Sunday, March 31

OUT LIKE A LAMB

it's the last day of march, and unless this little itty bitty new bambino of ours
decides to debut today,
it's lookin' like we're gonna be showered with april baby times.
that's exciting and frightening and all that stuff, for sure.
what's even wilder is that this month has been more like a forced march,
and less like a blowing lion or a gentle lamb.
thirty one days of snow and cold and mud,
with the lightening and brightening we know and love doing little
to raise temperatures or morale at all.
yikes.
but this is it.
the last day.
the finale.
the bye-bye bow-out for the third month of the year.
already, we've completed a quarter of the annual procession.
next up- babyheads, and tax days, and rain forever and ever,
and mud season.
yeah.
we have a whole season of woodsly goodsly wet earth,
complete with ruts and puddles and mess;
not to mention the tracked-in sand and grit and gravel that
sticks to everybody's feet and comes inside to visit the cracks and crevices
and corners of every entryway.
yup.
in april in the mountains, every room is the mudroom.
sweet, right?
yeah, right.
meanwhile, it's foggy outside, and i'm groggy inside,
and the oven is roaring while bread bakes and potatoes roast.
rules is rules,
and the charter for Folk Life & Liberty says that we don't waste
the heat from the hotbox whenever there's MORE treats and eats to make.
yep.
that's a thing.
-
anyway i got home from a hand-cramping day of tattzappin'
with emptiness resounding in the hollows of my whole entire entity.
yuck.
i knew i could fill one of those cavities with something good,
(although a full-bdy cavity fill-up was NOT ever considered, thanks but no thanks)
my bellyhole, though, needed some carbohydrate comforting,
and i went full starchmonster on the evening's repast.
mmhmmmm.
check the self-suffocating focaccia feast-type teleport:

HEAVY DUTY DELISH, DUDER!
word up.
i made some expert vegan focaccia-style bread'zza,
with foods on top.
yeah.
my oven was up at 460℉
the 9" x 12" pan was oiled and ready, with high walls and a warm bottom.
i had slices of skin-on red potato roasted up;
red onion wedges slivered all sexxy-like;
sweet tomatoes sliced all nicey-nice;
miyoko mozzarella good and grated for maxxximum melt;
and smoky, spicy chick peas, pan-fried in a splishity splash of olive oil,
and coated in GPOP and smoked picante paprika and black pepper.
DAMMMMNNNNNN.
it baked FORever, too.
the oven had to overcompensate for the thick walls of that pan,
and the fluffy dough was in no hurry to brown up.
...but when it did?
the full force of fresh-to-death flavor exxxploded upwards and downwards and
soothed my sour mood and filled the literal void in my gut.
even if there was still a figurative hole, i was physically uncomfortably full,
so i could experience two kinds of discomfort at once.
ha!
the dough was good, too:
-

FAST'OCACCIA!
-
1/2 cup hot water;
1/2 cup s'milk;
1 tsp sugar;
1 pkg fast-actin' yeast.
bloom it in your hook-armed stand-up mixer and when it bubbles add in:
1 cup king arthur bread flour;
1 cup semolina flour;
1/2 stick (4 T) vegan butter;
1/2 tsp bread machine yeast;
2 tsp sea salt.
you'll want your dough jusssst to the dry side side of too wet.
so, sticky, but not sloppy.
and it needs to rise twice.
once until it gets biggish,
and then again covered in light olive oil once you stretch it to the sides of your pan, man.
f'real.
let it rise while the oven heats up.
and don't drop your topping on it until you're ready to bake.
i think i mentioned that oiling your pan is essential.
do that.
and don't be afraid to garnish it with fresh green things.
i think the parsley sprankles made it look much prettier.
-
i did NOT put fried garlic on there.
i thought of this more as food bread than pizza, so i figured i could skip it.
if i'd been more on point and less distracted,
i'd have toasted a LOT of sesame seeds and used those for sure.
oh well,
it's not the last time i'll be rockin' out a pan of hottness,
so next time, i'll be sure to do what needs doing.
...maybe
***********
and so we get ready to be fools tomorrow.
fools rush in.
i sometimes do that.
however, i also take FORever on occasion and somehow still end up looking foolish.
yep.
coming and going, slow or fast, i'm a old fool forever...
we do NOT suffer fools gladly, however-
so while we move fast, we also get furious immediately afterwards.
yeah.
so i s'pose we'll see if this tricky little baby shows up tomorrow,
or if the second is the day that breezy is contractually obligated to begin contractions.
she's got traditions to uphold after all....
i'm betting on the 7th as the big day.
that's a lucky number, and april seventh is 4 and 7 and that makes 11,
which is pretty F*ing expert, too.
whenever it happens to happen,
it's going to be soon.
ready or not, foolish or otherwise, showers or sun,
whatever comes next is exactly what's supposed to-
the secret universal plan is unfolding in ceaseless origami creases,
and the shape of things to come is a series of right angles and right actions,
in close proximity, creating curves and arcs of light and narrative.
we're moving forward into the unknown,
and we act like we be don't even knowin'....
but i think we're a little bit smarter than we've been led to believe;
never quiet, never soft.....

THINGS I DO

skull tattoos?
skull tattoos??!
yikes.
i dunno.
that's sorta unfamiliar territory.
like, do you mean you want the bones form INside your head on the outside of your skin??
oh man; i might not even know what those look like.....
SIIIIIKE.
all i ever even really wanna do is skulls.
one a day like vitamins,
OR,
three in a row like a megadose of dopeness.
that's cool, too.
hear no, see no, speak no evil, man.
stacks on stacks on stacks of those jauns,
with a frickin' slithery snake, too?
yeah:

WOOOOOOOOORD.
hey!
come get some expert skull tattoos.
otherwise, it's just gonna be more pictures of pizza every damned day;
never quiet, never soft.....

BAMBAMS!

my first client yesterday is a nice person...
but her old tattoo was definitely NOT.
in fact, it wasn't just not nice-
it was a sketchy, scratchy, doo-doo buttery bummer.
...and that's not cool, man.
she came in needing a buff-up, a rework, an add-on, and an upgrade;
so we took her old busted bam-bam nightmare-catcher,
and gave it some help to become a dreamy catchy better version
that's more in keeping with the rustic aesthetic of the village.
y'know?
no?
well, look at what we have here:

yeah.
feathers, and webby stuff, and medicine wheelies for days, dudes.
it's a nice tattoo for a nice person.
and now look at what we had to work with:

ooooooof.
that's not how you wanna walk around in the world, bruh.
that's a meth-scab battle-royale waiting to happen.
that's a pharmacy-parking-lot cigarette-filter-in-a-puddle kind of a thing.
and NObody needs that.
mistakes happen, and i'm not mad about it-
but i'm very glad that we corrected the effect of that no bueno bootyblop,
and made it crisp and new and better.
you need solutions?
i guess that means i get to handle your problems.
shoutouts to turning tragedy into triumph;
never quiet, never soft.....

