Monday, March 18

BONES

yep.
another skull.
my ma asked me:
'what's with the skulls?'
ummmmm,
skulls are F*ing awesome.
look:

see?
MORE skulls means i'm cool, right?
maybe.
i know i've got a few i can still summon up,
when i'm not so slammed at the studio.
AMPERSAND TATTOO has got the skulls, friends.
we may also have the skills to pay the bills,
but we for sure have a lot of these head bones.
simple is nice.
complicated is too.
maybe the next one will be busier.....
it's too soon to predict the outcome as they basically paint themselves;
never quiet, never soft.....

SODA!

irish mutha-F*ing soda bread!!
is it good?
kinda!
is it rich and thick and only barely like bread?
definitely!
did i make a sexxxy savory slab of the stuff?
neighbors, rules is rules,
and you do the thing when the day demands it.
teleport:

SO CRUSTY, SO SERIOUS!
it's black irish tea and toasted caraway everywhere in there,
and that's a combo that hits the spot a LOT.
it's moist.
it's thick.
it's got a ton of big flavor.
and it soaks up vegan butter and boil'd D broth like a sexxxy sponge.
so, do you want to make a loaf for yourself?
yeah?
well, sure you do.
here's how:
-
*
BLACK TEA & SEED SODA BREAD!
-
preheat your oven to 350℉
-
line a 8" cast-iron skillet (or equivalent) with parchment.
-
in a small pot, steep 2-3 teabags of irish breakfast tea (exxtra strong and dark)
with 1 cup of non-dairy milk.
squeeze and remove the bags, and add 2 tsp cider vinegar to curdle it, like buttermilk-
set aside to cool-
-
in a medium mixin' bowl, cut 5 T vegan butter into:
2 cups king arthur white flour;
1/2 tsp salt;
1 T caraway seeds;
1 opened irish brekkie tea bag;
2 T raw sugar;
2 tsp baking soda;
1 tsp baking powder.
add 2 T vegan sour creme, and the tea/milk,
and knead it up,
adding tablespoons of exxxtra flour as necessary to form a not-too sticky dough.
i used the fold, turn and flip pattern of kneading,
in hopes of making it fluffier (by just a lil baby bit).
i formed up a ball, scored it with an X,
and baked it in that iron pan for 35 minutes.
.....that's all there is to it..
check it with a knife or other tester to make sure it's baked through and not doughy,
but otherwise, you're ready to rock it,
and eat it, right away.
that's wasn't hard, was it?
i know!
*
sometimes,
sourdough isn't invited.
like, literally just once a year, it's gotta stay home.
that's ok.
soda bread has it's time and place.
but the other 364 are still reserved for that fresh-baked, crusty,
hearty, wholesome, naturally fermented big boy business, though.
that's how i like it.
good bread makes better people,
but soda bread makes better saint patrick times;
never quiet, never soft.....

IS IT LUCK?

so, just like every single year of my whole entire life,
i did NOT drink any alcohol on st. paddy's day.
that's right.
i'm still as stone sober as a judge,
but i still had some celebratory somethin'-somethin'...
i mean, rules is rules,
and i was clad in all the green from head to toe,
and my ( 0% ) irish eyes were smilin',
AND i got into some expert boiled D.
yeah!
you know i hit it out of the park, too-
i had a lot of things going on, and they were each and every one exceptional.
mmhmmm.
check the teleport:

i prefer beautiful food, but i'll get busy with a bowl of brown bits
when it's that exxxtra-irish day of devotion.
uh-huh.
we got that homemade, fresh-baked soda bread, with a pat of vegan butter-
we got crissspy potatoes, and exxxtra-crissspy potato waffle sorcery,
AND the roots with the sexxxy spice blend,
and brown-(vegan)butter-blasted cabbage....
that's somethin', for sure.
yup.
-
so, here's the haps on what slaps, chaps:
-
*
BROWN-BUTT-BLASTED CABBAGE!
-
take two non-tablespoons of vegan butter, in a non-stick pan,
over high heat, and two or three wedges  of green cabbage,
and let 'em sizzle until they edges get blackish and the middles get super-soft.
that's really all there is to it.
flip 'em, obvi, after they get grilled all nicey-nice.
-
y'gotta add it to the boil'd D, in a minute, but first that needs makin', man:
-
*
BOILY D!
-
in a 2 quart pot, toast up a lil baby bit of the following:
celery seed;
mustard seed;
red pepper flakes;
coriander seed;
cardamom seed;
fennel seed;
dill seed;
black peppercorns;
2 bay leaves;
GPOP;
and a tiny pinch of nutmeg.....
when that all gets aromatic af,
add a fat pat of that vegan butter,
and two cubed up potatoes;
1 chunked-out large carrot;
1/2 small purple carrot;
1/2 onion, roughly chopped;
2 cloves sliced garlic;
1 stalk of chopped celery;
2 1/2 cups warm water;
3 T tamari;
2 T malt vinegar.....
simmer the sh!t out of that, until everything is soft enough to split with a fork.
at some point, drop those cabbage wedges on the top, and lid the whole pot,
so it steams AND boils.
that's the move.
*
and how about that crawnchy potato waffle, boyo?
that's two potatoes, shredded, and 1/4 paper-thinly mandolined sweet onion,
and some pink salt and black pepper, drained, squeezed, and pressed,
spread across a hot waffle iron with another 'nother pat of that vegan butterpattin'.
it gets SO crisp.
...and that's a nice departure from all that softness.
-
i also had a few roasted potatoes, mostly because breezy likes potatoes,
but not all that other stuff so much.
-
i used to use a n/a beer in my broth, but i'm over it.
i mean, i don't wanna pretend i like beer,
and i don't need five more bummers to waste
from a six-pack of crappy wheat sodas.
here's the thing: it's ok not to drink-
even when it's a day normally dedicated to being a totally lame F*ing A*-hole.
maybe do something different, dudes.
***********
i did 7 tattoos on st. paddy's.
that was a lot.
but only two were irish.
that's not enough, but it's still more than i'd have thought.
i did two sets of matchies, AND a pair of similarly-themed mom-and-daughter jauns,
as well as some scissors (a scissors? the scissors? scissors?) behind an ear...
and now, i've got a whole bunch to do today too,
but really, though:
too much is the right amount.
so in the spirit of the thing, i'm ready for whatever, neighbors.
what's good, today, universe?
i'm listening;
never quiet, never soft.....

Sunday, March 17

SCREWNOSE

sometimes, candle lids have exxxtras on top,
like a hook, or a little doodad, or a little thingy, or whatever.
y'know?
like, to make it seem fancier, the lid has decoration on it.
i'm not hatin', take it easy.
however, i couldn't remove all of the attachment from this one,
so there's a star-lock and a screw poppin' up out of it's face:

yeah.
i think this one's like three and a half inches?
give or take.
hmm?
yeah, that alchemical astrology jaun on it's head is crooked.
i told you- these happen in between appointments, man.
that's not an excuse, it's a reason-
they exist in the spaces between spaces,
and you get what you get, and you don't get upset.
i'm letting the weird wood and the very cheap paint dictate what happens here.
i'm just a hand holding a frayed and splayed set of budget brushes,
making small art for the small spaces in between square frames,
filling in and filling up the flavor and the atmosphere of AMPERSAND TATTOO.
there's no room for taking it easy, only for making MORE.
i'm dippin' paint out fast and loose, and i s'pose it's a lil tiny bit formulaic as well-
but that's how a series of something comes into being, i think.
a template is laid out, and extrapolations occur on the continuous theme.
right?
i'm pretty sure that's a thing.
i know i've got over a dozen of 'em so far,
and i'm still stocked with my hoarded heap of circles still, too-
i'm gonna keep doing it until they're all used up,
and then, i'm gonna do a whole new thing.
i might even learn to draw something else.
we'll see;
never quiet, never soft.....

