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

Henry Miller and The Staff of Life

“What do I find wrong with America? Everything. I begin at the beginning, the staff of life: bread. If the bread is bad, the whole life is bad.”

from The Intimate Henry Miller, by Henry Miller, Signet, 1959

In his scathing essay, “The Staff of Life,” Henry Miller suggests that bread, and the way it is consumed, is the primary measure of a country’s “goodness,” or at least of its citizenry.… Continue reading

The Burned Seed Feast: An Offering and a Blessing

A sublime Seed Feast loaf, an offering to and a blessing from Fornax, Roman Goddess of the Ovens.

Last week’s bake was all but finished when I realized I’d forgotten to make my offering to the goddess of the ovens, Fornax!

Last Thursday, Feb. 17, was the final day of the Festival of Fornacalia, a day when Roman bakers made an offering of spelt grain (they tossed some into their hot ovens) and asked for Fornax’s blessing for the coming year.… Continue reading

A Year on Bread Island

I’m hanging up my baker’s peel for a brief respite. Looking forward to some idle time to rest, reflect and rejuvenate.

It’s gratitude I feel when I think over the past year: gratitude for the friendships, kindnesses, support and laughter I’ve shared with members of the Happy Monk community. The customers, the partners, and generous with words of support and substantial assistance.… Continue reading