I Tried Recipes From the Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook, Then I Needed a Long Nap
For the fast-growing industry growing around weed, the current challenge is to make marijuana an item of ordinary middle-class consumption. So how do you persuade bourgie consumers to integrate pot into their lifestyles?
The obvious answer is to turn it into food.
If you can get pot out of dime-bags and onto big white plates, a whole new market awaits. Which is where books like The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook , by Robyn Griggs Lawrence, come in.
What the book offers most of all is reassurance. Particularly for newbie consumers, it tells them that getting stoned can be safe and sophisticated. It does this by mobilising familiar kinds of expertise: nutritionists, botanists, yoga instructors and chefs offer recipes and advice. It also offers constant reminders about dosages and prudent consumption, so that noobs don’t do a Maureen Dowd and abandon pot after a single greenout.
But it also offers recipes in a familiar cookbook format, with ideas for breakfast, salads and starters, entrees and cocktails. All of which will get you high. Being the experimental type and also an Oregon resident, I thought I’d give it a go.
It’s important to say that very few of the recipes – except for the juices – include straight-up weed. That’s because it’s a nasty substance to chew and digest. In order to eat it, you need to process it.
Luckily, the active ingredient, THC, is soluble in a range of liquids, including water, fat and alcohol. So the building blocks of cannabis cookery are butters, oils and tinctures. To cook with the stuff you’re going to need to think ahead, and not start the same day. But once you’ve cooked up a batch of butter or oil, you can keep it on hand for quite a while.
There are many oil and butter recipes in the book. I went for the simplest I could find: simple cannabis butter and 20-minute cannabis olive oil. The recipes each demand the cannabis be ground down to a powder.
Where there are dispensaries, they will sell pre-ground weed, often cheaper than the impressive buds sold for smoking. But it’s still pretty chunky. The book recommends putting it through a coffee grinder, but mindful of others in the house, I went at it with a mortar and pestle instead, which worked well.
The butter is made by heating a pound of butter with some water and a quarter ounce of weed, simmering until water disappears (about two hours), straining the end product through muslin, and refrigerating overnight.
My results were delightful: a pale green block of butter that curled beautifully, and looked downright wholesome. It couldn’t have been easier.
As for the oil, I am prepared to admit user error, but I found that I got a much nastier-looking result. After 20 minutes of simmering an eighth in olive oil, then straining, I got a blackish, bongwater-smelling product. I still used it and it did the job, but it wasn’t the most pleasant thing to look at in the jar.
Once you have butter and oil, you can do almost anything. The butter can be used in baking, melted over popcorn or vegetables or spread on toast. The oil can be used in any way olive oil can, from salad dressings to cooking.
I eat meat, but I can’t quite come at getting stoned off a steak, or for that matter a roast chicken. I wasn’t up for a curry or red beans and rice, either. So for starters I decided to go veg, and to stick with simple things.
First up I made an appetiser: magic herb mushrooms stuffed with garlic herb goat cheese. I gently cooked destalked mushrooms in cannabis oil, which they duly slurped up. Then I filled them with a mixture of cream cheese and goat cheese, and bunged them under the broiler.
The result was both delicious and, with the 20-minute oil, only mildly potent. The come-on was long and gentle, by which time I was ready for something sweet.
Here, I decided to go for a classic: the pot brownie (I could have made a flourless chocolate cake, a rum sauce for ice cream, or “deconstructed brownies” in a waffle cone from the book, but again – baby steps).
One brownie recipe in the book is loaded with superfoods – chia, almonds and goji berries. These go into a gluten-free brownie mix along with cannabis butter, as well as cannabis infused agave and vodka if you choose (I chose not to crank it up too much).
This outcome was dangerously delicious: chocolatey, gooey, but textured by the fruit, nuts and seeds – and it was hard keeping to the recommendation of starting with a one-inch (you can always freeze any excess). I did, though, and again was able to keep things under control – I was baked, but not too baked.
The straw that broke the camel’s back? The drink I chose to make. I avoided the cocktail recipes (as the book warns, mixing alcohol and pot can be dicey) and made a juice.
This is one situation where raw pot flowers come into play. The recipe I used called for an eighth of an ounce along with a blood orange, a standard orange, a lemon, some ginger, kale and collards. I fed all this through my masticating juicer, which pulverised the lot.
The juice tasted great, but soon I needed a nice lie-down. It was not total panicky freakout territory, but it was a relentless, rippling buzz of mind and body that, for a number of hours, left me capable of little not much more than occasionally peeking through the blinds and shuffling through True Widow albums.
It’s seriously strong, and if you’re having it for breakfast, I’d make sure that you’ve cleared your diary. Perhaps it’s one of those things best reserved for those who are on long-term high doses for medical reasons, or who are committed to a day of Netflix and not much else.
It all worked out well, on the whole, and isn’t much more difficult than any other kind of cooking. The book is chatty, beautifully presented and looks and feels like any other modern food-porny cookbook.
If the way to the middle class’s heart is through its stomach, with books like this available, the marijuana industry will only get bigger, and its products more entrenched in everyday life.
The future is a cleansing juice that kicks your butt.