I’m really excited about this thing. I’ve been thinking about milling my own flour ever since my friend Whitney sent me a link to a very glorious (and expensive) electric flour mill. Clearly, this baby ain’t electric, but I’m ok with that. After all, it does embody many of the things I look for in kitchen tools: (1) it’s old, basic, and well-made; (2) it’s a family hand-me-down; (3) it can double as a weapon. Besides, my ballet workout doesn’t do much for the arms, so this can act as a piece of exercise equipment as well. I just have to remember to use both arms equally, so I don’t end up looking like that girl Rachel I knew my freshman year of college, who worked at Ben & Jerry’s and had one huge ice cream-scooping bicep.
Note: The above picture will forever drive me crazy, as the right bolt that adjusts the plate isn’t situated properly. Bah!
I saved my first milling experiment for Sunday, since I would be at my parents’ place in upstate NY and assumed I would be without power for most of the day, thanks to Hurricane Irene making her way up the coast. (Out here, the power goes out for 2 hours if someone a mile down the road sneezes.) And though I did my milling on Sunday, I was astonished that the power only flickered on and off throughout the day. Sadly, while I was surveying the small branches that had fallen from trees and checking my email, surrounding towns were literally being washed away. And though I’d been listening to the radio all day, I had no idea of the devastation this area had endured until the following morning, when pictures and videos taken by those affected began appearing online. And despite how sad it was to see what was left in the wake of the hurricane, it was equally inspiring to be reminded of how wonderful and resilient everyone in this area can be. I brought all the non-perishables I could carry (seriously, my arms hurt more from all of that than from milling flour!) to the nearby bank that had started accepting donations only an hour earlier, and there was already an enormous pile of things taking up a third of the room. I am truly thankful to have grown up in such an amazing community. :)
Wait, what was I talking about before sad things? Oh yeah . . .
So, why mill your own flour? To be honest, I don’t know all that much about it yet, and I’m not going to pretend that I do. :) I do know that fresh flour spoils very quickly, and what you’re buying in the store has the bran sifted out to allow it to sit on the shelves for months and months. Of course, it only makes sense that freshly-milled flour will taste better than what you buy in the store, and be better for you as well.
I used this particular batch of flour to make pasta dough. (And I’ve got some tasty sweet potato ravioli in the queue that will be making an appearance soon enough!) Ages ago, I made the mistake of trying to be “healthy” and using 100% whole wheat flour to make ravioli. It was impossible to work with and tasted like chewy cardboard. But this freshly-ground flour was awesome. It’s a heartier flavor, for sure. But it was still quite easy to work with and it tasted pretty great. I am looking forward to milling flour for things that take better to hearty flavors (like bread), and to grinding things besides wheat berries (like rice, quinoa, and other flour substitutes). Coming soon to my kitchen, the sister series to Will it Blend?: Will it Grind?