To mill, or not to mill?
Okay, let's start with the fact that I am a college student living on financial aid. Dirt poor. However, I am about to enter my final semester of school, and I thought I may have earned a gift for myself. I am dedicated to trying to make the most nutritious bread possible, but obviously my budget is limited at this time. I've been doing a lot of research on bread, and found out how quickly the nutrients deplete as well as how some studies have supported the extra nutritional availability of wheat when using sourdoughs. I have three options for my "go me" gift.
1) Get an electric grain mill. This one seems about right (current price $179). I'm concerned about the heat damaging nutrients and increasing the speed at which the bread's nutrients will decay after milling. However, it seems like I will get a finer grind than with a hand cranked model and with more free time as well.
2) Get a hand cranked mill. Lehman's mill may be more expensive than the electric I found ($250 seems like the best in my small price range, couldn't really swing anything more pricey), but I'm okay with physical labor (I have no car, you should see me walk a couple of miles in the heat with groceries - enjoying myself in an odd way), I like being as self-sufficient and low environmental impact as possible, and I like that the flour won't get as hot. However, I can't be sure that I'll have as much time on my hands once I start working to actually use the mill on bread-making days - sure I'll probably bake on my days off, but I'll also be gardening, doing laundry, and probably running errands as well. Perhaps I can grind the day's flour the evening before and put it in a soaker.
3) Use my existing mortar and pestule (rough textured and fits about 2 cups) to crush wheat berries to use as an additive for a nutritional boost to my bread that won't be as much as freshly ground flour, but could still be more nutrition than I currently have (will the enzyme process in sourdough work on coarser grain in an overnight fermentation?) Then I could take the money and get a cast iron griddle that could not only be used to cook with but could also be stored in the oven for a source of radiant heat similar to placing ceramic tiles on the rack below the bread when baking. I could also get a Mr. Beer because even though it would be the brewing equivalent of Kool-aid (I'm interested in brewing, but only after I've settled in to a larger budget), I've long thought the little plastic keg looked cute and when I'm done with school I've earned the right to a hangover with no social guilt, mommy status aside.
I also have a food processor, I suppose I can use that as an option for busier grinding days if I go with #3. So, what would you do?