A few weeks ago I had the AWESOME opportunity to visit the Bob's Red Mill World Headquarters to take a tour of the mill and then do some SERIOUS shopping at the Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store--and believe me when I say, it was like being in a whole grain heaven!
Bob's Red Mill is located in Milwaukie (Portland), Oregon and it just happens to be only 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from where I live. The first stop was at the Bob's Red Mill World Headquarters where they offer a FREE tour of the manufacturing facility at 10:00 am; Monday through Friday. The tour lasts about an hour, although ours went a bit longer, since many people that were on the tour asked some really good questions and shared their experiences using Bob's Red Mill products. I wish I would have thought to bring a camera, but I'll at least explain a little about what we learned from the tour.
Our tour guide told us about the history of how Bob's Red Mill started and explained about the millstones that are used to grind the wheat into flour. They use these HUGE quartz millstones to grind the wheat, just like they did even as far back as the early Roman days.
One of my favorite tidbits of information shared, was while we were looking through the window into one of the rooms with the millstone machinery. The guide explained how the wheat would pour through a shaker at the top and then it would pass into a tray where it would slow the amount of grain moving down into the center of the millstone to be ground. This part of the process is fairly noisy and the millers compared this "chatter" sound to that of a damsel; a young girl that would chatter on and on noisily. No matter where the miller would be in the mill, if the grain ran out, it would become quiet and immediately the miller would run to fill the hopper again, because the "damsel was in distress"--meaning if it ran empty, then the millstones would grind against the other and dull the millstone. Thus, the original meaning of the term "damsel in distress."
One of the most impressive parts of seeing the manufacturing facility was how CLEAN it was. They are constantly sweeping up flour particles off the flour and you could see how well they took care of the machinery during every step of the process. Just seeing this first hand, made me want to continue buying Bob's Red Mill products and knowing that everything produced was done in such a well maintained environment. We even met Bob, who stopped by during the tour and he seemed like a genuinely nice man.
But the very best information we heard, was learning more about how Bob gave the company to his employees on February 15th, 2010, the day of his 81st birthday. I just love the philosophy of this company and how they are staying true to how it started and keeping it away from the big corporate companies that usually take over and change the quality of how things are done. Read more about this wonderful gift on the press release from Bob's Red Mill.
[photo credit from Bob's Red Mill]
After a really interesting and informative tour, we drove to the Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and had lunch in the restaurant. They serve breakfast all day, but we decided to have a sandwich from their lunch menu, which was very tasty.
And then the shopping began. Here are a couple of pictures that give you an idea of all the many wonderful grain, flour, wheat and oat products they carried and what we purchased and took home.
[pictured above: white pastry flour, coconut flour, corn flour, baking soda, baking powder, poppy seeds. shredded coconut and flaked coconut. *not pictured; 25 lb. bag of thick rolled oats.]
Although all of this post is most definitely a Monday Must Have (all of Bob's Red Mill products are fantastic), I do want to highlight one grain in particular today; QUINOA.
"Quinoa [pronounced KEEN-wah] is a nutty and delicious grain that can be used in everything from salad to soups and stews--is packed with lysine, one of the essential amino acids not found in wheat. It also has many B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and enough calcium in a serving to equal a quart of milk. This little gem of a grain is arguably the most nutritious of all, with as much as 22 percent protein, making it a spectacular addition to any diet. Quinoa also supplies a complete protein--it includes all nine essential amino acids". ~ Bob's Red Mill Baking Book, pg. 28
quinoa and one of the reasons I think Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Organic Quinoa is so great is that they have already "rinsed the quinoa thoroughly and air dried it to remove the naturally occurring bitter saponins, so it can be used without rinsing" (Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Quinoa package). This step saves so much time in preparing quinoa to be used in salads or whatever you want to make. So today, my Mom and I collaborated and made a Yummy Quinoa Salad, which I'm sharing with you.
This Yummy Quinoa Salad is perfect as a side dish to any summer menu or even a meal on it's own. It's my new favorite summer salad!
Happy Summer Monday!