Toking with Toklas / Cooking With Pot

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In 1954, Alice B. Toklas–lifelong companion to literary icon Gertrude Stein–published her cookbook, the aptly named “Alice B. Toklas Cookbook.” Its quirky recipes and charming anecodotes make it a must-have for any lover of food and literature. Of course, I’m being a little deceitful: I’m making it sound like I’ve read it all the way through. I haven’t. I have, though, read the introduction by M.F.K. Fisher and am familiar with the text enough to know that it suits our subject well.

For on page 259, Ms. Toklas offers up a recipe for Haschich Fudge “(which anyone could whip up on a rainy day)”. According to Fisher, the American version cut the recipe out–“regretfully omitted in 1954 but reprinted in paperback in 1960” because it calls for “a bunch of cannibus sativa, pulverized.” Fisher tells us that that she has never eaten a “Toklas fudge brownie” but that she has been told “they taste slightly bitter, depending on how much pot is put into them, and that (1) they are absolutely without effect and (2) they are potentially lethal.”

Looking at the recipe now, it seems more meritorious for its language than its content. “This,” writes Toklas, “is the food of Paradise–of Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies’ Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR.”

(I don’t know what the DAR is, but I love the image of bridge club ladies eating pot brownies.)

“In Morocco,” continues Toklas, “it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of hot mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by ‘un evanouissement reveille.'”

The idea for this post came to me tonight while reading the current issue of the New Yorker. There is a piece in there about Ken Kesey (author of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”) who I briefly idolized my senior year of high school when I took a trip on the technicolor school bus of Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”

I was a literary stoner. Meaning, I never smoked pot–wouldn’t touch it–but read all about it. I always told myself that one day, after I had accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish, I would take “experimental drugs” and traverse the vistas in my brain. Today that seems rather silly. I don’t need drugs to traverse my vistas, I have “Hair” on DVD.

In a way, I felt vindicated in my no-pot stance: because of the sheer abundance of pot-smoking that went on around me (and the large majority of kids growing up in America today) I felt like a rebel for NOT smoking pot. My anti-drug was reading, writing, and watching movies. Plus I masturbated a lot.

College brought similar dynamics. I was the non-pot-smoker and consequently the “non-conformist.” My neuroses became the backbone of my humor and while the majority coped with cannibus, I coped with comedy. Planets shifted; “not cool” became “cool” and now I’m the poster child for a drug-free America. I made cupcakes with sock bunnies on my hands.

What fascinates me, though, about pot in terms of cooking is that marijuana is a perfeclty natural substance. The same way that we can relish a radish, we should be able to go gaga over ganja.

Yet pot is taboo. Pot is not sold in Publix. Pot is illegal.

I’m not here, necessarily, to advocate the legalization of marijuana. I’m simply here to point out that many of your associations regarding pot are informed by an agenda that involves politics, economics and many other big words. In fact, pot is something that grows in the ground just like lettuce or children. To regard it any differently is to recite repressive rhetoric.

If you believe in God and His bounty, or Buddha and his quicker-picker-upper, it would be inconsitent to view any of their earthly creations as intrinsically sinful. That’s silly.

Remember the mantra we’ve been tossing around? All things in moderation.

Here I’m merely addressing the idea of cooking with pot. I’m open to it! Apparently, Jeremiah Tower and Alice Waters used pot on a regular basis in the early days of Chez Panisse. Their Beavis and Butthead salad was apparently to-die-for.

And for those that are interested, here’s the rest of Toklas’s recipe. Keep in mind Fisher’s warning—it’s lethal and bitter. Enjoy!

Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander. These should all be pulverised in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates

[Haha, couldn’t resist: “stoned dates”!!]

dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of canibus sativa can be pulverised. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.

Obtaining the canibus may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as canibus sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognised, everywhere in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope. In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called canibus indica, has been observed even in city window boxes. It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.

18 comments

  1. DAR stands for Daughters of the American Revolution, something you clearly are not. Eating pot? Just another plant? My heavens!

    You should get stoned … by AN ANGRY MOB!

