“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!
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)
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!