Saturday, March 30

NEW/OLD SAME/DIFFERENT

i can't paint another skull the same as the rest.
i'm serious.
i'm not stopping.
i'm not out of candle tops.
i am sort of out of time,
but i'm squeezing in little hints of color and hue here and there.
so, there's still MORE, just slightly less often.
teleport:

SPACEMAN SKULLHEAD!
yup.
i mean, what the eff else am i gonna do in between appointments?
this one seems like it might be start of somethin' newish and betterish
and maybe a little more sci-fi pulp novel weird.
i like the sounds of that.
so here's to MORE of what there already is, only improved upon,
and continuously progressive towards being expert and taken to eleven.
that's what i need in all aspects of my life.
my jump off just happens to begin with cheap paint and recyclables first.
***********
time keeps on ticking away.
and deadlines and birthdays and big debuts keep creeping up and encroaching
on the overlaps of life and love and obligation and intention and objectives.
it's all really happening.
babies and toddlers and kids and adults and work and school and birth and death
and all of the things that form the closed-circuit circles of ghost ring smoke rings
that continue to echo from each of us, as epicenters of the infinite,
overlapping into venn diagrammatically incorrect vitriolic vexations,
exultant exaltations, explosive exclamations, lamentations, and sensations.
we're all at the crux of circumstance and choice.
there's fortune and failure and blood and love and loss and gain
and good and bad luck in between,
but each of us is connected, to greater or lesser degrees, with each other
through spirit and memory.
the closest ones are the hardest to hold, like nature's first F*ing green, an' that.
and time is the tether that binds us together, for an instant or a lifetime.
what does that even mean?
it means that when i say it's ALL really happening, i'm really not kidding.
it's the intersections of our story arcs that form the stars, or the flower of life,
or the wrinkle-dots or wrinkles in time, or tempo, or breakbeat heartbeats,
as the resonation of each detonation pushes outwards like bomb-burts-
and they're all the same shapes, and the circles that concentrate and spiral from
every last moment are traveling distances
that aren't measurable in any amount we can count.
it's all really happening, and that's the whole point;
never quiet, never soft.....

THE MAGIC NUMBER!

cali is three today.
that's a big deal.

happy freakin' berfday to my number-one type-one diabetic delight.
for real.
birthdays are huge when you're small.
and they set the tone for enormous swaths of personal growth and development.
guys, do you remember being three?
i do.
and i remember when my sisters each turned three.
and i remember when harvest and maple did, too.
every one of those days was a triumph.
three is important.
three is kind of mystical, and magical, and mysterious,
and monumental, and mostly majestic.
uh-huh.
three is when it all really gets going.
attention, affection, emotion, articulation....
every day leading up to today has been great,
but NOW is the time that it all starts poppin', neighbors.
THREE is awesome.
she's already precious, and precocious, and ferocious in turns throughout every day-
but now she's getting even smarter, and MORE articulate and MORE coordinated
and MORE communicative and MORE of all the best things that a toddlebaby can be.
in fact,
she's past toddlin' and fully storming the gates of kidhood.
so happy flippin' berfday to this wild and wonderful fun and funny sassy,
sophisticated tough and tender little teeny tiny trooper.
three is the magic number, and she's pretty freakin' magical already,
so the next 365 should really be somethin';
never quiet, never soft.....

FEELINGS BOWL!

i ate 'em all.
yeah.
my feelings, man.
i came home with a big ol' hole in my whole.
so i temporarily filled it up with foodstuffs.
they were full of radical vegan good-for-you nutrients 
which is a small upside to gorging on a shark-gluttonous double-helping
of triple threat treats...
um, yeah.
i take all the words, and all the thoughts, and most of all the great big feelings
i can't make sense of right into my mouth, and i gnash and smash 'em between my teeth.
i'm pretty grateful that i can cook, or i'd really be sufferin' twice as much, y'know?
ha.
c'mon, neighbors-
it's okay to pig out on a superior superbowl of emotional support and sustenance.
check it out:
WOW.
too much is the right amount.
* the crawnchy bits were super refreshing-
lettuces, snap peas, and pea shoots all cooperating to cool off this hot pot of fire.
mmhmmm.
* there's sichuan chili peanuts with those numberwang peppercorns mixed in,
as a sort of highlight or accent or spike in expertism.
* there's cilantro, and jalapeno, and radicchio ribbon sprankles, too.
i mean, rules is rules,
and those exxxtras are actually really just mandatories, y'feel me?
i know you know that that's a thing.
-
quinoa AND red lentils with garlic?
yeah.
that's the combo that rocks my socks.
plant-based protein is where it's at.
the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress is at it's best when it's busy being a bastion of beans,
and a beacon for baconlessness, for sure.
or at least, that's certainly where i shine the brightest, f'real.
-
what the eff do y'all know about sesame-oil grilled chopped cabbage, 
baby brussels sprouts, scallions, and mushrooms??
well you're gonna find out right now...
chunky 'shrooms, little cylinders of green onion, whole mini sprouts-
all of that seared until the char is prominent, with a lil pinch of pink salt,
a heavy twist of fresh cracked black pepper, and enough GPOP tingle those tastebuds
with subtle sexxxiness.
how much o any of it is enough?
man, i dunno how hungry you are!
i made enough for two of these big bowls, and i chowed down on 100% of it.
and that wasn't even everything....
-
chick pea teriyaki sizzlers?!
yep.
1 cup of garbanzos;
1 tsp sesame oil;
1 stalk of sliced celery;
1 medium carrot, cut into angle-slices;
2 T cilantro stems;
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes....
fried up until the tomatoes get dark and deep and soft,
then activated with 1 tsp tamari, and 2 T gluten-free teriyaki sauce,
plus 2 tsp smoked paprika, a dash of GPOP, and a little pepper....
how dope is that?
...i almost felt better for a few bites.
all told this took twenty minutes to make,
from the first cabbagey grillin' to the boiled grains to the plate-up.
not bad for all that stuff, huh?
that's what i'm sayin'!
-
i had alllllll the savory spiciness to salve my unsavory self.
it worked, for maybe like a minute or thirty.
the thing is: i can't ever eat enough to feel better.
i DO eat enough to feel overly full often.
i'm not sure that's the right move.
however, i'm doing something that ends in a tangible, useful, implementable result,
and THAT'S a welcome process and procedure, for sure.
making something is the important part for me.
it's a progressive start to finish complete project,
and that sort of short-term goal is great when you don't know what else to do.
i make a thing, it's good, i use it, it's finished and a success.
that's too simple, or it's SO simple, or maybe i'm a simpleton who assumes 
that's good enough for a temporary repair to long-term tension....
who knows?
man's gotta eat. that's the truth.
it may as well serve to nourish a sense of small-scale accomplishment,
and distract from the dour and dreary doom and gloom that can't be cured 
with words or sentiments or hopes and dreams...
i've got a mind full of thoughts, and more than half of them are worries.
i've got a bellyful of plants, and all of them are expert.
see?
one of those things is measurably better, even if it is also destined to turn to sh!t,
albeit through digestion and not depressive decompression.
so while those vitamins seep into the slipstream of my bloodtunnels,
the rest of it is coursing like a curse through from my cortex to my cuticles.
it's all really happening.
some of it seemingly so much better than the rest;
never quiet, never soft.....

