pepper to taste
Sliced red onions to taste (optional)

Cook rice according to directions. Let cool for at least ½ hour. Gently stir in: Chopped parsley, cranberries, coarsely chopped pecans, onions and zest. In a bowl: Whisk olive oil, orange juice and salt and pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour to blend flavors.

Monday, April 14, 2008

MO Brown rice tomato soup

Here is the recipe for the soup served as a sample at the Chico Farmers Market on April 12. Recipe courtesy of Roots Catering (contact info below).

Massa Organics Brown Rice Tomato Soup

2Tbsp. Olive Oil
28 oz. good quality canned diced tomato w/juice
1 ½ C. diced onion
1Tbsp. chopped garlic
½ C. chopped celery
½ C. chopped peeled carrots
¼ C. dry basil
1 qt. vegetable or chicken broth
1 C. cream
2 C. cooked Massa Organics Brown Rice

Cook rice according to package direction and cool.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom 3 qt. pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots and cook for five minutes. Do not let the vegetables brown.
Add broth, tomatoes and basil. Cook until vegetables are very tender.
Warm cream.
Puree soup and add cream.
Season with salt and pepper. Adjust consistency with more broth.
Warm soup, add rice and serve.

(530) 891-4500

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ducks, ducks, ducks!

Ideas for new posts go through my head all the time, but few of them actually make it to the blog it seems. But today I have to tell you about the ducks. Every day for the last two weeks, we have had almost 1000 ducks in the fields surrouding the house--mostly mallards, but also lots of wood ducks, American widgeon, and two species of geese. It's fun to have so many birds around to welcome you home.

So, here's the reason the ducks are here. This is planting season in the Sacramento Valley, so all the rice fields are dry and being plowed to prepare the seedbed. I know it sounds odd, since rice grows in flooded soil, but rice grows much better if you dry out the soil thoroughly before you re-flood and plant. It has also been a very dry spring, so the natural wetlands have pretty much dried up and there is very little duck habitat out there. Here's where we come in: we actually did our seedbed preparation very early and quickly, and then flooded the fields. We're not planning to plant for at least a month, but I wanted to fool the weeds into thinking it was time to grow. My plan is to dry up the field again, and then lightly till the weeds to kill them. So, just when other farmers' fields look like duck deserts, ours look very inviting, full of water and nicely sprouting weeds for food. The ducks are a real asset this time of year. They eat and trample the weeds, and spread plenty of nice organic fertilizer around the field. The mallards are ground nesting birds--many of them will probably end up nesting in our adjacent wheat field because it has good cover and protection from predators for them. I expect to see lots of baby mallard back in our rice fields in a couple months!

Organic rice farmers have to play games like this, because weeds our our biggest production problem, and can literally wipe out a crop. Last year, we had 20 acres that we couldn't harvest because the weeds took over and destroyed the rice. So this year, we are switching methods of weed control and hoping to do a better job of it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Speaking of ducks, here's a shot of our new pet ducklings. The kids are having a great time with them. Our two year olds wake up in the morning asking about them!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rice and Sesame Pancakes

A recipe sent to us by a farmers market customer...

Rice and Sesame Pancakes, adapted from The Pancake Handbook, by the cooks at Bette's Oceanview Diner

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbl baking powder
1.5 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)
1.5 - 2 cups cooked rice (my adaptation is to more than double the amount of rice called for. Their recipe only uses 1/2 cup.)
2 tbl toasted sesame seeds

Combine dry ingredients, minus rice and sesame seeds. Combine wet ingredients and stir into flour mixture. Add rice and sesame seeds. Cook in the normal way.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Summer Fiesta Salad

We got a jump on summer with the sample dish we served at the Chico farmers market this week. I've had a few requests for the recipe, so I'll post it here. It's a bit out of season for some of the ingredients still, so let me extend an apology to all the locavores out there. Unless you canned some fresh corn last summer, you may have to wait a while to make this dish.

Summer Fiesta Salad

2 cups Massa Organics brown rice (uncooked)
2 cups fresh corn (off the cob)
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
½ red onion, chopped

Dressing: Combine together:
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp, crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice according to directions. If using fresh corn, boil for 3 minutes and cool. Combine ingredients in bowl and mix with dressing. Chill for at least 2 hours for flavors to set.

