All posts by The Old Mill Kitchen

How do you say Thank You to mom?

Mother’s Day is Sunday, and that begs the question: How best to honor your mother? How do you say “Thank You!” to this woman who has done so much for you? At The Old Mill, we suggest creating a memorable breakfast or brunch. You do the cooking, she enjoys the meal. What a wonderful way to start her special day!

Making pancakes, using our pancake mix, couldn’t be easier. Adding buttermilk creates fluffy, moist pancakes, something southerners have known for years. Fry up some bacon or just sprinkle some fresh blueberries or raspberries on top and she’ll smile the whole day through. But why not get creative to really show her that these were made especially for her! Try your hand pouring the batter onto the griddle into the shapes of letters that form your mother’s name. Better yet, just spell out MOM, or make a pancake portrait of her and you! Use a serving spoon to slowly stream the batter onto the preheated griddle or skillet. When you put those letters together on the plate, they spell “MOM.”, but flip them upside down and they spell “WOW.” That pretty much sums up a mother’s awesomeness, and it creates a lot of excitement on the plate. And in the kitchen!

Feeling more creative? Here are 10 easy ways to doctor up plain pancakes:

  1. Berry Special Pancakes: Top with fresh blueberries and raspberries after cooking, or drop some of those berries onto the pancakes before you turn them on the griddle. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with maple syrup.

 

  1. Chocolate Lovers: Fold mini chocolate chips into the batter – about 1/4 cup. And drizzle the finished pancakes with chocolate syrup.

 

  1. Banana Mama Pancakes: Add 1/2 cup mashed banana and a pinch of cinnamon to the batter and sprinkle the finished pancakes with light brown sugar.

 

  1. Put the Lime in the Coconut: Add 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract to the pancake batter. Cook as directed. Top the pancakes with lime-flavored yogurt and a sprinkling of toasted coconut. To toast coconut, place shredded, sweetened coconut in a baking pan in a 350-degree oven about 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.

 

  1. Queen for the Day Pancakes: Top her pancakes with sliced, sweetened strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

 

  1. For She Who Loves Lemon: Cook the pancakes as directed, and top them with a big dollop of lemon curd and sweetened fresh blackberries. If you want to make the pancakes even more lemony, add 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest to the batter. Toss the blackberries with the lemon juice and sugar to taste.

 

  1. What a Peach of a Mom: Drain canned sliced peaches and toss them with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Stack the pancakes – alternating a pancake, a spoonful of peaches and juice, another pancake, etc. Top with soft whipped cream.

 

  1. Deli-icious Pancakes for Mom: Cook the pancakes as directed, and serve alongside smoked salmon, capers, minced onion, and fresh dill.

 

  1. Pancakes Madame. Top the cooked, buttered pancakes with a fried egg and cracked black pepper.

 

  1. Bring Home the Bacon Pancakes: Add 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon to the batter before cooking. Serve with maple syrup and a side of scrambled eggs.

Here are easy pancake and waffle recipes using our mix from The Old Mill. This pancake mix is used every morning in our Pigeon Forge, TN, restaurants. To find The Old Mill Buttermilk Pancake Mix, and our full line of pancake mixes, come visit us in Pigeon Forge and bring home a bag from the General Store. Or, order the mix and a custom gift box just for mom by shopping our Old Mill Pancake Mixes.

Buttermilk Pancakes

1 cup The Old Mill Buttermilk Pancake Mix

1 large egg

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Heat a pancake griddle to medium-hot, about 375 degrees. Lightly grease with oil or butter. Place the mix in a large bowl, and stir in the egg, buttermilk, and oil until ingredients just come together and are smooth. Pour less than 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form, then flip to cook on the other side, cooking until golden brown, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Makes about 8 pancakes.

Buttermilk Waffles

1 1/4 cups The Old Mill Buttermilk Pancake Mix

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat a waffle iron. Place the mix and sugar in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the eggs and buttermilk and stir until smooth. Lightly grease the waffle iron, and pour on about 1/3 cup of batter. Close the waffle iron, and cook according to manufacturer’s directions, about 3 minutes. Makes about 5 to 6 waffles.

Happy Earth Day!

