Thursday, February 28


bye bye february.
i won't miss you.
i could use a little more light, and a bit more warmth,
and a lot more time.
that's coming our way soon enough,
but first we gotta get february the F* outta here...
last night was cold.
and windy.
and dark.
i needed somethin' hot and hearty to heat my skinny little body 
back up to a normal temperature...
i'm talking about spice and substance, dudes.
i'm talking about homemade hottness.
i'm talking about aloo chana mutter, neighbors.
check the teleport:
that's what's up.
y'got rice, bread, and starchy protein spice magic, all right there.
it isn't the fastest meal ever, but it keeps you warm the whole time, 
and that's good news, for sure.
let's start with the naan.
look at it:
it's not terribly hard to make either.
it goes like this:
in your stand mixer, dough-hooked and read to go,
add 1/2 cup warm water;
1 tsp sugar;
1 pkg regular-actin' yeast + 1 tsp bread machine yeast,
all together and let it bloom for a few minutes.
add in:
2 T vegan butter;
2 cups bread flour;
1 tsp sea salt;
1/4 cup unsweetened plain coconut yogurt.
knead it up for 11 minutes, cover it up and let it rise until it's 2x o.g. size.
...that'll take 30-60 minutes.
the exxxtra yeast speeds it up, 
and i was hungry, 
so i might've not actually all the way waited.
divide it into 6 balls, rolled nicey-nice, and cover those for fifteen more minutes.
meanwhile, heat up a big dry cast iron pan to the hottest it can get
over the highest heat your stovetop has got to offer.
that's key.
naan needs that fire to get those sexxxy black bubbledots.
roll each ball into an oval, and lay 'em on the pan for a few minutes on each side.
the first side will be browner that the bubble side, but that's how it's s'posed to be.
when they're ready, brush 'em with melted vegan butter, and get ready to freak out.
they're expert as hell, and you're gonna wanna eat 'em all.
go ahead.
that's what they're for.
the bread would've been enough, honestly.
but i also fired up some rice.
i mean, it's india time, and rules is rules.
that's a thing.
long grain white rice is what you need.
basmati if you have it, jasmine if you don't.
i gave it a scallion sprankle or two, just because i feel like i have to.
and that curry?
holy F*ing sh!t.
it's make believe, but it's also elite.
damn it feels good to make good food, dudes.
here's how it happened.
parboil 3 skin on red potatoes, cubed into 8 pieces each.
drain, and set aside.
in a hot pan, toast up:
1 tsp ea. GPOP, cumin, coriander, ginger, smoked paprika, turmeric;
1/2 tsp ea. crushed red pepper, cayenne, ground mustard, cardamom;
pink salt, black pepper, and a dash of nutmeg.
melt in 3 T vegan butter, and let that cook into a paste.
next, add 2 T tomato paste, and stir it up well, letting it stay on high heat, 
and cook another minute.
that's when you add 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut-almond milk,
and 1/2 cup warm water,
and let it cook down and thicken up.
after five minutes of bubblin',
add the potatoes and coat them completely.
toss in 1/3 cup chickpeas,
1/4 cup frozen green peas,
1 T jalapeno, and reduce it to a simmer.
add 1/4 cup slivered red onion,
1 T coriander stems, minced,
and finish it off with scallion and cilantro for the ultimate in excellence for your face.
you see that?
a scoople of the potatoes and a scoople of the rice wrapped up in a naan?
guys, c'mon.
all day long, that's level eleven sexxxiness.
from-scratch, homemade turbo deluxxe dopeness, 
fresh from the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress test kitchen laboratory straight to you.
february was dumb.
march had better be better.
i'm ready or some new sh!t,
and i'm so over the old sh!t.
on the onoes-
i've got babies comin',
and lovers to love,
and work to do every-damned-where.
it's all really happening.
a wild ride whirlwind of spirit and memory,
heart-swelling hope and heartbreaking hurt
and work and love and life and loss-
it's almost overwhelming....
luckily, too much is the right amount,
so we're just gonna have to take it as it comes,
and take it to the limits of comprehension and endurance.
that's all there is to it,
and that's all we can do;
never quiet, never soft.....


it's like this-
i'm making tattooing fun again.
that isn't say every tattoo is fun.
y'feel me?
that's just it, really....
the experience is as important as the outcome.
nobody wants to go have a bad time, do they?
i know i don't.
so, i'm out here at AMPERSAND TATTOO,
zippin' and zappin', chattin' and joke-crackin'
and generally making the most of the time and energy spent
at my avocado-colored home away from home.
and while i'm there, i do tattoos.
some of 'em are not fun.
but, i still have fun always.
yesterday i did a couple of sweet tattz.
the first?
a butterflag tribute to a soldier who keeps it real in the even colder and wintrier
and harder-styled bigger mountains of colebrook, new hampshire.
y'know what's going on way up there?
tough times and rough scenes.
at least they know where to go for the fresh tattoos, though, amirite??
check it:

shoutouts to america and the army and also butterflies.
and then i did an xray bear on rusty:

i think it's from a beer thing?
i dunno.
it's a lotta teeny tiny untattooed spots, and that's always a balancing act.
y'gotta make 'em big enough to age well,
but small enough to look likewhat they're s'posed to be.
which is bear fingers and sh!t.
did i have fun?
being there is inherently entertaining.
i mean, there's always something to do,
and there's always ways to improve the days and the weeks and the months-
mostly it's through productivity.
to that end:
i started 2 5" skull circles;
i drank one tasty and one terrible kombucha, brought to us by dylan.
i said some things;
i watched some cooking things;
i lit some candles;
i hit up the post office, too,for a couple of sweet packages;
and i got back and watered plants.
all after tattooing for the first bunch of hours.
for a wickedly cold wednesday, it was a good day.
that's no joke.
i couldn't sleep a wink,
and i'm a bleary-eyed butthead for the lack of it this morning.
that's cool, i'm only doing a solid second pass on a whole entire
giant black and grey chest panel into sleeve thing today.
no big deal.
it'll be okay, though, because i'm ready for it.
like, who ever even needs sleep when you've got determination?
it's me, actually. i need sleep. i hate it.
but after ten years of sleeping nearly never,
suddenly, i'm rip F*ing van winkle every flippin' night,
except last night,
and now i'm all out of sorts.
i've got four hours until tattoo time.
that's plenty of time to walk dogs, exercise, and brighten up these eyes.
i'm ready, i'm willing, and i'm pretty sure that i'm gonna have fun today,
blastin' away at my buddy, and defining all the many many tiny details in his tattoo.
fun, bro.
that's where my head is headed,
and that's all there is to it;
never quiet, never soft.....

Wednesday, February 27


i'll draw an orc.
three inches of pick-wielding, hog-nosed, tusked warrior.
high fantasy it is not,
but it is some sh!t i'm into, neighbors.
check it:

he's not actually surly.
he's just a F*ing orc, bro.
they just be like that.
...take it easy.
so there you go- another 'nother lil framed bad boy hanging up at AMPERSAND TATTOO.
i think y'all should come and look at him, and all his lil friends.
i didn't cook anything.
sorry about that.
i have no idea if y'all like drawings an' that or just cake or what;
but i got it all happening,
so i'm real-life documenting what gets made, whatever that may be;
never quiet, never soft.....