Recipe by Karen Avis, Fresh Approach Catering

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Recipe from the Ferry Plaza

Today's sample recipe from Boulettes Larder, served at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, is fairly simple, but very delicious:

Massa Organics rice
Carrot tops sauteed in butter
Piment d’ Espelette, crushed

I had to do a bit of research on the Espelette pepper, as I hadn't seen it before. Apparently it is a "cultural and culinary icon" of the Basque region of Southwestern France. The taste was described to me as sweet and mildly spiced. Enjoy!

Friday, March 28, 2008

New review of our rice!

I guess we're not very good at keeping up with this blog! I have lots of ideas for posts during the day, but by the time we get home, get the kids fed and in bed, I just don't seem to have the energy left to sit and write. Sorry about that!

Anyway, we got a nice writeup in the food section of the Sacramento News and Review yesterday. Here's the link:

Nice rice Palatable rice and farming practices. By Kate Washington, SN&R, 03.27.08.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ensalada de Tricia

Our good friends Tricia and Kari came over the other night with a great tangy rice salad of Tricia's creation. Here's the recipe:

2 cups uncooked Massa Organics brown rice
3 or 4 Tbsp pesto
Olive Oil
3/4 cup diced walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup Chopped julienne cut sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup artichoke hearts (in water), chopped
6 green onions, chopped
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Cook rice according to package directions, and then cool. Mix in the other ingredients, and drizzle with olive oil to taste.

MO brown rice with puntarella and sesame

Here are the ingredients for the sample dish served at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on March 1, 2008:

Massa Organics brown rice, cooked
braised puntarella chicory, chopped
black sesame seeds

Puntarella is an Italian chicory, and had something of a broccoli flavor to me. If you can't find puntarella, I think you could easily substitute broccoli de cicco, which is a slender, heirloom variety of broccoli from Italy that is pretty common in farmers markets now. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Brown rice in the NY Times

Mark Bittman, who writes a column for the NY Times called the Minimalist, wrote a piece on brown rice this week. The website includes a 5 minute video of his method for cooking brown rice more quickly (one of the most common complaints about brown rice is that it takes 45 minutes to cook). Essentially he partially cooks it ahead of time, then finishes it off while preparing the rest of the meal. It's not really faster--the cooking is just broken down into two steps. Still, it could be useful when you need to make dinner quickly. Personally, I think it is easier to just cook extra when you have time and then reheat it in the microwave. Other people have told me that brown rice cooks very quickly in a pressure cooker--only 10 minutes!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Farming with Wildlife II

Here are some recent photos of wildlife on the farm. We had two weeks of stormy weather earlier this month, and had huge flocks of swans, ducks (mostly widgeon), and sandhill cranes that stayed on the farm. It was really fun to wake up and see the swans out of the kitchen window every morning. Not so much fun was chasing 300 geese out of our young wheat before they trampled and ate it all--one morning I went after them five times during a 90 minute period. I'd scare them up, and they would wait for me to leave and then go back to eat breakfast in the wheat. However, last week the weather turned sunny and warm, and most of the birds have left us again, on the way to their breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska. It's sad to see them go...

The photos are mostly swans, with some mudhens (coots) and a river otter thrown in.

Monday, February 18, 2008

brown rice sushi

I often tell people that our rice is extremely versatile--good for everything from risotto to sushi rolls, or just served plain. To put the rice to the test, some friends invited us over recently to try making California rolls. We're definitely amateurs, but they still turned out pretty well! You can read their account of the evening here. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Boulettes 2-9-2008

All the days of sitting through farmer's markets in the rain paid off yesterday! The sun came out for all three of our Saturday markets (Chico, Davis, and San Francisco), and we had a good day. I guess everyone was out of rice after all those rainy farmers markets. Here's the ingredient list for the delicious sample we were serving in San Francisco yesterday, as made by the wonderful Boulettes Larder:

Massa Organics brown rice
collard greens, chopped into strips
black and white sesame seeds
roasted garlic, minced
olive oil

Saute the collard in olive oil with the other ingredients, and add to the cooked rice. This dish got lots of positive comments from customers at the market. Enjoy!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Boulette's 2-2-08

From the Ferry Plaza farmers market on February 2:

Massa Organics brown rice
mixed nuts
olive oil
pink peppercorns

Drowning at the Markets

January was a tough month for those of us who sell our products at farmers markets here in Northern California. It seems like every single market we attended got rained on or blown out! We've lost money on several markets this past month, but I feel strongly that it is important to be there, even when the weather is bad. Our rice has a strong following now, and isn't widely available outside of farmers markets or our website. So, when someone needs rice and they expect us to be at a market, we need to be there. Besides, you never know who might walk by. For example, on a wet Tuesday in Berkeley a few weeks ago, we sold very little, and lost about $50 after paying the market fee and the salary of the guy who works the market for us. But, one bag of rice was sold to someone who loved it, and that person opened the door to a much larger account for us. Our new customer's first order totaled about $400 worth of rice, so really, that wet Tuesday doesn't look so bad after all!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Farming with wildlife

