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Buy This: Three ways to enjoy rice

Charleston Red Rice Mix from Savor the Flavor/Provided by Carolyn Hodge
Charleston Red Rice Mix from Savor the Flavor/Provided by Carolyn Hodge

There’s a reason bags of rice have flown off grocery store shelves. It’s easy to fix. It stores well. But, are you tired of just plain old rice? We’ve got three ideas for you.

Charleston Red Rice Mix from Savor the Flavor 

In downtown Sumter, South Carolina, Carolyn Hodge stirs up 12 different varieties of grits and rice mixes, all based on recipes created by her grandmother, Betty Lee Brunson. Back in 1991, when Hodge was just a little girl, Brunson opened a small catering business she called Savor the Flavor. Soon she moved from catering to packaging grits and rice mixes she sold in specialty shops and seafood markets in the area. Hodge continues the tradition, mixing and selling mixes in flavor combinations like Hilton Head Parisian Rice and Southern Garlic Cheese Grits, all based on old Southern recipes and all available by mail order. We tried her Charleston Red Rice which Hodge tells us is her bestselling flavor. The package comes with everything you need except water and a bit of butter. We loved the half bay leaf we found in the mix, testimony to the freshness of the ingredients. It was great as a side by itself, but we stirred some sausage and steamed broccoli into the leftovers for a quick second day meal. In our photo, Hodge has added sliced sausage to the mix.

$3.50 per 8-ounce package. Available online at http://savortheflavorsc.com/

Chicken Divan with Rice from Call It Yours Casseroles 

Chicken Divan with Rice from Call It Yours Casseroles/Provided by Corie Greenblatt
Chicken Divan with Rice from Call It Yours Casseroles/Provided by Corie Greenblatt

Casseroles = comfort food. Am I right? For those times when you don’t have the time or energy or the ingredients in your pantry to create your own, Corie Greenblatt of Call It Yours Casseroles in Columbus, Georgia, has you covered. Greenblatt makes nine kinds of entree casseroles as well seven side dish casseroles (including that classic green bean casserole!), yeast rolls, biscuits and breakfast casseroles. All made from scratch, all quickly frozen, and all available to ship to you or to someone who needs a homemade meal. It’s exactly what these times call for, comfort food as good as what you’d make at home. We tried the Chicken Divan with Rice casserole. It was obvious every ingredient was fresh, from the tender broccoli florets that still retained a bit of bite to the chunks of white meat chicken, all stirred together with rice in a creamy cheese sauce. Exactly what the doctor ordered. Perfect for comfort food at your house. And for comforting family and friends you can’t reach right now.

$15.50 for the small size casserole, serving 2, to $38.50 for the large size, serving 8. Available online at https://www.callityourscasseroles.com/

Jupiter Rice Grits from Congaree and Penn Farm and Mills 

Jupiter Rice Grits from Congaree and Penn Farm and Mills
Jupiter Rice Grits from Congaree and Penn Farm and Mills

Rich, creamy grits aren’t just made of corn. They’re also made from rice, like these from Congaree and Penn Farms and Mills in Jacksonville, Florida. Who knew they were growing rice in Florida? Well, Scott and Lindsay Meyer are. They’ve got five one-acre rice paddies on their 220-acre farm where they grow Jupiter rice, a medium-grain variety. They sell brown rice, white rice, middlins (which are broken grains of rice) and rice grits, hand ground weekly on a granite stone mill. We found their grits on a trip to that rice-loving state of South Carolina and have enjoyed them hot from the pot for breakfast, but also chilled and cut into rice grits cakes that we fried up to serve as a side with a grilled vegetable dinner. We used the last of them to thicken a broccoli soup we enjoyed to chase away the chill of these final cool spring evenings.

$9 per 1-pound bag. Available online at https://www.congareeandpenn.com/

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