Editor’s note: This is a guest post from by Bryan Schatz.
Pipe smoking is the oldest form of smoking tobacco, developed during an era in which men would make time to sit at the end of a hard day’s toil, to rock back and forth in their favorite chair and observe the rotation of life. They had an understanding that prolonged satisfaction is greater than the immediate and fleeting gratification we have a tendency to seek today. A pipe is a man’s companion, his smoky warmth on a crisp winter day and the friend with which he watches the passing of time. A pipe requires patience. It instills calmness, observation, and contemplation.
A pipe is best enjoyed from the stoop thrones of rocking chairs, beneath the shade of patio roofs and in the absence of unnecessary noise.
In my mind, the corn cob pipe is a tangible symbol of a bygone era. Corn cob pipes are the tobacco-smoking instrument of the common man: those who surveyed their surroundings and did what they could with what little they had. These were men of thrift, of inherent frugality and of resourcefulness. They are the pipes of hard times, when men knew how to work with their hands, when they did what was required without complaint; when men were hard, lest they perish. Or as the saying goes: “back when dodgeball was played with sticks and stickball was played with knives.”
Legend has it that in 1869, a farmer in the Missouri countryside whittled a pipe out of a dried out corn cob. He smoked his tobacco and enjoyed the nice smooth smoking experience so much that he requested his wood-working friend to turn stems for the pipes on his lathe. Hence, the birth of the Missouri Meerschaum Company, the original and sole surviving manufacturer of mass produced corn cob pipes.
Though the beginning of the mass production of corn cob pipes commenced in the late 1800s, their emergence and individual construction likely began long before that, and certainly persisted for years to come. Within and beyond the Dust Bowl area, corn cob pipes were the instruments of farmers, hobos, migrant laborers and vagabonds of all sorts.
Train hoppers in the Midwest and other corn-growing areas would find themselves in the presence of this abundant crop, often just off of the train tracks. With a communal sharing of simple tools and the luck of having a pinch of tobacco, having a soothing smoke on those enormously tiring days was a welcomed occasion.
Examining the evolution of pipe smoking in the 21st century is more like observing the slow extinction of a dwindling species.
According to “Bowled Over No Longer,” a 2005 Washington Post article by Peter Carlson, there exists approximately 1.6 million pipe smokers in America today. Since the 1970s, there has been a 91% drop in pipe tobacco purchases. With those statistics it becomes apparent that the current number of corn cob pipe smokers has likely declined even more dramatically.
Apparently, appreciating the afternoon with a pipe in hand has been exchanged for quick fixes of indulgence and gadgetry. People today tend to not simply sit and notice, say, the sun’s departure quietly occurring later and later each day. We may not consider why a particular bee chose to slurp the nectar from one flower and not another, or wonder why it hasn’t rained in so long.
In these days of instant coffee, fast-food chain-restaurants and 5-minute cigarette breaks, the corn cob pipe persists as a comfortable speed bump in the common rush of a frantic life.
With the immediacy of most things today, it can be easy to forget that we don’t always have to buy something we want, that we can allow ourselves a few solitary moments to create something with our own hands-and then enjoy the fruits of our labor.
In an attempt to grasp a few moments for yourself, I encourage you to try making a corn cob pipe, to take a contemplative breath and appreciate the fact that the world still spins.
If meandering to your stoop throne on a sunny day and enjoying the smooth hit of tobacco from a corn cob pipe sounds good to you, then you’ll need to know how to make one. Granted, this will likely not be the quality of a Missouri Meerschaum (mine certainly isn’t), but it will be of your own creation.
It is said that the most important thing for a pipe smoker to do is to find a pipe that feels right. A pipe may not be sentient, but it will bring its own presence to the relationship between man and pipe. What better way to find this inanimate companion than to craft it with your own hands?
Make sure the ear of corn you use is as wide as possible and has plenty of pith (the portion of the cob at its center, where the bowl will later be shaped). Break the cob in half with your hands or cut it to the size you want with a pocket knife.
Here comes the waiting part. You’ll want that cob to dry out and harden as much as possible; professional corn cob pipe makers let their cobs dry for two years. Granted, we don’t generally have that much time to wait, so you can throw it in the oven or use a dehydrator to speed up the process. I let mine sit for about one week after baking it on 100 degrees for a few hours, and while I’m no expert, it seems to work fine.
Dig out the pith with your pocket knife to shape the bowl (another reason why “Every Man Should Carry a Pocket Knife”); if possible, make it about one- inch deep. The width of your bowl should be as wide as the pith allows without making the walls of your pipe too thin. Having slender walls will make it hot in your hand when you light the tobacco, so keep them thick.
Beneath the bowl, drill a narrow path through the pith towards the bottom of the pipe…If you prefer to refrain from using power tools during this project (which is perfectly understandable and even encouraged), you can also heat up a metal hanger and bore through the pith’s center.
While you’re letting the bowl dry out, construct the stem of your pipe. There are a few options here; without a lathe it’s difficult to turn a piece of wood. If you have access to some narrow bamboo, then use that. It’s easy to hollow out with a metal hanger heated up red hot or with a drill, and it will fit nicely into the hole that will be cut near the base of your cob.
