Meet Bruce (Almighty)

Our household has a new member!  We’ve christened him Bruce.

This is where I’m supposed to gush about how adorable he is, and fill my post with photos of Bruce napping and Bruce playing and Bruce looking at us with love in his eyes and Bruce, Bruce, Bruce.

So… here he is:

This is Bruce napping, playing, etc.

Awww. Isn’t he adorable?

No, I haven’t lost my mind (any more than usual). I have, however, managed to grow a sourdough culture.  And in the process of researching recipes and techniques I discovered that it’s traditional to name your sourdough starter, since it’s a living organism you have to feed and care for (potentially for years).

That tickled my funnybone, so I decided to name ours after the main character in Bruce Almighty.  It seemed appropriate, since Bruce has godlike powers:  He can raise the bread.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

I learned to bake bread when I was about thirteen, and I’ve been at it ever since.  I enjoy fluffy buns and sweet breads, but my ‘daily bread’ is deliciously packed with whole wheat, flax and chia.

Hubby, on the other hand, dreams of a heavy Black Forest rye like the bread he ate as a kid in Germany.  (He’s a Canadian Air Force brat who grew up mostly overseas.)  Thanks to the magic of the internet we found some recipes, and the inaugural loaf came out of the oven on Monday.

I can only describe it as, um… solid. Dark and aromatic and heavy as lead.  If I hadn’t created a loaf like that on purpose, I’d have hurriedly chucked it before anybody could assume that it was a fair representation of my bread-making skills.

Spawn of Bruce

But Hubby says it’s close.  Apparently the weight is correct and the Brotgewürz (bread spice) is good, but this loaf is 100% dark rye and on reflection he thinks the magic bread was probably Mischbrot (mixed bread) or Graubrot (grey bread) or Bauernbrot (farmer’s bread) — different names for similar breads made with a blend of rye flour and white/all-purpose wheat flour.

So Bruce will be kept busy while I try out more recipes.  And as long as I never find him cuddled up on my pillow in the morning, everything will be fine.

Anybody else harbouring family members in their fridge?  (If the answer is ‘yes’, I’m not sure I want to know…)


P.S. Our next round of houseguests arrives on Monday, so my next post will be October 2.  Yikes!  I can’t believe October is that close!

Book 15 update:  Despite the busy-ness of guests and garden, I’m well into Chapter 5.  Looking forward to some good writing time in the next few days!

42 thoughts on “Meet Bruce (Almighty)

  1. Pingback: Bruce Can Fly! | Author Diane Henders

  2. Congratulations on the new family member. May he prosper and conceive! Your bread looks perfect.

    The only times I made my own bread was when we were sailing for eight years. We were incredibly self-sufficient those days and could go weeks without a shore visit, if we wanted to. We usually didn’t want to, but had to during a Pacific crossing. Anyway, during those years we also had a sourdough starter for a couple of years. Yes, we had to feed it once a week, but that gave us a good excuse to make sourdough pancakes when we didn’t feel like creating more bread. You should try that with Bruce on day as well!


    • Yes, I came across a recipe for sourdough pancakes that sounded very tasty indeed. Tomorrow is Bruce’s feeding day, so maybe I’ll give the pancakes a try!

      And I can’t imagine being on a sailboat for eight years. Wow! Such a tiny space. What did you do for entertainment when you weren’t actively sailing? I hate to think of the weight of all the books that I’d need to sustain me… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Never a dull moment on a sailboat, Diane. Doing laundry by hand would take most of the day, shopping at least half a day, keeping the household going was almost a full-time job. Collecting water… scrubbing the bottom. There’s always a list of boat and engine issues to fix. We had two dogs in the beginning, who didn’t do their business on the boat. I kept a blog, wrote articles, and worked as a translator and did other odd jobs. We ran a business for seven of those eight years (which was one of the reasons we got off the boat) for which my husband spent 8-10 hours behind his computer.

        Oh, you asked about entertainment, that’s right. Lots of snorkeling among colorful creatures and amazing coral, hiking on shore, going to cultural festivals. Once in a while, I’d read a book, if I had extra time. Cruisers would exchange books and there would be little exchange places on shore as well.

        I could write a book about our boat life. Wait a minute… I just did finish that memoir. 🙂


  3. although I have never had a sourdough starter, nor named it/him, I did do quite a long haul with a muffin mix. It seemed to gain an alcohol taste over time and I wondered if I was sending the kids to school intoxicated. 🙂 congratulations on the arrival of Bruce. may he stay healthy and grow many little Bruce loaves of perfect consistency.


