Sunday, March 25, 2007

My Daddy, the Miller.........

My daddy bought a grist mill when I was about six years old. For those of you who don't have any idea what a grist mill is, as my girls would say when they were growing up, let me light your candle. A grist mill grinds corn into meal, grits, etc. The mill was a large contraption that had two humongous round rocks with a small hole in the center and they rubbed against each other with the corn between them. It was very, very noisy! The meal could be ground very fine, almost like flour, medium, and coarse. I don't remember Daddy grinding grits but possibly he did. As the meal came out, it was extremely hot. You couldn't handle it at that time. It went into big wooden barrels with a white cloth cover. My Uncle Tom usually was in charge of the meal grinding.

My job, when I was there sometimes after school was to stamp the brown paper bags with a black stamp stating how many pounds, texture (fine, medium, coarse) the name of the milling company and the price. The meal was place in the bags, weighed, top folded over a couple of times and string tied around it. Really high tech.....

Daddy thought he made the best corn meal around. Well, naturally he would! He then delivered to the local grocery stores.

With machinery, sometimes it tears up. Daddy would have to take the grist mill apart to have it worked on. Daddy was an early to bedder and early to riser. He was in bed by 8:30 or 9:00 every night and up by 5:00 a.m. The nights that the mill was being repaired we were up until the wee hours.....It was exciting to me........

A few years after Daddy bought the grist mill he built a large warehouse type building and added a feed mill to grind and mix feed for farmers to feed livestock. I remember the smell of the corn and molasses that was mixed into the feed. It smelled good enough to eat! Since he was in the feed business, he bought cows, goats, etc., to feed out and sell.

I remember while playing around in the building where the corn was stored in bulk, I lost my pretty birthstone ring. A couple of years later, while at school one day, I was playing with a girl whose Daddy worked at the feed mill and she had on a blue ring. I told her it was pretty and that I had had one like it but lost it at the mill. She told me her Daddy had found it there and she took it off and gave it to me. I will never forget her honesty...........

Most children couldn't have a horse because of lack of a place to keep them and feed to feed them. We had both but Daddy didn't think we needed a horse. Guess what? We didn't have a horse.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I came along when my parents were in their forties with five older brothers and sisters. One of my sisters and her family was visiting from another state . My nieces wanted to feed the goats and asked Daddy to take the paper off the corn! He got a laugh out of that.

We always had lacy cornbread, very thin and crunchy, for lunch and supper. The recipe is written below. When my husband and I became engaged, his brother said, "I bet I know one thing you can't cook, lacy cornbread." Well, there was more that I couldn't cook than I could cook but lacy cornbread was the first thing I learned to cook.

Lacy Cornbread

1 cup of plain meal (Yellow if you can find it)
Water enough to make it the consistency of thin pancake batter
salt to taste

A cast iron griddle greased (or teflon skillet sprayed works for me) needs to be hot. Pour mixture in--not very thick. Turn heat down to medium and cook for about 10 minutes. I run a spatula under mine and flip it. You can use a plate. Cook another 10 minutes or so.

On a summer day, nothing beats Lacy cornbread, peas or butterbeans, fried okra, sliced tomatoes, herbed new potatoes, fried chicken or porkchops..........

17 comments:

Karen said...

I enjoyed your memories of your Daddy, Betty. We took Alaina to a mill up on the Blue Ridge called Mabrey Mill for a homeschool field trip. It was very interesting to see.
I'm going to try your recipe. I'm a "grit" but I've never tried lacy cornbread. A girl raised in the south should know these things! ;-D Reading about what you serve it with......mmmmm....I can't wait for summer produce.

picketfencemom said...

It's like I said in my post about lacy cornbread...nobody makes it better than you do! Yum!
Love ya,
Amy

dot said...

Betty, enjoyed hearing about your family. I've never heard of lacy cornbread but I think I'd really like it. We made what we called "fried" cornbread from meal and water. I don't like thick cake like cornbread with eggs in it.
I think we all need to load up and go to your house for a meal!

Carolanne said...

Lacy cornbread?
Grits?
Plain meal?

Hmmmm. I have no idea what plain meal and grits are although I do think we tried cornbread while we were in the States back in 2002.

It was a lovely memory to share and I especially liked it that you got your ring back!

Tracy said...

What a lovely story from your childhood. Do you still have the ring?

I've never heard of lacy cornbread, but it sounds delicious. We'll have to try it.

Tina Leigh said...

It ought to be against the law for you to talk about all that good food!! What an interesting story! I wish you had some pictures of the mill & all to show us. Ahhh a lost art! Wish I had some of that fresh meal to make some some Ho Cake from!!

Moobear said...

Oh I enjoyed reading this! Lacy cornbread sounds awful good to me. Dot, would ya mind picking me up on the way to Connies? :) I was grown up with tobacco fields and peach orchards so it was very interesting to hear about the grist mill. LOL Carolanne, maybe Connie would cook some grits just for you! They are really good here in the south. I remember going to Chicago once and of course I had to get hash browns as they had no grits. They are so inexpensive and such a big part of breakfast here in the south. Carolanne, I hope you get a chance just once to try some grits, buttered good and always gotta have enough salt to make them tasty.
Thanks Connie for this enlighting post. I am gonna fry some cornbread your way as I always fix it the way Dot referred to.
Have a great day my friend!

PEA said...

Oh Betty, I've so been enjoying your posts...I love it when someone shares memories of their growing up years like this:-) I've never had cornbread, cornmeal is not something we cook very much with around here...it sure does sound delicious though! I've also never had okra...I need to move down south! lol xox

cityfarmer said...

You darlin little ole southern girl~~
We could have been neighbors, and those work ethics...gotta love the familyrun business.

Christie Belle said...

What wonderful memories! Thank you for sharing:) The cornbread sounds yummy, too. That will be one I try, I love some good cornbread!

Susan P. said...

I just loved reading about all of your wonderful memories. I loved how you made sure you learned how to make Lacy Cornbread first! Betty, I bet you are a wonderful Southern cook. Maybe you could post some recipes for us, my mouth was watering over your idea of a perfect summer meal. I never know how to cook butterbeans and the herbed new pot. sounds so yummy! Hint, hint;)

CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

Boy, did that bring back memories. I still love that kind of a meal. In my opinion, nothing is better. connie

RoseMary said...

Your post has made me hungry! What great memories. Right now, beans, cornbread, fried okra and potatoes would just about hit the spot for me!

Susie said...

Wonderful post of memories Betty!
How touching and special that your birthstone ring was returned to you by your friend.
Loved that lacy cornbread recipe, although I've never heard of it. My dad's family is from KY and they made "hoe cakes" which was something my mother could never quite make "just right"
:)

~Becca~Bluebird Rose said...

You have such a lovely way of sharing your stories.....
I grew up near an old grist mill. I've never been inside it (though I've been in others), but the outside is beautiful, and a favorite landmark around here. :)

weirdbunny said...

So beautiful to here of your childhood stories. How sincere and honest the other little girl was giving you back your ring. It just goes to show how important it is to teach our children the way's of the Lord.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading anything about the South since I was raised there. I remember my mom used to cook on a wood stove and would mix cornbread and cook it right on the eye of the wood stove. I think she called them "hoe cakes". Anyway they were good with butter.
I especially liked them if they were burned a little around the edges. I also like burned popcorn.
Some people think my crazy, but I like burned or scorched corn. I always scooped the scorched corn or burned corn from the skillet from which mom made fried corn. YUMMY!!

Millie