SOURDOUGH PIZZA!!

100% naturally leavened dough?
dudes, pizza is always expert,
but with this one i even impressed myself.
yeah.
check the teleport:

WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
the toppings were great, of course-
crushed tomatoes, caramelized onions, steamed brox,
mandatory-mega-minced daiya mozz',
homemade tempeh bacon, and fried garlic sprankles....
everything up there i've had and enjoyed countless times.
but the dough was the true superheroic new hottness for my face, friends.
that's the truth.
it was a verrrry wet dough, but with incredible gluten-strength,
and righteous texture,
super crispiness,
and all the flavor yu could ever demand of flat bread carrying the weight of the world.
yup.
this was atlas sourdough pizza crust, and it did the trick.
-
how did that even hapen?
well, i refrigerated some of my sourdough starter
before i went down to connecticut for a few days.
how much? maybe half a cup.
and when i got home on thursday, i added a fat spoonful of flour to it, and stirred it around.
on friday, it was reactivated and bubbly as hell.
so, i did what i thought was best-
i added two cups of flour and half a cup of water to it, with a spoonful of salt,
and kneaded the holy livin' sh!t out of it in my upright stand-mixer,
which as always has it's fused-in-place aluminum dough hook strong-arming
all the gluten into complex chains of power and glory.
it was wet dough, kids.
like i had to handle it with wet hands, to keep it slippery and unstuck to my fingers.
i kept it covered, and let it rise,
but over the course of the morning, i folded it on itself three times,
an hour or so apart,
before i let it do it's thing from about noon until six.
i got home to a stretchy, bubbly, well-risen wet heap of floury fresh-to-deathness,
and i floured up my hands, oiled up my trusty seasoned stainless-steel sheet,
and laid it all out, and hand-formed a circle from the sloppy, formless flab on the slab.
i let ity rise some more while i had my oven taking FORever to preheat,
and honestly, the wait was excruciating, but it probably produced a better end result.
f'real.
this was so flippin' good i have to believe it took exxxactly as long as it was s'posed to.
as always, the oven was cranking at 480℉,
with that convection circulation in full effect.
i could've eaten three of these, just for that crunchy, crispy crust.
daaaaaamn, tho.
it had bubbles and bumps and everything.
i always love pizza, but i really loved this one.
my advice?
eat better pizza, and eat more of it;
never quiet, never soft.....

I'M FIRED

imagine tattooing for a good number of hours,
and at the end, with crampy hands, and crossed eyes,
you snap a shot of your finished product,
and the photo sucks the most.....
that's be a bummer, huh?
yeah.
now imagine that that is 95% of the time.
now you know what i feel like more often than not.
word.
that said, i got a picture, 
with as much glare as you could maybe ever get without a spotlight and a flash.
bernese and rick get tattooed a lot.
they make special trips to come and hang out in the mountains,
and be romantic and stuff like that....
which, somehow, includes gettin' tattooed.
that's good news for me, because they get fun tattoos to do-
even though they always break my stiff little fingers.
check out this bummer picture from yesterday:
i love to tattoo flowers with waaaaaay too many lines!.
always and forever.
but, when it comes to a worth-a-sh!t record of my work?
i'm F*ing fired.
tattzappin' away for hours, and taking a dozen photos, too,
and i'm still walking away with a picture that does zero justice to the work i did.
damn.
they don't get small tattoos.
i'm not even gonna show you how terrible the pictures i took of his are.
i'm disappointed in myself...almost enough to set up a space to take good picture.
...almost.
i work a lot, and the tattoos leave with my clients, 
leaving me with those movie checks,
fond memories, and no good pictures.
that's how it goes, neighbors.
i know better, so i'll do better.
i mean, it's only been nearly twenty years, after all.
i'm just getting started;
never quiet, never soft.....

Saturday, March 16

RED

fast and loose, dudes.
fast, but not too fast,
and loose, but not so loose that it's abstract.
naturally,
i'm talking about painting another 'nother wooden circle of sexxxiness,
and the resultant skull that's now hanging proudly on display
amongst all the others along the gallery wall at AMPERSAND TATTOO.
check it:

ROJO!
the wall has plenty of room moving UPwards,
but the main viewing height is packed to the upper limits.
that's ok.
too much is the right amount, anyway.
really,
i should have a big art sale,
and make room for new paintings by blowing out some of the old stuff.
i mean,
i can see the changes in technique or lack thereof,
and i'm gonna need more space for the natural progression of personal style
that has been getting activated in four inch increments...
small art is still art, and being smaller means there's room for a TON of it.
i like that.
it's prolific instead of profound,
but that's always been my lot;
never quiet, never soft.....

BRAIDS

yep.
i did it.
braided prezz'ly-styled bagel magic for my face.
mmhmmm.
pretty breakfast buns to go with a hot cuppa irish brekkie tea.
check the teleport:

s'nice!
ever since i learned to braid, i've been all about that triple-twist life, f'real.
i gotta tell y'all- wheat bran is my friend.
it has a TON of flavor, and texture, and color, and really,
i feel like it turns up the overall sexxxiness to eleven.
...and that's no joke.
so, i have a slap of that manly branliness in 'em,
to give the whole project some burly big barbarian bavarian activation,
and there's real new hampshire maple syrup in there, too-
just because i'm feelin' good about sugar season.
yeah.
you wanna make some of these pretty powerhouses?
a'ight.
here's the plan:
-
*
BAGEL BRAIDS!
-
in your upright stand-up mixer, with the dough hook attached,
combine:
3 cups flour;
1/4 cup wheat bran;
1 tsp sea salt;
1/2 tsp baking soda;
2 T vegan butter;
1 pkg regular-actin' active dry yeast.
-
in a separate bowl, combine:
1/2 cup non-dairy milk;
1/2 cup + 2 T warm water;
2 T maple syrup;
1 tsp bread machine yeast.
give it 11 minutes to bloom.
-
...and while you're a it, preheat your oven to 450℉...
-
allow your dough to rise for, like 30-40 minutes-
and while it does, get a rolling boil on for a pot of salted, baking soda'd water-
that's 2 tsp sea salt/3 T baking soda/8 cups water.
-
now, on a floured surface, divide your dough into 8 equal pieces.
mmhmm.
roll every chunk into a looooong length of dough-rope-
i'm talking 15-16" long, and cut each of those into equal thirds for braiding.
the important thing here is to crimp the ends so they don't unravel.
and you may already instinctively know this,
but the first ones done will still be rising and attaching themselves into solid braidy blocks,
so boil them for twenty seconds per side, starting with the first ones finished.
i always bake 'em on parchment, and i like a little coarse sea salt on top, too.
yummmmm.
they get 14 minutes in the oven, tops.
that's all they need.
these jauns got beautifully browned,
and verrrrry good lookin' within the allotted timeframe.
expert.
toasted, with vegan butter, is the smart move here.
i mean it.
simple excellence, and superior tastiness.
that's all y'all need to really experience the full effect of these braided babies.
*
this weekend is FULL.
that's a good thing.
i had tentative plans for yesterday,
and when they fell through, i did what i always do.
i went to work.
that's all i know, guys.
if i can't work at it, i work through it, and work on somethin'...
and my work is personal; i put in work, i work with purpose.
yeah yeah yeah.
meanwhile,
i'll be tattooing with some kind of terrible thumb-ache.
uh-huh.
i sprained or pulled or somehow hurt the hell outta it.
- thumbs are important, kids.
and i'm down one on my power hand.
really, who needs opposable thumbs when you're opposed to most comforts anyway?
i'll be hook-handing the day away,
with all the hours of tattooing ahead of me.
that'll keep me occupied, at least.
so,
here's to hard styles and hurt hands and all these muh-F*ing TATtoos, too.
that's what's happening, and that's what's up;
never quiet, never soft.....