I don’t have a lathe nor access to bamboo, so I went out and found a downed Bay Tree branch, cut it, drilled a hole through its center and then whittled it with my knife until it fit the dimensions I wanted.
Use a pocket knife to angle one side of the stem down to a point. This side will be pushed into the cob.
Drill a hole above the base of the corn cob until it meets the hole in the pith. Make sure that this hole is slightly smaller than your stem. Press your stem into the cob and line up the hole in the stem with the hole in the pith (you may need to shave off small portions of the stem to get a proper fit). All you need now is some tobacco of your choice and a match.
And what is it now used for? Feel free to photo reply if you would rather show us!
Making bread is super satisfying, it tastes better when you make it yourself, and it means more when you bake it on your own in order to break it with friends and family. This is a very simple loaf but it should be good to get you started and hopefully inspire you to bake some more stuff on your own.
First off, let’s see what we need, other than a bread pan and a mixing bowl, here is your ingredients:
Take your mixing bowl and fill it up with hot water, just so you can warm your bowl a little bit before getting started. After it is full, dump it out.
Now put a cup of hot water in the mixing bowl and pour in your packet of yeast.
Mix in the yeast real good until you don’t see anymore clumps, it will look like this.
Now melt your butter and pour it in the bowl along with your sugar, salt, and milk. Stir that up real good so those ingredients all come to a nice clean mixture with no clumps, and then add about 2 cups of your flour.
Start mixing that flour in.
Initially, the mixing is going to be real easy as it’s fairly thin, the consistency will look something like this from your first 2 cups:
Now, you are going to want to continue mixing and adding flour, keep your flour out this entire time as you will need to keep adding it to the mixture as well as powder your working surface in a moment.
Notice the mixture is starting to get a little thicker as more flour is added, your hand may start hurting right about now as well from the mixing, but the pain from the mixing helps the flavor in the end.
The fun part is coming up, but first, this is about what your mixture should look like at the point your bowl mixing is complete:
That mixture is very hard to stir and holds it’s shape a little bit. Now comes the fun part. Grab a handful of flour and rub it all over your hands letting the flour cover your work surface, get a good coat over both your hands and the counter. Go ahead and dump your mixture on top of your floured surface:
Now you will be working the mixture with your hand, kneading it for about 10 minutes. During this process I continue adding flour to my hands and the counter where I am working. Just keep punching, pounding, throwing, and folding the mixture, powdering up your hands and work surface as you go so that the mixture doesn’t stick too badly.
Just look at how fun and cool this process is:
After 10 minutes of working the mixture, you should have a good solid bit of dough that isn’t too sticky. Work the dough into a ball and set it in your mixing bowl, either use your previous bowl after cleaning it, or grab another mixing bowl.
You are going to let that sit and rise now for an hour, above you see what it looks like right after kneading it, and below, you will see what it looks like after rising for an hour, but first, notice that I left the flour on the counter…keep it there for now:
Wow! Look at that rise! Now, go ahead and dump that dough back on the counter where you left the flour. Punch it down, flatten it and shape it into a rectangle:
In the photo, I hadn’t completely finished shaping the rectangle, you are going to want it about as wide as your bread pan like the photo shows, but you are going to want it a bit taller than in the photo. You want to then roll the dough up like so:
And then fold the ends under so that it will fit into the pan.
Now spray your pan with some non-stick cooking spray and set your dough into your pan:
Now set your pan in a warm spot to rise for another hour. At the end of the hour your dough will have raised to about twice it’s size:
Now set your oven for 400 degrees fahrenheit and bake the loaf for 30 minutes. Here is what it looks like before you bake it:
And here is what it looks like after:
It smells incredible, it’s looks beautiful, and It tastes wonderful!
You won’t ever get a loaf that beautiful from the store. Now slice it up and pop some slices in the toaster, add some homemade elderberry jam for the best toast in the entire world.
Share it with your friends and family!
You know all those times that you went to an Andrew Jackson Jihad show and bought a shirt, but then got ultra bummed when you wanted to wear the shirt but had an even stronger desire to be wearing a v-neck? DIY V-neck tutorial to the rescue.
Take your cool crew neck shirt and then get out your seam ripper.
Seam rip away until you’ve disconnected the collar pretty much from one shoulder seam to the other.
Now snip the collar right in the middle of what you have loose.
Fold the shirt below the collar in half so that you can evenly cut away the part of the neck that you want gone.
Cut away and you should have this:
Check out that sweet V….
Now you will want to stretch the two sections of the collar that are hanging loose as they will need to cover a little more ground than they had to prior to the mod.
Now make your way over to the sewing machine. Line up the end of one of the loose sides of collar with the V.
As you sew the collar back on just stretch the collar and shirt together so that they are the same length and don’t bunch up.
Now do the same with the other side.
Now fold one side of the collar over the other where they meet at the V.
Stitch it up! I usually do this last few stitches by hand. Now go outside and show everyone how much you like Andrew Jackson Jihad and let them check out your awesome chest tattoo at the same time!!!