HUMPHREY, AR – TV celebrity chef Sara Moulton visited rice country for a second time last spring to film an episode for the latest season of her series, Sara’s Weeknight Meals. Her New York-based production team joined up with technical and culinary crews out of Little Rock to take over 5 Oaks Lodge here for the episode called “Arkansas Eats.”
Moulton enlisted the help, and family recipes, of Hickory Ridge, Arkansas, rice farmer Eric Vaught, his wife Kelly, and their three children, Baxley, Sawyer, and Sam.
“On the show, we showcase quick, tasty home cooked meals, eaten with family and cooked with love,” Moulton said. “Eric shared his recipe for fried catfish and something they call ‘Rice Puppies,’ his take on hushpuppies. They were delicious – but I am a sucker for fried food.”
Vaught took Moulton out into some flooded rice fields and talked with her about the unique relationship between rice and waterfowl, and the common link that is water.
“Sara knew rice grew in water but was surprised to learn it was only a few inches,” Vaught said. "Without an explanation, it is understandable that someone would see a ‘flooded’ rice field and not realize how little water we actually use."
Vaught also explained how U.S. rice farmers use technology to require less water today than they did just 15 or 20 years ago.
“Sara enjoyed hearing about how we use water to create wildlife habitat that is obviously good for the ecosystem, but also helps us prepare the fields for the next year in a way that reduces our environmental footprint,” he added. “And why wouldn’t she? The conservation record of U.S.-grown rice is a great one.”
Vaught gave her some pointers for using duck calls, but the pair agreed her cooking was better than her calling.
Check local listings for air times in your area and read about the episode on Sara’s website at www.saramoulton.com.