Category Archives: Seasonal

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.

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.

 

Everything is Coming up Cherries at The Old Mill in February

George Washington’s birthday, the cherry tree, and National Cherry Month are good excuses to bake up an Old-Fashioned Cherry Crumble from The Old Mill. What’s a crumble? Sort of a crisp, except with bigger, crunchier, more crumbly pieces of oat and brown sugar topping. And underneath? Cherries and sugar cooked down to sweet, delicious goodness.

While fresh cherries aren’t in season in February, you can buy them canned or frozen to create this easy dessert. To kick up the fresh cherry flavor, add a quarter cup of dried cherries. It’s a winter pie-baking trick borrowed from the pages of early frontier cooking. Smoky Mountain cooks dried local apples slices and then used the fruit in baking throughout the year. Dried fruit, whether cherries, apples, or peaches, has a powerful flavor, and dried cherries add intensity to this recipe.

It’s the easiest pie on earth – no crust – just a crumbly, crunchy, heavenly mixture of brown sugar, butter, oats and cinnamon on top of the sweet-yet-tart cherries underneath. Serve warm in bowls with vanilla ice cream.

The Old Mill is so crazy about cherries, we are sampling Chocolate Moonshine Cherries the whole month of February at our Distillery. They’re a perfect Valentine’s Day gift! In the Farmhouse, Liz has been baking up fresh Cherry Handpies and we are sampling out a variety of cherry dips,  cherry cobbler in a jar, and even cherry Sweet Fire Pickles. In the Old Mill Restaurant, we’re offering our Chocolate Cherry Moonshine Preserves at breakfast, and at the Candy Kitchen, we’re making a white chocolate bark with, what else? Cherries!

Here is our recipe. And, we cannot tell a lie, this is so good!

Old-Fashioned Cherry Crumble

Makes 8 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 38 to 42 minutes

Ingredients needed for pie:

4 cups pitted sour cherries (see Notes)

1/4 cup dried cherries, if desired (see Notes)

4 to 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

 

Crumble Topping:

3/4 cup Old Mill Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2 tablespoons  Old Mill Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

1/2 cup Old Mill Thick Table Rolled Oats

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Set aside a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. If you are using our Farmhouse Collection Pie Plate or Pottery Pie Plate, like we do, do not preheat your oven and add about 5 minutes to the baking time.
  2. Drain the cherries and place in a large bowl with dried cherries and sugar. Toss to combine, and set aside.
  3. For the topping, place the flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Or, place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch size pieces and distribute over the top of the bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (Or, if using a food processor, pulse until combined.) Stir in the oats and pecans. Work the mixture with your hands until it comes together into loose pieces. Set aside.
  4. Turn the cherries and any juice that might have seeped from them into the reserved pan. Cover the cherries with the topping, using your hands as needed to distribute it over the top. Place the pan in the oven.
  5. Bake until the crumble is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges, 38 to 42 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool 20 minutes before serving warm in bowls with ice cream.

Notes: If fresh sour cherries are available, by all means, use them in this recipe. If you are baking this out of season, however, you can use canned or frozen, thawed cherries. Drain cherries well. The dried cherries add flavor, and they soften as the crumble bakes.