Tuesday, February 26


eat those F*ing feelings, homeboy.
that's what my dumb heart said to my fat stomach yesterday.
so i did.
and i spiced and buttered and dough'd up my whole effinng life
with a boomfire barbarian buffalo hot sauce exxxplosion.
when there's a spouting, flame-gouting runaway bonfire burning a hole in your heart?
the best and fastest way to extinguish the anguish is with a bigger, harder, louder blast
of vacuum-sealing savagery to suck the life out of the hard styles and harsh thoughts
that want to crush you to pieces.
for the record:
it is a very temporary solution.
but as i don't drink or smoke or engage in any of those truly self-destructive tendencies,
i'm resorting to a sorta fatty boombatie batch of food to do the job instead.
so, while i may self-sabotage my emotional future,
i'm also ensuring a kitchen legacy that'll last until i digest the day and the meal,
and maybe make some sense out of something before one or both turn to sh!t,
literally or figuratively.
that's bleak.
hey, here's a thought-
check the teleport:

there you go.
that's what you want, right?
nobody cares about feelings, let's talk about recipes instead.
you got it, neighbors.
what is it?
it's great.
what is it, specifically?
it's buffalo chickpea pizza with radical vegan ranch.
good food doesn't make everything better,
but it doesn't make things worse, at least.
instead of tomato sauce, it's custom expert sauce.
it's like this, kids:
in a small bowl or cup, stir together:
1/4 cup frank's red hot;
2 T sriracha;
1/2 tsp ea. Garlic Powder Onion Powder;
lots of fresh-crack'd black pepper;
1 T nootch;
2 T vegenaise;
2 T melted vegan butter;
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes.
whisk it up, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
it's spicy. but mostly, it's flavorful.
so much so that my almost-completely numb senses still caught the fire and the fury
and the freshness of this thick, creamy-smooth orange excellence
though the veil of despair an' that.
word up.
that's a testament to the thing, bro. no doubt about it.
we've also got minced daiya cheddar.
not a lot, but enough to activate another tier of tastiness without making it sloppy.
and fried garlic sprankles, too.
i mean, the minced chee' and the garlic are mandatory.
rules is rules, no matter what.
finishing out the bakeable bits are red onions, long sliver style.
that's the move for great pizza onions, man.
they retain integrity better in the oven, i've found.
also, this particular onion was a spicy jaun.
sharp af, f'real.
that's that breath-stank that might've mattered if i had company.
but i didn't,
and crabtree bites his own crinkly wrinkle-dot, so he's nobody to judge me.
and i got into some fried quartered baby grape tomatoes, too.
a glug of olive oil, in a very hot pan, and a few minutes of softening,
and searing, those lil guys, had a tomato element in place for my pizza pie.
i drained them in a strainer,.
they get kinda sloppy otherwise, and a lot of moisture is not a lot of help
when you're making a pizza.
we've got sauce, and chee' and onions and tomatoes.
what else is going on here?
smoked paprika seared chickpeas, boi.
olive oil, chick peas, GPOP, and smoky paprika are all you need.
they're almost meaty.
they're definitely good for you.
they really make the pizza have that heft you want.
heavy-duty hottness, complementing the zesty sauce was a good idea.
really i was on autopilot.
making sense of nothing, just using what i know about eating all the food,
and needing to do SOMEthing with my hands.
i had a new dough situation going.
it seems like a winner.
verrrry crispy, and also, it had BUBBLES.

it's not a fix for a dark day, but it's not nothin'.
and i'll take a browned bright spot if that's all there's gonna be.
the recipe?
in your stand mixer, combine:
1 cup king arthur a.p. flour;
1 cup king arthur bread flour;
2 tsp salt;
1/2 cup semolina flour;
1 pkg regular-actin' yeast + 1 tsp bread machine yeast, bloomed in 1 cup warm water.
1 T olive oil.
knead it up for 11 minutes, and wrap it, and let it slow prove all day in the fridge.
i had my oven HOT at 490℉ convection style, and that was the move.
stretched on my seasoned and oiled steel tray, and baked until mostly brown,
before being finished on the superheated stones.
that's how you get it molto crisp.
but, that wasn't it.
too much is the right amount,
and a buffalo bombshell needs MORE sauce and sprankles.
to be honest,
i was frantic and fraught and running around like a total A*-hole,
and that meant i needed MORE something t do,
in order to keep moving forward,
and keep it together for a little while longer.
here's the thing.
i had a tough day full of missteps and misspeaks and mistakes.
no, the tattoos were great.
it wasn't that. it was real life.
not everything is awesome all the time, man.
that's a thing.
this was a non-awesome one, and it started at surprises and over/underreactions,
and spread to everyone and everywhere else.
it happens, i s'pose.
ANYway, i had to keep myself busy.
which is where i turned the overindulgence up to eleven.
a few fresh green scallions.
a whole bunch of cool cilantro.
and a homemade batch of radical vegan ranch for the win.
radical vegan ranch is easier than you think.
you'll need:
1/4 block exxxtra-firm tofu;
1/3 cup unsweetened non-dairy plain yogurt;
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp nootch;
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder;
1/4 tsp Onion Powder;
1/2 tsp dried dill;
1/2 tsp dried parsley;
dash of cayenne;
black pepper.
i used my high-speed smoothie blender to whip it up.
it's got all the great taste you could ever want,
and there's a lot left over, even after i tripled the amount on top of the pizza
after i took a picture.
that's cool, right?
i had my buddy workin' on my house,
so when i got home, i did all i could to be gracious and tactful and normal.
i wasn't glad when he left,
but i was glad for the freedom to fall apart a little tiny lotta big bit.
it happens.
and while i'm motivated to constantly improve,
my natural reactions aren't always any good.
and there are consequences to that.
it's a relationship thing, bro.
that should be all the explanation you'd ever need.
all the feelin'-eatin' and lip-flamin' fire and wild, power-outage wind sh!t
was just a bunch of bullsh!t to occupy my mind while i buried
the bigger picture until today.
that's how i'll be spanning time on this truly awful, yet sunny, tuesday.
what's my secret?
i'm never happy.
and that's how i'll get through it.
with my old familiar aching chest-cavity reminding me of how it always is,
and how it'll always be.
am i lucky to have a default despair setting?
it gets me to tomorrow, so it's good for something, anyway;
sorry i wasn't more psyched about this probably truly epic pizza;
never quiet, never soft.....


reds and pinks and darks and lights.
that's the color palette.
what's the subject matter?
it's a skull.
i don't really know how to paint anything else.
check it out:

