Call Me Ishmael!

“Call me Ishmael.”

Those immortal words begin Herman Melville’s epic novel, Moby Dick.

Those and many other passages from the novel have been running through my mind these past weeks. I’ve finished listening to an audiobook version (borrowed online through the Libby iPhone app) and am now reading e-book passages on Kindle. It was high time!… Continue reading


Most days, making bread happens by rote, with a tight schedule of measuring, mixing, shaping, and baking. My mind can be tranquil while my hands are a blur, punching and kneading the dough. Or slicing off chunks with the bench knife, balancing them on the weigh scale, and turning them into sensuous rounds.

Not much distracts me from this sort of reverie.… Continue reading

Down to the Crossroads at Medicine Beach

When Penderites say, “I’ll meet you at Medicine Beach,” they usually mean the shopping area parking lot, right?

Not to be confused with the beach itself or the Medicine Beach Nature Sanctuary.

I’m referring to the conglomeration of three Pender Island favourites at the foot of Schooner Way: Slow Coast Coffee, the Medicine Beach Liquor Store and its newest addition, Truss Farm Foods.… Continue reading

Filling the Belly

Brother Francis surveys the daily bread fresh from the ovens. What’s the story, here?

It’s easy to make bread!

You know the drill: flour, water, salt, yeast. Mix it into a nice dough, let it proof, and throw it in the oven. You don’t really need a recipe if you’ve made it a few times.

You can be sure that that amorphous mass in the bowl or dough trough will undergo a divine transformation.… Continue reading

A Pinch of Salt, A Pinch of Life

In February, I purchased four 10 kg bags of “fine grey sea salt” for Happy Monk bread production. That’s eighty-eight pounds of beautiful salt harvested off the west coast of France.

Don’t worry. Your Happy Monk loaves aren’t going to get saltier. They’ll taste the same as ever. I’ve been using this brand, Maison Orphée, for nearly three years; I got a reasonable price on this batch, and it will last well into next year.… Continue reading