I have to admit that I did not begin this column with the intention of diving head first into a gigantic k-hole of weed witchery, history, culture, medicine, and the flavor of the land (agriculture, nature, terpenes, or “terroir,” as some like to call it), but here we are. It’s a weed column, right? Did we expect anything different?
Good, that’s what I thought!
Aside from the obvious purpose of consuming something delicious with a delightful recreational bonus, edibles are the perfect morsel to making sense of the longstanding, baseless stigmas toward weed. Why? Because weed (especially when woven into food) is magic, and humans have a history of banning, prohibiting, and killing everything thought to create magic. I mean, cannabis was here long before we were, historically embedded within the cultural fabric of all corners of the world. It’s arguably the most interesting thing happening in food — and I should know, because I have been reporting on cyclical food trends for over 15 years.
What blows me away is the fact there are over 20,000 different terpenes in existence, and the cannabis plant has more than 100 — and yet pizza and burgers are somehow “trending" again? Fuck me. Even from a taste perspective alone, it’s downright embarrassing that no one is discussing terpenes. Hello, people?! Are you awake? For those of you that are — and if you're reading this, I suspect you're probably pretty conscious of the intricate web of complexities that make up the grey relationship between state and federal laws — I have a good recipe for you this week. So, at least there’s that.
On that note, this edition of Baked to Perfection is super fascinating because, while I have been collecting countless undocumented edibles stories of tokers and smokers from around the world, I did not expect to land on a vintage Shaker recipe dating back to 1832. Wait, the Shakers? Are those the same people as the Quakers? You’ll have to forgive me, because as a Jew who has tuned out Christianity for most of my life despite having it shoved down my throat, I couldn’t remember which sect that was and raised an eyebrow. Turns out, it doesn’t matter because it’s still a contentious issue among all religions depending on who you ask, and universally tied to sacrament. To invest or divest? That is the question.
Gallery — The Classic Infusions from Baked to Perfection:
For the unacquainted, the Shakers were historically considered the hippies of early American Christianity, best known for minimalist communal living, equality of the sexes, pacifism, and charismatic worship (the proto-tweakers of their time, perhaps?). They were also agriculture folk, particularly the women, who were most famous for gathering herbs used for medicinal work (in fact, Shakers actually pioneered the seed-to-sale industry and were the first US large-scale producers of medicinal herbs. Take that, big Pharma!).
Unfortunately, as a result of a misguided celibacy policy, Shakers are sort of a dying populus with only three left in the world. However, their history lives on in the archives at the Canterbury Shaker Village in Concord, New Hampshire, where rogue short-order cannabis chef Sebastian Carosi worked many moons ago as the museum’s culinary director. The rosemary gingersnap cookies, in particular, stood out to him because he hadn’t seen it before in any Shaker cookbooks or in print anywhere.
“Around 1840, the Shakers started producing sarsaparilla syrup and were growing acres of rosemary to dry and sell in their dry herb catalog they were known for,” he said. “While at the village in the summer of 2005, I tended to some rosemary bushes that’s trunks were as big around as a small pine tree. This recipe represents everything simple and healing about the Shakers and their lives. I tried to incorporate as many of the heirloom medicinal herbs and plants, grown or wild into my renditions of traditional Shaker cuisine while at the village. If you know the history of the Shakers, healthy living, healing medicinal herbs and real homegrown food was a matter not only of life, but in their religious practices as well. I have changed very little about this vintage recipe and every time I make it, it further deepens my appreciation for rosemary. I am happy to be able to be called one of three Shaker chefs left in the world.”
Read on for Carosi’s magical cannabis riff on a super old Shaker recipe that’s fit for the upcoming winter season.
Cannabis Rosemary Gingersnap Cookies
Prep time: 20-30 minutes
Cook time: Up to 15 minutes
Yield: 4-6 dozen (depending on the size of scoop used)
- 1½ cups salted creamery butter, room temperature
- 1½ cups granulated cane sugar
- ½ cup cannabis sugar
- 2 large organic pasture raised farm eggs
- ½ cup dark unsulphured blackstrap molasses
- 2 drops True Terpenes Eugenol
- 4 cups organic all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons salt flakes (Carosi recommends Jacobsen Salt Co.)
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
- ¼ cup fresh organic rosemary, chopped fin
- 1 gram water soluble CBD isolate
- 1 teaspoon ground dry ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F or prepare the dough a day ahead and chill before baking.
In a large standing mixer, cream butter and sugar together until evenly mixed and smooth without lumps. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is well incorporated. Add molasses and terpenes, mixing until combined.
In a separate bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Place dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator until chilled. When ready to bake, scoop quarter-sized pieces of dough and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with some sea salt flakes, then bake for 10 to 12 minutes for a chewier cookie (or a little longer if you like a good snap). Cool on a drying rack.
MERRY JANE: Tell us a little bit about what you do in the cannabis world? How did you make the transition into being an edibles professional?
Sebastian Carosi: I'm not really an edibles professional, I'm a professional farm-to-fork chef who treats cannabis like the agricultural crop it is. That in itself sets me apart from many, as consumption of the plant in its entirety is vitally important for its future as an organic edible commodity: source, proximity, production methods, methods of processing, travel time, travel distance, fossil fuel footprint, sustainability and environmental impact stay at the forefront of my food focus. Eating the plant itself is one if the best forms of plant-based protein on the planet... loaded with amino acids and many other nutrients, I truly enjoy consuming raw cannabis leaves and juiced cannabis leaves when available. Dosage and the endocanabinoid system are the important aspects I make sure to educate myself about repeatedly and as often as possible.