  4. I’ve never made sour dough, although I remember my mom having a ‘Bruce’ on the counter. I think she only used it for pancakes. She made regular bread twice a week. Loved that first slice of bread, still warm from the oven with our own cow’s butter on it. And if she was making jam, we got the foam from the cooking too. I do remember the first time I had store bought bread. I thought it tasted like a cellulose sponge. Gross! I still don’t like store bought white bread. No flavor at all. It’s got no soul.
    I haven’t made bread for a long time. I’m going to have to do it soon. There’s nothing better than home made bread.
    There was a time when my mom hadn’t learned to make bread yet and this was my father’s favorite story to tease my mom. It was shortly after they married, World War II, during rationing. It was her first grown up attempt at making bread. Dad was out working in the fields. Her batch didn’t rise and she didn’t want to admit that she wasted all those supplies, so she buried it out in the vegetable garden, and started a new batch. As the day got warmer, the second batch raised just fine. And, so did the first batch… When Dad came in from the field, he noticed this area in the garden that was raising, so he investigated… She would always get so embarrassed… However, she was known for her great baking skills.


    • That’s hilarious — your poor mom! But at least it makes a great family story. 🙂

      We used to get to eat the foam off the jam, too. Mom would make batch after batch of jam and jelly, and we’d lurk near the counter and swipe the sugary goodness until it nearly made us sick. My sugar tolerance is a little lower these days!


  5. Being able to make your own stuff like this makes things better. Though it wasn’t Sourdough, many years ago we made our own Yogurt in Southern California. Alta Dena sold whole milk (unpasteurized) and yogurt. We used the yogurt by adding some to a half gallon of milk, wrapped it in a blanket and kept that in a warm place. A few days later we had some really nice natural yogurt (could even use that to create more if we wanted to).

    I know nothing about Sourdough, but assume the same process is used with a live bacteria batch.


    • Yes, it sounds similar. We used to make buttermilk on the farm using the same technique: A bit of “real” buttermilk in a quart jar filled with sweet milk, and then let it sit on the counter for a while. Sometimes the buttermilk was more like yogurt in texture, but I loved its fizzy acidic freshness! It’s been decades since I’ve done that — must try it again one of these days.


  6. I’m with your husband on this one. I grew up in Montenegro and we have a bread called peasant loaf, which I love. However, most people assume that they couldn’t possibly eat such a cheap loaf. They don’t know what they’re missing.


    • I had to rush off to the internet and look up peasant bread recipes! All the ones I could find said that it was a no-knead recipe, which is a type I’ve never made. I don’t know if it’ll be like the bread you grew up with, but maybe I’ll give it a try! 🙂


  7. My fridge (and freezer), thanks to Hurricane Dorian, has been freshly excavated and scrubbed clean. So no living organisms (any more) are living therein. I’m hoping it stays that way for awhile as I have a house guest coming next week. I did manage to save most of the freezer items as I took them to work on Monday and put them in the boss’s deep freeze until my power came back on. Only four days without power for me, though there were those who were without power for much longer.


    • “Only” four days is long enough! I’m glad you were able to salvage most of your fridge and freezer contents, and glad you made it through unscathed. Let’s hope Dorian is the last to blow through there for a good long while.


  8. I am not that much of a fan of bread, although I’ll go against the grain here (no pun intended) and say I do like certain types of “white” bread–a loaf of Italian or French fresh out of the oven, loaded up with butter, can’t be beat. Cinnamon raisin bread is another weakness, but with my better half being told she’s pre-diabetic just recently, we’ve pretty much gotten away from most breads here.

    But I did finally find a suitable pizza crust recipe. I needed something that could come together within an hour or so, as our meal time decisions are often made at the last minute, on the fly. Many of the good recipes involved messing around over the course of 24 hours. The recipe I found was by Bobby Flay, and makes a good thin crust pizza. (And no worries–I roll it out on a cutting board. None of this tossing it in the air stuff–I would need the ladder nearby to scrape it off the ceiling!) His recipe makes about three crusts, so I’ve split the recipe into thirds.

    The real treat is when I can make the pizza outdoors on the kettle. Which might be the plan this weekend. 😊


    • Mmmm, homemade pizza! I’ve been using the same pizza crust recipe since I was a teenager — like you say: No messing around. It doesn’t even have to rise once, even with traditional yeast. I just mix it up, knead it a couple of times, form the crust, and load it up.

      And now I’m hungry for pizza! 🙂


      • Prior to making my own, I thought I would buy the pre-made dough from our local market. (They make their own pizzas, being an Italian grocer.) Well, that sh—erm, stuff was stringy as hell, and I couldn’t even get it formed into a nice round circle for the pizza stone without it developing massive holes in it. I did manage to get one out of a large lump of dough, and had to send my better half back out to get another lump so I could make a second pizza. The only thing that got made by that dough, aside from two pizzas, were some new profanities that I didn’t even know existed. It was after that fiasco that I started searching for dough recipes.