Here at The Old Mill Square, we have been mindful of how we use natural resources and what our impact on the Earth is, since 1830. The Old Mill itself still uses the very same renewable resource that it has used from the beginning. In 1817, the Little Pigeon River was dammed to divert water into a trough used to carry water to the Iron Forge. Just over a decade later, they used the same system to power the Grist Mill and then a Saw Mill. A new dam was constructed in the early 1900’s and water was diverted to the penstock that is located just under the dam, behind the big wheel that you see. There is a turbine in the penstock that is turned by the passing water and it then turns the stones. The big wheel you see on the front of the mill turns grain elevators inside the mill and moves corn to the stones. So, the entire process of grinding cornmeal and grits is still water powered! At one time, the turbine also powered a generator that produced electricity for the town of Pigeon Forge, but it’s not done that since the early 1930’s. Some of the equipment is still there though and you can see it on a guided tour of the mill.

The millers use mostly human power to complete the process after grinding, with the exception of the grits machine. They fill and weigh the bags out by hand and then tie them with a miller’s knot. They even prep each bag with its label and hand stamp the bag so you know what you are buying.

The Old Forge Distillery uses the sub-products of grinding grits to make its spirits. The corn flour and hull are perfect for their needs. The miller only bags the germ. The distillery’s spent grains are not totally spent when they are done distilling. The Old Mill Pottery House Cafe & Grille then takes the spent grains and makes a flour out of them. They have a bun, that they serve their Old Forge Whiskey Burger on, that is so tender and flavorful that you will never want another burger! One of their chefs also make Barker’s Dozen Dog Treats out of them and they can be found back over at the Old Forge Distillery, where you will see them packaged in recycled distillery jars.

Our Pigeon River Pottery uses gas kilns for the bulk of their firings in making pottery. It’s a much more efficient energy source. In the process of throwing pottery, if any piece is damaged before it is fired, they can reuse that clay. The same goes for any scraps of clay. They mix it back in with clay they have prepared to throw with and eliminate as much waste as possible. If a piece is fired and does not come out the kiln as a first quality, our Gardener uses them around The Old Mill Square in our gardens.

The Old Mill Farmhouse Kitchen works with local farmers and uses their berries and fruits in making our Heritage Line of jams, jellies, and preserves. The jars that they open to sample out to our customers are sent down to the Pottery to be used in making their Fusion Platters, which have a glass bottom. Both of our restaurants use pottery on their tables. Our Old Mill Restaurant has their own table setting of salt & pepper, sugar and flower vases, while the Pottery House Cafe also serves on our pottery. This helps the restaurants keep their supplies quickly at hand, ordering more when they need them and not having to store extras.

Making and using our own products helps reduce our footprint by reducing the number of shipments, which means fewer emissions and less packaging. What we do buy in, and what waste is created in our daily operations, is handled by our Sevier County Waste Management. They have a state-of-the-art system that sorts everything and they are able to recycle and compost 70% of all waste in the county. So, with over 10 million visitors to our area each year, only 30% ends up in a landfill!

We do what we can and we count on you to help with the rest. Remember to recycle, reimage and reuse what you can each and every day. If you are visiting us over this Earth Day Weekend, be sure and stop in the Old Mill Creamery or Candy Kitchen for a delicious Earth Day treat!

A Taste of Spring!

The first week of spring here in the Smoky Mountains brought us a couple of snowy days, but now that the weather’s warming up, we’re all coming down with severe cases of spring fever. And one of the best cures we know of is cake! So for our last entry for March – which is also National Flour Month – we offer you our Blueberry and Lemon Cornmeal Cake. Lightened with ricotta cheese and brightened with fresh berries and lemon juice, the batter features not only our freshly ground cornmeal, but also Old Mill’s all-purpose Plain Flour. It makes a simple but stunning addition to an Easter buffet or any other spring or summer occasion. Come autumn, you can easily turn this versatile recipe into a holiday cake by substituting fresh cranberries for the blueberries, similar to our Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Cake we offer online. This cake also freezes well, so if you like to do all your baking at one time and give home-baked items to friends and family, this will be a hit!

