The Cedar Creek Grist Mill
It used to be that in the summer, presumably when time and weather were on our side, we would plan a few day trips to see those places that are nearby but that we never detour from our usual ruts to visit. In the last few years, that concept has gotten away from us but then, last fall, I saw a piece on “Back Roads of Washington” about the Cedar Creek Grist Mill near Woodland. I was intrigued, wrote the information on a sticky note and put it on the refrigerator.
Yesterday we packed a picnic lunch and went on a ‘field trip.’ Woodland is about two and a half hours and twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit from Oysterville. We dressed for warm weather (never mind that we still haven’t solved our car’s A/C problem) and headed out, arriving in plenty of time to eat our lunch before the Grist Mill opened at one o’clock. There were picnic tables overlooking the creek and we sat in the shade of the cedars eating our pasta salad. Chloe, the ancient resident retriever, sat and visited hopefully.
The Cedar Creek Grist Mill is a National Historic Landmark and offers free “working tours.” Yesterday was all about producing flour and corn meal. Gregg, in an elfish red hat, told us about the history of this mill – once run by a water wheel but then, in the 1880s converted to a water-run turbine. He explained the difference between a grinding operation (in which the stones touch one another) and a grist operation (in which they don’t) and then turned the tour over to the miller and his apprentice.
After demonstrating the process for producing various grades of corn and wheat, they gave away (donations gladly accepted) generous samples and Nyel happily scored a bag of cornmeal and two bags of whole wheat bread flour that the miller had ground at Nyel’s specific request! A woman standing near us said that she’s baked bread using that flour before and it is undoubtedly the best bread she’s ever baked. Yum! I can’t wait!
Besides the demonstrations like we saw every Saturday and Sunday, the mill offers special events once a month. Coming up are ”Cornmeal and Bluegrass Day” featuring fiddle music on August 25th and “Bread and Butter Day” when kids get to churn butter to accompany made-on-the-spot fry bread on September 29th.
Usually the last Saturday of October is apple pressing day but, according to their website, it won’t be happening this year. I already have a sticky note on the refrigerator for 2013!