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Our Daily Bread

A mid-summer open-face sandwich with a slice of Happy Monk Einkorn bread, a slather of mayonnaise and a juicy tomato. Finished with a few grains of salt and a twist of the pepper mill. This picture courtesy of Carla Babcock. Note the fine Japanese bread knife used to slice the bread.

Anne Sullivan earned a soft spot in our heart last week. She showed up at the Medicine Beach bread pick-up with a warm casserole of bread pudding. Fresh out of the oven! She’d made it just for the Happy Monk Baker!

I’d been asking people what they liked to do with their bread. Anne replied on Facebook that bread pudding is “an amazing way to use leftover bread, especially if prepared with leftover brioche!” 1

And then there I was, holding her bread pudding, breathing in this heady aroma of spiced and baked goodness.

Jennifer and I ate almost all of it for dessert that evening! It was the essence of comfort food! Beautiful spices, beautiful tenderness. A lovely, thoughtful gift!

(Well, we did have a dinner guest, a non-dessert person, who tried some and pronounced it delicious.)

Alas, I forgot to take a picture.

Sharing the Pender tables

Several Happy Monk customers, on the other hand, happily shared their photos and bread stories. Their loaves take a prominent place at the table, and one family even purchased a beautiful Japanese bread knife to cut their Happy Monk bread.

Malt bread memory

A South Pender resident, an anonymous contributor, had a strong memory of a particular bread from his childhood:

In Toronto, as a boy, my parents would buy a ‘malt loaf.’ It was about 12 inches long and 4 inches in diameter, tubular, light brown, and ringed with corrugations. Therefore easy to find the slice lines.

Malt bread toasted with butter was as close to indecency and addiction as a 10-year-old could get. It’s discovery was akin to first hearing Borodin’s orchestral music or seeing teenage girls in tight sweaters. Ahh. And one has been known to eat a whole buttered affliction in a single sitting. Alas… never found its like west of Lake Huron.

The memory, here, carries strains of music and sensuality, at least as he remembers it. Those are the best memories, when the senses are up front and centre as they are here.

Think of Marcel Proust when he tastes a humble madeleine cake in the beginning of his novel cycle, À la recherche du temps perdu. It unleashes a string of memories and story that fills seven volumes! Malt bread could do the same!

You asked for it!

Anne Sullivan’s gesture last Friday brought to mind a bread pudding reminiscence of my own.

Many years ago, I wrote to Gourmet magazine requesting a recipe for a cookie I had tasted at Sooke Harbour House. This was the iconic Vancouver Island inn and restaurant famous for its local and indigenous cuisine.

Gourmet magazine in those days had a regular feature called “You Asked For It,” in which readers could request recipes from restaurants and food establishments. The editors would reach out to the restaurant, obtain the recipe, then publish it in the magazine.

Months after sending my request, I got an answer from the Gourmet editors. (This was before email. I had sent my letter via “snail mail”).

The Sooke Harbour House chef, they said, could not recall the cookie I was interested in. When he made cookies, he just threw together whatever there was on hand. There was no recipe, in other words.

I wanted cookies! I got bread pudding, instead.

The chef, instead, had offered recipes for two different kinds of bread pudding served at the restaurant. Since I had not explicitly requested the bread pudding recipes, Gourmet would not publish them. But the editors did not want to disappoint, so they passed on those recipes to me.

This was no small thing. Sooke Harbour House, at the time, was being heralded as one of Canada’s best new restaurants. One of the most prominent notices came from The New York Times, as I recall. They were an early inspiration for the “local food” movement and still grow much of what they serve in the restaurant. 2

I am sorry to say the two bread pudding recipes were, to me, like a consolation prize. I wanted cookies! “Someday, I’ll make these bread puddings, but not now,” I said, and filed them away. And forgot about them …

The scent of seduction

Until, years later, on an early date with my lovely Jennifer, she told me she liked bread pudding.

It was as if those recipes had been sitting in my back pocket, waiting for this invitation. “Why don’t you come to my place on Saturday,” I offered, not wanting to appear too eager. She accepted.