this one's maybe like a whole inch bigger than the last two.
and also, more serious.
and also, kind of cooler, despite the warmer tones.
ha. yeah.
i don't tattoo at all like i draw,
i don't paint like i do either of those,
and i use markers and pencils to make entirely separate subject matter.
it all looks like i did it which i s'pose is a good thing...
...since it is me doing all of it.
but none of it looks like a full sibling to the other.
more like cousins, where there's definitely a family resemblance.
just not the kind you get from matching DNA.
regardless of the lineage of my various mixed mediums,
the walls are for really-real gettin' pretty full at AMPERSAND TATTOO.
i'm gonna need to make bigger pictures to go higher up above what's there already.
y'all can come and buy some of this stuff, too.
that'll free up molto space for MORE art.
i mean,
i like how fully packed and ultimately ovehwelming it's getting.
too much is the right amount, right?
and i have trouble letting go of anything.
that's a fact.
i'm attached to it all because i made it and i'm psyched about it-
but art is for appreciating, not just hoarding,
and it's doubtful that any-normal-body knows there's a pop-up pop art folk art gallery
in the tattshack nest to the pizza place.
i'd love it if more viewers stopped in, and looked.
or purchased.....y'feel me?
and i'd also be happy knowing another 'nother bobotron, barbarian battle-beast,
or killed up head was hanging in a good home.
it's brutally cold.
like, don't go outside cold.
and, for a chunk of the night, there wasn't even power.
which, for some reason makes it seem soooooo much colder.
especially when the wind is whipping around loud af,
and there's nothing to do but shiver and look around by candlelight.
the upside?
more candle tops to paint eventually.
it's a series, dudes.
y'paint up a batch of something until it's all used up.
what do y'know about being all used up?
i'm speaking only for myself here,
but i first learned of it by exhausting all my emotional reserves.
they're all used up, and i'm just a bitterly cold wind-filled shell....
and i don't even use art as a therapeutic measure whatsoever.
so i'm just painting weird skulls and feeling lousy at the same time.
pretty cool, right?
it's What Is, man.
windy, biting, brutal arctic bummers are what's surrounding the woodsly goodness.
and all the Positive Mental Attitude in the world can only maintain so much.
i'm keeping moving, just slower and lower.
there's no stopping time, which means it's all really happening
no matter how much a short breath-and-bearings-catching pause
might really be the best thing that could possibly occur.
so, breathless and directionless is today's theme.
i'll either pass out or get lost,
but, like, not literally, probably;
never quiet, never soft.....

Monday, February 25


i can't tell if it's the rye flour, 
or maybe the wheat bran that makes these so freakin' expert.
wait, what?
yeah, neighbors- i'm on that SOFT pretzel binge,
and i just cannot get enough of 'em.
three times in two weeks?
that's a LOT, but that's the correct course of action.
too much is the right amount.
and when it comes to coarsely sea salted soft sexxxies?
y'gotta overdo it, or just don't even bother.
i'm getting better and planning and preparing.
these jauns are way less like german bratzen knots,
and way more like philly boys.
check the teleport:
the oven was already blazing all morning, so that wasn't no thang.
450℉? heck yeah.
i got the dough primed up,
and it doubled exxxtra-quick this time.
i like that.
it meant i got to eat pretzels much sooner.
what'd i do differently?
i did it like this:
SOFT BOYZ, v. 2!
in a small bowl, stir up:
2 T real new hampshire maple syrup;
1 pkg regular-actin' active yeast;
1/4 cup warm water.
let that bubble and bloom for ten or so minutes.
in my trusty upright stand mixer, with the dough hook in place,
i combined, and kneaded:
2 cups king arthur a.p. flour;
1 tsp salt;
1 tsp baking soda;
1/2 cup rye flour;
3 T vegan butter;
3 T wheat bran;
1 tsp bread machine yeast.
when that was well-sorted,
i added the maple/water/yeast,
3/4 cup warm water,
and beat it up for 11 minutes.
i used wet hands, and made a tight, most ball of that dough, 
covered the whole bowl in plastic,
started a pot of water boiling,
with 1 T baking soda per 2 cups water, 
to assure perfect pretzel-skin-activating alkalinity.
and let the dough double in size before punching it down 
and working it out on a floured board.
i cut it into eight equal pieces, rolled each out hella long and thing,
gave it the classic U-shape with one full twist of the tips, and the obligatory foldover,
for these beautiful prezz contours.
thirty seconds each in the water bath, plus a flip once for good measure,
and they pulled from the soak with a wire spider,
and then got laid out on parchment on a baking tray,
sprankled with lots of sea salt,
and baked for like 14 minutes or so...
they get all golden brown, 
and the classic skin-split opens up to that soft succulent buttery lightness within!
.....that's how you make your misery disappear for a few facefuls of grace.
if you're a mustard person,
this stuff is great.
i'm not, really, but i can still appreciate it.
there's toasted caraway seeds, and yellow mustard seeds, saturated with malt vinegar,
stirred in with coarse horseradish dijon AND standard smooth dijon.
that's a lot going on for one spread, but rules is rules,
and that's how i do it.
i'm told that pretzels ain't sh!t without a mustard option.
i'm inclined to believe that, whether or not i indulge.
the loaded vegan creamchee' is dope, too.
with scallions and dill seeds to keep it frisky,
there's breff-stank written all over it.
and y'know what?
it's worth it.
it's grey AND windy outside.
that's my favorite. reverse.
my homeboy crabtree did NOT get a walk yesterday,
so he needs an active one this morning.
i'm not exactly excited, but it needs to be done.
he can't help that he's a little shark-bullet that needs to be shot out into the wider world
to pee on stuff and eat sticks and take poops.
he cannot be trusted to just walk around on his own-
he's half deaf and all dumb, and routinely walks into the street,
eerily sensing the suicide solution of oncoming traffic form behind him.
so, to keep him safe, i keep him harnessed,
and we endure the elements together.
it's not always the best time,
but he's my dude, and he isn't capable of taking care of himself,
so we do what we must.
which is mostly wrestle for supremacy in the snowbanks as he drags along,
or darts ahead at the precise wrong times, every time.
it's battle beast woodsly walk time,
and i'm gearing up for combat and calisthenics in these cold, grey hills.
i don't even have any pretzels left to soothe my sourpuss a bit;
never quiet, never soft..... 


i can't sleep normally.
i really can't when my mind is weighed down with real life,
and it's real life requirements.
they occupy my brain and those late-night worryworms start wrigglin' around
in my mind, as i try to rest up for whatever big day is on the horizon.
and it's always a big day when you're forever doing your best
at being better than the day before.
so, i'm exhausted a lot.
but that's no excuse, neighbors.
i had a loaf of sourdough oatmeal in the oven by six, 
prepped and proofed the previous day,
scored and steam-sealed in the morning in a 460 degree oven.
that's pretty expert every single time.
but that's not all.
i started up some pretzels, too.
yeah! those are SO dope.
i can't get enough.
and as i was rummaging around in my refrigerator,
i found a few bits and bobs that needed my attention.
like cold dough for crispy chocolate sugar cookies!
and pastry dough left after making my last galette,
and chocolate ganache from whatever the F* i used that for.
what do we do when we have all kinds of tasty bits lingering,
starved for attention, and desperate to become devourable delights?
we doo-doo that freaky sh!t.
c'mon man. 
what are you? an A*-hole?
we HAVE to make treats.
the oven is hot, the sleep is nonexistent, 
and the appetites for sugar and (self-)destruction are operating at about eleven,
what the eff else would we do?
rules is rules.
MORE treats it is:
the very hot oven made short work of those crisssssp cookies,
...and it made that galette crust snap, son.
super flaky, with molten chocolate hottness literally oozing and bubblin' like whoah.
that's valentine cookie dough, froze up, 
but with raw cacao kicking it up a notch.
i cut out hearts again, just because it seems like that's always been what that dough was for.
dudes, i'm nostalgic for eleven days ago, i guess. 
there are recipes for everything already posted here.
the important thing is that now there's room for pizza dough to slow proof in my fridge.
...and that's what's up.
pizza night, after a snow day?
i dunno about y'all, but that sounds to me like dreams are finna come true asap.
diving back into baking, in an onslaught of active participation, was a big help.
no. really.
i doubt i would've been ready for a day of heavy tattzappin' and heavier snow removal
had i not had an early jumpstart on creative powerhouse move-makin'.
also, i was all hopped up on treats, and that is always helpful to my process.
all that stress is gone for a bite or two.
that's the secret: never stop eating, never stop moving, never ever stop.
shark-gluttony is a radical new therapy tool that i've been developing
for a few years now.
it's constant forward progress, like pac man meets jaws,
steadily stuffing your face with whatever challenges come your way.
is it working?
i'm ready to do another 'nother day of all of this.
that should count as efficacy, no?
maybe, maybe not.
either way, i'm ready to eat, i'm ready to work,
i'm ready to wage love and to wage war and to earn my wages 
and wave my arms and legs around as i keep swimming deeper underwater,
but like, not literally;
never quiet, never soft.....


