Bulk & Chill Coordinator Chris Moore interviews Rhianna Miller of Mill-King
How long has Mill-King been a dairy farm; has the farm always been in the family?
Our family, the Millers, have owned and operated a dairy since 1941. Today’s operation is owned by Billy Miller (2nd generation) and Craig Miller (3rd generation). In 1941 Arnold and Minnie Miller moved into the Crawford area and started milking cows. They would sell the milk and cream at the farm or at the small general store in Crawford. Their small dairy that grew over time, and they then began selling their milk to a co-op as that became a more popular model of selling milk for dairy farmers.
Their son, Billy Miller, worked with his father on the farm, and later bought out his father out of the farm when his father retired. Billy and his wife, Shorty, operated the dairy on the family’s home place for many years. They grew the size of the dairy and also bought more land in the area. In 1993, they built a new dairy facility about a mile from the home place.
In 2004 Craig, Billy and Shorty’s youngest son, came home after graduating college to work on the family farm. Craig’s wife, Rhianna, began working for the family farm in 2008. In 2010, it was apparent that continuing to dairy in a conventional manner was not a viable option for the farm. The family started to explore alternative dairy options.
Spurred by Rhianna’s allergy to milk, the family looked at making raw milk cheese and selling raw milk. From that the family farm began to change. All of our practices changed to promote an unadulterated dairy product. We are passionate about our cows and getting their natural, wholesome milk to consumers.
How long have you been on the shelves at Wheatsville and what are some of your favorite products at the co-op?
We have been on the shelves in Wheatsville since 2012. We love the cheese department and we love getting to try all of the other local farmers cheese. My second favorite department is produce. We love being able to get the freshest produce from our fellow local farmers. Nothing tastes better than veggies straight out of the field, and the Wheatsville produce department never disappoints.
Are there other local vendors that use your milk in their products? If so who are they?
We are proud to have so many local vendors that use our milk. We make a base for Lick Ice Cream with our milk and cream. There are numerous coffee shops that use our milk like Houndstooth, Caffe Medici, and Cuvee. Numerous restaurants in Austin like Barley Swine, Elizabeth Street Cafe, and Bouldin Creek Cafe. Local frozen artisans like Spun Ice Cream also use Mill-King.
Do you have anything new coming out?
We are working on a yogurt that should come out later in 2017.
Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share with our patrons?
We love making mac and cheese with a variety of cheeses and fresh veggies thrown in.
Seasonal Mac and Cheese
5-6 oz bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
2 Tbsp butter
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 Cup flour
2 1/2 Cups Mill-King Whole Milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 tsp ground mustard
ground black pepper to taste
8 oz grated cheese (our favorite is Brazos Valley Gouda and White Cheddar)
Your favorite seasonal veggies. (for example spinach, varieties of squash, artichoke, asparagus, peas, etc)
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the butter until melted with the garlic and onions. Add in mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
To make the cheese sauce, add the butter to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until the butter is completely melted. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden and fragrant but not burned, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken. Whisk in the salt, red pepper flakes, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cheese until completely melted and smooth. (If necessary, you can return the pan to low heat to melt the cheeses.) Return the drained pasta to the pot.
Mix in the cooked bacon and mushrooms, the cheese sauce and the seasonal veggies. (If necessary partly steam veggies) Stir everything together gently until well combined. Spread the mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish.
Bake for 15-2o minutes or until the top is light golden and the cheese is bubbling. Serve warm and top with reserved cooked bacon pieces, if desired.
Photos by Jo Ann Santangelo