MAKING FUN

dudes,
not everyone who gets a first tattoo gets a fun one.
i mean, sure- they have their first tattoo,
which is probably huge in their world;
and certainly it changes their outward appearance forever.
here's the thing: that ain't me, bro.
y'know?
i'm talking about making tattooing FUN again.....for tattooers.
you know what makes the day better by leaps and bounds?
yup.
skulls.
always.
MORE skulls means MORE fun.
and if there's some creepy nature stuff, like animals or flowers?
c'mon, man.
that's practically like wearing a poncho!
(because it's impossible to be unhappy in a poncho)
so when jen came in for her very first tattoo on her leg,
and wanted a beat up crow and a skull, you'd best believe i was 100% on board
with zipzappin' all of that as soon as possible.

yeah!
she got a good one,
i got to do a good one,
and our time at AMPERSAND TATTOO was pretty frickin' good.
i'm always surprised by the 'support people' who hang out and don't get anything.
for real.
i'm not ever tryin' to span hours just sittin' and  watchin' anybody get tattooed.
i think that's half the reason i need conversation while i work.
the other folks hanging around give me stress, neighbors.
i'm serious.
i'd be crawling the walls if i somehow got suckered into just sitting around.
luckily, i know better, and i make certain i've got somethin' i can be doin'
besides just staring at tattoos or a phone screen all dang day.
then again,
i'm tattooing or painting or reading while i'm at work,
because rules is rules,
and we're not wasting time at the studio,
as per my resolution for the lunar wood pig new year.
i hope you're paying attention-
skulls are invited.
nature is invited.
your weird no-talking friend? invited, but only just barely.
we can chat about pizza, we can chat about not knowing how to paint, really,
we can chat about dinosaurs,
or we can chat about life-
heck, if that's not your thing, we can sing along to the radio, if you know the words.
just make sure the nature skull part is covered and we'll do the rest live;
never quiet, never soft.....

Friday, March 15

BEWARE!

the muh-F*ing ides of march, neighbors.
this is the halfway point,
and supposedly, after today,
we start getting lambish weather to counterpoint the lion's roar.
except,
this is the north, dudes.
we get that wild sh!t much longer than the more temperate spots.
in fact, there's still mountains of snow everywhere.
it's warm, at least, but that just means mud and sludge everywhere.
warm is good, though.
i'll take what i can get, for sure.
ANYway, i'm back at work after a few days in connecticut...
and do you know what that means?
yuuuuuuuuuup.
MORE SKULLS!
check it:

 a study in green and grey.
for the record, i got rid of that glint in the eye immediately,
and didn't take a picture before i left.
he seems happy, at least.
i guess that's good.
if you aren't anthropomorphizing your art, you aren't doing it right;
never quiet, never soft.....

3.14

Pi Day.
i was late to it, as i was driving from southern connecticut up to
northern new hampshire from the pre-dawn hours of the day,
in order to get to work and do my thing.
but,
i did take a minute to make a savory pie crust for the nighttime.
...yeah.
when i have all the feelings, and nowhere to put them,
and no words to help anything?
uh-huh.
i eat my weight in wheat, and bury the rest underneath.
oh, no, i'm not bragging.
ha.
but, anyway, nobody cares about sadness when there's pie,
even if it's a POT PIE.
check it out:

three inch deep fluted pastry sorcery is in full effect.
there's roasted carrots, potatoes, red onions, and celery.
there's blackened cabbage.
there's also plenty of chicken-herbed exxxtra-firm tofu.
and green peas, obvi.
rules is rules, and it isn't a pot pie without peas, bruh
plus, there's the obligatory herbs,
and a bunch of scallions,
and a ton of homemade vegan gravy.
that's right.
too much is the right amount.
anything less is just a pan of bullsh!t.
the oven was up to 450℉.
the veggies roasted in there from the preheat.
the carrots were still firm, but the rest was soffffffft and smooth.
mmmm.
the tofu was fried up in olive oil,
and coated with the patented vegan-roast-chick'n blend:
1/2 tsp rubbed sage;
1 tsp thyme leaves;
1 tsp dried parsley;
1/2 tsp ea GPOP;
1 T nootch;
1/4 tsp crushed rosemary;
black pepper, pink salt;
1 T white wine vinegar;
1 tsp tamari;
1 T warm water-
drizzled and sizzled and sealed onto the surface-
that's how you keep it vegan,
and expert,
and totally real af tasting.
word.
-
the frozen peas go in as is-
-
the cabbage, seared until black on the edges, gets chopped post-fry-up,
to make it manageable and stackable inside the dough.
-
fresh parsley and scallions add some textural sexxxiness,
as well as a shake of each of the herbs again on top of everything.
-
y'just toss it all up and dump it into the pie, and slather all of it with gravy,
and bake it for twenty-five minutes,a nd you're the champion.
that's simple, right?
i s'pose it is, if you know what you're doing.
-
*
DOUGH!
-
in your food processor, combine and pulse together;
2 cups flour;
11 T vegan butter;
2 T vegan creamchee;
1/2 tsp salt;
3-4 T non-dary milk to make it self-adhesive.
cromble it up, and refrigerate it for the afternoon, so it's just righ for rolling later.
do that on a well-floured surface, please, so it doesn't stick.
hmm?
the braids on top?
well, i wanted to eat something pretty, since my mood was so ugly.
...it helped......barely.
-
*
GRAVY!
-
in small saucepot, melt
2 T vegan butter and 3 T ap flour until it smalls nutty and barely begins to brown.
add 1 T nootch;
1/2 tsp ea. GPOP;
2 cups vegan broth,
and turn up the heat to high, stirring while it thickens up.
i usually stir in and extra T of flour, whcked in to ;prevent clumps, too.
that helps it get burlier and better.
believe me, you don't want waterbabyish gravy.
it's too wet to be of use in your pie.
*
i ate half of this bad baby, with the exxxtra gravy-
what?
you used two cups of gravy in your pie?
daaaaaaamn.
that's sloppy.
you're wild.
i used half, and thought it was excessive, but you do you, boo-boo.
Pi Day came and went,
and while i was largely underprepared, i did what i cold to make it dope.
that's the best i can do with what i have to work with;
never quiet, never soft.....

FAMILY TOGETHERNESS: eats

frank pepe's.
yeah.
that's right.
frank pepe's pizzeria napoletana.
the legendary original hottness from new haven.
we've had every good pie in the city,
but we always come back to the best.
uh-huh.

me and mine have a tradition,
and we boost our sauce count to eleven when we all have time to span as a trio.
plain, no grated, half onion.

BOOM!
i've been getting the same classic tomato pie for 23 F*ing years.
that's real.
and for those of y'all who don't know-
the o.g. pizza had no mozz' on top.
it did have a little grated parm, but that's no thang to eliminate.
i'm a classicist, and i took down a medium (they still have 3 sizes, neighbors!)
in record time.
huh?
well, yeah, they include knives and forks. 
because there's no guarantee that some weak-diapery waterbaby
who can get into Yale but can't figure put how to eat a pizza will be among us.
it's a character test, y'feel me?
they give you the option to suck,
and see if you bite.
(we don't.)
we do what we do best,
and what we do best is eat pizza.
*
i hope someday i'll have all hundred kids with me,
eatin' apizza and laughing and joking and spending time
as a team.
there's no way of knowing what the future holds,
so i just hold onto some hope that there's a way to make that happen.
so many people, all overlapping and enjoying each others' company,
on road trips and reunions and pizza parties.
***********
connecticut used to make me so sad.
nowadays, i'm just nostalgic.
i had mamouns falafel.
i visited my sister mary grace at her hair salon, shag.