Friday, March 29

ONWARD

a red one:

skulls on skulls on skulls.
this guy seems happier than maybe he should be.
that's nice.
*
roller-coastering.
that's a thing.
now, for the record- i don't like roller coasters.
...and yet i find myself on one more often than i'd have ever expected.
ok, ok, to be fair: it's an emotional one;
but still, there are a lot of slow builds, and quick plunges,
and gut-wrenching loops, twists, and scares.
i'm really not feelin' it.
but i've still got a LOT of feels...
i never expect anything to be easy.
that's the truth.
the harsh words, harder thoughts, ugly half-truths and the doomsday preppin'
that come from some of my late night talks, however,
aren't just hard.
they're damned near impossible to navigate.
and i find myself on a roller coaster where the only way to reach the finish line
is to travel out-of-body, and bury all your feelings in the gyroscopic center
of your heart and/or mind, so that they stay upright in the maelstrom
of immovable objects and subjective ideology colliding
with unstoppable force and forceful forcefields of will(power) and won't-power.
agreeing to disagree is NOT an option, it seems.
and while there's more than one way to ride a roller coaster,
my preferred method is simply NOT to.
call me a conscientious objector, or an objectivist obstacle to selflessness,
or anything else you want to-
but when you're done,
maybe listen to 10am gare du nord, by y'boi keaton 'the recluse' henson,
and that might give voice to the deep dark spots down in that armored core
i keep the rest of me concealed inside.
or not.
i'm not the boss of you or anyone else for that matter.
i'll just paint more skulls or whatever, and span time the best i can.
it's fine;
never quiet, never soft.....

VISIONS

vision serpents.
i guess they were some kind of big deal.
i never met one, personally,
but i can see how a snake with a weird-headed dude coming out of it's neck
wearing a very fancy hat would be a big hit in a jaguar temple in the jungle...

anthony has been getting some fresh tattoos lately,
and i feel very lucky that i get to do 'em.
i double-booked the day, and struggled through a secretly stressful schedule
of trying to tattoo with speed and precision and effective efficiency.
luckily, i was vision-serpenting my way through more appointments
than the day should've been able to fit.
i felt like the dude coming out of that viper mouth.
i still do.
being swallowed up, or spit out.
i'm not sure if i'm coming or going,
or which one is worse, since neither is good.
today is another 'nother opportunity to do it better.
i'm gonna cross my fingers and my heart,
and just push forward;
never quiet, never soft.....

Thursday, March 28

BEDTIMES!

for the very first time,
cali sat through a whole entire bedtime story that she picked out.

s'kyoooooooooooooot!!
now,
maybe that isn't a big deal to y'all.
but this very nearly practically three year old little lady just grew up a whole bunch.
i mean, she usually would be anywhere but where the words were being read.
and after a wild time together all day,
with toys and tacos and togetherness taken to eleven,
we closed out the evening with a perfect moment,
and some very expert tuck-ins.
i'm grateful for days like these,
i'm psyched on their mama,
and i'm always amped about all of us spanning time and sharing space;
never quiet, never soft.....

PREZZZZZZZ!

are the pretzels getting better?
F* yes they are.
perfect practice makes perfect pretzels.
that's for real.
check these freshie-fresh ones out:

YUP!
these are one third rye.
that's especially bavarian, bruh.
i dunno if that's technically true, but it feeeels true.
and they taste pretty great.
i think i'm really onto something.
anybody out there think a pretzel and pizza joint would be a success?
i'm into it, for sure.
sea salt AND sesame seed sprankles?!
F* yeah!
y'see that centerline double twist?
that's expert.
seriously, though-double seeds and double twists
and a thick skin of alkaline-boiled badassery is what you NEED!
alright.
here's the recipe for the upgrade:
-
*
PREZZ'!
-
preheat your oven to 450℉ convection fieriness.
-
bloom up 1 tsp of bread machine yeast in 1/4 cup warm water,
with 2 T real new hampshire maple syrup.
-
in your stand-upright mixer, with the hook hoooked up, knead up:
2 cups + 2 T king arthur flour;
1 cup bob's dark rye flour;
1/2 tsp salt;
1 pkg active dry yeast;
1/4 cup wheat bran;
1/2 tsp baking soda;
3 T vegan butter...
add that syrup/yeast mix,
and 3/4 cup warmed s'milk.
give it a hard 11 minute beat-up, until the dough is hella tight.
using wet hands, roll it over itself up into a ball
and let it rise for forty minutes, covered, until it's doubled in size.
divide it into 8 equal pieces,
and give it that exxtra-twisty twist-up.
roll 'em out long and lean, and form 'em into a U,
followed by a twin-spin and a tuck, to make the classic shape.
believe in yourself and believe in pretzels...
-
you'll need a big pot, hard boilin' with salted baking-soda'd water.
alkaline action makes pretzel skin turn ON.
thirty seconds on each side of each pretzel should do the trick.
fish around in that water with a spider (that mesh spoon thing),
and arrange 'em on a parchment-papered baking tray.
hit 'em with the spranks,
and bake them for no longer than 14 minutes TOPS.
11 might even be enough.
y'gotta watch out for overbaking,
and y'gotta never ever underbake them either.
just pay attention and you'll be okay.
-
did i toast up some dill seeds and caraway seeds to add to the vegan butter spread?
obvi.
that's exxxtra excellent, which is to say: very necessary.
i'm like that.
loaded up MORE little bits of tasty goodness.
that is the right way to present a pretzel.
i'm feelin' especially germanic about these jauns;
and i'm happy to have had 'em hot out of the oven.
***********
why is it SO flippin' cold every night?
i enjoy a nice spring chill in the air,
but teen degrees of fahrenheit coldness?
that's dumb.
it's almost april for cryin' out loud.
i guess it's always a hard style in the woodsly goodness,
but we always forget about it until it's all really happening all over again.
i'm bundled up.
crabtree is snugged in a heap of fuzzy blankets.
we're huddled together and waiting for sunnier times, temps, and dispositions.
the cold hasn't touched our hearts, but it has frozen our extremities;
never quiet, never soft.....

AVOCADO!!!!

sourdough toast is tiiiight.
that's for sure.
i mean, c'mon.
that's homemade from-scratch naturally-leavened love, neighbors.
add an avocado so ripe that it had me feeling like
i was being shown a favorable nod from the gods of perf-acado sorcery.
mmhmm.
avocado toast, man.
i had NO idea it was so good.
i tried a savory blast of big flavor this time around.
check the teleport:

WOOOOOOOOOO!!!
that's level eleven expert activation to start your day off like a champion.
f'really real.
dudes,
there's dry fried pink-salted 0% slim firm baby bella mushrooms.
that's dope.
there's blackened baby grape tomatoes.
a little olive oil heat up exxxtra-hot, and halved tomatoes gettin' all grilled up.
sesame seed sprankles are a good idea, probably.
i dunno. i like 'em a lot.
fresh cracked black pepper is invited, too. i need a LOT of it for that spice.
y'all ever had dried shallots? i hadn't either,
but holy sh!t.
they're delicate and delicious and delightful, buddy.
i'm glad i used them on this heroic breakfast experience.
look:

COME ONNNN!!
agave-glazed fried pumpkin seedlets? those tasty little bitty baby pepitas!
they have a lil black pepper fried-up with 'em.
and micro-green sprouties?!
too much is the right amount.
...guys, i also have those pea shoots underneath.
just in case i need a little exxxtra extraness.
and of course, i do.
*
avocado toast, kids.
it's good.
now that i know, y'all are gonna see a whole lot more of it.
the ripeness of that avo-flippin'-cado was the essential element
of the success of this fresh breakfast.
i need a whole ton of this.
i'll certainly have to have it, and as long as i make it myself,
which naturally is all i ever do anyway,
i'mma get a hectare of hottness for my face.
***********
where the heck is this little baby?
hiding out in a belly cave,
taking her sweet time to show up.
hmm?
yeah.
it's not time yet, but we're all sure she'll be here early.
how early remains to be seen, but i'm guessing the 7th.
y'all have any guesses?
i'm listening and taking bets on the big day;
never quiet, never soft.....