i have a lotta these candle lids,
so i'll likely make a lotta paintings in between appointments.
this one was porous, and grainy,
and hard to paint on,
but i wasn't about to waste an appointment-cancellation on just sitting there.
that's work time,
so i put in a little practice.
check it:

dark and dreary, just like the day.
it's only 3 inches across.
i like using bad brushes and worse paint.
i really do.
trash art, garbage art, recycled/upcycled art-
call it whatever.
heck, call it bad art, that's your prerogative-
but as for me?
well, i think it's Folk Art for this Folk Life in the woodsly goodness.
maybe i should paint covered bridges for more country cred,
but that ain't me, dawg.
it's skulls always and forever,
and that's what just how it's gotta be;
never quiet, never soft.....


y'ever never need to have ideas?
when i'm tattin' 'n' tooin', i almost never really need to have ideas.
at all.
y'see, now that the internet exists these last few years,
folks just steal their tattoo designs from people who post pictures of
tattoos they have, possibly ones that've been created by people with ideas,
although the spread of pinterest-inspired re-do-overs of tattoo imagery
is like a zombie outbreak pyramid scheme.
that's no joke.
certain ideas reproduce like rabbits, exponentially becoming a 'thing',
that eventually becomes SO cliché that fifteen years later it returns to vogue
as a classic throwback tattoo to the good old days.
and i'm not even a little bit joking.
so, these days i do a lot of pocketwatches.
like, a LOT.
and to be fair, i don't just trace a new name and time o birth onto one template.
i redraw an recreate every single one of 'em, if only to keep myself from
falling into an abyss of photocopied repetition.
and also, it's a small world, and an even smaller area,
and i doubt i could get away with it even if i was a lazybone moneygrubber.
ANYway, i tattooed ben, in honor of his new baby son,
who was NOT conceived to a certain country singer who 's namesake he may or may not be:

i cannot, for the life of me take a decent picture.
really, though, it's more about the snow day show-ups.
these dudes drove into town, in the snowy wintry icy roads of the north,
with a month-old baby and went shoppin' and sh!t.
mountain folks don't care at all, y'all.
they're gettin' these tattz no matter what!
i also tattooed another modified image on a woman from arkansas,
who now resides in the mountains to the north of here.
she came down just for a lil  baby tiny tat, because mountain folks don't CARE,
even when they're mountain folks by proxy.
she got a skull and a rose behind her ear,
based on a picture of a skull and a rose inside somebody else's ear.
that's wild.

i drew it on with a marker, and buzzed into her brain for a little minute or two.
i had another 'nother appointment in between those,
but she cancelled.
y'know why?
the weather.
and do y'know where she is from?
NOT the mountains.
so, obvi,
y'can't be drivin' to snow day tattdays if you're livin' south of the mountains.
rules is rules, i guess.
that's just the way it is.
these things happen.
i'm just grateful for internet images and mountain trekkin' movie checks, man.
i didn't need ideas, i didn't need to worry about attendance,
and i did what i do until it was all done.
that's what i do, and i'm happy it all worked together.
i also dug and dug and dug and dug through claustrophobic close-quarters snow piles.
the snow fort now has three entrances, with room for more.
really, it's less of a fort, and more of a series of uncomfortable tubes,
but still,
that's kinda cool.
another 'nother hour should have me able to fit everybody in there without any problems.
i guess we'll see how it goes.
my whole body was red and rashy from snow and ice.
i had gloves so soaked i didn't even notice that the sleeves INside my jacket
were also sopping wet...
just like my feet and my socks and my knees!
(and that's with somebody's snowpants that i'm unsure as to how i've come by)
that's mountain person life, sorta.
work in it, play in it, every damned day in it.
there's nothing for it but to dive in and make the moments matter as best you can.
everything else is lowland griping,
and that's not invited;
never quiet, never soft.....

Sunday, February 24


i dunno, dudes.
is it wrong that i ate an acre of incredible edible morning glory?
because if it IS wrong,
then being right must be pretty F*ing laaaaaaaaame.
all that wrongness was tastin' totally expert,
and i doubt i'd have had it any other way.
check it out:

the big B.
neighbors, y'all already know that's a thing.
and on a saturday morning where i've got big feelings,
and big hunger,
and big plans?
y'need that hearty goodness to fuel the fires that build up pressure
in that raging cast-ironclad barbarian boiler that pumps hot lava and hot blood
from the furnace to those fingers and back again.......
good food makes for more power,
and more power means bigger everything,
especially the big action activation that'll give you the energy to participate in your life
like a dynamic main character, man.
that's real.
too much is the right amount,
and that's how much you'll require to have a good day.
i believe that, so i create that.
the homeboyfries?
skin on red potatoes- oiled, salted,
and slow roasted from preheat to crispy golden brown
in an oven climbing up to 400 luscious degrees.
finished in a hot pan sizzlin' with a fat pat of melted vegan butter.
and it flavored it up with 1/4 slivered onion, and GPOP aplenty,
and black pepper by the 'cornload,
as well as a whole lotta smoked paprika.
regular paprika is great, don't get me wrong,
but to turn these bad boys up to eleven,
you need that campfire-essence to get it poppin'.
the scrambo is straightforward:
1/3 block exxtra-firm tofu, 2 T minced onion, 1 T olive oil,
GPOP, pink salt, black pepper, and a punch of nootch.
activated with a dash of that smoky papika and a big shake of turmeric.
sauteed and stirred to a firmer crOmblier texture over high heat,
and then turned up a touch more with a huge handful of baby spinach.
i fried the tomatoes next to the homeboyfries in that other pan,
and switched it up when it was serving time.
delicious? definitely.
savory and succulent and satisfying? absolutely.
i doo-doo that brekkie sh!t, bro.
and the pannie-mancakes were rad, of course.
with toasted coconut sprankles,
and real new hampshire maple syrup, too.
i mean, c'mon.
rules is rules, fools.
...the pancakes themselves were really great, too.
in a small mixin' bowl, stir up:
1/2 cup + 2 T  flour;
1/4 cup coarse fresh-ground oat flour;
1/8 cup ground dried unsweetened coconut;
1 tsp ea baking soda and powder;
1/2 tsp salt;
2 T sugar;
3 T unsweetened coconut yogurt;
3 T melted vegan butter;
~1 cup unsweetened coconut-almond milk.
the batter seems wet at first, but the coconut and the oats soak alll that up,
while you rest it for at least an hour.
that's the secret, really.
a rough stir, a slow relaxation,
and a hot pan.
if you can manage that, you're a magical morningmeister, for sure.
heck yeah.
that's DECAF irish breakfast tea, btw.
i'm not trying to ruin my whole life any more than i do just by being me.
and i definitely don't need to do that faster, thank you very much.
it's about to be a real-deal snow day, bruh.
with blizzardlike conditions, according to the weather,
which i only ever half-believe anyway.
i'm still going to AMPERSAND TATTOO,
to do what i do best.......which is to say: work.
we'll see who shows up for tattz.
beforehand, though, i've gotta get back out to my snow fort.
i'm digging tunnels in the banks, guys.
i think that's cool,
and i think kids like that, too?
who knows?
my daughters used to go wild for it, and we'd spend hours crawling around in 'em.
i'm trying to harness some of that spirit and memory,
and make this week a wild one.
what'll happen?
nobody can say.
maybe nothing.
maybe everything.
hopefully something.
that's all i've got, so that's all i can say;
never quiet, never soft.....