(we both have mannequin heads on shelves,
but hers is occupational whereas mine is purely decorative)
we had açai bowls, and burritos, and we all hung out with my ma.
good times with the wild warrior coven of witchy b!tches that're my family.
connecticut is alright with me.
it's everywhere else that bums me out these days.
i'm back at work at AMPERSAND TATTOO.
that's good.
i'm back at the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress, in mud and snow and ice and rain.
that's good, too, i guess.
i'm glad i saw my people.
i even saw my dad and my youngest sister:

yeah, i know.
they've lost weight.
*
spanning time, but not wasting it.
that's all i've got;
never quiet, never soft.....

FAMILY TOGETHERNESS: treats

emergency tofutti is a tradition started eight and a half years ago.

yeah.
back in the day, for harvest's tenth berfday,
we made an emergency stop at sweet claude's ice cream shop,
and it immediately became a rule that that's where we gotta go
whenever we're all together in connecticut.
i mean, rules is rules.
so,
maple and her sister and i all made it a point to do what we do,
and get those rainbow sprankles on top, too.
i mean. c'mon-
vegan ice cream is what you need when you're with your kids, right?

right!
family togetherness is hard when everybody is grown up.
that's f'real, friends.
and i don't see my people nearly enough.
since we could all be together in one place, i felt i HAD to make the trip.

yeah!
i'll screenshot a snapchat, man.
don't tell me how to live.
those two are the first ones,
and while they'll always be my babies,
they're big now, and they do their own things more often than not.
i needed the trip, and it did wonders for my old heart.
seeing the old ones, and waiting to meet this new one,
has got me feeling a special kind of way.
feelings are not where i excel, but i'm feelin' all of the feels,
and it's all really happening;
i guess that's the whole point.
***********
crabtree came, too, and we walked and walked and walked
through my hometown of hamden's secretly elite neighborhoods.
yep.
exploring is what he and i do best together.
although, i'll admit he's a great car dog, too.
i like driving around with him, and i miss our old cruises through the mountains.
alas, i can't see for sh!t at night and i'm always just so worn out
from all those feelings...
* sidebar: once i stopped being so angry all the time at the unfairness of the world,
i just got really tired. without the directionless drive to rage at the universe,
i let what i feel unfold the way it wants to, and it's exhausting.
weird.
...so driving around for no reason in the dark isn't gonna be a thing.
maybe now that we're saving daylight, me and my little guy can do a thing.
he needs it, and he's better off for it when he gets it.
just like i am when i see my children.
knowing that they have lives that are their own is a good thing.
knowing we can all get together and have that be good, too, is comforting.
i miss them always, and i'm grateful for the time we get to span together;
never quiet, never soft.....

GALETTE!

melted chocolate?
dope.
big, juicy bloobs?
dope.
crispy, crunchy, flaky, buttery pastry?
DOPE.
what do you get when all those things get together?
this:

GALETTE AT ME, BRO!
mmmmmm.
blackbottom bloobs are pretty dang delicious.
i tossed a cup and a half of frozen blueberries in a blend of 1/4 cup powdered sugar
and 2 T non-GMO organic cornstarch,
and coated 'em all up.
meanwhile, i had 2/3 cup of chocolate chips tempering to uber-softness
on the stove over medium-low heat, until they were uniformly melted.
(i added 1 T non-dairy milk and 1 tsp vanilla to smooth things out)
the oven was crankin' at 440℉,
the dough?
well, it's always expert.
that's kind of my thing.
-
*
DOUGH'PE!
-
in your food processor, crumble together:
8 T vegan butter cold as ice;
3 T vegan creamchee';
2 heapy cups of king arthur ap flour;
1/4 tsp salt;
2 T sugar;
1 tsp vanilla;
2-4 T non-dairy milk, to get it all to get self-adhesive when squeezed.
pules it until it's combined and crOmbly,
and wrap it up and rest it at least an hour, or ovenight if you really care about great texture.
that's real.
colder butters work better, neighbors.
anyway, roll it out on a well-floured surface and get ready to get rad.
-
chocolate always goes on the bottom.
rules is rules.
bloobs are great, but they get wet...
that's where the cornstarch comes in.
it contains the juice, and thickens it quickly while it's baking.
i like to bake 'em on parchment, to hold in any leaky liquids,
and i just keep my eyes on the tarts from the start,
for around twenty minutes give or take,
or until they look sexxxy.
it's not science, it's intuition and preference that tell you when it's done.
*
a nice little somethin' is right there at your fingertips, dudes..
utilizing time and space and energy to increase productivity and enjoyment
as well as getting all that big ol' flavor in every delightful bite.....
i mean, a few minutes of dough prep, and you've got somethin' good at your disposal,
and only a casual investment is needed to reap a fat reward in flavor and refreshment.
i like that.
little bits that equate to big blocks of rockin' righteous radical vegan goodness
are exxxactly what i'm grateful for, for sure;
never quiet, never soft.....

AVOCADO TOAST!

dudes,
i made avocado toast.
what?
well, yeah, i have been vegan for like a quarter century...
what's that got to do with avocado toast?
oh.
i shoulda been had some by now.
gotcha.
well, better late than never, i s'pose.
sorry for the delay.
ANYway, check the 'port:

WOW!
dawn's early light makes for not-great pictures,
but i bet you see what's poppin' over here, don'tcha?
word up.
now, there's homemade white mountain white sourdough,
toasted up to a crunchy, crusty golden level of expertism,
plus half a perfectly ripe mashed avocado,
and toasted two-tone sesame seeds,
and cracked black pepper,
and sriracha flakes,
and sharp, zesty radishes,
and cool, crucial cilantro sprankles to turn it up to eleven.
hmmm?
well, yeah, man- too much is the right amount,
and besides, i've got a lotta catchin' up to do, y'know?
it was great, of course, since everything on it was already awesome anyway.
but,
when you add in some superveggie scrambo,
and those crisp skin-on oven-roasted homeboyfries?
man, now you have got yourself a big B and you're winning at mornings.

it does look good, though, doesn't it?
i used to never eat avocados.
the texture seemed like it would be weird.
and then, one day, after years of avoiding them,
i decided to put my big boy pants on, and make some guacamole.
the domino effect created a landslide of avo-F*ing-cado hottness
that's been steadily growing in momentum for many many moons now.
i'm embarrassed to admit i wouldn't eat them,
back in the old days,
simply because my constant dinner companion would consistently vivisect
the meals i'd make for her, and i really honestly thought i was retaliating
by abstaining from these green alligator pears.
so dumb.
not only was i getting a truly hostile critique of my cooking,
but i was also missing out on all this goodness.
no more of that, bro.
now it's avocado time all the time.
i tried to get a shot in artificial light:

no bueno.
don't do that, dudes.
yellow light makes your food look like it's got jaundice.
and i don't wanna eat that.
-
i had red onion, blackened tomatoes, rainbow peppers, cilantro, scallions, and spinach
all loaded into my exxxtra-firm tofu scrambo,
along with GPOP, nootch, pink salt, black pepper, smoked paprika and turmeric.
that's how it's done, and with MORE veggies, it's MORE expert.
i like that.
-
the homeboy fries were baked first, with olive oil, and black pepper,
and Garlic Powder and Onion Powder, until they were browned up and crissssssp.
then they got smoky paprika-activated and sizzled up with chunks of red onion
and a pat of vegan butter to make it POP, son.
ha!
my potato game is always hella tight.
i don't get down with budget spuds, bruh.
believe it.
*
i used my oven to make a tart, too.
i mean, i'm all for roasty potatoes, but i need to make more use of my space.
and if there's a big box of hot ready to go,
i'mma get it going, for sure.
no sense in wasting time, or effort.
there's only what you can do in a day, so it's best to do as much as you can fit,
or else, you've only managed to live less, i guess.
i wanna live MORE.
i want all the love, and all the words, and all the food, and all the work,
and all the art, and everything always to fill up the places and spaces in between.
there's no time for wastin',
there's only time for doin';
never quiet, never soft.....

