I was a little surprised and quietly pleased last week when I realized we had passed the 1,000 loaves mark in Happy Monk bread production.
As of last Friday, I tallied 1,033 loaves over the 38 weeks since we started operations on March 14, 2019. That’s not including test bakes and the one embarrassing “bread fail,” when a bunch of pumpkinseed rye boules did not rise. (They may as well have been consigned to the Pender Disc Golf Park to clear away trees!)
A thousand loaves is a small achievement, but, still, it felt like a milestone.
“High five!” Jennifer said. Then I got back to work.
A debt of gratitude
It’s not just one baker’s hard work, though. Like so many things, there is a community behind it. I think of the many people — customers and suppliers alike — who’ve helped the Happy Monk Baking Company along the way. I have a debt of gratitude towards each of them. From the first small group of South Pender people to the nearly 80 Islands-wide devotees who have sampled and become Happy Monk customers.
And those customers have become a community. On Friday mornings, I look down our driveway and see groups of neighbours, holding bags of warm bread, sharing a laugh. The drop-off locations at the Medicine Beach shops and Corbett House, likewise, have become meeting places for conversation and connection.
There was a legion of people behind the construction of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven, too. When I light the fire, I feel a sense of pride in the oven that Jacques Marmen, Tracy Calvert, Peter Hughes, and Ryan Fogarty helped create. They are all honoured in my earlier blog post, How I Built My Wood-Fired Cob Oven.
A community of bread lovers
There were many suppliers, too, that got behind the project. Ron Henshaw dug many bucketfuls of clay from his property for the oven construction. Lester Quitzau and Mae Moore provided horse manure for the plaster coating. Greenangelwood choppers and generous neighbours provided wood to warm Mildrith’s cob walls.
I’ve made friends with the folks at Nootka Rose Milling in Metchosin, who provide the grain and flour for our bread. They also helped me acquire a second refrigerator for dough proofing. And Byron Fry, of Fry’s Red Wheat Bakery in Victoria, is a friendly mentor for me, though he’s the same age as my son, John. And John, too, has been a big help in our web design and social media presence.
The staff of life
There’s a reason people call bread the ‘staff of life.’ A loaf is more than a baked product. A loaf at the dinner table has the power to bind us together in commonality. It is the centrepiece of sharing, nourishment, good food, and conversation.
Bread is shared at the table as it is done at the Eucharist or holy communion in the church. But breaking bread is first and foremost as secular a celebration as it gets. It has joined us all through the ages.
And that is why I am honoured to be your humble baker.
Cinnamon-Raisin bread, an enduring Happy Monk favourite. And here’s proof of Mildrith’s (the wood-fired oven) recent health check, as she just baked 41 loaves of this (and another 40 of Seed Feast) with lots of heat left to spare. Long live Mildrith and long live Cinnamon-Raisin bread!
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Happy Monk Tidings - September 2, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice : Volkornbrot (German Rye); Blog: The Golden Loaf of Gorsefield Rye; NOTE: We're closing two weeks for Mildrith Maintenance [ See LinkTree in Profile ]...
It was a dirty day, Wednesday. The sky hadn't been washed, the ocean was soiled, and the air was muggy and smelled oily. Then, moments before the rain started, the sun shone through and a glorious slash of colour opened up. And a rainbow! No unicorns, sadly....
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This is James Morton, my father, who would have been 100 years old today if we hadn't lost him 36 years ago. I've surpassed him in living age and spent more years without him than with him, yet he still whispers in my ear and is a great listener when I talk to him. Taken at 14th Ave. and Burgess St., Burnaby, 'round about 1955. Handsome devil, ain't he?...