if you've ever been to AMPERSAND TATTOO,
the you'll already be well aware of just how superF*ing good it smells in there.
between the sweet and luscious aroma of pizza gently sneaking it's way in
from the spot next door through our unofficial pizza closet;
to the subtle notes of manliness in our immediate aura thanks
to the luxurious colognes and magnetic animal pheromones of nate and myself;
and especially due to the abundant ambiance-enhancing aromatic activation
of all the mutha-fuhh'n sultry and sensual candles warmin' the place up,
and putting that sophisticated stank on it.
here's the thing-
we've burned dozens and dozens of candles in there,
and some of them have these really cool wood lids.
and over the last year i started saving them, probably because i'm a hoarder,
or maybe because i've a latent talent for craft-supply provision prediction.
ANYway, i have 'em.
and now, i'm gonna use 'em, too.
check this out:

3" wood candle-lid skull hottness!!!
that's small.
but, that's perfect for fittin' in before a big appointment.
i'm gonna have to make MORE, now that i feel like i can.
that's what i do.
there's no reason to waste time at the studio.
when i go to work,
that's what i want to be doing, and that's what i'm gonna do.
that level of intensity, the go-go-go to eleven all the time urge that
surges through my body may be the result of a lot of external and internal factors,
but it's there,
and i do not want it to serve no purpose.
so i'mma be makey when i'm not makin' money,
and i'll be better off for the effort.
too much is the right amount,
and everything else is poison to my mind and my body;
never quiet, never soft.....

Saturday, February 23


girl tattoos.
i do those.
check it out:

that's a lotta lines.
we took an armband i did years ago,
and turned it into something much more expert.
one-take single-pass freehand framework with a marky-marker,
plus some add-ons and improvisations as i went,
all to make an oldie into a new-new goodie.
i like that.
repeat clients getting upgrades and additions to make MORE awesomeness happen.
AMPERSAND TATTOO is a place for making things better.
your mood, your image, your self-esteem, your appetite, all of that.
we turn the old you into a better-lookin' version;
and we might even teach you a thing or two, too.
that's right-
the objective of every day is to be better at being better,
and that's what we're on about, neighbors.
i didn't cook or bake a F*ing thing yesterday.
in fact, not only didn't do what i do,
but i did it wrong on every front:
i used store buns to sandwich some boca burgers.
it's true.
i had premade box-mix bummer bombs
before i crashed hard, and fast, into an almost-oblivious restless tossin' turnabout.
box mix is for jerks,
and i feel like that applies precisely.
i had caffeine in the morning, which is a BIG no-no, bro.
it's literally the catalyst for terrible talk-terrorism,
and i wore myself out from the jump.
when i know there's answers just out of reach,
i can make something delicious and decipher the solutions to my life
while i'm cracking the code of how to make whatever is on the menu.
it's allegorical process, and it works.
sometimes, though, the problems aren't readily solvable,
and that's when the whole train derails from morning to night back to morning again.
i'm hungry for a lot of things,
and only some of them are edible, yet i need all of them to sustain me.
that's a conundrum.
who knows?
maybe after a big breakfast, and an even bigger shoveling spree,
i'll have clearer eyes to see things with/
i guess we'll know in an hour or two;
never quiet, never soft.....


lucky gunner garage.
that's a place in town that makes super-secret high-end custom hot rods and cars and stuff.
i don't know a lot about it,
but i do know that they're poised to be a big deal in their industry,
and suddenly,
i've seen the logo all over the place.
it's that vanilla sky-style cultivated coincidence activation.
i have tattooed the logo twice in a week.
and one of those times was on the owner/builder/boss's HAND.
a manly workin'-man's mitt,
with built in grease creases and cuts already in place.
i'm soooo sure this one will heal rougher'n heckfire,
but i got a picture of it lookin' as good as it could.
check it:

and he drew the log himself.
that's pretty good, no?
i'm sayin'-
former marine, soft-spoken southern-accented weldy dude,
and big deal rig maker from the woodsly goodness.
that's cool;
never quiet, never soft..... 

Friday, February 22


flaky, crispy pastry crust.
deep dark rich chocolate.
tart mixed berries.
a little baby bit of vanilla.
that's how you multitask a hot oven.
so, i baked a loaf of sourdough spelt,
and while it was in the oven,
i used the pastry dough i'd made a day or so earlier,
and fired up a rustic snow day galette.
wanna see?

pretty grown-up lookin' if you ask me.
i baked it at a higher temperature than i normally would,
and i think it made a big difference for the better.
that's hot.
i brushed the little snowflake cut-outs with s'milk,
and that gave it a really handsome glaze.
i need to bake.
i do.
i've mentioned it before, and it's the truth.
making things that i can use is important.
i mean, my whole real-life pay-the-bills career
is built on making something nobody needs.
it's all luxury.
and at the end of the day,
a painting of a skull, a drawing of a battle-beastly berserker,
a tatt-freakin'-too.....
i can't use any of that, directly.
and really, if we're being real, we don't need a beautiful tart, either.
but i can make excellent use of it...and i did just that.
i ate every single scrap of it.
crispy, flaky, magically elite and all mine all mine all miiiiine.
the chocolate?
1/4 cup dark choco chunks.
1 T s'milk.
2 T powdered sugar.
1 tsp vanilla.
melted down on low heat, and spread on the dough.
the berries?
1 cup of mixed raspberries and wild maine blueberries,
heated up on low heat, in a small pot, with 3 T powdered sugar,
and 2 tsp vanilla, and 2 T organic non-GMO cornstarch to thicken it up
into a non-watery compote as the frozen berries melt apart.
and that dough, neighbors??
in a food processor, i cut up:
2 1/4 cups flour;
3 T sugar;
2 tsp vanilla;
1/4 tsp sea salt;
11 T vegan butter;
3 T vegan creamchee';
2-4 T s'milk, enough to let it clump together when pressed.
y'add the s'milk a lil bit at a time, until the dough looks crOmbly.
that's when it's ready.
wrapped in plastic, y'gotta refrigerate it for an hour, or a day, or two.
cold butters, relaxed flour, and easygoing goodness are all essential
to making a dough that does what you want it to.
i baked it for about twenty minutes,
and i ate half of it while it was still warm.
these days are feeling full.
or, maybe that's not the word.
they're feeling busy, and also kind of empty.
i guess that's to be expected when the nights seem seven seconds long,
and the early mornings arrive in what could be mere moments after i close my eyes.
it's a hard style, and it's cold, and there's nothing for it but to work,
and then work some more,
and after that?
try to maybe make sense of the day, and make the most of the morning-
dragging along in the wee hours really seems to slow down progress
while time speeds up in the absence of something to show for it.
there are tattoos to do.
superfancy unnecessary luxuried for all the people who want 'em.
that's what i do, when i don;t know what else to do.
that's how it is, and that's how it's gotta be;
never quiet, never soft.....