Blueberry and Lemon Cornmeal Cake

Makes: 12 to 16 servings

Ingredients:

Butter for prepping the pan

2 cups Old Mill Plain Flour

1 cup Old Mill Yellow Cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

7 ounces (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1/4 cup Old Mill Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Grated zest of 1 lemon (1 teaspoon)

Juice of 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)

1 container (15 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese, about 2 cups

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided use

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter, and place the pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Place the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, 30 seconds. Add the sugar, and beat on medium until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is incorporated, about 20 seconds each. Add the maple syrup, oil, and the grated lemon zest and juice. Blend on medium speed until well combined, 45 seconds.
  4. Turn about a third of the dry ingredients into the batter and blend on low until just incorporated. Add half of the ricotta cheese and blend. Add another third of dry ingredients and blend, then add the rest of the ricotta, and finally the rest of the dry ingredients, blending just to incorporate. Fold 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries into the batter, and blend on low speed to break up the berries a bit, about 30 seconds. Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter the remaining cup of blueberries on top of the batter, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Place the baking sheet with springform pan in the oven.
  5. Bake until the cake is well browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes. After 1 hour, gently cover the top of the cake with foil to protect it from over-browning. Remove the cake from the oven, and let the cake cool in the pan 20 to 25 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and unfasten the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely before slicing, about 1 hour. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

 

Waste not, want not

 

 

“Waste not, want not” has been the Old Mill mantra from the time it was built in 1830.
In its early days when local farmers brought the grains they grew to be milled, they would “pay” the miller with 25 percent of the ground grains. The rest could be used as feed for livestock, or like we do today, it could be used to make whiskey.

“Flours we grind are 100% – Nothing fresher or better anywhere!” Chuck Childers, Head Miller (left)

The Old Mill still carries on that same pioneering ingenuity. Each day, our head miller, Chuck, and his assistant, Delmar Maples (pictured above on right), have to make sure they have enough of the right grains for what’s needed to supply our restaurants, bakeries, and stores, without overproducing. Because the grains are ground fresh with no pesticides or preservatives, they must be packaged and used right away before they spoil or lose their “flour power.” They must be stored carefully, away from sunlight and heat. Chuck advises customers to avoid leaving it in a hot car and, once home, wrapping them airtight and storing in the freezer until ready to use.

Some flour is simply a byproduct of a process, such as grinding grits. When the grits are passed through the sifter to separate the grit from the hull, a dust falls to the bottom of the sifter: Corn Flour. Again, waste not, want not. It’s a great alternative for anyone looking for a gluten-free option in cooking. We use it in many of our signature breading mixes and in our restaurants.

Our Old Mill Restaurant uses over 30,000 pounds of Self-Rising Flour each year, while the Pottery House Cafe bakes mostly with Whole Wheat Flour. The Farmhouse Kitchen and our Creamery like our Plain Flour for cookies, pie dough, pastries and even ice cream cones.

Chuck tells us that he is a big fan of the delicate cookies our General Store manager, Ginger, bakes with Corn Flour. And he’s not the only one, we all love it when she bakes several batches and brings them into work!

Here’s the recipe to try for yourself!

Lemon Corn Flour Meltaway Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups Old Mill White Unbleached Flour

1/2 cup Old Mill Yellow Corn Flour

4 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon or 2 small)

Directions:

Place the flour, corn flour, cornstarch, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Set aside. Cut the butter into tablespoons and place in a large bowl. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. Blend on low speed until creamy. Add the flour mixture and blend on low until smooth. Turn half of the batter out onto a long sheet of waxed or parchment paper and roll into a 1 1/2-inch-wide log. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough on a second sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Wrap the logs well and chill at least 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the logs of dough from the fridge, and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place about 12 to a baking sheet, and bake until they just turn golden brown around the edges, about 11 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Note: You can omit the step of rolling the dough into logs and chilling. Instead, roll the dough out thinly and cut into rounds, then bake.

Chuck and Delmar say it’s National Flour Month all 12 months of the year here at The Old Mill! With the grits, cornmeal, mixes, and flours, they bag over 700,000 pounds of freshness every year. It’s a rare trade, and one they take very seriously. However, if you get into a conversation with them, then all seriousness goes out the window!

“We could tie a Miller’s Knot with our eyes closed and one hand behind our back at this point!”  ~ Chuck