Category Archives: From our Farmhouse Kitchen

Old Mill Jams, Jellies, & Preserves – Meet the man who makes them

Here at The Old Mill, we take canning seriously. It’s a craft well known in the mountains, for it was the way we preserved one season to the next. In our kitchens, John Wethington keeps the craft alive by creating small batches of berry jams and preserves for us. He cans about 40 jars at a time.
Made with strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries grown by local farmers, these jams are made the old-fashioned way. Which is how John learned to make them. He learned how to skim off the impurities that turn to foam when the jam is cooking, and how long to boil down the jam so it sets. “It’s time-consuming, but I enjoy it,” says John.
For the Old Mill Heritage Line of jams, jellies, and preserves sold at the Old Mill, the fruit comes from local growers. Blackberries, elderberries, and muscadine are just a few of the ingredients that go into John’s jams. It’s a way for us to share a taste of the mountains with you, and it’s a way for The Old Mill to support local farming. Farmers in nearby Madisonville, Maryville, and Greenville, TN, are contracted by the Old Mill to grow fruits and berries.
John works his craft out of the Farmhouse Kitchen and the Candy Kitchen depending on which jelly or jam he is making, and for which line. Come see him! During summertime, when peak berry season has arrived, John makes plenty of Triple Berry Jam, The Old Mill’s best-seller. He makes about four batches a day, or about 750 jars a week to keep up with the summer demand. He also makes gallons of the Triple Berry Jam for the Old Mill Restaurant to serve to every table at breakfast, seven days a week. Strawberry is typically the first berry we get in each season, and for a limited time, it is being sampled at breakfast too.

Summer Panzanella Salad

One of our chef’s, Danielle Speelman, recently developed a new summer salad that everyone loves. It combines the best summer flavors and is a fresh Old Mill twist on a panzanella, with the cornbread croutons. She featured it on a recent visit to one of our local afternoon tv shows.

Watch her make it here: Summer Panzanella Salad

Summer Panzanella Salad

For salad:

4 cups of cubed day-old cornbread (Prepared from Old Mill Self Rising Yellow Cornmeal)

¼ cup salted butter

1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 red onion, sliced

1.5 cups of fresh corn (sliced from 2-3 ears)

½ TSP Cumin

½ TSP Farmhouse Kitchen Bourbon Smoked Paprika

½ TSP Salt

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

1 medium avocado, pitted and cubed

2 cups of arugulaFresh basil, chopped

½ cup feta cheese

 

For dressing:

3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 TBSP Farmhouse Kitchen Honey Balsamic Vinegar

1 ½ TSP Farmhouse Kitchen Bourbon Maple Syrup

1 ½ TSP chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (to make spicier, include minced chipotle pepper)

Salt to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cornbread cubes on baking sheet, pouring melted butter over to coat. Toast in oven until golden brown and crispy 16-18 minutes, gently stirring pan halfway through (be careful not to toss the cornbread or it will crumble). Remove from oven and set aside.

Preheat olive oil in large sauté pan. Add red onion and cook 2 minutes until it starts to soften. Add corn kernels, cumin, paprika, and salt. Cook approximately 5 minutes until tender and fragrant. Set aside to cool slightly.

To prepare vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in mason jar or lid with a container. Shake until emulsified, or liquids have become one. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooled corn mixture, sliced tomatoes, avocado, arugula, and cornbread croutons. Pour vinaigrette over to coat and toss gently. Garnish with fresh basil and feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Perfect light summer side dish or paired with grilled protein for a heartier entrée.

Who doesn’t love Fudge Pie!

Here in the Smoky Mountains, we love a good fudge pie. Popular throughout the South, fudge pie was first baked in the early 1900s and is a testament to America’s love of chocolate and fudge. The pie was once a fudgy pudding poured over a baked pie crust and topped with meringue. And every cookbook, diner, and bakery in America had its own version of the fudge pie in the 1930s and 40s. After World War II, fudge pies turned simple and home-baked. Most often, they were a brownie-like batter poured into a pie pan and baked without a crust. That was the allure. They were easy, loved by all, prize-winning, and could be taken to friends or shipped to family away from home. But it was later, in the 1970s, that fudge pie really came into its own. The brownie batter was poured into a pie crust, often topped with pecans, baked just until crusty around the edges and the consistency was a cross between a brownie and a chocolate souffle. Fudge pie was the hit at church suppers, family reunions, and bridge parties.

When Associated Press food editor Cecily Brownstone wrote about fudge pie in 1971, she said it was the American man’s most favorite pie, more popular than apple pie! Obviously, fudge pie has survived the years because it tastes so good! Up here in East Tennessee, where black walnut trees grow, many good cooks like to add chopped black walnuts to chocolate recipes. In other parts of the South, cooks prefer the sweet taste of pecans. Regardless of how you top it, with the ease of our Old Mill Brownie Mix, you can create this American favorite pie in no time.

Old Mill Fudge Pie

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8

1 9-inch frozen pie crust, thawed and unbaked

1 package (15 ounces) Old Mill Fudgy Brownie Mix

2 large eggs

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the pie crust a few times on the bottom with a fork. Set aside.

2. Place the brownie mix, eggs, and melted butter in a large bowl, and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth, about 50 strokes. Pour the batter into the pie crust, and scatter the nuts on top, if desired. Place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the pie until the top puffs up, the nuts have lightly browned, and the edges are firm, about 30 minutes. Remove the pie to a rack to cool at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve warm with ice cream.

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.