Thursday, February 21


double back-to-back last-minute cancellations?
don't do that.'s gross.
ANYway, i had surprise time yesterday at AMPERSAND TATTOO.
i stretched it out across self-improvement,
plant care,
enriching word-eatin',
real-time active listening and conversing,
candle appreciation,
and, or course, coarse and capable art-makin'.
that last one is mandatory.
i feel like i need to have something to show for the lost time,
and since i have a whole bunch of smaller frames hanging about,
i may as well fill them with some of my favorite things.
specifically, MORE SKULLS!!!
too much is the right amount.
i've said it before, and i'll say it many man more times-
i don't know the right way to make art.
i certainly don't know about painting in any formal sense.
i DO have some cheap brushes, and a lot of cardboard,
so i use what i've got, and i build on what i learn each time.
i did that,
and i'm not sad about it.
check it out:

making it up as i go, and trying to keep it fast and loose,
but also tight and bright.
i'm pleased, and i think this happy little guy would be fun to meet...
...until you ended up dead, i mean.
like, rules IS rules, and the reaper doesn't leave survivors, right?
it's 4" x 6".
small art is made to fit.
the space on the walls, the space on the schedule.
and if you think THAT guy is small,
you should see the other one....
oh, wait.
you can:

it doesn't have to be big,
it just has to BE.
making more art is a good way to suck less at making art.
sure, it's just another 'nother couple of skulls......
but i LIKE skulls.
we all have one, and i'm fascinated by death.
not morbidly, i don't think.
but i definitely think about dead people a lot.
i guess i'm just making the best of it?
who knows?
it's a snow day.
it snows a lot up here in the winter,
which makes things look better for a short bit,
but mostly just makes the days feel a lot longer.
which could be good, no?
longer days mean more time to do things,
and doing things is important,
relative io the alternative, of doing less.
that's not invited at all.
i'm gonna go shovel, which is necessary, but otherwise underwhelming.
i need there to not be snow in my way,
but i also need to get out there with crabtree and give him the exercise he needs.
he's a high-power-and-intensity terrier, and he desperately needs to run and play.
(i'm busy doing everything else, and i'm feelin' hella guilty about it, tbh)
i can't be in all the places i need to,
and i can't even do half of what i want to.
it's all really happening, all around me,
and i'm sort of in an insulated semi-circle of snow and shovels,
trying to get where i'm supposed to;
never quiet, never soft.....


i thought about dinner all freakin' day.
truly, it was at the forefront of my thoughts-
as soon as i admitted to myself that the odds of me making a sexxxy pastry tart
in the morning were so nearly non-existent as to just not be a thing...
that was when i knew for sure i was gonna have to make something special later on....
really, though,
i didn't know what to make until i saw that i'd been accidentally stockpiling semolina.
i have bags on bags, and the best way to make room in the pantry is to use it up, obvi.
and that's what i did.
a good tortellini, in a well-appointed broth is pretty damned expert.
and a LOT of 'em?
well, too much is the right amount, so you know it's even better.
check it out:

c'mon, c'mon, C'MON, C'MON!!!
there's broth in the bottom, there's sprankles all over the top,
and there's exxxtra excellence all over the flippin' place.
for real, though-
get a look at all that flavor, bruh:

i surprised myself, and i think very highly of myself in this kitchen, kids.
real talk.
that's slices of garlic, crisped up in olive oil,
and dry-fried mushrooms, browned with a bit of pink salt,
and fresh parsley spranks coupled with fire-roasted tomato sprankles, too.
....and i know you see those blistered baby tomatoes, dudes.
that's an added bonus of dopeness to stimulate your hungry head-hole.
i had three -quarters of a cup of broth,
with 1 T dried tomato flakes, and black pepper, and those tomatoes,
all skin-bursty and hot.
that's so expert,
you'll wonder out loud where these tortellini have been hiding all your life.
the pasta portion?
1/2 cup flour;
1/2 + 3 T semolina flour;
1 1/2 tsp sea salt;
2 T olive oil;
2/3 cups warm water, +/-.
i naturally used my stand mixer, and beat it all up for 11 minutes.
rules is rules,
and at the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress the dough goes to eleven
or else it doesn't go anywhere at all y'all.
i've made a lot of pasta over here,
and i think regular readers will know that you wrap and rest it for a bit,
then roll it out on a floury surface, and cut some three inch circles....
like, thirty.
that's a monstrous mountain of tortellini.
which is exxxactly what's necessary to activate the maxxximum level
of satisfying shark-gluttonous overindulgence.
(my favorite)
what's inside of 'em?
1/4 block of xxxtra-firm tofu, with 3 T caramelized minced vidalia onion,
and 2 T nootch, and a healthy shake or three of GPOP, and pink salt.
finished with smoked paprika, for a rich, hearty, manly flavor.
that's right.
i just saute the sh!t until it looks done.
how long?.
i dunno, man.
i'm cooking by feel, not by the clock.
i'm sure you already know all about this, but-
i LOVE food.
and when i'm sittin' around in the snow, in the dark,
and the bright bright bright moonlight is hidden by clouds,
and i have emotions bubbling up,
there's only one way to direct those energies into something nourishing,
and nurturing, and healing, i guess.
making food.
the process is like meditation.
the results are like affirmation.
the entire method, and the cause and effect are all what i need to make
some sense of what happened, and what needs to happen,
and all of it is certainly gonna, whether i'm read or not.
so, the meal is the destination,
and the active participation in the progression from idea to fruition if the journey.
i'm a travelin' man, in the kitchen,
even though i don't really go anywhere else;
never quiet, never soft.....

Wednesday, February 20


gluten free rock bloxxx?
sure thing:

i can't leave breezy out of the loop.
like, if the reason she isn't eating cookies right now is that she can't have gluten?
i'll just make something that works just as good.
that's my forte.
adapting recipes to veganism, or reimagining food, without a recipe,
as compassionate, considerate, and conscientious was a wild ride,
twenty somethin' years in the making.
adapting those skills to wheatlessness?
that was a much sharper leaning curve, for certain.
once you can make all your old favorites from scratch, but all vegan always....
finding a way to remove gluten sort of comes naturally, to be honest.
so, i did that.
and i used allllll the different flours, because that is how it's done
when you want gluten-free vegan baking to be successful.
y'want the recipe, don't you?
it's different every time, in the interest of finding the right one.
preheat your oven to 380℉
in a large mixing bowl, cream together:
8 T (1 stick) vegan butter;
1/2 tsp salt;
2 tsp vanilla;
1 cup sugar;
1/4 cup freshly-ground unsweetened coconut;
1/4 cup coarse ground gf quick oatmeal.
mix that into a paste,
and add in:
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut yogurt;
1 cup bob's gf all-purpose flour;
1 tsp xantham gum;
2 T tapioca flour;
1/2 cup bob's 1:1 gf rice flour;
1/2 cup mama's gf almond flour blend;
1 tsp ea. baking powder and soda;
1 pkg gf mini choco chips.
mix it up,
and slightly flatten out golf balls of dough, bro,
on a tray or two, until you've used up all the bowlful of hottness.
i baked these for 13 minutes,
and cooled them on a wire rack-

really, that's pretty simple aside from all the flours.
rock bloxxx are where it's at, and they're what's up, too.
if you aren't into a good cookie?
you're probably an A*-hole,
and i'm all set with you.
cali and i ate all the chocolates.
diabetes doesn't mean it's never chocolate time.
in fact, sometimes, when you're's really chocolate time.
so, we snugged it up, and choc'd it out,
and spent our time being buddies together.
it's SO cute.
she's smart, and articulate, and i'm excited to hear what she has to say.
an almost-three-year-old has a unique perspective, for sure.
her brother and her sister are great. no doubt about it.
but, they're more like people already, so i kow what to expect.
this little wild thing has a whole other outlook.
and i'm a big fan.
eating chocolates,
cuddling on the couch,
eating sandwiches,
taking a drive,
splashing in puddles at the greenhouses......
we all like our time together, a lot.
she just sees it so much clearer than the res of us;
never quiet, never soft.....