  2. If you do a search on Google, you will notice that the DAR is mostly prominent in the South of the US…as is another infamous organization for the good old boys…in some people’s minds not entirely a coincidence!

  3. I wonder if Fisher meant that Toklas’s particular recipe was “without effect.”

    Because some recipes along these lines are definitely “effective.” No question.

    I mean that’s what somebody TOLD me anyway…

  4. So heres the deal.

    If you eat pot, it does nothing. From what I understand, it must be heated to a certain point to extract the TCH for consumption through your GI tract.

    Sometimes simply baking it can achieve this, but the best way to do it is though butter.

    Basically, you take your weed, melt some butter, and cook the weed in the butter for a few minutes. The melted butter leeches the TCH out of the plant, and stays in the butter.

    You then proceed to make brownies (or whatever, spread it on toast, I dont care) with the butter.

    When eating the brownies, heed this advide. If you make a sheet with an ounce of weed, and cut it into eight pieces, DO N_O_T eat more than one piece per person. While consuming them, crumble them up into little pieces and eat them slowly. The effect should come on within an hour, and last for five or six. The effect differs from when smoked because there is very litle effect to your body — it’s mostly in your mind. (As opposed to smoking, which does both)

    What happens to most people is that they eat one, and dont feel anything 10 minutes later, so they eat another, and another. An hour later, they get so high that they damn near pass out.

    More information available at: http://www.hempfiles.com/php/section.php?id=3

    http://www.smokingwithstyle.com/potbutter.htm

    http://www.smokingwithstyle.com/burnerbrownies.htm

    Have fun!

  5. Okay, this post is going to date me big time, but here goes:

    I am a child of the seventies, and I have made and eaten many pot brownies in the past, and I can assure you they do get you high. I can only imagine the effect today, as pot has a much higher THC content now than it used to. It is a milder high than smoking produces, and the main drawback is not bitterness, but the gritty texture created by the dried plant fibers.

    Hash is a better choice to use in cooking, being moist and caky, not dry. This will also enable you to slip them into the bridge club’s dessert tray undetected.

    Not that I am advocating this of course!

  6. OK Amateur Gourmand – something about your site’s high yiddish content told me you might be unfamiliar with the tea-sipping, bridge-playing ladies of the Daughters of the American Revolution who are now mostly no longer with us. No, Meg in Paris, the DAR had nothing to do with that other organization, I think it was more about the Mayflower. I’m agreeing with Cathy that hash is better for the brownie task (according to reliable sources). And might I add, choking the chicken is no substitute for drug abuse as one should be able to master both – get it? I’m becoming addicted to the AG site!!

  7. While both are prominent in the South, and emphasize being white and non-foreign the organizations are unrelated. DAR is indeed an organization for women who can prove their American ancestry to date back to the Revolutionary War. I am eligable for this, along with its sister organization, Daughters of the Confederacy. I’m sure there’s a fifty year gap between me and the rest of the members.

    As to pot brownies, I have heard a variety of things. The inherent danger is that it’s difficult to regulate the amount that you get and its effect as opposed to smoking. Not that I would know from first hand experience, as I have never done any sort of illigal drug. I should put that on my DAR and DC applications.

  8. According to my hippie father, pot brownies don’t work so well. Awesome AWESOME site by the way…you’re one of my favorite links.

  9. DAR… ahaha. I haven’t heard about them in a long time. Those old people crack me up.

    DAR ladies getting high on brownies. Now, THAT would be some comedy right there.

  10. Love the “Marajuana — at least it’s not crack!” Picture. Makes me think of “Reefer Madness”; I’m a film student, and we actually studied that little gem.

    For anyone not familiar with the cult classic, it’s an exploitation film about the horrors of marajuana, which the film itemizes: apparently, it makes young people sexualy permiscuous, stupid, and play the piano like a mad monkey. It also apparently, is a gateway drug to harsher drugs, and will leave you pregnant/with a pregnant girlfriend, starving and freezing in a tenament house and contemplating suicide in the gas stove.