Wednesday, March 27

FANCYPAPERS!

i guess i needed to make some cupcakes.
yeah.
i mean, i found these fancy muffin papers i'd had stashed away,
and that decided for me how it was gonna be.
mmhmmm.
check 'em out:

WORD!
chocolate chips in abundance, in a rich, thick, heavy-duty cake,
plus panut buttery chocolate frosting to turn it up to leven, man.
that's right.
it's a panoply of flavors fused together in celebration of sensational overload!
yum.
you want one?
they're at AMPERSAND TATTOO.
otherwise, you'll have to make yoru own.
here's how:
-
*
CUPPERS!
-
preheat your oven to 350℉ convection-style.
-
line 18 muffin tin holes with fancy papers.
they make the taste better, probably.
they look cooler, definitely.
-
in a medium metal mixin' bowl, cream up:
1 stick (8 T ) vegan butter;
1 cup sugar;
1/2 tsp salt;
2 tsp vanilla.
-
stir in:
1/2 cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt;
2 T vegan sour creme.
-
thoroughly mix all that, and sift in:
2 1/3 cups king arthur flour;
2 tsp baking powder;
1 tsp baking soda;
1/2 bag (5-6 oz. vegan mini choco chips;
1 cup s'milk.
stir it all to combine it completely, and scoople it evenly into all those papers.
-
bake them for 25-30 minutes, and remove them to a wire rack to totally cool off.
...
when they're cool, y'gotta hit 'e with this luxxxurious frosting, guys.
-
2 cups powdered sugar;
1 tsp vanilla;
2 T creamy natural peanut butter;
2 heaped T cacao;
5 T vegan butter;
1/4 cup + 1 T s'milk, all whisked up on high speed in a stand mixer....
...and you know i got one of those big-tip swirlers with the presser-onner thing
to make those sexxxy spiral blops on top, boi.
yeeeeeeaahh!.
that's the stuff.
-
you get SO many BIG flavors in this combination.
the peanut butts and the chocolate work together with that thick chocolate chip cake.
it's s'doooooooope.
you want 'em.
trust me.
*
very busy.
that's what i am.
packing in as much work as i can is what i have to do.
i dunno when this little bay girl is gonna arrive;
but i'm assuming that when she does, i'm gonna be busier than ever,
but not at the shop for a little teentsy tiny span of time.
there's never enough time to do everything,
i'm just hoping there's time to do this one thing.
it's very important, as are the ladies who're the principal players in this powerplay.
i'm grateful for these people.
they matter a lot;
never quiet, never soft.....

SORRY ABOUT THE SKULLS

i had a last minute cancellation.
it happens.
i used the extra minute or thirty to make another 'nother skull.
with that miami-style ambient color reflection jauns.
yup.

three inches of humanesque mortality illustrated.
the walls are lookin' SO tight at the studio.
i've only got a few left before it's back to angular frames an' that.
and when that happens, i think a triceratops is LONG overdue.
word;
never quiet, never soft.....

TATTOO TIME

george is getting a siiiiiick eagle/steer skull/dreamcatcher covered up.
as usual,
i got a juicy, effed-up picture of it, in progress.
drawn on over all the old bustedness,
and activated with some blast-over bat-faced devil business:

that's phase one.
hopefully, the second session will get me a better picture,
without that primordial ooze glaring up from the black shading.
we'll see, i guess.
i also did this little woodsly axe on nik:

a nine-needle round loose grouping is a treacherous tool, neighbors.
they wanna make fat lines,
but they also wanna make a lotta little stray ones, sometimes, too
cool ideas that need attention are always invited to AMPERSAND TATTOO.
that's for real.
we have some for you.
....and we want you to buy them from us.
hahaha.
Gimme Some Money, and i'll make you look a bit better;
never quiet, never soft.....

Tuesday, March 26

MELANZANE MONDAY!!

yes i DO love eggplant pizza.
y'know why?
because it's a pain in the A* to make,
which means it's very necessary to have-
the easy way is NOT invited to the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress, man.
nope.
i want that coarse but cultivated, cultured but rustic and rusticated,
forged folksy active participation.
yeah, that's a little harder, and it takes longer, but it feels better,
and at dinnertime? it tastes 200% amazing.
that's real.
so, i made eggplant pizza.
and it was F*ing expert.
teleport:

SHOUTOUTS TO SOURDOUGH CRUST!!!!!
and those crisssssspy herb-crusted eggplant slices were elite on a professional level.
for real.
there's caramelized onions underneath the chee',
and fire roasted tomato sauce on the bottom,
over a firm-but-gentle dust-up of nootch.
yeah.
that was a nice touch.
i wasted some arugula under the eggplant (it blackened and withered to nothin').
but, with a scoople of sauce on top,
and minced daiya as a base, with grated miyoko over all of it?
man,
this was one hell of a superior super-pie, for sure.
and in the interest of real talk: this might've been the most excellent eggplant in an age.
uh-huh.
i blended up the breading in the food processor.
i dunno if that's what made it so good, or what, but it really had somethin' special going on.
-
*
MELANZANE!
-
i had thinly sliced skin-on italian eggplants, salted, and rinsed, and ready to go.
-
in one bowl, there was 1 cup of soymilk, with 2 tsp nootch,
and 1 T ground blended chia-flaxmeal, whisked and bloomed, and sticky.
-
in the other bowl, there were cornflakes and crisped rice, a small scoop of wheat flour,
and another other 'nother scoople of quinoa flour,
and oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, black pepper, sage, nootch,
and GPOP, all stirred together....
-
wait, now that i think about it, it was the double-dredge that did it.
yeah.
a dunk, a dry dab, another dunk, and MORE herby goodness.
duh.
too much is the right amount,
and twice as much crusty crissspiness is way better than just a single-dunk scenario.
of course it is.
-
i had 1/4 cup of vegetable oil getting hella hot in a great big pan,
and i sizzled all my discs to a golden brown finish on both sides.
i also put 'em on paper towels to siphon off some of that fatty-fat-fat.
i like a good crisp eggplant, but fried stuff wants me to die fast which makes me
take measures to stay alive-
like allowing the oil to get crazy hot so it doesn't soak in as deep,
and still dabbin' some off after anyway.
yeah.
*
so the eggplant was dope.
the sauce was just crushed tomatoes.
the daiya was minced because rules is rules, and better is better, bro.
the shreds aren't as awesome, and that's a fact.
-
how about the dough?
for being pretty sloppy, it was still pretty tight.
-
*
SOURDOUGH PIZZA CRUST!
-
that's 1/4 cup sourdough starter;
2 1/4 cups flour;
2 tsp sea salt;
and 1 cup warm water.
all beat the eff up for 11 minutes on medium-high speed in the stand-up mixer,
until a tight, firm shiny gluten-activated ball formed.
it bulked and fed and fermented all dang day, covered on the counter,
and i spread that wet mess on my well-seasoned oiled steel baking pan.
and that rose more while the oven heated and the eggplant fried and the onion caramelized.
mmmmmmmm.
the oven was at 480℉ with that convection circulation sensational sexxxiness.
and the whole pie baked for a little longer than a traditional dough would.
that wet sourdough needs more attention, but i'm cool with that.
the crust is so crispy, and so firm, with nearly zero flop.
even loaded with all that stuff. which included MORE sauce,
and grated miyoko mozz, and fried garlic sprankles, of course!!
and when it came out piping hot,
you KNOW i had to hit it with that freshie-fresh basil, boi!
THAT'S expert all the way to eleven and then some.
*
after a loooong day of painful finger-breaking tattooing, i just need that pizza.
pizza makes me feel a little better even though it takes forever to make.
i guess a little effort never hurt anybody.
an eggplant pizza is seriously something magic.
it's got whole processes that need attention.
it is NOT a fast one.
it is NOT the easiest.
it IS one of the best.
i'm applying that formula to my whole F*ing life.
hard styles, long nights, tough times, difficult situations-
that's the oven i'm cooking my real life inside.
it's not fast, it's not easy, but it is What Is.
i think there's something good coming out, sooner than later;
never quiet, never soft.....

