Old Mill of Guilford, Oak Ridge, North Carolina.
One of my passions is baking whole-grain breads. Years ago my family and I learned to recognize the flavor (as well as health) benefits of freshly stone-ground flours and meals.
When Climax, Virginia's Tomahawk Mill closed in 1988 for conversion to a winery, my personal search for fresh grist sources led me to Charles and Heidi Parnell's picturesque Old Mill of Guilford, near Oak Ridge, North Carolina, just north of the Greensboro airport on N.C. 68 (see map).
Charles and Heidi Parnell pause for a laugh on the porch of their Old Mill of Guilford, September 16, 2002.
Heidi is from Germany, Charles from Scotland. The meandering paths of their lives brought them together while she was working at a hotel in the Virgin Islands, he operating a marina in the Bahamas.
The energy crisis in the 1970's nudged Charles, by training as an engineer, into a career change. As a result, he bought the non-operating pre-Industrial Age Mill of Guilford; then he and Heidi worked together to restore the structure and machinery. Thus true love and a successful wholesale and retail business came to the old mill stream.
The Old Mill of Guilford offers a wide variety of flours and meals, including this rye flour.
The sales room, open to the public 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week, displays bags of ground cornmeal, grits, flours; special mixtures such as Old Mill of Guilford Sweet Potato Muffin Mix, Old Mill Scone Mix, and Oatmeal Cookie Mix; whole foods such as vine-ripened raisins; herbs, spices; honeys, jams; country bacon; fresh eggs; cookbooks; crafts; etc.
The most fun, though, besides sampling the baked goods which Charles and Heidi pass around, is watching the miller at work. It becomes evident that Charles loves his job as one listens, while he pours grain in the hopper or bags his finished product, to his fact-filled, erudite discussions of milling and whole foods. Learning how the water from Beaver Creek powers the machinery, and that the corn, wheat, and rye are North Carolina-grown, one begins to grasp the wisdom of "old-fashioned" eating. Modern white flour has been reduced down to a mere shadow of the wholesome whole wheat flour our forefathers knew. In contrast, these stone-ground products are made without pollution or depletion of natural resources, and the nutritious portions of the grains (the bran, the germ) are left intact.
A number of mixes are also available, including this one for oatmeal cookies.
A trip to the Old Mill of Guilford is an opportunity to purchase excellent whole foods and to meet the dynamic and personable Parnells, whose energy and enthusiasm are the keys to this vibrant grist mill business. Their products are also available by mail and telephone order (Old Mill of Guilford, 336-643-4783, 1340 NC Highway 68 N, Oak Ridge, NC 27310).
Available at the Old Mill of Guilford, or directly from the publisher.
True Grist: Buckwheat Flour and Cornmeal Recipes
Butter 'em While They're Hot
Southern Born and BREAD
Loaves of Love: Wholegrain Yeast Breads
Grist Mill Quick Loaf Breads
As the Mill Wheel Turns
A Bowl of Soup, a Crust of Bread, and Thou
Copyright © 1990–2007 Patricia B. Mitchell.