    On a side note, the film was created as part of a campaign by tobacco lobbiests to besmerch the fine name of marajuana so as to eliminate the possibility of pot becoming serious competition to cigarettes (back when pot was not an illegal drug).

    =)

    ~Lacy

  11. Those brownies are one of the nastiest recipes I’ve ever seen. Never mind the pot–all that chopped up cinnamon (4 sticks!) and pepper is wack. And a whole nutmeg? More than a little barftastic.

    There was a theory that the whole recipe was a joke, and that poor Alice didn’t even know what “Haschich” was. I’m pretty sure that at least the first part’s true.

  12. all you uptight folks should just head north over the border to Canada where pot is legal. and if you are homosexual well then you can come get married and smoke a little of the ganja too.

    AG – did you read the article in the NYer about A Toklas and G Stein about a year ago? thought it quite interesting, their political alignings anyway.

    you naughty boy: very clever commentry at Frost Street.

  13. Andrew’s right. Simply eating uncooked pot leaves (as described in toklas’s recipe) will have a mininal effect (and generally taste quite nasty). The gold dust on the leaves contain’s the THC and needs to be heated to extract it’s potent goodness. Hands down the best way to do this is in butter or olive oil and a preasure cooker, but that’s another post for another time.

    a chef, a toker, *and* a memeber of DAR

  14. “According to my hippie father, pot brownies don’t work so well.”

    Clearly your hippie father is trying to mislead you so you don’t bother to try them. ;)

    The cooking isomerizes the THC and a few other chemicals, making them more active (or active at all, for some of the THC relatives). I use safflower oil, because it is basically flavorless, and can be integrated into nearly any recipe.

    The flavor of the herb itself isn’t bad. Just like any other herb, it has a unique flavor that is tasty to some, less tasty to others, and a bit of an acquired taste for some.

    Its not too hard to regulate the dosage, just go slow, and realize that it takes the better part of an hour to come on. And keep in mind that THC has no known toxic dosage, if you eat too much, you’ll just pass out, or maybe get a bit dizzy and throw up, not cool for sure, but not life threatening. One of my earliest encounters involved vegan herbal sunshine cookies that were way too yummy for their own good, and I spent about 36 straight hours as high as a kite. Not what I had in mind, but not all together unpleasant.

    Anyway, I recommend giving some more modern recipes a try. Then again, if you want to preserve your sanctity, you could try involving cooking in your ‘other hobby’, though I don’t have any masturbation-themed recipes to share… :(

  15. two plants decriminalised over here – no excuses for the diverse herb garden . Had a dinner party destroyed by extra special cookies though. Still, roulade adechoise aux marron glaces et jus de vesou (sp?) made for some serious munchy crunchers dude.

  16. Can’t believe you idiots don’t know what the DAR is. This just goes to show how our bullshit immigration policy has, over time, effectively destroyed our American heritage. Now, anything dealing with our national identity, historically speaking, is immedeiately labeled “infamous”, or even racist. This is pure ignorance, facilitated by our lacking school system and guilt-ridden political correctness. Why do people feel the need to chime in when they don’t know shit about the topic, anyway? Losers.

  17. “Our” American heritage is a direct result of “our” immigration policies. Heritage evolves.

    And why do people chime in irrelevantly to grind their own racist/political axes on posts about cooking with hash butter? Huh.

  18. been eating mj for 6 years solid not missing a day!

    ive tried buttr(takes minimum 3 hrs of simmering….not rapid boil….simmer slow.This oviously works wellbuttotally smells the house for the day!

    Havin said that for the last 6 years i been eating the plant proper!

    2 reasons why… firstly less preperation.

    secondly less mess(dried and ground with flour inna coffee grinder!)

    so effectively im makin them into muffins ….but really tiny so im able to get swallow them!

    leaves or buds work equally….buds taste a little better in the end result.

    IACCEPT THEY TASTE DISCUSTING!

    What im really wantin ta know is whether its damaging tomy health in any way at all.

    If ya gonna reply…….please dont speculate…..

    ps..eatin raw dopewilldonuthin at all…believe me!youll be just wastin ya time and pot.