        One recipe I would love to crack is from the local pizzeria that makes Detroit-style pizza. It can be somewhat thick, but the crust (if properly baked–too many local places rush it, and the dough is gloppy) is light and airy, perhaps a little bit crispy. He does sell a dough kit. I just wonder what exactly is in it.


    • I love it! According to my reading, each sourdough culture becomes completely unique – the wild yeasts here in the woods on Vancouver Island would be different from the ones on the coast; and so on. Your Bob has quite a multicultural ancestry! 🙂


  9. Sounds delicious. We like our flour-containing baked goods to be heavier than lead also – otherwise, what’s the point of even chewing? haha

    Even my biscuits are heavy, because I’ve been making them with oil for decades now, and they don’t rise much with oil in them. Luckily we both prefer them like that. It’s hard to feed company that doesn’t like them that way, though 🙂

    And no, I’m not keeping any relatives in the fridge. The green thing in there that’s moving isn’t related to us in any way – lol Just kidding. But if you want to read a great poem/joke from this week’s Poetry Monday challange, a fellow Canadian wrote this and it’s pretty funny:


    • Ha! I’d heard that joke before, but never in verse! 🙂 I still like your limerick best, though.

      I’ve been experimenting with biscuits for quite a while trying to get that perfect texture, but I’ve never tried them with oil. Hubby and I are both big fans of butter — not particularly healthy, but oh-so-delicious! We figure as long as we don’t eat too much of it we should be okay. “All things in moderation… including moderation.” 😉


  10. I found a good bread site called The Fresh Loaf if you’re still looking for ideas. Extra points if you can figure out the Chinese Cheesecake (Egg Tart) recipe. ; )


  11. Sourdough? Capital YUM. I am often a fan of the heavier breads too, which usually have a heap more taste than the fluffiness.
    It is years since I have made bread, and there are few better scents than bread making. My guilty self needs to get back to it.


    • It’s so satisfying to form the loaves and watch them rise! That’s the kind of kitchen alchemy that fascinates me: From flour and water to springy dough to fluffy bread. Jam-making is another glorious transformation: solid fruit to runny fruit-liquid to tasty spreadable jam. (Well, spreadable if all goes well. If not, it’s tasty syrup for ice cream.) 🙂


  12. Yes, I have a sourdough starter in my fridge too. Made great French bread last winter when the grandkids were here. They fought over every crumb and panicked when they thought it was all gone! I did use some white flour so it wasn’t too dense. Love to make bread but find it too irresistible to have around. I’m my own best customer.

    In order to keep the little darling going, I have to make pancakes every other week or so. Nice when I run out of bread. I just use some starter, throw in an egg, a little oil, some whatever suites me flour or bran, and some baking soda and salt. Just stir and cook. Beginning to sound good and I might try some home made grape jam I’m just finishing from my white wine grapes that were abundant this fall. Found that recipe from someone “off the grid” in Vermont.
    Happy baking


    • Your grape jam and sourdough pancakes sound delicious! I’ve just gotten Bruce started so I haven’t figured out yet what to do with his weekly offspring. Pancakes sound like a great idea! I did find a recipe for them online, so maybe I’ll try them next week when Bruce is scheduled to be divided and fed. But I think I’m going to have the same problem as you — I’ll be my own best customer. Time to ramp up the workout routine… 😉


  13. I am with your hubby on this one. I like heavy breads and they have alternate uses if not eaten. Like tombstones, door stops, etc. After growing up with mostly fluffy white bread I appreciate the taste, texture, and filling ability of the good stuff.


    • Bread-baking was one of my assigned chores when I was growing up, but (excluding that first fresh hot slice slathered with butter) I really didn’t like white bread. After twelve years of taking sandwiches to school, I literally felt nauseated at the very thought. It took about twenty years before I could face a sandwich again, but that’s when I discovered whole-grain breads. Now I happily eat my whole wheat/flax/chia toast for breakfast every day. If only I’d known, all those years ago while I was trying choke down white-bread sandwiches…


  14. What a wonderful horrible pun. And what great bread you will make.
    My mother made bread from home ground whole wheat flour and it was heavy, especially as she got older and found the kneading more difficult. You could fire it through the side of a wooden ship with a small cannon. But it sure was delicious and a couple slices stayed with you between lunch and supper.


    • That’s what Hubby always says, too. I’d never had authentic German bread before, and I couldn’t understand why he kept complaining that our bread was too fluffy. Now I understand. A brick would be fluffy compared to this stuff!


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