RUSTY!

SKULLS FOREVA AND EVA, DUDES!

is this s'posed'ta be a rusty skull?
i dunno.
it looks kinda like it, doesn't it?
yeah.
i think so.
it's only maybe three inches of choppy exxxtra-grainy
wooden circular surface to work with, so i did what i could with it, kids.
ANYway,
i'm so jam-packed with tattoos this week that i barely have time to dip a brush
into some of that el cheapo acrylic soup and make deaded-up headbones.
i'm glad about it,
and also sad about it,
but it's all really happening and it's all leading somewhere,
which has got to be the point, right?
i mean,
otherwise, i'm just F*ing around, and i hate the sound of that;
never quiet, never soft.....

TRAVEL!

man, i did six tattoos yesterday.
that's real.
i fixed up my barber's neck!
i fit in a small but meaningful memorial tribute on my old dentist's assistant.
i did three friends who all got girl stuff and made a lot of noise.
and i tattooed a marky-markered palm tree beach scene for a travel junkie:

yeah!
that's most of her outer forearm, and that's pretty cool.
bigger tattoos are better tattoos, in some circumstances.
all i know for sure is- my hands hurt like hammers had hit 'em
by the time i was done with the day.
those palmy trees were by far the least painful picture i poked,
but all the rest of those intricate liney laserbeams beat my poor phalanges up.
i'm having fun though.
such as it is, anyway.
meeting new people, and seeing some of the same friendly faces
in the welcoming environment of AMPERSAND TATTOO is good for everybody.
i am grateful for the time that i have been given,
and i hope that in addition to making the minutes matter more,
and wasting less time than ever before,
i'm also using it wisely to get better and BE better;
never quiet, never soft.....

Monday, March 25

SUNNY!

the weather is getting warmer during the day.
the mood of the woodsly goodness is improving somewhat.
and sunny dispositions lead to sunnier tattoos.
and what's sunnier than sunflowers?
not much.
i did a couple of marky-markered big ones for a little kid:

yup.
it's not a small tattoo, so shoutouts to big commitments.
a whole lotta lines, and a whole lotta careful hands,
trying not to wipe off what i was working on, OR what i still needed to work on.
levitating above the marker to leave it in place is tiring.
if i'd used a stencil and some stencil adhesive
i could've maybe just sped along without worry that i'd erase what i'd planned;
but it would not have been as much fun, even if it might've been faster.
making tattooing fun for everybody at AMPERSAND TATTOO
is what we're all about.
so, i do it the slightly harder way for the benefit of everyone.
there's a rumor that there's marker stick'em that keeps it from wiping away....
it's possible that i need some of that.
i mean, i wouldn't mind going a bit quicker, y'know?
yeah.
and i'll say it because it needs saying often:
here's to terrible photography.
i dunno why i can capture a perfect picture of a F*ing muffin,
but never snap anything of quality on a tattoo.
how does my camera know the difference?
technologists might have an opinion on this one,
but i'm stumped.
*
four hour tattoos.
that sounds perfect to me.
it's just right.
the clients can sit for 'em;
i can maintain a high level of enthusiasm;
the whole experience if perfect,
AND it's over in one shot.
that's my favorite.
where's all my one-shot cool tattoo clients at?
this may, i want MORE hottness and less generic sh!t.
i'm gonna be baby-babying, and tatty-tat-tattooing,
and generally looking to have a better time being alive,
so let's do this, dudes;
never quiet, never soft.....

THAT'S SO RAVEN

i do tattoos, still.
i drew on some lightning-striking viking raven activation for mike.
he wanted my version of a preexisting image,
so we made it work,
and we worked on it for a bit.
someday soon, when my polarizing lens gets delivered,
i may even get a good picture of something i tattoo.
until then, here's what i've got as proof that i was actually doing my job:

when you let it happen,
it seems to happens so much nicer.
there's a lot of lines in there.
and as usual, i've got light glare and ambient light trying to ruin my camerawork.
next week, though, neighbors.
i'll have the upgrade, and probably nothing cool to photograph.
seems legit;
never quiet, never soft.....

SPICY BOI!

even when i don't really feel like cooking,
i still do it.
and when i'm kind of worn out, and a little bit (read: a LOT) sleepy?
i need to wake the heck up,
and nothing boosts up alertness like a hot and fiery batch of fuego noods!
mmhmm.
check it:
it's a rainbowl of heat and hurt for my head.
i overloaded the chili paste with my clumsy post-all-day-tattoo fingers fumbling.
is this gluten-free?
...almost.
that's homemade seitan on there, and that's pure wheat, man.
otherwise, the sauce, the stir-fry, and the rice noodles are all good to go.
this is a meal in five parts, really.
y'gotta boil up those thin rice vermicelli jauns, and rinse 'em.
y'gotta make a sauce!
y'gotta get your veggies ready.
y'gotta do that seitan thang....
and then y'gotta turn it up to eleven with that sexxxy-sex, bruh.
mmhmmm.
those leafy sprankles are where it's at.
without 'em, you've just got a lot of orange-hued heat.
-
ok.
so the sauce is simple, and maybe you're a hot-head to the max 
and won't mind all the chili in it- otherwise, use less, duh.
-
*
SAUCE!
-
2 T oelek chili paste;
1 T tamari;
1 T rice vinegar;
1 tsp sriracha;
1 T agave;
1/2 tsp GPOP;
1/4 tsp ground coriander seed;
and black pepper.
^ right? easy, and hot, and full of flavor.
-
i used grape tomatoes, carrot, minced cilantro stems, a whole bunch of chopped scallions,
one humongous clove of sliced garlic, 
and a 1 1/2" chunk of slivered skin-on organic ginger,
and doused 'em in that hot sauce in a tablespoon of raw coconut oil.
i gave it a lil minute to steam up and saute, before i added the noodles, 
and stirred it all around.
-
the seitan got some teriyaki-style sesame-tamari-soy sauce,
just plain ol' sizzled up in a pan.
i don't always feel like getting out-of-control complicated.
instead, i just add more stuff.
* when i boiled the noodles, i also tossed in a handful of baby brussels sprouts.
i mean, c'mon- i do love little baby cabbages.
-
and lastly, the rawness of a vegetable rainbow to make it pretty.
shredded purple cabbage? yep.
lettuce? for sure.
radishes? absolutely.
pea shoots? you bet.
scallions? heck yeah.
cilantro? word.
jalapeno slices? s'hot.
micro-emm'F*ing-greens? WOOOOO.
too much is the right amount for sprankles.
that's probably good, right?
decorative noodle accoutrements are ON the list.
i ate it.
i sweat a little.
my nose was running.
but i liked it a whole bunch.
*
i'm doing what i can to get psyched on cooking again.
i've been consistently busy at the studio, 
with a few days of non-stop open-to-close tattooing doing a number on my hands.
when i get home from a day of motormouth entertaining 
and art-makey performance, i'm actually tired.
like, it's almost as if i had a real job, that required me to work and stuff.
i mean, i don't, so that's cool, but it feels tiring, which is new.
i guess i'm just finally getting actually old
how about that?
what's good today?
MORE of all of it.
i've got sourdough pizza dough on the counter proofing.
it could be a homemade vegan pepperoni jaun,
it might be an eggplant-activated experience,
it might even be both,
but no matter what, it's all really happening;
never quiet, never soft.....