It's field trip week here on the farm. On Tuesday we have an Elderhostel group of 45 people visiting for a couple hours. This will serve as a dry run for another tour to be held on Saturday as part of the Audubon Society's Snow Goose Festival. Tours are usually fun--the people who come are generally very interested in farming, wildlife, and everything that happens on a modern day rice farm. It seems most people just enjoy being out in the open space, and away from their lives in town for a few hours. There is a bit of pressure to make field trips interesting, but the real worry is what to do when the wildlife doesn't show up!

We have tons of animals on the farm, but unfortunately I can't make them magically appear when the tour bus drives in. We have big showy animals like deer, coyotes, great horned owls, and the occasional bald eagle; elusive animals like beaver, river otters, opossums, and wood ducks; we have turkeys nesting in the orchard, and mallards in the rice fields. Winter brings sandhill cranes; in spring, thousands of blackbirds sing to us from the oak trees around the house; summer brings the insects, which brings swallows and swifts flying low over the fields; in fall, I see tiny rails darting out of the rice ahead of the combine.

All these animals are here partly because of the physical location of the farm, and partly because of the way we manage our land. We're not "clean" farmers, meaning we don't kill every weed or tree that isn't producing a crop we can sell. We leave plenty of edge habitat, and have worked to revegetate areas of the farm that are not in production. For example, an old railroad bed runs the length of the farm, and comes quite close to the Sacramento River at the corner of our property. As a bare railroad bed full of spiny starthistle, it is of little use to us or wildlife. But about 10 years ago, we started slowly revegetating that strip of land, planting oaks and other native plants, and giving a helping hand to plants that were already there. Some spots were more successful than others, because a raised railroad bed of dry gravel that was likely sprayed with herbicide for 50 years is a really harsh environment. But we now have a develping wildlife corridor, which brings animals onto the farm from the river's riparian forest. After a soaking rain, we see all sorts of footprints in the mud, from animals using this section of the farm as a highway of sorts.

This sounds great, of course, but it has its drawbacks as well. Three years ago we planted 30 acres of organic almonds trees adjacent to the corridor. Everything was fine, until the deer discovered the tender young trees. We planted 3300 trees, and the first year, probably half of them had their leaves eaten by the deer! And even though I checked the orchard at all hours of the day and night, I never saw a single deer. It drove me nuts to go out every day and see more leaves gone. I tried everything I could think of, and even bought a solar powered, motion-detecting burglar alarm with a light and siren. I set it up near where I thought the deer were entering the orchard, so that when they would come for dinner, the siren and light would scare them so bad they'd never come back. Maybe it worked for a while, but it didn't take long before Tony hit it with the mower, sending it crashing to the ground and smashing the solar panel.

In the end, the trees grew a little more every year, and eventually got big enough that the deer browsing didn't bother them so much. Now the problem is that the bucks rub their new antlers on the bigger trees, scraping the bark off and leaving a big wound on the tree.

Farming with wildlife is no easy task, but seeing the animals is one of my favorite parts of farming (even when they may be doing a little damage). As former biologists, Raquel and I are committed to sharing the land with wildlife as much as possible. We'll keep encouraging the animals to come, and sometimes cursing them when they do.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Boulettes Larder Recipe 1-12-2008

Raquel and I had a great time in San Francisco this weekend, including a gorgeous day at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Here is the ingredient list for the samples we were serving this weekend. Enjoy!

Massa Organics brown rice
pine nuts
olive oil

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Crazy week!

We've been absent from the blog for a while now. We took a break for the holidays, with the intention of starting back up in the New Year. But then an enormous storm blew in off the Pacific, with wind gusts approaching 70 mph for more than 12 hours straight. The power went out, trees blew down, roofs ripped off our barns--it was a very wild day! We were actually fairly lucky, in that our strawbale house stays nice and warm with our woodstove, and our electricity was out for less than a day. I have friends that have been out for a week now! Still, our wireless internet connection went down for 5 days, which these days seems almost as bad as the electricity going out. But we're back up now, and will back at the blog soon.

Raquel and I will be at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco this Saturday. If you are around, stop by our booth and say hi!