Posted on 4 Comments

Aunty Betty’s “Brown Bread”

When Aunty Betty came to visit, it was an occasion. To my brother, sister, and myself, she was the proverbial “fun aunt,” often arriving with gifts, always full of uproarious talk and laughter. A short woman with a pile of gray hair and a ball of energy.

Aunty Betty’s “brown bread” was a prize commodity in our house. Here was bread you could taste!

She carried with her a touch of elegance, she wore colourful skirts and dresses, drove spacious cars, always tidy and well kept. Her energy was contagious.

We kids would be full of anticipation when she was on her way to our house. She lived 15 minutes down the highway from us in West Vancouver. We’d keep an eye out for her car to turn into the driveway.

A pile of grey hair and a ball of energy

The moment the front door was opened, she’d be off on a story about a party she’d been to, or some delicious piece of gossip. We’d all follow her into the living room, her arms gesticulating, barely able to contain her excitement.

And there was always a punch line. She’d finish her story loudly, sit back, smack the arms of her chair and erupt into laughter.

Aunty Betty’s stories were usually about people we as kids didn’t know. They were more relevant to my mother and father (who was Betty’s younger brother). It didn’t matter, because she’d sweep us into the story, too, as if we were equal conspirators. We laughed because she laughed.

And when she turned her attention to us kids, our bits of news were just as fascinating to her. There would be some intriguing observation, or wisdom, or more than likely some laughter.

The loaf was a gift to my father, not us kids!

Sometimes, Aunty Betty brought a loaf of her “brown bread” — a second bonus after her very presence. This was a prize offering. Home-made bread was a treat in itself, but this loaf was all the more special because it was like a distant call from the old world, Scotland. Aunty Betty was the keeper of our Scottish grandmother’s old-world recipes. The bread was a gift to my father, who loved her cooking and baking … more than even my mother’s.

I’d follow the loaf into the kitchen, where my mother placed it in the bread box, beside the plastic-wrapped McGavin’s White Bread. I’d beg for a piece of the beautiful smelling loaf. My mother said I would have to wait for dinner.

Or some such excuse.

Aunty Betty’s brown bread was usually a dense, panned rye loaf with caraway or anise seeds. For years, I thought the flavour of those seeds was the flavour of rye flour.

The crumb wasn’t airy or springy, but it was moist and chewy in the mouth, a world away from the McGavin’s White we were accustomed to. Here was bread you could taste!

We’d fix it with a smear of Parkay (by Kraft!) or Squirrel Peanut Butter and feel the rapture of real bread.

But the rapture was short-lived! The bread was meant Dad, and he was unlikely to allow more than a piece or two to each kid. It was his loaf, and it never lasted for long.

For Dad, Aunty Betty’s brown bread was the taste of nostalgia. It took him back to his youth, to the old home in Burnaby where he grew up. His parents were Scots from Perth, who emigrated to the Lower Mainland not long after World War One.

The bread spoke of Scotland, the old world

The recipes must have made the journey with my Grandma to sustain her new husband in the new world, so far away from Bonnie Scotland. Though all three of their children were Canadian born, the culture of the old country would have remained pre-eminent in their household. Grandma’s cooking, especially.

Some of that influence was felt through to my own childhood, whether with Nairn’s Oat Cakes, Robertson’s Marmalade, or the music of Kenneth McKellar.

My grandparents died not long after I was born, and I have only faint memories of them. My grandfather’s stern countenance, Nellie’s sweet gentleness.

But I have the memory of Aunty Betty’s brown bread offering a shimmer of the flavours from their old world, and Scotland. And of Aunty Betty, herself, God bless her!


HAPPY MONK BLOG: An Approachable Manifesto: A loaf designed for the grocery shelf, but with honest-to-goodness artisan credentials. (May 24, 2023) [ See LinkTree in Proifile ]

HAPPY MONK BLOG: An Approachable Manifesto: A loaf designed for the grocery shelf, but with honest-to-goodness artisan credentials. (May 24, 2023) [ See LinkTree in Proifile ] ...

23 0
Morning coffee ritual, Saturday morning. Drinking Moving Coffee, eating Happy Monk Sprouted Einkorn Sourdough bread, and spending a lot of time setting up this photo. Thanks for the coffee tip, @jomosenpai, it’s really good!
.
.
.
#coffeelover #coffee #pourovercoffee #pourover #coffeetime #coffeelover  #coffeecoffeecoffee #ceramiccoffeecup #ceramiccoffeemug #coffeeaddict #einkornsourdough #einkornbread #einkornsourdoughbread #einkornbaking

Morning coffee ritual, Saturday morning. Drinking Moving Coffee, eating Happy Monk Sprouted Einkorn Sourdough bread, and spending a lot of time setting up this photo. Thanks for the coffee tip, @jomosenpai, it’s really good!
.
.
.
#coffeelover #coffee #pourovercoffee #pourover #coffeetime #coffeelover #coffeecoffeecoffee #ceramiccoffeecup #ceramiccoffeemug #coffeeaddict #einkornsourdough #einkornbread #einkornsourdoughbread #einkornbaking
...

