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Teresa Hatchell 2005

At our Senior Citizens Dinner at Harleyville Southern Methodist Church Sunday before last, the church furnished the fried chicken. It was up to the rest of us to provide everything besides the "main meat." And, I must say that everyone who contributed to the meal did an excellent job -- I did try at least a tiny dip of most things. My taste buds were overwhelmed.

Then, I headed to the Mizzell pond house for my Aunt Mattie Mizzell's birthday party. We had a huge crowd there to celebrate the fact that Aunt Mattie is 95. I didn't eat any meal food there, but I did have a piece of birthday cake. Surveying the tables still laden with food (our family always cooks more than necessary), I noticed that there were many more versions of recipes containing rice just as there were at church.

For both events, the brown rice, hamburger rice, sausage and red rice, a rice-chicken purlieu, a great variety of beans, corn pie, steamed corn, macaroni pie, cheese/potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, squash casserole, potato salad, broccoli salad, carrot salad, etc., were all so very delicious.

As we are full steam ahead into March, a month filled with more events to attend, I want to offer you several rice recipes, the first being one for those of you who may not prefer sausage and rice.

Hamburger rice

1 pound ground round

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (optional)

2 cups cooked rice

2 cups canned tomatoes, well drained

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Brown the hamburger meat in a heavy metal Dutch oven. Add the celery, onion and bell pepper. Allow this combination to simmer for about five minutes. Next, lightly stir in the rice and tomatoes. Cook it in the Dutch oven at 325 degrees for about an hour. Stir very lightly to combine all of the ingredients. Then bake it for another hour. This makes a delicious main course that is great served with just about any vegetable you may prefer.

Classic sausage and red rice

12-ounce package bacon

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)

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1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (optional)

1 pound Hillshire Farms mild sausage, sliced

15-ounce can whole tomatoes (do not drain)

15-ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

2 cups uncooked rice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, fry the bacon. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels. Crumble the bacon. In the bacon-dripping "greased" skillet, sauté the onions, celery, bell pepper and sliced sausage until the onions are transparent. While sautéing, place the tomato sauce, tomatoes and 1/2 cup water into a blender and flash blend. This will make about 4 cups.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions, celery, bell pepper and sausage from the frying pan. Pour the uncooked rice into the frying pan with the remaining drippings. Cook this on low until the rice turns light brown. Pour the blended tomato sauce mixture into a Dutch oven. Add the cooked onions, celery, bell peppers, sausage and crumbled bacon. Bring this mixture to a boil. After it begins to boil, add the browned rice. Add salt and pepper to suit your taste. Give the ingredients one better stir. Reduce the heat to low (simmer), put a heavy lid on it and simmer it for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste test a few grains of rice to be sure they are tender. If the rice is tender, but the entrée is a bit "gummy," remove the lid and simmer a bit longer. This recipe makes six delicious servings.

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