bamboo rice ramen noods?
they've got 'em, i had 'em, and i enjoyed 'em, too.
check the teleport:

a big ol' bowlful of ramen.
i actually made double that quantity-
too much is the right amount after all.
out here on that gluten-free gourmet version of the cheapest meal going.
i caramelized a quarter cup of sweet onion, in strips.
next, i added slices of white carrot, and a stalk of sliced celery.
two cloves of crushed garlic went in on top of that,
and i let it all saute for a few minutes, in a glug of veggie oil.
following those moments of sizzle, i added:
2 T tamari;
2 T rice vinegar;
1 T texas pete ho'sauce;
black pepper';
1 cup of red and orange baby grape tomatoes;
2 cups of warm water;
a little salt, a shake of GPOP;
a handful of baby spinach;
and a dash of umami powder from trader joe's,
and the broth was happily slowly softly simmering from there.
and i browned up a cup and a half of those mushrooms,
and added half the reduced, non-slimy, firm results of a hot dry fry-up
to the broth, and reserved the others for spranklin'.
i steamed and seared a handful of small brussels sprouts in that order,
with a dash of tamari to turn 'em up to eleven.
the ramen gets boiled separately.
rules is rules.
and then, once it's all ready, you make it exxxtra expert.
with radish!
and pea shoots!
and cilantro!
and MORE spinach!
and two-tone toasted sesame seed sprankles!!
i mean, c'mon:

that's pretty flippin' fresh, no?
i don't want regular, super-fast, ready-made convenience.
i want relatively quick but super flavorfully rewarding upgrades to ordinary average meals.
ramen is pretty cool,
but radical vegan gluten-free noodle bowls are better.
that's real.
it looks more awesome.
it tastes more awesome.
it IS more awesome.
and MORE is what we need, dudes.
MORE of everything excellent, right away.
i'm on it, because that's just what i DO.
the moon, though.
did you feel it last night?
the snow moon, man.
a wild, blue light beam casting long shadows on all this snow.
the whole of the woodsly goodness was lit up in cold glowing beams
from the lunatic circle in the sky.
i could feel it pulling at my thoughts and stirring up my feelings.
that was weird.
but, then again, maybe i'm weird, and it's just in keeping with the theme.
there's savage stormswept windy woodsly white mountainous warrior poetry
being composed, and prose being posed as exposure to the moon makes
the magic happen, and the werewolfen wildness rise to the surface.
in the time i've been given, the hours are unfolding along a lightning-strike pathway.
it's non-linear, but it moves forward always;
never quiet, never soft.....

Tuesday, February 19


some schools aren't closed for president's day.
which makes sense when the office of president is such a F*ing joke this term.
if there is school, but it's also school spirit week,
that means it's time to get expert every damned day, right?
day one?
role model monday.
that's the one where you dress like your role model.
i'd guess that means a hundred braydens and brantleys dressed as tom brady right?
and maybe a spider man or wonder woman somewhere in the mix....
imagine how flattered and impressed i am that my favorite six-year old on earth,
embry marie,
dressed up as an exact miniaturized replica of your main man
from way up here in the woodsly goodness.
check the teleport:

holy sh!!!!!!!!!t!
how loud, fresh, and hard did breezy bring the noise?
the boots! the tiiiiiiight pants! the AMPERSAND on her shirt?!?!
painty artsy accessorizing, the sweatshirt, and that peanut-head hat?!
that's ME, bruh.
like, the most.
with a crabtree in tow, too?
too much is the right amount, and this is too much fun!
it's perfect.
and from the back?

that could actually be me!
i'm built like a six year old girl.
c'mon, though:

the neck and hand tattz!!!
hilariously accurately excellent.
how frickin' adorable is that kid?
how frickin' adorable is her ma??
if y'all don't appreciate how sweet that is,
you need to go to whoville and grow your shriveled hearts up a size or three.
...and here's the thing.
i want to be a positive force for goodness and growth in the world.
i definitely want to be a positive and motivating guiding light for these kids.
i mean, there's six of 'em.
that's a LOT.
big ones down to soon-to-be-born ones, they need love and affection and attention.
i wanna be worthy of the title.
i want to have great relationships with all these kids.
i wanna roll out in force, rollin' deep with a bunch of dudes who all like and respect
each other and genuinely enjoy spanning time and space together.
i'm impressed by this impression.
the attention to detail shows that these people are watching closely,
and that's a big heart-feels kind of thing.
i am grateful to be considered at all,
but i'm bursting with happiness that i'm considered something valuable.
thanks, kiddo, and mama, y'all some really real ones;
never quiet, never soft.....


homemade bagels?!
yeah, dudes.
i'm on it.
i haven't had a bagel in a little minute,
so i figured the best way to remedy that was to make some for myself.
and that's exactly what happened.
since the boily water thing that i do for the pretzels works so well,
i went ahead and applied the same idea to the bagel scene, too.
i wanted some fully loaded superseeded salty sexxxy circles,
but i did NOT want to stink my face off with onions and garlic,
i went all out on the up-top sprankles,
but not before i went hard on the interior flour blend as well.
neighbors, you know the story already:
too much is the right amount,
and while they're not *technically* everything bagels,
they've got MORE than your usual jauns ever do.
check the teleport:

how expert do these even be lookin', man?
i'm sayin'.
that's the right way to make the magic happen.
you want the recipe?
you are welcome to it-
preheat your oven to 420℉, convection style.
prepare a pot of water, for boiling, with 1 T baking soda/ 2 cups water.
mix 2 tsp bread machine yeast with 1 T sugar in 1/4 cup warm water,
and allow it to bloom for five or so minutes.
set that aside,
and in the metal mixing bowl affixed under your upright stand mixer,
with the dough hook ready to go,
2 2/3 cups flour;
1 1/2 tsp sea salt;
1/2 tsp bread machine yeast;
1/4 cup wheat bran;
3 T quick oats;
1/3 cup dark rye flour.
on low speed, get that going, and add the yeasty sugar-water,
and 3/4 cup MORE warm water, plus 1-2 T exxxtra if necessary
to make a sticky, soft dough ball.
beat it up for 11 minutes, and moisten the exterior of your dough lump.
cover it and let it rise until doubled.
punch it down, hard, and stretch it out into a thick uniform cylinder.
divide the dough in half, then half again, then slice each quarter into thirds.
you want even chunks, which you can weigh or measure or do whatever
to make sure they're pretty damned close.
i eyeballed it.
that's all i ever do.
i rolled each one into a ball,
and poked my finger through the centers and twirled 'em around to make those rings.
i let 'em rise another two or three minutes,
then boiled 'em up in that wild water bath for a full minute on each side.
bagel skins are the key to making bagels that are worth a sh!t.
i learned that decades ago at one of my many many many jobs prior to tattooing.
i pulled the out of the soak with my spider, and set 'em on parchment on a pair of trays,
and liberally doused them with my custom expert sprankle blend.
next time? i'm gonna dunk 'em on BOTH sides, and really overload the seed situation.
but this time, i used restraint.
take one is always traditional.
take two is where we get freaky-diki, boy.
rules is rules.
what's the blend, btw?
it's like this:
sesame seeds.
black sesame seeds.
poppy seeds.
caraway seeds.
dill seeds.
coarse sea salt.
that's sorcery, son.
f'really really-real, all those tasty little bits and bobs are what makes these so great.
y'gotta bake 'em, tho, don't forget...20ish minutes or so,
or right up until they look golden and shiny and sexxxy as hell.
i switched the racks from top and bottom
and rotated those trays 180° at 11 minutes, anyway.
that's the move.
buttered, creamchee'd, as is,
or even better, with a skin-searingly scalding-hot americano, maybe?
our buddy dylan came to AMPERSAND TATTOO,
and we did just that.
i'm never bummed out to be at work.
that's for real.
and even though yesterday was kind of a snow day,
it didn't feel like ANYthing was gonna happen.
and that was the truth.
sometimes, there needs to be a little baby minute to rearrange and repair yourself
and your stuff.
i'll take whatever i can,
and i'll give nothing in return.
it's pirate time at the tattshack, i guess, and it's all leading to a great big X,
and then from there it's just a step further, to XI.
never quiet, never soft.....

Monday, February 18


ken and tonya came up to AMPERSAND TATTOO.
they're folks i've know for twenty years,
who actually got tattooed when i was an apprentice
two decades ago at darkside tattoo...
they came through for their fifteenth-year wedding anniversary,
and got a couple of matchie tattz.
they did, and that's kyoot, and romantic, and it was great to see 'em,
and talk about all the wild sh!t that went on at the turn of the century in connecticut.
that's what's cool about nostalgia.
we all remember different highlights about who and what-
but, they all overlap and make a ship-shape storyline that really emphasizes
all that interconnectedness that spirit and memory support.
i did some thistles, and i like 'em:


it's all really happening, time moving forward, time marching on,
and wherever we all are, there's parts of us traveling along the others' paths as well;
never quiet, never soft.....


soft, salty, super-sexxxy pretzels.
i think i got it, now.
for really-real.
check the teleport:

multi-grain perfectos!!!
damn, i'm psyched about these.
i mean, i figured it out, neighbors,
and now i'm gonna make ALL of 'em all the time.
on the ones, they taste authentic as hell,
and they're not really all that difficult to conjure up.
......and how about those spreads??
these jauns are the TRUTH.
vegan butter. that's my favorite choice.
earth balance soy-free smoothness is what's up.
sexy dijon.
toasted mustard and caraway seeds, activated with malt vinegar,
in a smoothish dijon? expert.
vegan creamchee' deluxxxe!
that's cashew creamchee', with scallions and toasted dill seeds, dudes.
y'all ain't ready for a triple threat spread-up like that.
the real improvements came from understanding the dough better the second time around.
i get it now.
i also flipped the flours around a little, to try a new thing,
and that heirloom grainy goodness did me proud.
you want the recipe?
you can have it!
preheat your oven to 450℉
line a baking tray with parchment paper, set aside.
prepare a big ol' pot of water, ready to boil, with 1 T baking soda per 3 cups water
2 T real new hampshire maple syrup;
2 tsp yeast;
1/4 cup warm water, stir and bloom for ten minutes.
in your manly metal mixer, with the dough hook attached, add together:
2 cups flour;
1/4 cup quick oats;
3 T vegan butter;
1 tsp sea salt;
1/3 cup spelt flour;
3 T what bran.
now add the yeast/syrup blend,
and 3/4 cup warm water,
and knead on lowish power for 11 minutes.
gently, lightly wet the dough, cover it, and allow it to double in size-
it'll take a bit, so get yourself a book or somethin', and wait about 40ish minutes.
get that water boilin', bro.
you're gonna need it in a second.
now that your dough is puffy?
that's when you punch it down.
and divide it in half, and the again, and then again.
eight pretzels is perfect.
roll each dough hunk out to about a foot- foot and a half?
and make a U-shape, twist the ends over once, and fold 'em down.
to make a flippin' pretzel shape, duh.
don't be dumb.
dunk each of 'em in the water, and let 'em float in there for about 30 seconds at a hard boil,
and remove 'em with a spider,
to be placed twists-up on that parchment tray.
hit 'em with coarse sea salt, and don't be cheap with it.
too much is the right amount.
bake those little baddies for 12-14 minutes, until they've got that pretzel LOOK.
you see it, you know it, so be vigilant, and do it right.
i'm impressed with these, for sure.
no jokes, they taste 100% expert.
i must admit, i ate most of them, again.
it's almost like i want to be a big blarpity old man.
(i don't, but i cannot resist a soft pretzel, for real)
all the people.
that's who is up here skiing.
all of 'em.
i can't hate on it.
more people means more income for everybody who works up here,
and more income means bigger tattoos.
it never means better ones, though.
in fact, the folks who usually get a bump in pay for the exxxtra hours available?
terribly ordinary ideas for tattoos.
y'know what's awesome about terrible ideas?
they cost the same or more than good ones,
but they never cost less,
and that's what's gonna finance all these muh-fuhh'n pretzels, bruh.
that's right.
movie checks come from all the tattoos,
not just the good ones.
so, hope fully, come march, the big bummery bam-bams will be rollin' in like thunder,
and i'll be up to my eyes in ingots and doubloons.
i'm SO ready to cry about how hard it is to get paid to draw pictures;
never quiet, never soft.....

Sunday, February 17


i bake a LOT of bread.
MORE than i could reasonably be expected to eat, even.
i love bread.
i specifically love sourdough bread.
i even MORE specifically love white mountain sourdough fresh-baked in
the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress test kitchen laboratory.
good bread makes better people.
that's no joke.
and i make enough bread to improve myself ever so slightly,
even if all i'm doing is gifting loaves of naturally fermented freshness to my friends.
here's my latest occasional progress update.
you ready?
here we go.
look at my bread:







guess what my favorite kind of sourdough is?
too much is the right amount.
that's my premier flagship bread, it seems, but that'snot all.y'all.
not at all. check it:

sandwich loaves are tight.

sandwich loaves are lovely.
and good bread makes better sandwiches.
that's a fact.
and it isn't just loaves, dudes.
i F* with a heck of a boule, too:

round bread!

rounder bread!!

roundest bread!!!
good crusts, wheat bran, oat bran, dark rye flour, spelt flour, bread flour,
i use all the things.
lately, i've been autolyzing my flour, with water, prior to adding salt and starter.
my friend travis told me about it.
he's a meticulous breadbaker himself.
i take his advice and eliminate most of the math from it,
then just do things exclusively by instinct.
i'm eating the toasted and buttered positive results.
wanna see a bunch more?









thanks for lookin' at what i baked;
never quiet, never soft.....