Monday, March 11

ANGEL

you want somebody else's tattoo, only different?
i don't get it, but i get it, and i got you, boo.
f'real.
i do a lot of similar tattoos over and over- 
on the ones: another skull, a rose, a cross, an eagle, an anchor-
they DO look alike after a while...
but when i am asked to do a tattoo just like a picture of a tattoo?
i just don't.
i mean, i'll draw up a rough sketch while looking at the picture on your phone,
but i'm not going to trace somebody else's work, and say it's mine.
it's weird enough playing at being a renaissance dude,
just kinda painting a painting of a painting.....
hmmmm...
i wonder if i should post photos with that kind of attribution underneath-
i know that cartoon tattsters always tell you whose flash they used,
so maybe that's proper etiquette?
like, 'albie rock, after pinterest, from the school of google image search'??
i dunno, dudes.
-
ANYway, i was given some reference images,
and i've done some variations on the theme previously,
but there were several changes and additions that weren't on any of the existing
imagery, so i felt better about using the format as a template for some new tatt-zapperism.
uh-huh.
i had one big tattoo to do, 
before totally using one of nate's stencils to recreate 
a pinterest mountain tattoo three times in a row, 
on some J1 student-visa seasonal-workin' souvenir seekers.
yeah.
friendship tattoos for three kids from three different countries 
that aren't cold or mountainous at all..
right.
...but before that, there was the bigger one.
paul got a memorial tattoo, and i gave him a heck of a beatin':
kaPOW!
it wraps a little.
hahahaha.
that swollen tricep has the bottom going off-kilter,
but honestly, the tops are just as irritated, with less room to warp.
there's a lot of layers of grey ink packed in and piled up,
and when it was finished?
i think we made somethin' pretty flippin' good.
he's happy,
i'm happy, 
and i think we created a tribute that does justice to spirit and memory.
yeah.
*
so,
today is a big day of tattooing,
and later, there's gonna be a lotta driving...
but tomorrow?
family togetherness is on the menu, man.
yeah.
i've got that whole big bunch of blood relatives that live nowhere nearby,
and it's high time to see their familiar faces for a few.
that's a tall order, and a hard style, but it's got to happen.
i miss my older daughters something terrible,
and i'm excited and eager to span time with harvest and maple.
as they get bigger, our time gets shorter, 
because their lives are more and more all their own....
so we're due for an overlap of time and space,
and honestly, i'm so anxious to already be there.
plus, i'll be stayin' with my ma, and visiting with my sister,
so it's a completely elite situation.
good people, good times, and good food, for sure.
it's all really happening in just a few hours;
never quiet, never soft.....

IMPROVEMENTS

another skull?
OBviously!
it's the last one for a short bit-
i've got somewhere i need to be,
and there's no place where i'm headed to make art.
but that's tomorrow.
today, we look at skulls:

WORD.
and here's the thing.
i actually thought this was done before it had a few little somethings to make it better.
uh-huh.
but i went home, slept a little, and woke up knowing i hadn't finished it.
it used to look like this:

almost there.
but, there's like five little somethin'-somethin's that complete it.
it's subtle, but important....at least to me, anyway.
huh?
yeah, it does have pink eye.
it happens.
ha.
*
how many is enough?
i don't know of that's a thing....
i mean, too much is the right amount, right?
so MORE has gotta be a good thing.
i'll keep making them, as i'm sure you've become aware by now.
i'm actually learning a lot about technique with these little guys.
using different brushes, mixing colors, saturating a thirsty wooden surface....
i think i'm getting looser and faster with the style,
which i prefer, and i also think they're looking better, too.
i'm genuinely excited to see where all this upcycling of cheap-art style
is headed as i continue to generate a LOT of small arts for the studio.
it's all really happening-
all the skulls may give way to more dragons, maybe some battle-beasts,
and a few robots, i'm sure.
i like what i like, so i make what i like;
never quiet, never soft.....

Sunday, March 10

FANCY DOUGH!

the thing about fancy dough is it behaves like a temperamental jerk more often than not.
that's for real, man.
i had a batch of the fanciness proofing sloooooooow as molasses all day,
and it still underperformed until it hit the oven.
yep.
wait......what?
oh, right.
man, i made myself a consolation pizza.
mmhmmm.
like, a saturday night special one-
with fancy dough, which was NOT as elite as i'd have liked.
in a pan, greased up with vegan butter, and ready to rock and roll,
only with a tiny teeny little bit of both, instead of teh loud, fresh, hardness
that i'd hoped for.
check it:

WHITE SQUARE POTATO SAUSAGE HOTTNESS!
ok,
so the sausage recipe is here.
the rest is pretty straightforward.
olive-oiled slices of potato pre-roasted in the preheating oven,
until they were just on the right side of golden.
minced daiya AND so delicious non-dairy mozzarella,
red onion shards,
and sliced baby grape tomatoes, too.
fried garlic sprankles, naturally, because rules is rules.
and parsley to make it prettier fresh out of the oven.
the only real big difference was that i *thought* the dough would be better.
it was good.
in fact, it was crispy in all the right ways....
but, for all the fire-roasted tomato flakes and cracked black pepper and olive oil
i added, i had higher hopes for how it looked and how it tasted.
awwwwww.
it's like this:
the oven was hot at 485℉,
with convection circulation giving it a little exxxtra hottness;
the dough was simple, save for all those sprankles.
and it just sort of acted like regular dough,
only all that oil gave it some crisssspness.
crisp is good, but i wanted BIG FLAVOR.
and all i got was normal-sized flavor.
maybe it was the absence of sauce?
i dunno.
the potatoes were magical, and that gave me a lot of good feelings,
but i think i might've been determined to be disappointed?
that's possibly a thing.
-
dudes-
EAT MORE PIZZA.
do it.
you will be happier as a person.
you'll look cooler, and feel better.
do yourself a favor, and make a pizza.
it's what you need.
***********
we're in the future.
yup.
daylight savings.
like, we lost an hour of sleep,
but it'll be brighter than it was a little later on.
that's cool, right?
ummmmmm, sure.
time travel and less morning to do things with?
sign me up.
i'm getting as ready as i can for today, but it feels like i'm rushing,
and i already know i'll be late for everything except my end of the day appointments,
which aren't starting until we're almost closed, anyway.
sweet.
one brighter, but worse day, coming right up;
never quiet, never soft.....

BLUE!

blue is a terrible paint color.
i dunno if i'm just naturally averse to it,
or if i'm maybe just bad at adapting to new sh!t (ok, there's no maybe to that),
but blue gives me a hard time.
which is why i went back down to 3" size for my in-between appointments
half hour art-making session:

YEAH!
i'll F* with a blue period, if it's thirty minutes, and that's all.
f'real.
i swear that the interface between real life, my phone,
and this screen i'm typing on creates three very vastly and drastically
different views of all these skulls i've been amassing.
i'd prefer you see 'em in person,
as the gallery wall at AMPERSAND TATTOO
is gettin' pretty frickin' good-lookin' the fuller it gets.
ANYway,
there's likely to be a short lull in skulls,
as i've got things to do and places to be for a few days in a row.
i won't stop, i'm just going to pause for a minute,
and resume my mission with renewed intensity after the break.
i'll be ready to run out the last of these wooden studies,
and then move forward to something that maybe has more meat on it's bones.
ha;
never quiet, never soft.....

