Wednesday, February 16, 2011

C is for Cookie

This past weekend we headed up to Napa for some camping and a biking tour of wineries. Aside from the fact that we got dirty looks at a few tasting rooms for being sweaty and speckled with chain grease, it was lovely. Oh, and some of the limos tried to run us off the road. But it was sunny, and the wine was delicious, and it was nice to be out on my bike.

The last winery we went to on Saturday, Casa Nuestra, was absolutely delightful. It was started by a hippie from San Francisco in the 70s, and it featured tasty wines, picnic tables in the sun, no pretention, and two goats who liked to say hi. They even had a table with craft supplies so you could make your own valentines! The quality of the stickers they had was to die for - 10 year old me would have stuffed them in her pockets. I just made Mike a card that looked more like a threat than a declaration of love, due to my poor artistic skills.

We camped at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park and, while it was chilly, we gloried in our fire and the fact that it is possible to camp right through the winter in Norther California. We got yelled at by other campers for being up too late, which is always satisfying. The next morning we went to a historic mill, which sounded like a boring 6th grade field trip activity to me. However! I was charmed. The Bale Grist Mill was originally founded in the early 1800s by a colorful character who passed on and left his wife a money pit of a business. She modernized the place and got it ship-shape, though it fell into disrepair in the 20th century, when people, you know, stopped growing grain and bringing it to the mill to make their own flour. It's been spiffed back up and is now a functioning mill again. How kickass is that? We got to see it function, and learn the origin of all kinds of modern sayings.

For example:
  1. "Keep your nose to the grindstone" came about because the miller would sniff the flour every once in a while to make sure the two millstones were rotating smoothly and not burning the grain.
  2. "Cock-eyed" originally meant when the grindstones were properly aligned - the bottom stone had a spike in its center (the cock - and yes, I giggled) and the top stone had a little cup for the cock (giggle). When the two were fit together properly and the stones rotated in parallel, they were cock-eyed. So how the hell did cock-eyed wind up meaning the opposite? Our tour guide did not know.
And now I have told you way more than you wanted to know about mills and grindstones. But here's the best part: they were selling the grain they were milling, and I got to bring home bags of cornmeal, polenta, and whole wheat pastry flour. See?
And with that wheat flour I got to make this chocolate chip skillet cookie. See?
That stuff is my jam, man.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Okay, I need to get in on this cookie situation.