Sunday, March 24

BLUE

no wasted time.
rules is rules.
even when these F*ing bummery blue paints make making pictures harder,
we still gotta, so we still do.
or at least i still do anyway.
i'm not speaking for y'all.
check it:

too much is the right amount.
i'll just leave this here for you.
come visit, and see all of them in person, or don't.
they'll be at AMPERSAND TATTOO with or without you;
never quiet, never soft.....

FANCY TOAST!!

you know i got that sourdough bread game going hard in these streets, right?
i mean,
years and years of homemade, naturally fermented, fresh-baked sourdough
have only made each loaf get a little bit better than the last one...
and when you've got delicious bread you're much more likely to have delicious toast.
y'heard?
that's real.
good bread makes better people. we all know that's true,
and good people make better breakfasts-
that's not as well known, but it's also a thing.
now when you add all the good things to good people
using good bread to make breakfast,
what do you get?
you get this:

AVO-MUTHA-F*ING-CADO TOAST, NEIGHBORS!!
this one's for all the white girls.
they love it.....a LOT.
and it's just double-cooked bread and stuff but it's also SO expert.
that's wild!
you can see it's sexxxy as hell, and you're right to think that.
so what's on there?
well-
there's toast, obvi, golden and good, with the traditional softer sourdough centerline
in between the crusty surfaces.
plus, one mashed-up and spread out perfectly ripe avocado.
this green guaca was jusssssst right.
and sliced sweet baby grape tomatoes,
and wafer-thing tiny cukes,
and paper-thin tart radishes,
and chopped scallion and cilantro leaves, too.
i even had a little lettuce hiding out, just in case.
( i eat my garnishes, because that's what we do- rules is rules)
here's the thing-
from there, i went hard on the sprankles,
and that's what realllly turned it up to eleven.
i mean it.
look:

too much is the right amount!
yeah!!!
there's fire-roasted tomato flakes.
that's tight.
and fresh-ground dried sriracha pepper flakes.
that's even tighter.
and two-tone toasted sesame seeds.
that's the tightest.
but, wait..... the mvp co-captains? pink salt and fresh black pepper.
yep.
reliably right-on and really the upright upgrades this batch of from-scratch hash needed.
damn, this was good.
*
i played myself.
i allotted a lot of time for two tattoos, and i did 'em effectively and efficiently,
and also quickly-
so the rest of the day was spent waiting for walk-ups,
after turning away a pair of possible zipzaps earlier in the day.
that's a lame turn of events.
however, my hands hurt.
even holding a paintbrush hurt after an hour.
although i found that out from firsthand pinched-finger experience.
holding a book, however, was virtually painless;
so i also did a bit of light reading.
yeah, man.
i love being at AMPERSAND TATTOO,
and it feels like we've made something that people really respond well to.
...even when they aren't getting tattooed.
that's maybe the biggest thing i've noted:
people like it there.
that is a very rewarding outcome-
creating an inclusive enclosure for expertism and interactive participation
was what i had in mind form the start.
i'm just so happy that it translates from warrior poetry to the real-persons' lexicon.
it's all really happening there, and i'm grateful for the time i have been given;
never quiet, never soft.....

Saturday, March 23

ORANGE

a three inch fiery skull?

i can hang out with that.
i think i'm getting more comfortable getting looser and easier with these little guys.
when you sit across from the gallery wall,
they look so freakin' great, peeking out between all the frames.
there's not a ton of time to make 'em right now-
i've been busy busy over at AMPERSAND TATTOO,
so the next few days aren't likely to see many little circles of dead headbones
getting produced in any large quantity.
i'll paint some base coats maybe.
in between big appointments and long days of appointments and walk-ins
there's usually five minutes to do somethin' productive on the personal level.
it isn't easy to devote attention to every direction all at once,
and some of the peripheral bits are left fallow for a bit here and there.
i've got things poppin' for the next few days, and that's good.
nobody likes to sit at work for free.
i doubt most of y'all know about that, but it's a real thing.
i don't wanna waste time,
and these last few days have given me an idea of just how tight timelines
are likely to get as new experiences draw closer and closer to fruition.
i'm talking about babies and children and work and houses
and homes and dogs and dinner and adult interaction
as well as intentional and inventive business operation and creative time management.
it's all got to get restructured, which is a massive undertaking...
meanwhile, i'm still doing what i can to be present and productive in all aspects of studio life.
i'll admit i fall asleep exxxtra hard these days.
i think that's due to running marathons in my mind all dang day...
now, if i can just manufacture a second and third set of hands,
maybe i'll be more effective at doing all the things i'd like to get done.
we'll see what happens.
meanwhile, if i get a moment, i'll make a few more of these skulls.
i know i can at least manage to do that;
never quiet, never soft.....

SPRING SNOW

springtime is here.
and after a few warmer days when optimism is high and morale is up
in the upper reaches of the woodsly goodness
there's always a snow day....
yeah, dudes-
nature wins, and she wants to make sure we know it.
we get it.
i'm always a fan of driving the point home too, though,
so i guess a sloppy, slippery, bloppy batch of bummery soft-serve sludge
is just gonna be considered a reminder to not get too comfortable
when the melting begins and things start looking up.
yeah.
mud is coming, kids.
get your tall boots ready.
-
and when i wake up to wet wintry weather i gotta do something to cheer myself up.
it's been a minute since i baked up any cakes, but i cracked open the seal,
and there's a few of 'em ready to get out.
uh-huh.
what's the right response to a snow day?
in my experience the answer is chocolate cake!