I spend most of my time developing recipes and products for cannabis edibles companies and processors in the Washington State i5o2 recreational market. I also spend the majority of my time on the road doing cooking with cannabis culinary demonstrations (eating the devil's lettuce) at the many cannabis conventions and expos up and down the left coast. I write monthly cooking with cannabis columns in five cannabis magazines here in the states, Canada, New Zealand, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
I am sponsored by several companies and products including: Magical Butter, True Terpenes, Waffleye, Rosinbud, Real CannaHoney, Revival CBD MFG, Fairwinds Cannabis, Luce Farm Wellness and Mothership Farms out of Salem, Oregon. You can also look out for my current project with the founder of the Oregon Growers Cup: cannachefportland. It's going to be one to come out for, so get ready PDX cannabis community.
This new year I am honored to be doing several cooking demonstrations at the Texas hemp convention in January in Dallas with Kush Marketplace out of Seattle.
What's your relationship with weed, anyway? When did you start smoking and how do you like to unwind with it?
It is safe to say that I don’t have a “relationship” with weed — I have a love affair with weed. Like borderline Fatal Attraction love affair. I'm one of those folks who gets up, smokes weed, gets going, smokes weed, moves throughout the day, smokes weed, relaxes for the day, smokes weed. We smoke about 1.5 to 2 grams of concentrated cannabis oil a day between two of us. I am not the one that takes a dab, and rolls the little glass bobber around in a circular motion to air it out. I'm a Pacific Northwest get-to-the-fucken-head, down-and-dirty dabber. I love terp rich sauce, but sugar wax mostly. I haven't smoked flower regularly for over 10 years now, although I occasionally get to judge a Cannabis Cup or Growers Cup where I have to sample, judge, and rate up to 180 different flower samples. I think that they do that to me on purpose sometimes.
One of the things that really strikes me about your cooking style is that it's heavily connected to the Earth — you seem to always be out in the wild foraging for something, fermenting and embodying a real farm-to-table attitude towards cannabis as agriculture. So, which came first for you: the kitchen or the weed?
Yes, my food style is very much connected with the Earth and the wild edible commodities that it gives us to nourish our minds, bodies, and souls. I'm pushing to continually source ingredients from land not disturbed by plow or hoe. There is very little that we can do to find true health in a grocery store because its driven by dollar signs. It's the store, producers, commercials, ad executives, and the lobbyists that all put a huge price tag on so-called “health food.” I incorporate foraged items not only into my family's diets, but those that dine with me. It gives me a true sense of pride knowing that the government can't slap an organic endorsement sticker on wild harvested ingredients, and that I spent time on the forest floor finding it for the consumer. Appreciation seems to mean something completely different at this point in the food chain. After all, there are no seasons in a grocery store.
After years of cannabis use, I was slowly able to pinpoint why I used it. I lived for the controlled chaos of a full-on riot act style busy ass kitchen that pushed the limits of human possibilities, boundaries, and sanity in every way six days a week. Some turn to alcohol to calm the nerves, but to me alcohol dulled my senses and physical movements. I'm naturally so high strung that cannabis brought me down to everyone elses normal high energy levels. Without it, I had to slow down so the people around me could catch up. I will not and do not wish to take opioids ever. Cannabis strains with high terpene levels of beta-caryophyllene, myrcene, and eugenol are super calming for me. My father was a medical grower from the late '60s and into the '70s, so growing up I was always surrounded by cannabis. It was a part of the household in every way.
Oh, shit. Sorry — the weed came first. Then the kitchen. It was a huge creative driving force for me.
Let's talk about the recipe (which I love, by the way). Rosemary and ginger are such smart choices to pull in a spicy, herbaceous, and earthy flavor profile that seems like it would complement grassy terpenes that would be terrible in, say, chocolate. Did you work with any specific strains, terps, or infusing methods to play up those natural flavors or does it work to mask otherwise unsavory notes?
I usually start with sound recipes and formulas and then formulate the best form of full-spectrum cannabis into the recipe. It's been with me for years. I am one of three Shaker chefs left in the world and this recipe represents a time in my life that I was immersed in Shaker medicinal herbs, cooking, growing, and feeding people real honest homegrown foods without tweezers or cryogenic anti-immersion gastro foam techniques. I ran the Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire for several years and found this recipe on a hand written 3x5 type of card dated back to the early 1900's. As the working executive chef and culinary director, the rosemary that I used at the village to make these cookies was almost as thick as a young sugar maple and was reported in the Shaker archives to have been planted in the 1850's. The alpha-pinene and pinene that permeated the air several yards around the huge shrub was intoxicating. The slight piquant qualities of cannabis are very similar in spice to the ginger and completely complimentary.
Being such a pro with edibles, you've probably had your own fair share of lessons with dosing. For better or worse, tell us your most memorable edibles story?
I'm a type 2 diabetic. If people would take the time to research the cannabis plant they would learn that it is made up of some cool lipids and fats. Those lipids are crazy hard for a diabetic to break down, so I try to stay away from edibles. A 2mg edible will send me to the moon and back. I prefer solventless squish (rosin), live resins, and concentrates. A couple of times a week I eat very small doses of FECO (also known as RSO). I believe wholeheartedly in full-spectrum cannabis products that support the entourage effect. I dont believe in all this damn sugar-based candy on the shelves of dispensaries.
We legalized and recreationalized under the auspice of medicine, yet all you find in the stores is candy, candy, candy. Why not pesto or hummus? Why not healthy alternative stoner snacks? One time a friend of mine made this dope vegan cannabis fudge. I ate about 6 or 7 pieces 'cause, ya know — it's fudge. But, holy fuck, when I got to the Interstate Bridge between Portland and Vancouver I completely lost my shit. I puked out the window heading into Vancouver at a smooth 65mph. It was super gross. I try to educate about low-dose responsible cannabis consumption for those that don't eat the devil's lettuce on a regular basis.