I’ve lost the recipes now, but each of the two bread puddings featured some form of alcohol. One was undoubtedly rum, the other possibly cognac. They were creamy, spiced, and dappled with raisins and other dried fruit. The kitchen was full of intoxicating smells when she arrived. It was the scent of seduction.

Jennifer kicked off her shoes and curled up on the couch. The wine was waiting, the candles were lit, I brought out the two casseroles and dishes, and that is as far as this story goes!

Gratitude!

Many hearty thanks to my Happy Monk friends for sending pictures and sharing stories about their bread. It is humbling and inspiring to see how much our bread is welcomed at tables across the Pender Islands. And it is heart-warming to hear stories about how bread unites us all in a common wealth, in way or another.

To the staff of life!


Happy Monk Tidings - October 27, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice this week: Mountain Rye; Blog: Colossal Roughhousing on Boundary Pass [ See link in profile ]

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The good earth! We survive the big storm! Been inside all day so I’m going swimming and the hot tub awaits. .
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#coldwaterswimming #coldwaterswim #coldwatertherapy #penderisland #southpenderisland

The good earth! We survive the big storm! Been inside all day so I’m going swimming and the hot tub awaits. .
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#coldwaterswimming #coldwaterswim #coldwatertherapy #penderisland #southpenderisland
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Happy Monk Tidings - October 20, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Sprouted Purple Barley Sourdough; Blog: To All the Bakers: Past, Present, Future and Imaginary! [ See Link in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - October 15, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Pender Island Apple Bread; Blog: Happy Monk Bread Teachers: Francis Olive [ See Link in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - October 6, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Sesame-Wheat Sourdough; Blog: Making Your Own Bread - You've Got This; Video: Bake Day with the Happy Monk [See Link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - October 6, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Sesame-Wheat Sourdough; Blog: Making Your Own Bread - You've Got This; Video: Bake Day with the Happy Monk [See Link in Profile ] ...

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Bake Day with the Happy Monk. The amazing @jomosenpai (my son) came over to Pender last summer on a bake day. Was in my face all the time, taking pictures, shooting video. It was so great having him around, and I’m amazed the bread (Polenta Rosemary Sourdough) turned out so well. This video he made turned out very well, too!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #polenta #polentabread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland

Bake Day with the Happy Monk. The amazing @jomosenpai (my son) came over to Pender last summer on a bake day. Was in my face all the time, taking pictures, shooting video. It was so great having him around, and I’m amazed the bread (Polenta Rosemary Sourdough) turned out so well. This video he made turned out very well, too!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #polenta #polentabread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland
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Happy Monk Tidings - September 22, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Harvest Bread; Blog: Sourdough September and the Real Bread Campaign [ See link in profile ]

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A horizontal world, an endless beach with long rollers, sandwiched beneath a low sky ceiling … and hundreds of surfers. Chesterman’s Beach, Tofino.

A horizontal world, an endless beach with long rollers, sandwiched beneath a low sky ceiling … and hundreds of surfers. Chesterman’s Beach, Tofino. ...

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Post to The Happy Monk Baking Company
Happy Monk Tidings - September 1, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; Blog: We're all rich when you think about it; South Pender Growers and Makers and Heritage Market; The Happy Monk Holidays - [ Link in profile ]

Post to The Happy Monk Baking Company
Happy Monk Tidings - September 1, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; Blog: We're all rich when you think about it; South Pender Growers and Makers and Heritage Market; The Happy Monk Holidays - [ Link in profile ]
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Happy Monk Tidings - August 25, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cinnamon-Raisin Bread; Blog: Marriage, Laurie Anderson and the Weddings of Pender; and more! [ See links in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - August 25, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cinnamon-Raisin Bread; Blog: Marriage, Laurie Anderson and the Weddings of Pender; and more! [ See links in profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - August 18, 2021 🍞 - This week's Baker's Choice: The Approachable Loaf; Blog: A Benediction on Mount Norman. [ See links in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - August 18, 2021 🍞 - This week's Baker's Choice: The Approachable Loaf; Blog: A Benediction on Mount Norman. [ See links in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - August 11, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Polenta and Rosemary Sourdough; Blog: Here's to the Homely Loaves! [ See Linktree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - August 11, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Polenta and Rosemary Sourdough; Blog: Here's to the Homely Loaves! [ See Linktree in Profile ] ...

