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My Escape to the Grind

Midwest Living

Bonneyville Mill in Bristol

Bonneyville Mill in Bristol

I recently read that one of the best places to enjoy fall color in Indiana was Bonneyville Mill in Bristol. Established in 1832, it’s the state’s oldest continuous operating grist mill. Turns out, they were right. The mill is the centerpiece of a gorgeous 222-acre park run by the Elkhart County Parks. Just off the parking lot is a bed of citrus and magenta, big-as-pie-pumpkin dahlias maintained by the Elkhart Dahlia Society. No wonder there’s a sign warning against picking.


Dahlias maintained by the Elkhart Dahlia Society greet visitors.

Just over the bridge, sits the bright red mill where they still grind corn, wheat, buckwheat and rye flour using waterpower. Enter the mill through the main-floor entrance because the basement is dark and more than a little creepy. Assistant mill manager Jeff Schumacher greets me with a handout for the self-guided tour. I love the smell of the wood building and grain and I’m struck by how clean it is. “We clean more than we grind,” Jeff says with pride. “We’re in a constant battle with squirrels. We can’t leave anything on the floors to invite pests.”

Each week, they grind whole grains grown in Indiana, except for the wheat. “The hard spring wheat needed for flour doesn’t grow here, so we bring it in from Montana,” Jeff says. A demonstration shows the power of water: The entire floor shook.

I bought a bag of whole wheat flour packaged in a cloth sack at $3.50 for two pounds. They also have grits, cornmeal and pastry flours. Because the flour contains no preservatives and isn’t irradiated for pests, it’s important to repackage it in an airtight container (Jeff recommends a resealable plastic bag) and store it in the freezer. Recipes in hand, I head off to explore the rest of the beautiful park, which includes more than 5 miles of hiking trails, clean restrooms, soda machines, picnic tables and gorgeous waterfalls just steps from the parking lot. The mill itself is open through October.

Bag of Flour

Purchase a bag of flour, made on site, during your visit.

Here’s one of the recipes from Bonneyville Mill:

Orange Wheat Bread

2 cups white flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup oil
1 egg, beaten
½ cup sugar
½ cup wheat germ

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until moist. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes at 350˚.

Kim Ranegar is a freelance writer from Valparaiso who loves both fall and baking.