September 1, 2013

Serving Bread and Butter With History by Pat Nelson

Back-to-school time reminds me of my first year of school many years ago in Sauk Center, Minnesota. There, one of my favorite kindergarten activities was making butter in the classroom. I’d helped my family make butter at home in a stoneware churn, but at school we did it differently. All of the students sat in a circle where we took turns passing a jar of cream. We shook, shook, shook that jar with all our might and then passed it along to the next student. Eventually, the cream began to thicken. When it had turned to butter, our teacher added a pinch of salt and then we spread the fresh butter on crackers and enjoyed the tasty treat.Grist Mill Building

That memory resurfaced recently when I learned that the Cedar Creek Grist Mill will host its annual Bread and Butter Day September 28. The grist mill, located about 8 miles east of Woodland, sits in a heavy forest on rocky slopes alongside the rushing creek that powers the mill. To get to the mill, you must first cross a scenic covered bridge. Once inside the mill, waterpower turns huge pulleys and belts to produce flour, corn meal and sometimes even apple cider. After 137 years, the Cedar Creek Grist Mill is, according to,  the only grain-grinding mill in Washington that has maintained its original structural integrity, grinds with stones and is water powered. It couldn’t continue grinding without its may dedicated volunteers.

Events Chair Barbara Sizemore talked with me about the special events held at the mill the last Saturday of the month from May through October. Grist Mill Butter and BreadThe next event, the Bread and Butter Day, will be September 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. “It’s a good time,” she said. “The flour is milled right there and the 100- percent whole-wheat bread dough is made into fry bread. The butter is churned by hand in an antique butter churn.” Children in attendance get to help churn the butter. Once it has been churned and the bread has been fried, all that is needed before attendees enjoy the warm, buttered wheat bread is a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar.
Sizemore said people from all over the world visit the Cedar Creek Grist Mill, and weddings and other events are held at the covered bridge. Graduating students often choose the scenic spot as a background for senior pictures.Grist Mill Butter Churn

The final event for 2013 will be the Apple Cider Press October 26, when 8000 gallons of apples will be pressed. Visitors will be able to take home a jug of fresh-pressed cider for a $4 donation. At that time, salmon will be jumping the falls and colorful leaves will carpet the forest floor. Because it takes several hours to press 8000 gallons of apples, the grist mill will open at 9 a.m. and will remain open until all of the apples have been pressed.
Thinking about pressing apples for cider brings back another memory. I used to help my brother and his wife press apples for cider and we enjoyed the tasty beverage throughout the winter months.

I look forward to sampling fresh-churned butter and warm wheat bread in September and to taking home a jug of cider from the Cedar Creek Grist Mill in October.