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Lo! The mighty Seed Feast! Favoured by Happy Monk customers the Pender Islands over! These loaves, just rolled out of Mildrith, are hot and fragrant with seeds, nuttiness and bready wholesome-ness. O for a steamy slice and a schmear of butter! That I may eat “and leave the world unseen, and with thee fade away into the forest dim.” (Apologies to the ghost of John Keats).
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#seedfeastbread #seedbread #seedybread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #woodfiredbread #coboven #earth.oven #bread #breadlove #baker #bbga #happymonkbaker #happymonkbaking #naturallyleavened #artisanbread #realbread #breadpoetry #rusticbread #penderisland #southpenderisland

Lo! The mighty Seed Feast! Favoured by Happy Monk customers the Pender Islands over! These loaves, just rolled out of Mildrith, are hot and fragrant with seeds, nuttiness and bready wholesome-ness. O for a steamy slice and a schmear of butter! That I may eat “and leave the world unseen, and with thee fade away into the forest dim.” (Apologies to the ghost of John Keats).
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#seedfeastbread #seedbread #seedybread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #woodfiredbread #coboven #earth.oven #bread #breadlove #baker #bbga #happymonkbaker #happymonkbaking #naturallyleavened #artisanbread #realbread #breadpoetry #rusticbread #penderisland #southpenderisland
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Happy Monk Tidings - August 4, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Volkornbrot (German Rye) with Sunflower Seeds; also Seed Feast; Blog: Why Eat Ancient and Heritage Grains?; Goin' Fishin' Soon! [ See Linktree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - August 4, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Volkornbrot (German Rye) with Sunflower Seeds; also Seed Feast; Blog: Why Eat Ancient and Heritage Grains?; Goin' Fishin' Soon! [ See Linktree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - July 28, 2021 🍞- Baker's Choice: Sprouted Kamut; Blog: Mildrith's Body of Miracles; Goin' Fishin' - [ See Link in Profile ]

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Moonset and high tide, South Pender Island at 3:50 a.m. 
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 #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #clayoven #clayovenbaking #coboven #cobovenbaking #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery

Moonset and high tide, South Pender Island at 3:50 a.m.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #clayoven #clayovenbaking #coboven #cobovenbaking #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery
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Happy Monk Tidings - July 21, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Bird Seed Bread; Blog: Rye Bread: The Agony and the Ecstasy [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - July 21, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Bird Seed Bread; Blog: Rye Bread: The Agony and the Ecstasy [ See link in profile ] ...

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In the early light of dawn, Mildrith oven-springs sourdough, caramelizes crusts gold and brown and leaves heavenly smells as evidence. Inside her hot clay dome, 12 boules of Salish Sourdough are on the final stage of their journey. Behold the steam rising out of the chimney!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #clayoven #clayovenbakery #clayovenbread #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery

In the early light of dawn, Mildrith oven-springs sourdough, caramelizes crusts gold and brown and leaves heavenly smells as evidence. Inside her hot clay dome, 12 boules of Salish Sourdough are on the final stage of their journey. Behold the steam rising out of the chimney!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #clayoven #clayovenbakery #clayovenbread #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery
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  1. Brioche is a yeast-raised product enriched with butter and eggs and sometimes sweetened with sugar. It often has a flaky, almost pastry-like texture, but can also make for soft, luxurious hamburger buns. Brioche belongs to the Viennoiserie category of bakery products, along with croissants, for example.

  2. A more recent article in the NY Times (from 2000) gives a decent overview of the restaurant as it was nearly 20 years ago.

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