49 3
It’s been a long time since I baked with Einkorn flour, the most ancient of the ancient grains. It’s called “Farro Piccolo” in Italian, or ‘little farro’. A later variety of Einkorn is called “Farro Grande” (large farro)… otherwise known as Spelt. (Einkorn left, Spelt right) Here endeth the lesson. 
.
.
.
.
#einkorn #einkorngrain #einkornbread #einkornbaking #tasteofeinkorn #spelt #speltgrain #speltflour #ancientgrain #ancientgrains #ancientgrainbaking #ancientgrainflours

It’s been a long time since I baked with Einkorn flour, the most ancient of the ancient grains. It’s called “Farro Piccolo” in Italian, or ‘little farro’. A later variety of Einkorn is called “Farro Grande” (large farro)… otherwise known as Spelt. (Einkorn left, Spelt right) Here endeth the lesson.

.

.

.

.

#einkorn #einkorngrain #einkornbread #einkornbaking #tasteofeinkorn #spelt #speltgrain #speltflour #ancientgrain #ancientgrains #ancientgrainbaking #ancientgrainflours
...

38 4
Happy Monk Tidings - April 26, 2023 🍞: Baker's Choice: Polenta-Rosemary Sourdough; Blog: A Baker's Summit in the Loire Valley - [See LinkTree in Bio ]

Happy Monk Tidings - April 26, 2023 🍞: Baker`s Choice: Polenta-Rosemary Sourdough; Blog: A Baker`s Summit in the Loire Valley - [See LinkTree in Bio ] ...

27 0
Latest Happy Monk Blog: Bread from the ashes of Pompeii - April 19, 2023 🍞 [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Latest Happy Monk Blog: Bread from the ashes of Pompeii - April 19, 2023 🍞 [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

26 2
Happy Monk Tidings - April 5, 2023 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Hot Cross Buns; BLOG: Falling in Love With Bread; ANNOUNCEMENT: Next Week Bread Day is on Wednesday, April 12; ALSO: Come see the Happy Monk Bread Oven this coming Sunday, April 9; [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - April 5, 2023 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Hot Cross Buns; BLOG: Falling in Love With Bread; ANNOUNCEMENT: Next Week Bread Day is on Wednesday, April 12; ALSO: Come see the Happy Monk Bread Oven this coming Sunday, April 9; [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

36 0
Happy Monk Tidings - March 29, 2023 🍞 - BAKERS CHOICE: Whole Spelt and Maple Pan Loaf; BLOG: Spring: Two Ways of Seeing - [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 29, 2023 🍞 - BAKERS CHOICE: Whole Spelt and Maple Pan Loaf; BLOG: Spring: Two Ways of Seeing - [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

14 0
Happy Monk Tidings - March 22, 2023 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Birdseed Bread; BLOG: Couldn't We Enjoy Winter a Little Longer? EXTRA: "Haulout" A film about walruses on brink. [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 22, 2023 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Birdseed Bread; BLOG: Couldn`t We Enjoy Winter a Little Longer? EXTRA: "Haulout" A film about walruses on brink. [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

28 0
Happy Monk Tidings - March 15, 2023 🍞 - Greetings! This week's BAKER'S CHOICE: Anadama Bread; BLOG: The Enduring Promise of Bread Machines ~ [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 15, 2023 🍞 - Greetings! This week`s BAKER`S CHOICE: Anadama Bread; BLOG: The Enduring Promise of Bread Machines ~ [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

34 0
Happy Monk Tidings - March 8, 2023 🍞 - BLOG: The Scent of Wood; BAKER'S CHOICE: Honey and Oat Porridge - [See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 8, 2023 🍞 - BLOG: The Scent of Wood; BAKER`S CHOICE: Honey and Oat Porridge - [See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

35 1
Happy Monk Tidings - February 22, 2023 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; BLOG: The Shipping Forecast on BBC 4; SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: No bread next week! https://mailchi.mp/4ea4d30316bb/happy_monk_tidings_feb22_2023

Happy Monk Tidings - February 22, 2023 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; BLOG: The Shipping Forecast on BBC 4; SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: No bread next week! https://mailchi.mp/4ea4d30316bb/happy_monk_tidings_feb22_2023 ...

22 0
Happy Monk Tidings - February 15, 2023 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Cinnamon-Raisin Sourdough; BLOG: The Magic of the Grouse; VIDEO: How Bread Was Made in 1962; FINAL REMINDER: New Delivery Times/Prices - [Campaign URL]

Happy Monk Tidings - February 15, 2023 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Cinnamon-Raisin Sourdough; BLOG: The Magic of the Grouse; VIDEO: How Bread Was Made in 1962; FINAL REMINDER: New Delivery Times/Prices - [Campaign URL] ...

