Chilebrown at home

Friday, August 30, 2013


Looking a little COCKEYED at this RUN OF THE MILL situation, I used the RULE OF THUMB and put my NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE to ultimately feel FAIR TO MIDDLING. Huh? Did you know these sayings originated in the milling profession? We learned this on our tour of the historic “Bale Grist Mill’. While watching PBS show 'California Gold' our hero Huell Howser  shared his experienced at the Bale Grist Mill This adventure was added to our bucket list. The mill is part of the Napa County Regional Park District. It located in a scenic tree lined area next to a creek. The creek provides water power to turn the huge water wheel which in turn powers the grinding stones.

Located on the scenic winery lined highway 29 just past St. Helena it is a quick turn-off the road to the mill. It is a short scenic walk from the parking lot to the mill. The mill is impressive. The water driven wheel is a good three stories tall. We walk into the mill and are greeted by a friendly docent. A nominal fee is paid and our tour begins. You will learn everything there is to know about milling. The mill was not only a place to have your grains milled but  a social gathering place for the local populace. The actual working mill has been restored to its past glory. During the tour the guide put the mill into motion and demonstrated the actual milling process.

Fresh milled grains are available for purchase. They are labeled “Not for Human Consumption” thanks to regulatory regulations. We witnessed the actual milling and felt no concern for this label. This process has been used for Century’s with out the help of regulators. These flours do not get any fresher. The whole wheat flour and cornmeal had wonderful textures and smells.

Cockeyed:  The union of the ‘cock’ and the ‘eye’ of the milling stones which keep the milling stones in     balance

Run of the Mill:  This is whatever grain that is being processed at a particular time.

Nose to the Grindstone:   The miller had to keep constant watch by smell to make sure the grain was not                                              being burned by the stones being to close.

Fair to Middling:   fair and middling were to different grades of flour.

Rule of Thumb:   The miller would pinch a little flour on his thumb to determine the consistency

Once we were home we had to taste our souvenirs. We cooked some corn bread and also made some tamale pie in a Dutch oven. Our corn meal and whole wheat flour freshly milled were a tasty treat. If you get a chance the Bale Grist Mill is a wonderful place to visit. You know Huell Howser is the ‘Rule of Thumb’ when is comes to California Gold.

Bale Grist Mill


Zoomie said...

I must have passed that place 20 times and never stopped in. Next time, I will! Very interesting post!

Chilebrown said...

Zoomie, We have passed it numerous times too. It took our good friend Huell to show us the light.

Greg said...

Wow! What a fun and educating post. I have never heard of the place. We are most certainly over regulated. I looked into opening a small hot dog cart and was amazed.

cookiecrumb said...

That's fantastic. So cool to learn these milling terms.

Three Dogs BBQ said...

In California, I am surprised there is not a label declaring that those grains may cause cancer... Anyway, thanks for the history lesson. I can always learn something from you Chilebrown. Now, can you share that tamale pie recipe? That looks just down my alley...

Chilebrown said...

Greg, I deal with inspectors at the Farmers Market. The rules and regulations seem to change daily.

cookiecrumb, History can be fun and tasty.

Three Dogs BBQ, Come back tomorrow for the recipe.