With a sister in law and friends who are celiac I tend to keep my eyes open for recipes that are both gluten free and great and easy (the latter meaning in part no crazy exotic gums and pastes and binders); That combination is fairly rare – certainly more rare than when one is not constrained to exclude gluten.
Blueberry Corn Cake – A great desert
There are winners though, and this is one of the nicest ones around – so much so that it graces our meals even when the table is filled with wheat eaters. Frankly the latter simply allows me to do the grinding of the cornmeal on the homemade grain mill from the couple of big sacks of feed corn we always have on hand. The mill does a great job and fresh meal can’t be beat, but since the mill often processes gluten containing grains I keep a bag of commercial meal for those occasions.
This corn cake makes a desert – moist (even if some lasts a couple of days), rich, flavorful and just the right amount of sweet to cap off a nice meal or accompany tea or coffee.
These mills are cheap (like $25) and readily available, but are they any good? Definitely, and you probably should pick one up. But, like so many things you need to understand what they are good for.
Now, what they are great for is making nixtamatal – that is grain corn processed with alkali for making things like tortillas. It’s an easy grind material which is the perfect fit for this machine – and fresh nixtamatal is awesome!
It’s also OK cracking grain for animal feed or malted barley for brewing beer. Now, what it isn’t perfect in that latter role – a roller mill would be better – but hey for $25 it’s a pretty affordable malt crusher.
So what doesn’t it do well? Now, that’s grind grains for flour. That is why I first picked up this mill a couple of decades ago – and the poor results and high cost of mills capable of producing fine flour prompted me to start on the path that resulted in the Homestead Grain Mill that is simple to build for yourself at low cost and produces great flour.
Replace the cotter pin holding the rotating burr in place with a bolt (in this case a #8)
Dissembled Corn Mill
But that mill isn’t designed to make nixtamatal – which is why this cheap cast iron mill still sees loads of use in my home. Fresh tortillas made from homemade nixtamatal are awesome – and this cheap mill and a good tortilla press make turning them out easy as well as cheap. Bags of feed corn are running $10 for 50 pounds!
Now there is something that is lacking on these mills – all of those I have seen hold the front rotating burr in place with a cotter pin – which bends and allows the burr to slip back and freewheel. This can be easily overcome by replacing the cotter pin with a bolt.
Apart from that weak part these mills are all pretty well and solidly made. Sure, they look like they have loads of adjustment range – but I’ve got a number of slightly different variations and they all have loose tolerances, which is perfectly ok for grinding nixtamatal.
With prices starting at $25 you can order one on amazon and pick up a sack of feed corn and the fixin’s for a great night of Mexican food for less than the cost of the same meal out – and you’ll not only end the night with several meals worth of grain corn left but also with a mill that will last you a lifetime of enjoyable quality meals.