YEAH!
and after the soft-centered dog-bit disappointment from the other day,
this one came through and redeemed my faith in myself and my baking skills.
for real.
a fluffy, light, delightfully decadent perfect vegan cake for my face.
man, when a cake is just right?
i gotta eat a whole mess of it, and i'm ok with that.
-
y'wanna make some to brighten your day?
sure.
here's the recipe:
-
*
CAKE!
-
preheat your oven to 350℉
-
grease a 9" springform cake pan.
-
in your stand -up mixer, with the whisk attached, cream up:
1 cup raw sugar;
1/4 cup brown sugar;
1 stick ( 8 T ) vegan butter, softened;
1/2 tsp salt;
2 tsp vanilla;
1/2 cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt;
3 T vegan sour creme;
1/3 cup raw cacao...
get that whipped up and fluffed out,
then sift in:
2 1/2 cups king arthur flour;
2 tsp baking powder;
1 tsp baking soda;
1 cup non-dairy milk.
whisk it on high for two minutes, and spoon it into that cake pan.
bake it for 35-45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
cool it completely, and flip it over, so that smooth surface looks great for frosting.
-
and did i go snowy with the frosting?
F* yes i did.
coconut does the trick every time.
-
3 cups powdered sugar;
1 tsp vanilla;
3 T ground unsweetened coconut flake;
1 stick ( 8 T ) softened vegan butter;
1/3 cup non-dairy milk....
-
i reserved 1/3 of the frosting, added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa,
and rewhipped it up to get it nicey-nice and chocolaty.
that's expert.
and i even hit it with those iridescent sprankles, too.
-
neighbors,
i want that good cakey magic time.
i want this snow to cut it out.
i want a lot of things.
i have cake, so that's a start.
did i mention it's windy af?
yeah.
that's lame.
out like a lion, or a liar.
that's just how march operates around here...
***********
so i almost had a baby on thursday.
that's pretty wild.
breezy had a yellow alert,
and we went to the hospital to see how fast things were moving.
the good news?
we've got a little more time.
the bad news?
well, really, there isn't any;
other than maybe feeling a bit sheepish
about leaving the hospital without a brand new baby.
but,
that's the new normal, friends.
getting ready, being ready, and having a go-bag of goodies for making that run
to the hospital at a moment's notice.
i felt good.
she felt good.
it's a little soon, but not too soon-
therefore if we've gotta get this show on the road
we'll be sure to be road-ready and prepared to adopt a breathe-and-push mindset.
i don't think i know of anybody i think is more capable
of momming it up at the professional level like an absolute powerhouse.
we're headed towards the finish line.
this little taste of the big action changes a lot of things about time and space
and the way we're interacting with the world around us for the next one to five weeks.
it's literally all really happening, and some of it is still a big surprise.
normally, i hate surprises the most.
this one, though?
i think it's more like anticipation without a concrete deadline.
i think we're ready;
never quiet, never soft.....

Thursday, March 21

AND THIS!

SKULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLS!
you know what's up.
there is a never-exhausted supply of lids to the endless stream of candles
that keep AMPERSAND TATTOO smelling exxxtra-sexxxy.
that's f'real.
so, i'm still painting skulls, until they're used up.
i know, i keep saying that-
but, i keep finding MORE,
and rules is rules, man.
so, here's another one:

YEAH!!
i'm gonna keep it up,
and you're gonna keep seein' these here.
one day, i'll get back to barbarians and warriors and robots,
but for now, this is What Is.
i like 'em, and that counts for a lot around here;
never quiet, never soft.....

SPRINGTIME PIZZA PARTY!

how did you celebrate spring?
neat.
well, up here in the woodsly goodness,
i had pizza for breakfast, buddy.
yup.
check it out:

THAT GRANDMA SLICE, FOREVER AND EVER!!
mmhmmm.
i had some elite dough proofing all morning, on that fluffy-type sh!t.
that's key, to me, for a good grammie jaun.
2 cups of bread flour;
2 tsp sea salt;
1 cup warm water, with 1 tsp raw sugar, and 1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast stirred in;
1 pkg active dry yeast-
all kneaded for 11 minutes in my true aide-de-camp: the kitchen-aid stand mixer,
with affixed dough hook attachment engaged.
i let it pop off for half an hour, then arranged it in my oiled nana-pan,
so it could puff up like a focaccia papa.
and it was goooooood.
i caramelized a sweet onion,
i grated some miyoko mozz', and MINCED the daiya mozz',
a bunch of each,
and i freaked it off with a rich and luxuriously thick cooked sauce.
yup.
i prefer a cooked sauce on my siciliano stuff.
a quick and easy sauce, never the same way twice, is molto molto nicey-nice.
that's a thing.
i used whole baby grape tomatoes in this one,
and caramelized onion and garlic,
a little balsamic vinegar, all the right herbs and spices,
crushed tomatoes, nootch, time and love.
i dunno what i was doing when i did it,
but i know that whatever i did was the right thing to do.
and that pepperoni on top?
that's the big action.
yeah.
it starts from scratch with a batch of vegan sausages.....
-
*
VEGAN RED LENTIL SEITAN SAUSAGES!
-
sift together:
1 cup wheat gluten;
2 T tapioca starch;
3 T chick pea flour;
1 T nootch.
1 1/4 tsp GPOP;
1 tsp oregano, basil, thyme, dry parsley; sage; dry mustard, fennel seed; smoked paprika;
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, rosemary, black pepper;
i also added 1 T fresh chopped italian flat leaf parsley, too. 
set all that aside, and then...
in a 1 quart saucepot, with 1 T hot olive oil, on medium-high heat, saute:
1/4 cup finely chopped onion;
2 cloves crushed garlic-
let the onions get translucent
1/2 cup red lentils;
1 tsp nootch;
3 dashes liquid smoke;
1/2 tsp smoked paprika;
1 T tamari;
black pepper;
pour over 1 1/4 cup vegetable broth.
cover, reduce the heat to the higher side of low,
and simmer it all, maybe adding a lil more water,
until those lentils are mushy.
-
add the mush to the dry stuff. adding a touch more olive oil,
and maybe a small splash of tamari if it seems that little baby bit too dry.
stir it together, mash it into a dough, and knead it up as best you can, into a tight ball.
pull off chunks, to make links of sausage the size you'd like
mine are like 4-5 inches, by 1" thick.
i roll 'em, dunk em in water, and wrap them tiiiiiight in foil,
twisting then ends to hold them firmly in shape.
(if i wasn't so inneffective at time management in the moment,
i'd document what i'm writing about, so you could see it better than just imagining it)
-
i got ten perfectly perfect links from this one recipe's dough,
and that's good for a week of sausagey somethin' for me...
anyway,
now y'gotta steam 'em up, turning them every ten minutes,
for like half an hour at least.
but for no more than 45 minutes, or they'll get all dry and not dope.
-
hey!!
y'wanna know the technique to turn these baseline all-purpose sausages into
super-expert pizzatime pepperoni?
yeah?!
word...
slice up a couple of links, and arrange them in a pan that'll hold 'em all,
single-layered,with a glug of olive oil and a cup of broth.
add 1/2 tsp smoked HOT paprika, black pepper, and a shake of GPOP,
plus a dash of tamari and a drop of liquid smoke.
all you need is heat from there-
the wet part will absorb into those discs of goodness,
and then the oil will cook 'em up some once they're hydrated.
neighbors-
this is the stuff.
it seems like it's work, and it is,
but it works so good you've got to try it at least once.
that's real.
i don't want the simulations from the store anymore.
no way.
the real-real homemade intentionally excellent from-scratch masterwork
that happens here in the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress test kitchen laboratory is
too damned dope to deny, and even more delicious than anything i get in a box.
*
i baked it until it was big and burly at 485℉,
for however many minutes that took.
i wasn't counting, but it wasn't super-quick-
i like the crust to be darkish, and firm at the corners,
so there's not much floppy sloppiness-
although this was one heavy set of squares, to be fair.
and after a minute,
i topped it off with that peppery crisp arugula, to make it especially awesome.
i mean, y'gotta, y'know?
seriously, if you aren't gonna do it right, don't do it, dammit.
spring pizza, first thing in the morning?
don't mind if i do.
and we did.
and that's how you ring in a season righteously.
***********
i'm over here having pizza for breakfast.
i'm over here having whirlwind visits with longtime friends.
i'm over here celebrating spring and getting ready for babies and sh!t.
life is beautiful.
life is a struggle.
life is a beautiful struggle.
that's word;
never quiet, never soft.....