TATTATTACK!

making tattooing fun again is easy and hard at the same time.
it's easy, because even the most regular-A* tattoos can be a good time
if you're doing it right.
for me,
the interpersonal interaction is as important as the tattoo itself.
i mean, we're literally altering people for the foreseeable future....
it'd be kinda nice to also enjoy each others' company while it happens.
really.
y'wanna wear art from some bummery bumhole the rest of your life?
no thanks.
that's not for me.
so, if i can have a positive experience with an ordinary tattoo,
and maybe take that pinterest reference and give it some lovin' to make it better
for them, and you, 
and that poor sweet, talented artist who did a regrettably great job 
at making their original tattoo design desirable in the first place!
-
...and then again, some clients just know what's up.
and that makes tattooing fun as F*.
that's for sure.
and when there's cool folks getting cool tattoos?
that's full-time full-speed-ahead expert funtime tattzap exxxplosive!
and that's pretty tight, neighbors.
-
y'wanna guess which is which?
here's a few pictures of some recent zips that i remembered to take photos of.
ready?
sunflowers!
what's better than a tattoo of sunflowers?
MORE sunflower tattoo stuff, but with an arrow!
yep.
i sketched out some roughs from the photo reference, 
and then used my reference to make the pictures for us to use as stencils.
-
and then keith came in for a skull.
freehand, off the cuff,m tucked in where it fit in.
he's been my client for over a decade, and he gets tattoos.
check it:
skulls, man.
skulls forever and ever.
he has a bunch, but he says: 'i don't have enough skulls'.
that's because he knows what's up-
too much is the right amount.
and that's no joke.
*
fun, though, is how you make it, not what you're making.
so even with AMPERSAND TATTOO being in my top tier of favorite places to be,
and the where of my mission being hospitable to the overall effect,
the HOW is essential.
and i just do what i do-
competent capable conversations, 
and interactive participation with the people paying me to pretty them up a lil baby bit.
the fun of it comes from how they react and respond.
i'm over here trying to make the best of it all, y'all,
no matter what, i'm givin' it all i've got, because that's all there is;
never quiet, never soft.....

Saturday, March 9

TOP FIVE!

it turns out that i'm moving away from my desire to make sweet things.
i hadn't really noticed, until i was looking back through my photo catalog.
this year has NOT been a cakey one so far.
f'real.
a LOT of savory sumptuous suppers,
a pile of pizzas,
and more recently, a whole mess of these brilliant soft pretzels.
yeah, that's what's good, neighbors.
check it:

WORDIMUS PRIME!
the horseradish dijon with the malt-vinegar-brined toasted mustard and caraway seeds?
dudes, c'mon- that's expert.
the scallion and toasted dill seed vegan creamchee'? also expert.
and that pot of straightforward pats of vegan butter? experté.
yeah.
guys,
do you see how F*ing perfectly super-sexxxy those pretzels are??!
i mean, seriously, those are lookin' goooooood.
mmmm.
and as always, i did NOT make them exactly like i did last time....
you wanna read about the new-new?
no?
then skip ahead, i guess.
everybody else, here's the latest:
-
*
SOFT PREZZZ!
-
preheat your oven to 450℉ convection.
-
add 1/4 cup warm water;
2 T real new hampshire maple syrup;
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast.
let it bloom until bubbly-
-
in your stand mixer, with the dough hook enabled, knead together:
1 tsp salt;
3 cups king arthur a.p. flour;
3 T wheat bran;
3 T oat bran;
1/2 tsp baking soda;
1 pkg quick-rise yeast;
1 T olive oil;
3 T soft vegan butter;
3/4 cup warmed s'milk;
2 T warm water...
add the maple-yeast-water mix,
as well and combine it all on low speed for five minutes, then turn it up a bit,
and give it another 'nother 5 or more minutes to really get those gluten chains formed.
moisten your hands and form a tiiight dough ball,
cover it and let it rise up until doubled.
how long will that take?
i dunno; maybe use your eyes, bro.
you'll know it when you see it.
-
get a big pot of water boiling, with 3 heaped T of baking soda to make it alkaline af.
-
punch down you fat dough ball,
and divide it into 9 equal pieces.
roll each one out to over a foot long, form a U, twist the open ends, and fold 'em over-
y'know, to make a frickin' pretzel shape, obvi.
now, you'll need a spider, or a wire strainer, or a slotted spoon, even,
to dunk and flip and remove your pretzel shapes from the water.
huh?
oh, y'gotta dunk 'em, a few at a time, and let 'em float up-
give those lil twists 30 seconds on each side, and remove them.
arrange them on a parchment-lined baking tray,
and hit 'em with those coarse fat sea salt sprankles.
rules is rules, and unsalted soft pretzels are kind of a crime, man.
don't do that.
but, if you really want to be fresh and tight and dope?
maybe freak a few off with two-tone sesame seed spranks, too.
yeah.
too much is the right amount,
and that's some expert exxxxtra activation, for certain.
bake 'em for 12-14 minutes, but keep your eye on the scene.
they wanna get dark and lovely, but they're prone to getting overly dry and bummery,
or so i've heard.
so far, i've only had amazing times and amazing pretzels to show for it.
word.
-
MORE pretzels.
that's what i want.
it might even be what i need.
in fact, what i'm dreaming about these days is a pizza and pretzel truck,
driving around, serving up looks,
and radical artisan vegan pizza pies,
as well as custom mustards and allll the pretzels.
...is that so wrong?
i think it's a genius plan for the future;
but i also really love those things SO more than the average ordinary human.
an extraordinary appetite for carbohydrates, and hot ovenly lovin'.
that's me.
i am who i am, and that's a baker man.
and about a dozen other things, all of which are so specialized that i'll forever
be at the outskirts of regular real life.
i'm only weird because i only like what i like,
and it's barely anything that most folks i meet would ever want
to base their everydays on.
....but from my perspective,
they're F*ing up, and i'm cleaning up on and cornering the market on
a peripheral world based on bread with stuff on it.
i think i'm onto somethin' here;
never quiet, never soft.....

TINY

small art is an exercise in productivity.
y'know?
it's small, but that doesn't mean it's easy, man.
all the principles of making something good apply,
just in less space.
it does happen faster, and the creation is not as arduous as something big....
but,
i only have small increments of empty space during the day,
and i don't wanna waste 'em,
but i also don't want to leave things incomplete-
so it's small art in the minutes i'm not tattooing.
yeah.
here's another 'nother one:

SKULLLLLLLLLLS!
i figured i'd give you a different angle this time,
so you can see just what's going on here-
this one is very small, and also, pretty cool.
a capricorn ghost skull for all my goatfish out there in the world.
yeah!
huh?
oh, okay:

here's the regular view, for regular viewing.
i'll be too busy to get much done today,
but that's a good thing.
we've got a snow day coming tomorrow,
with an undisclosed number of impending inches.
that means i'll be busy-busy with pick'em-up truckers all day long tomorrow,
for sure.
so, there may be a pause in the creation for a minute,
but NOT for long.
there's still a whole bunch of these circles to use up,
before i move back to rectangular frames.
MORE art, all the time, is all i ever want to happen around here.
the expert environment at AMPERSAND TATTOO makes me feel creative.
...and motivated.
...and productive.
...and psyched to keep it up.
it's all really happening over here-
expanding circles echoing over and over in different colors;
never quiet, never soft.....

