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Monday, March 20, 2023

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Herb: mastering the art of cooking with cannabis

Most cannabis edibles I’ve ever consumed were of the “$5 brownie” variety I picked up from some vendor on a lazy day at the park. These did the job, but are now woefully inadequate after “Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis.”

This new cookbook – written by cannabis chefs Laurie Wolf and Melissa Parks, whose website TheStonersCookbook.com attracts 25 million visitors every week – goes beyond brownies to introduce the reader to a staggering array of culinary cannabis possibilities.

From cannabis kielbasa to cannabis banh mi sandwiches to cannabis smoothies and drinks, Herb provides over 100 cannabis-infused recipes beautifully photographed and detailed with simple, easy-to-follow instructions.

Herb is not a gimmicky stoner book. It’s a true gourmet coffee table cookbook that holds its own with high-quality releases such as the ‘Chez Panisse Cookbook’ or the ‘Zuni Cafe Cookbook’.

Each of the recipes has a high gastronomic value and a low level of difficulty. Most recipes in Herb do not require any special cookware. The most esoteric items needed to make these recipes are a cheesecloth (a few bucks at your local grocery store) and a food processor with a filler opening (available at any home improvement or kitchen supply store). You can also choose recipes that do not require these items as Herb is intended for all readers regardless of their expertise.

Some of the recipes in Herb are amazingly simple and clever cannabis cooking hacks, like the one that turns standard store-bought frozen pot stickers into delicious ‘pot’ pot stickers in just minutes.

Others are five-star masterpieces of the refined variety, such as the cannabis-seared sirloin steak with savory bread pudding. Each recipe in Herb is accompanied by a breathtaking high-res photo of the dish so you can make the presentation like a pro.

The secret ingredient

But keep in mind that you won’t just grab a copy of Herb and eat a homemade cannabis chorizo ​​goat cheese quesadilla an hour later.
Each recipe requires you to prepare a version of cannabis oil or cannabutter, with cooking times ranging from three to five hours. And that before you start cooking the dish yourself.

You can’t rush the process of preparing these cannabis oils and butters, the book emphasizes a “slow and low” ethic of long prep times over low heat so you don’t boil the THC out of your cannabis brews.

Likewise, the book begins with 35 pages of pharmacological guidelines and medical considerations. Herb is really meant for medical marijuana users and the recipes emphasize therapy over just getting high.

The book does not contain many guidelines on different types of cannabis, that is a decision left to the reader. You have to know for yourself which types you prefer to eat and eat. That said, Herb gives different prescription measurements for using cannabis flowers (buds) or leaves (shake), and dosing considerations are covered.

The revelation in Herb is that all of these cannabis recipes are derived from a few “basic building blocks” – the aforementioned oils and cannabutters. Once you know how to make these, the versatility and range of cannabis dishes you can prepare is astonishing.
Herb has an entire chapter on cannabis pizza and pasta dishes, ranging from classy (cannabis avocado crab pasta) to comfort food (cannabis macaroni and cheese).

There’s a section on drinks, with recipes for cannabis-infused hot chocolate and cannabis-infused smoothies.

And for fans of those $5 brownies the park sold, there’s a brownie recipe (triple bomb brownies) that takes this old standby to a much higher culinary level.

Herb includes portioned recipes by default, but gives you the skills to customize these recipes for the results you want. After all, the potency and terpene qualities of the cannabis you use to prepare these recipes can go either way. Be prepared for your first batch of baked goodies to come out a little awkward, but Herb will teach you the nuances of perfecting each dish.

My first results were fantastic, but the book also taught me strategies for improvement. I made the canna oil for a Thai shrimp salad and the canna butter for a tomahawk ribeye steak and cannabis caramel apples for dessert. The preparation time was considerable. But the dishes worked as advertised with a very noticeable, physically relaxing CBD high, and the book had advice for getting several therapeutic results.

It should also be noted that Thai shrimp salad, tomahawk ribeye steak, and homemade caramel are all dishes that are normally way beyond my meager culinary skill.

The real fun with Herb is in the gift giving opportunities. I’m already planning the leftover turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving that I’ll be making for my friends (turkey sandwich, havarti, and caramelized onion cannabis) and the batches of Christmas cookies I’ll be serving at holiday parties (cannabis sugar cookies, thumbprint cookies from cannabis peanut butter).

Herb is a wonderfully inventive high-end cookbook that not only teaches recipes to aspiring chefs, but also teaches skills and tactics to improve or modify the recipes.

As a budding cannabis chef, I’ve learned one very valuable lesson from cooking the dishes in Herb: you shouldn’t snack on the ingredients while preparing the food!

I did a number on myself by snacking on the infused items during the prep process, and boy, did I learn my lesson. That was a rough lesson, but there were plenty of other wonderful lessons in Herb that make this book a must-have for any cannabis user’s bookshelf.

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