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Hanging up the Baker’s Peel for 2020

It’s time to hang up the baker’s peel for 2020!

The baker with his peel

After the last bake, Sunday, Dec. 20, I’ll be off until the week of Feb. 7! My chance to rest and recharge.

Time for long sleeps, reading, writing, testing new recipes, and thinking about new ways to make the business run better. But mostly the long rests! It’s winter, after all. Most animals hibernate!

It would be nice to travel, but that will have to wait until it’s safer.

It’s been a strange year. Despite a COVID pandemic, we Penderites have done well. We miss physical proximity, socializing, hugging, yes. But our lives have not been devastated the way they have in other parts.

You gotta love Mildrith!

Mildrith, the wood-fired oven, seemed oblivious to what was going on. A few cracks, a few repairs, but she still takes in the heat and loves baking loaves of bread despite everything. By the time we’re finished with the last bake this week, she’ll have made over 2,600 loaves in the past year and over 4,000 loaves since Happy Monk began in March 2019. Do you see why she’s almost the best thing in my life?

There were few adjustments apart from the face masks, sanitizing, and social distancing, despite the pandemic.

Bread pick-ups were the big social event of the week for Jennifer and me and many Happy Monk customers. It has been a blessing in my life to connect with so many great people! Great conversations, information exchanges, ideas.

Bread brings us all together!

It takes a community

It takes a community of souls to keep a small business like the Happy Monk Baking Company thriving. Through hands-on assistance, inspiration, and advice, an essential group of enthusiasts and supporters provided the fuel for Mildrith’s fires and the bread flowing over the past year.

Here are a few:

  • Jacques Marmen – Mildrith’s chief architect, natural builder, problem solver, oven surgeon, and caregiver.
  • Greenangel Choppers, Dave Hargreaves, George Leroux, Dave Howe, and all the choppers who keep us supplied with forest-friendly firewood.
  • Carrie McCarthy and her son Leighton, who’ve taken on much of the deliveries, supplying the drop-off/pick-up locations.
  • Nootka Rose Mill of Metchosin for the grain and flour, top-notch service from ther sales and milling crew and co-owners Byron Fry and Erika Heyrman, my Victoria baking heroes (See Fry’s Bakery and Wild Fire Bakery).
  • Twin Island Cider, Matthew Vasilev and Katie Selbee, an inspiring pair, makers of delicious and innovative ciders from apples that spring from our own Pender earth (and neighbouring islands).
  • Barry Denluck of Barry’s Bees, maker of the finest honey this side of paradise.
  • Black Rabbit Farms on North Pender, Andy Nowak and Mary Rehrer, for their apples and inspiring organic farm operation.
  • My amazing daughter and son, Ella and John, who’ve provided spot-on advice, know-how, and artwork (Ella’s drawing has graced 4,000 bags of Happy Monk bread).
  • Mark Dyck (recently moved to Victoria) and his Bakers4Bakers online discussion forum and the fantastic Rise Up Podcast
  • Endless inspiration from the Bread Bakers Guild of America, The Bread Lab of Washington State University, and The Bread Lab Collective (creators of the Approachable Loaf).
  • The bread makers of Instagram and many inspiring cookbook authors who’ve produced great works over the years.

Most importantly, my partner, friend, wife, and sweet patootie, Jennifer Conkie, my sounding board, my blog editor, business adviser, and zen presence. This whole operation might have crashed and burned without her!

The bread brings us together

And last but not least, the 150 plus people who’ve supported the Happy Monk Baking Company over the past year. With bread purchases, comments, conversations, questions, kind words, advice, encouragements, thanks, and love, you’ve reflected back to me the collective depth of our wonderful community.

You’ve reflected back to me, the depths of my own being. And I am so grateful!

Best of the holiday season to all! I’ll see you again in February, if not out and about at the Driftwood or some such place.

And be kind, be calm, and be safe!


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These corn kernels are headed to the mill to make cornmeal for Anadama Bread this week. It’s a bread with origins on the east coast, but that shouldn’t stop us west coasters from enjoying it, too, godanadamit! This is organic field corn from @fieldstoneorganics of Armstrong, B.C. … and the hard red whole wheat from Metchosin, B.C. make this Happy Monk take on Anadama a bona fide west coast phenomenon! Just sayin’!
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#anadama #anadamabread #cornmeal #cornmealbread #metchosinbc #armstrongbc #stoneground #stonegroundflour #stonemilled #stonemilledflour #stonemilledbread #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries

These corn kernels are headed to the mill to make cornmeal for Anadama Bread this week. It’s a bread with origins on the east coast, but that shouldn’t stop us west coasters from enjoying it, too, godanadamit! This is organic field corn from @fieldstoneorganics of Armstrong, B.C. … and the hard red whole wheat from Metchosin, B.C. make this Happy Monk take on Anadama a bona fide west coast phenomenon! Just sayin’!
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#anadama #anadamabread #cornmeal #cornmealbread #metchosinbc #armstrongbc #stoneground #stonegroundflour #stonemilled #stonemilledflour #stonemilledbread #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries
...

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Morning Breadsong (volume up!) A pile of Salish Sourdoughs just out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven. 
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#breadsinging #breadsong #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bakerslife #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland

Morning Breadsong (volume up!) A pile of Salish Sourdoughs just out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven.
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#breadsinging #breadsong #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bakerslife #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland
...

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It just needed a few more minutes. That was three hours ago. Saved my best for last!  #showusyourfuckedloaves

It just needed a few more minutes. That was three hours ago. Saved my best for last! #showusyourfuckedloaves ...

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John-boy’s got his arms loaded with a bunch of Happy Monk bread, one of his favourite states of being. He’s generous to a fault, though, and spread the loaves around his close circle of friends. That’s m’boy!

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The 2kg Desem miche is out of focus, in the back ‘cause it would have drowned out the little 1kg Durum Sesame loaf in front. The miche is a monster but every bit as delish as the Durum loaf! The Desem’s coming soon! Won’t be a miche, though!

The 2kg Desem miche is out of focus, in the back ‘cause it would have drowned out the little 1kg Durum Sesame loaf in front. The miche is a monster but every bit as delish as the Durum loaf! The Desem’s coming soon! Won’t be a miche, though! ...

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