EQUINOX!

springing around with pep in your step?
you should be.
i mean, it's officially a better season,
and also,
it was a full supermoon, full of super-werewolfen berserker fury,
and also magical berfday joy.
yup.
that's a LOT of things, man.
for real.
my ma's berfday is also the first day of spring,
and i made a cake to enjoy in honor of my mama, y'heard?
check it out:

LEMON-COCONUT SPRINGTIME GOODNESS!!
those flavors are F*ing elite!
the frosting is fluffy,
the crumb is dense and moist,
(and i confess the center was underdone)
i should've baked it longer- that's my bad,
and crabtree snagged a a HUGE mouthful of this bad boy off the table,
as a big bad werewolf bad boi of poor manners and poorer behavior.
so, i only had a little slice,
and had to scrap half of that piece due to batterish bummerism,
if you know what i'm sayin'.
so,
basically, i made a very pretty mess.
and had to toss it out shortly thereafter.
-
so, maybe i'll give you the recipe, with a more accurate baking time,
and also, the recommendation to keep it away from the edge of your countertops.
yeah.
-
*
L-C-B-CAKE!
(Lemon Coconut Berfday)
-
preheat your oven to 360℉
-
grease a 9" springform pan
-
in your stand-up mixer, which i hope you have, cream up:
1 stick softened vegan butter;
1/2 cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt;
1/3 cup brown sugar;
2 tsp vanilla;
3 T vegan sour cream;
1/2 tsp salt;
1/2 tsp lemon extract;
1 tsp lemon zest;
1 cup sugar.
then sift in:
2 1/4 cups king arthur flour;
2 tsp baking powder;
1 tsp baking soda;
1/3 cup unsweetened medium flake coconut shreds;
1 cup non-dairy milk.
whisk it until fluffy, spoon it evenly into your pan,
and bake it for 35-50 minutes, or until a tester comes away very cleanly from the center.
don't pull it out too soon, or you'll be as big a dumb-dumb as i am, man.
be smarter, and listen to y'boi when he wants you to benefit from his failures.
-
the frosting is easy, and should be applied ONLY when the cake is completely cool.
rules is rules, and warm cake makes bad frosting.
-
3 cups of powdered sugar;
1 tsp vanilla;
1/2 tsp lemon extract;
3 T powdered coconut flake;
1/3 cup non-dairy milk......
whisk that up until it's SO fluffy, man.
the more air, the better.
nobody needs crusty frosting, so make it good.
did i also add little crystally cutie sugar sprankles?
obvi.
what am i?
an A*-hole?
no way.
i do it right, for my mom....even when it's really for me,
and even then, when i barely even get to enjoy any.
awwwwwwww.
*
y'all ever do pull-ups?
not the diapers.
the exercise.
they are not fun,
and they make weird parts of my side-arms and side-body feel tired.
yeah.
i guess that's necessary?
i hope so, because it's happening.
i'm just up here, in the woodsly goodness,
makin' cakes, and eatin' stuff, and pulling up.
i s'pose there are worse things to be involved in.
so, that's what's up.
it's spring. i've got werewolf howling just below the surface of my skin,
and moonbeams making my eyes water and my sleep disappear.
there's battle-beastliness in the air up here,
reflecting like wild off of all this snow,
and shining brightly across the stone and wood of this mountain vale.
pulsing like blood, and baking like cake,
between fifty degree daytimes and fifteen degree nights,
the wild ride that's running rampant like the wild hunt
is some sort of spellcast blast from the past, changing seasons and charging up
all the energy of the equinox.
if you know, you know,
and if you don't you probably should try to find out;
never quiet, never soft.....

TACO TUESDAY!!

shawn hebrank?
shawn hebrank??
yeah. my tattoo guy homeboy since forever and ever was here!
he did tattoos at AMPERSAND TATTOO,
and we hung out and caught up on good times,
and also, naturally, we ate.
yeah.  we ate a LOT.
and on tuesday, we did something we hadn't maybe ever done,
and that i personally hadn't done in an age, either.....
you know what time it is, right?
taco mutha-'ucking tuesday, dudes.
i guess i must've been excited to see him,
and show off some of these sexxxxy cooking skills with another 'nother
drug-free vegan warrior from back in the day...
look:

SOFTIES FOREVER!!
i do not like hard tacos nearly as much.
but soft flour hottness is the TRUTH over here.
there's a time and place for all the tortillas,
but this is the place for the best kind.
he helped chop all the vegetables.
i forgotten that a heart he's still a DIY punk-rock get-involved kid,
and he can't help himself but jump in and actively participate.
i really like that.
-
so we had our heated up soft four tortillas.
we also had scallion and cilantro sprankles.
i mean, c'mon.
how you gonna NOT doo-doo around with those lil green exxxtras, right?
and AVO-F*ING-CADO, too-
because that's what you want on tacos if you know about good tacos.
plus, some nootch-boosted red bell pepper and onion activated refried beans,
exxxtra-thick and hella tasty.
i love refritas, man.
f'really-real.
if you don't saute a few bits of pepper and onion in a pat of vegan butter,
and add a punch of GPOP, and nootch?
you are effing up, bruh.
get right, or get lost.
all that is pretty tight, right off,and that would've been a decent taco spread,
but too much is the right amount,
and friendship-times call for that level eleven expert stuff....
so i also made homemade seitan,
and we fired up some asada-style fajita strips, to turn these bad boys UP.
word.
the recipe for homemade seitan is HERE.
-
and with red pepper, and sweet onion, and poblano,
plus cumin and oregano and smoked paprika and GPOP and black pepper and pink salt?
you are gonna be SO psyched if you get it poppin' like this.
here's the thing-
a dab of oil and a hot pan are all you need to begin a majestic journey to
dinnertime super-deluxxxurious dopeness.
so, don't sell yourself short, and get after some of that boomfire from your kitchen.
i mean it.
it's good for you.

see?
-
that's a LOT of flavors to enjoy, y'know?
but we still needed MORE.
too much is the right amount, bruh.
that's no joke.
*
we also had fire-roasted tomato salsa.
like, 1 1/2 cups of those tomatoes,
and 3 tablespoons of onion,
and 1/2 cup of mixed peppers,
AND two cloves of garlic,
AND a bunch of cilantro,
AND green onions,
AND lime juice,
plus GPOP, black pepper, pink salt, cumin, coriander seed,
and a touch of smoked paprika just to give it that low end body, broski...
-
and last, but not least,
i got busy-busy with some ESCABECHE!
yup,
that peekooo, baby.
um, that's pickle, for those who aren't phonetically inclined.
two bias-cut carrots, barely covered by apple cider vinegar,
with a spoonful of sugar, and a splash of salt,
boiled until soft, and super sexxxy in flavor.
that's that turbo-expert excellence.
you want tacos that are great?
y'gotta BE great.
rules is rules.
***********
so, we had our first guest artist after all this time.
and he was a great guest,
and we all had a great time with what we were given to span, i think.
i know i did, anyway.
and now, it's back to normal,
and while it might be less cramped on the business end of AMPERSAND TATTOO,
the wall is getting more cramped with all the art that's happening every damned day
over at the back table where paint and wood and what's good all converge.
it's all really happening,
and that's the whole point,
never quiet, never soft.....

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.....