Friday, March 8

SKULLLLLLLLLLZ!

how about a fiery skull?!

yes!
i've got more of 'em in me, and they're all coming out.
that's pretty cool, if you ask me.
but since you didn't ask,
i guess i'm volunteering the information.
my paints are in short supply, and the wood soaks up more than i thought-
but, i'm not getting new colors until i'm out of the old ones,
and i'm not getting new brushes, either-
i'm just changing how i paint as they deteriorate.
i want the coarse course of folk artistry to guide my pulp fantasy flavor.
the evolution of this series depends on the disintegration of my equipment.
ha!
AMPERSAND TATTOO is full of creative energy these days.
there's tatts on tatts on tatts to do,
and drawings and words and paintings and arts and ideas.
all better than ever, and all a bit better every damned day.
it's What Is, man.
a convening of good stuff, for good folks, in a great place,
and a safe space, and all of that sort of sweet sh!t.
where's the hottness hiding?
out in the open in an avocado expanse of expertism.
i'm always excited to share it with y'all,
and i can't wait for you to come and see some of what's new-
(disclaimer it's mostly skulls)
there's always time for spirited capable competent conversation, too.
the studio is where the magic happens,
and that sort of warlock and wizard stuff is how i'm f'real living my life;
never quiet never soft

YOU KNOW!

pizza for breakfast?
F* yeah.
pizza ALL the time.
that's right.
i had the oven roaring for a loaf of fresh-baked sourdough,
and while it preheated, i whipped up a batch of dough for a fresh af pizza pie.
mmmhmmmm.
i will absolutely take advantage of a hot oven,
especially when i know that i've got a whole hour of bread time to prepare myself.
and i did.
and as always, it was great.
pizza is what i needed to reactivate some of my motivated makery, man.
f'real.
when i'm not feelin' myself, i'm still feelin' pizza,
and that's how i get back to what i believe in, bruh.
check it:

PEE EYE ZEE ZEE AYY!!
the crust was crissssssp on the edges,
and so soft in the center.
i think that's because of just how much sauce i had slapped on top.
yeah, neighbors-
too much is the right amount,
and i pushed the limit with this one.
a LOT of fire-roasted tomato sauce.
just because i didn't wanna leave just a sad little blop for next time, y'know?
that'd've been weak.
i got that so delicious vegan chee' on there.
i like it.
there's spinach,
and grated miyoko mozz, and thick slow-cooked caramelized onions,
and steamy broccoli,  a few halved sweet tomatoes,
and fried garlic sprankles, too.
obvi.
rules is rules.
and for the record?
i minced the F* outta the chee'.
that's the right way to maxxximize the experience.
flappity shreds are not invited to the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress test kitchen.
nothing new to report.
simple dough:
-
2 cups flour;
1 1/2 tsp sea salt;
1 pkg active yeast;
1 tsp bread machine yeast;
3/4 +1 T warm water.
kneaded 11 minutes in the stand mixer, with that strongarm steel hook in action,
and risen on the counter while the bread baked.
easy easy.
-
a lovingly ovenly convection connection 480℉ had it baking with blistering efficiency,
hot as heckfire on a seasoned steel baking tray,
and i finished it on a hot stone like i always do.
*
we went on an adventure yesterday.
ummmm.
traveling through the weird ways and roads of southeastern new hampshire,
looking for food as a family.
it wasn't s'posed to go that way, but it did,
and eventualy we got to a place where we could enjoy ourselves.
question:
how often to little kids have to go potty at a restaurant?
answer:
a LOT.
is that a thing, you ask?
yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup.
mess-makin' little adorables, being adorably messy.
i love it.
i really do.
a whole gang of us being together,
having fun,
and doing things we like as a (rather large) team.
there's only ever gonna be more of us, too.
i mean, the future is a big, fat mystery...
...and one nobody should ever take for granted;
but, also, it's got to be great.
i mean,
this many people getting along is a flippin' feat in and of itself,
and i'm eager to see these smalls deal with an even smaller one.
they're already busy being cute.
i almost can't even stand it.
we had a good day, and we spanned time in a way that i truly love so much.
i'm grateful for the time i have been given,
and i DO consider it a gift.
the overlap of spirit and memory is a major event these days.
it's all really happening, that's the whole point;
never quiet, never soft.....

Thursday, March 7

ANOTHER

yeah:

MORE of  these.
one a day, like vitamins.
a skull a day is good for you, neighbors.
i'm just trying to help;
never quiet, never soft.....

NOSTALGIA

shoutouts to my grandma.
we called her mae
actually, maybe everybody did?
i dunno.
but she wasn't nona, nana, grammie, or any of that noise.
she was mae, and that meant everything.
i've been having some homesick pangs and thangs these days-
missing my people, missing the hustle and the riot 
of hamden and new haven connecticut....
the busy business and the jam-packed places and folks who knew me longest,
and of, course, i've been craving the food!
well,
i do know how to cook, and i do know what i like....
so i did a little throwback to wednesdays at mae's house from my twenties.
i'd go there before work, and hang out for a bit,
visiting with her and my great-aunt edith,
a.k.a tē-tē.
mmhhmmm.
that's what you get when you try to say aunt edith as a tiny inarticulate idiot.
it stuck, and that's who she was to us for our whole entire lives.
everybody gets named, and renamed, and rarely do they get to name themselves.
cue albie rock's exceptional outlier status, of course.
ANYway,
i made myself some comfort food, grandma-style,
straight from the little italy streets of new haven's wooster square neighborhood.
check it:
S'SIMPLE, S'GOOD!!
stewed tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, peas, and elbows, bro.
yea.
just like strega nona used to make, only maybe even a little baby bit better...
so, like, don't tell her, ok?
we got those al dente macaroni in full effect,
but they're just the foundation of this hearty bowl of hottness.
-
the sauce is key here-
and by sauce, i mean, the tomato magic.
it starts with 1 T olive oil, and 1/2 cup rough chopped onion,
tossed around in a small very hot pot with one fat handful of cherry tomatoes.
yeah.
the high heat bursts the tomatoes, and the onions get translucent quickly-
i added two cloves of sliced garlic, and let that all get a browned just a touch-
then i added the spices:
oregano, basil, thyme, and sage, plus heavy shakes of GPOP,
and pink salt and black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, too.
i gave it a few swirls to get everything blended up,
add a splash of balsamic vinegar, and one 15oz can of sliced stewed tomatoes,
with herbs an' sh!t all up in there with 'em.
YEAH.
dudes, these jauns are realy-real, f'real.
i was transported to the nineties, man, hangin' with my long-gones,
feelin' at home in a deep, dark, cozy kitchen with those old ones.
damn, it made me happy-sad in the best way.
a half cup of warm water, a half cup of frozen peas,
and a slow low simmer had the whole thing turning up exxxtra-expert.
-
but that's not all-
no way.
MORE goodness was called for,
and MORE goodness answered-
boiled quartered skin-on red potatoes, two of 'em,
softened, drained, and fried in the empty pot with a fat pat of vegan butter?
yeah.
that's how you make some true berserker hottness pop off in your mouth.
y'add the potatoes to the tomatoes and you add both to the 'ronis,
and that's when you give it a dash more pepper,
and a bunch of freshie-fresh parsley sprankles.
too much is the right amount, man,
...and by the way,
a cup of uncooked elbows is a decent heap of soft beige bendies after the boil.
word up.
i ate alll of it.
2 potatoes, all the tomatoes, the peas, the full pot of what's hot in these streets.
i needed it,
and i'm glad i had the presence of mind to make it happen.
if only ANYthing else was so easy.
ha.
*
i continued my nostalgic noshing with some breezy-inspired chips,
the feelings of closeness that y'all might get from other avenues?
i literally ingest them, or it doesn't work.
i don't just eat my feelings to bury them,
i eat them to nourish my whole heart and head as well.
damn.
that's probably not normal, is it?
i dunno.
and then,
after filling myself up literally in an empty place,
i valiantly failed to keep my eyes open for very long afterwards.
that's what happens on a wednesday night up here in the woodsly goodness.
and also on thursday.
basically,
that's what happens.
all of it, or rather, none of it.
that's how it unfolds at the moment, but maybe once we teleport to the future,
one hour ahead, on sunday,
things will get a bit brighter metaphorically as well as physically....
time will tell, or it'll stay silent, but i'll still be doing my best to do better;
never quiet, never soft.....