33 0
Luminous bannetons.
.
.
#woodfired #woodfiredoven  #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbakery #woodfiredbread #earthoven #earthenoven #bannetons #banneton

Luminous bannetons.
.
.
#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbakery #woodfiredbread #earthoven #earthenoven #bannetons #banneton
...

46 0
Sesame Sourdough bowling alley. 
.
.
.
.
.
#woodfired #woodfiredoven #coboven #Mildrith #Mildriththeoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #bread #realbread #sesamesourdough #sesame #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Sesame Sourdough bowling alley.
.
.
.
.
.
#woodfired #woodfiredoven #coboven #Mildrith #Mildriththeoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #bread #realbread #sesamesourdough #sesame #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
...

44 0
Happy Monk Tidings - February 8, 2023 🍞 - Baker's Special: Spelt-Honey Sourdough; Happy Monk Blog: Into the Murk; REMINDER: New delivery hours and prices; [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - February 8, 2023 🍞 - Baker`s Special: Spelt-Honey Sourdough; Happy Monk Blog: Into the Murk; REMINDER: New delivery hours and prices; [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

40 1
Happy Monk Tidings - February 3, 2023 🍞 - HAPPY MONK BLOG: Save Something From The Time Where We Will Never Be Again; BAKER'S CHOICE: Sesame Sourdough; NOTE: New Delivery Times and New Prices [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - February 3, 2023 🍞 - HAPPY MONK BLOG: Save Something From The Time Where We Will Never Be Again; BAKER`S CHOICE: Sesame Sourdough; NOTE: New Delivery Times and New Prices [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

30 3
Happy Monk Tidings - December 14, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Fruit Sourdough Pan Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Year in Bread ... and Gratitude! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - December 14, 2022 🍞 - Baker`s Choice: Fruit Sourdough Pan Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Year in Bread ... and Gratitude! [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

61 1
Happy Monk Tidings - December 7, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choices: Fig and Fennel and Rye-Currants; BLOG: The Noble French Baguette; Last Bake next week! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - December 7, 2022 🍞 - Baker`s Choices: Fig and Fennel and Rye-Currants; BLOG: The Noble French Baguette; Last Bake next week! [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

45 0
Happy Monk Tidings - November 30, 2022 🍞 - Bakers Choice: Cranberry-Pecan Sourdough; BLOG: Tassajara Wisdom/Perfect Loaf Mastery; REMINDER: Happy Monk holidays fast approaching! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]
.
.
.
.
#theperfectloaf #perfectloaf #perfectloaf #maurizioleo #tassajarabreadbook #tassajarabread #tassajaracookbook

Happy Monk Tidings - November 30, 2022 🍞 - Bakers Choice: Cranberry-Pecan Sourdough; BLOG: Tassajara Wisdom/Perfect Loaf Mastery; REMINDER: Happy Monk holidays fast approaching! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]
.
.
.
.
#theperfectloaf #perfectloaf #perfectloaf #maurizioleo #tassajarabreadbook #tassajarabread #tassajaracookbook
...

33 5
Happy Monk Tidings - November 16, 2022 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Spelt & Toasted Buckwheat Sourdough; BLOG: Mysticism and Bob Dylan; Extra: Happy Monk Search [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - November 16, 2022 🍞 - BAKER`S CHOICE: Spelt & Toasted Buckwheat Sourdough; BLOG: Mysticism and Bob Dylan; Extra: Happy Monk Search [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

23 0
Just rockin’ the Olive Sourdough at 4:30 a.m. in the morning. Into Mildrith’s fire they go!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bakerslife #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #olives #olivebread #olivesourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland

Just rockin’ the Olive Sourdough at 4:30 a.m. in the morning. Into Mildrith’s fire they go!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bakerslife #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #olives #olivebread #olivesourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland
...

86 12

4 thoughts on “Aunty Betty’s “Brown Bread”

  1. Aunty Betty sure did love to cook in her tiny kitchen and she would send me pound cakes and Christmas puddings in what I always called “Red Cross Parcels” during my starving artist days in England. Those parcels were filled with such delicious contents and I, like my father, was more than parsimonious with whom I shared them. I believe there was always a loaf of Brown Bread that made it across Canada and the Atlantic to my little student hovels, south of the Scottish border. But maybe that is only in my dreams (it is a long way to send such a treat) for her bread was and remains, the stuff of dreams. Nice character profile too, bro. You’ve made me miss her big time.

    1. Thanks, Ian! Bread – and all food – does that! It stays in memory, as you say, and looms ever larger there, such that “her bread was and remains, the stuff of dreams.”

  2. […] written of my Aunty Betty, my earliest bread teacher. She used to bake “Brown Bread” and sometimes brought a loaf to our house. It was a real treat […]

  3. […] to have flavour, in other words, but I knew it could when someone showed up at the door, like Aunty Betty, with a loaf of freshly baked “brown bread,” that was the exception that proved the rule! […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.