Wednesday, March 6

THESE

how about a skull?
i thought you'd never ask:

BOBOTRONIC killed-up head monsters forever!
neighbors,
as time allows for it i'm gonna work through this stack of amassed wooden lids.
and when i'm done with the next batch?
i'm only buying candles with metal on top from now on.
ha.
SIKE.
i'm sure that in a year, when there's MORE lids,
i'm sure i'll have a whole new set of ideas for what to do with 'em.
in the meantime, this is What Is.
and that's all there's gonna be until it's done.
that may not be true, as i've got ideas bubbling over in this bariny-brain of mine,
for more dungeony draconic drawings, too.
AMPERSAND TATTOO has a lot of skulls on the walls,
that's how you know it's a realllllly F*ing cool place;
never quiet, never soft.....

MARDI GRAS!

dudes,
tuesdays are like buttcheeks-
y'know?
...because they're better when they're FAT!
yup.
for this fattie boobmattie mardi,
i made myself a po'boy sandwich.
that's riiiiiiiight-

BOOOOOM!
i LOVE sandwiches, neighbors.
a lot.
and a po'boy is some kind of special, y'feel me?
more like a wealthy man than a down-and-out duder.
-
hmm?
is the bread homemade?
absolutely.
good bread makes better people,
and better sandwiches.
and those seitan chunks are breaded up in my new proprietary
cash money cajun spice exxxplosion, and fried up exxxtra-crisssssssspy.
mmmmmmmm.
yeah, they're fried.
it's called FAT tuesday, not lame tuesday, man.
c'mon.
get with it.
with pickles, and slaw, and red onion,
and some epic garlic sriracha horseradish dijon holy aioli.
that's a lotta flavor, but that's hot it's 'sposed to be.
too much is the right amount.
don't settle for less.
-
you want recipes? i got those.
the seitan recipe is here.
so, that's one thing covered.
onward to that fresh-baked bread, i guess.
-
*
PO'BREADS!
-
preheat your oven to 375℉ convection-style
-
in your trusted accomplice, the dough-hooked stand-upright powermixer,
knead together:
2 cups flour;
1 tsp salt;
2 T olive oil;
2 T vegan butter;
1/2 tsp sugar;
1 pkg active dry yeast;
1 tsp bread machine yeast;
3/4 cup warm water.
11 minutes, for really-real, until it's a shiny gluten-chained-up ball of perfection.
let it rise thirty-forty minutes, divide it in half, and form tow footlong rolls,
arranged an inch apart ona baking tray, lightly oiled on the tops, slit 7x each,
covered and allowed to rise another 'nother twenty minutes.
bake 'em up for twenty-two minutes, and prepare yourself for that BUNZONI power, boi.
yeah.
the added fats make 'em exxxtra soft and supple, the way they should be.
i mean, c'mon- we're adding all sorts of crawnchiness to 'em,
they may as well offer us somethin' different, to set it off lie a big boss man.
word up.
*
the slaw was elite, for being mostly raw leaves.
i had 1/4 cup of shredded green cabbage;
1/8 cup shredded purple cabbage;
2 T shredded flat leaf parsley;
1/2 small peeled purple carrot, slivered;
and one fat red radish, halved, and thinly sliced,
with a lil black pepper, pink salt, and a scoop of vegan mayo.
damn.
that's magical.
cool, crisp, crunchiness for your face.
better than lettuce? don't even play.
this is like a major upgrade from regular wet leaves, for sure.
*
look at this mofo:

that spread is some kind of expert.
on the ones, it's just mostly a bunch of stuff stirred together,
but it goes right up to eleven in flavor from the first bite.
-
*
HOLY AIOLI!
-
in a little bowl, stir together:
1 clove lightly sauteed crushed garlic (just to take the raw edge off);
3 T vegenaise vegan mayo;
1 tsp sriracha;
1 tsp horseradish dijon mustard;
black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes;
sriracha flakes;
1/2 tsp nootch;
1/4 tsp Onion Powder;
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder.
you might think you're ready, but y'all ain't ready.
this is that powerhouse SAUCE, and after a thick spread of it,
you're still gonna wanna dip your sandwich in MORE.
yeah.
you'll see.
*
pickles and red onions add some tang and a little sharp edge to the thing.
f'real.
you need those elements to create harmonious balance between the spicy hot fried pieces,
the soft buttery bread, and that rich, luscious aioli.
but, when it comes to the new new hottness,
THIS IS IT:

c'mon!!!
bro, have you ever seen anything so flippin' gorgeous?
that's the TRUTH.
so, you've got 1" hunks of seitan ready to go.
drip-drained and dry-ish, hacked into chunks, and all set for some drenchy dunks.
that's tilty as hell.
so, assuming you've got a lot of seitan chunks, like a coupla cups of it,
you'll need to do the following:
-
*
CAJUN CHAWNX OF FIRE!!
-
fill a 1 quart saucepot halfway with vegetable oil, and get that hella hot.
how hot? hella, how many degrees is that? a LOT.
-
in a mixin' bowl, combine the following:
1/3 cup a.p. flour;
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal;
1 tsp baking soda;
1 T nootch;
1 tsp ea. GPOP;
1 tsp ea, smoked paprika, hot paprika, thyme;
1/4 tsp ea. red pepper flakes, fresh cracked black pepper, sriracha flakes, cayenne;
1/2 tsp ea. oregano, basil, sage;
dash of rosemary;
dash of pink salt;
1 tsp non-GMO cornstarch.
- add the seitan to the floury stuffs,
and pour over 1/4-1/3 cup non-dairy s'milk, to lube up and create a pasty porridge.
toss everything up until well-coated,
adding more s'milk as necessary to make sure it's all breaded up properly.
dust that with just a baby bit of flour,
and fry two batches up in that ragin' cajun vat of fat.
yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup.
it'll get dark and crawnchy quick-fast and in a hurry,
and it'll be SO crissssssp.
THAT'S the boomfire berserker big action activation, for sure.
it ain't beads, and it ain't parades, but it's waaaay better, y'best believe.
-
all of that, all together, is one hell of an experience.
it's a huge sandwich, and it's got a lot going on,
but you need it in your life.
i'm sure of it.
i know it improved my mood after a long day at the tatt-shack.
yeah.
AMPERSAND TATTOO is terrific on busy days,
but that makes for loooong days.
i guess loooong sandwiches are the appropriately proportionate response.
*
what comes after fat tuesday?
a fat belly.
ha. and also, now it's lent.
i don't F* with that in a religious sense,
but maybe a short spell of going and doing without something is a good idea?
normally, i'd give up sleep, or hope,
but i'm on some other other sh!t these days-
keeping it poitive in the face of despair,
and trying to see y'alls' side of things while i'm at it,
all whilst doing what i can to maximize my time, and keep my cool......
so, maybe i could give up on giving a F*?
hear me out-
caring about what matters is always a must,
but caring too much about things that don't is a bad idea.
so maybe giving far fewer F*s about the extraneous periphery is in order.
starting today, and without a smear of soot on my head, to boot.
let's see how it goes;
never quiet, never soft.....