One week before heading home to Louisiana this past January, my mother and her friend Britney hoodwinked me in NYC for a whirlwind of Big Apple escapades. Hours of department store adventuring and face-stuffing of massive two-pound lobsters eventually wore us down to energetic stubs, so we took our pre-theatre evening repose in their hotel room—feet covered with kitsch-y, fuzz-adorned slippers and a mind-numbing TV station providing the background noise. Unprovoked, my mother turned to me, laughing. “You know what I could use right now?” she asked us. “A nice weed high. Mark, can you make us some brownies when we go home?” I felt my brain split in half from the confusion and skepticism of that request. “I’m serious,” she affirmed.
Okay, yes, a majority of the ‘80s and ‘90s-era kids can’t fathom getting baked with their parents for obvious reasons like legal troubles and the unwritten rule of parents not endorsing drug culture, but I think my own perplexity warrants further explanation. My parents, natives of that social homunculus of a state known as North Carolina, were never too keen on intoxication. The concept of them getting shellacked on the sauce is a unicorn, and my aunt turns into Ed the Hyena from Lion King when describing their substance usage aversion. So, when 16-year-old me was caught red-eyed and green-handed, their reactions scared me off the devil’s lettuce.
When I came home at two in the morning, eyes red as maraschino cherries, my parents found me with my head in the clouds and a shit-eating grin plastered across my face. My mom’s light bulb moment didn’t take long, and after her a slightly toned-down version of bloody murder screams along with my father’s own bowel-shaking bellows, I burst into my room and dove under the blankets, terrified to come up for air for fear of further echoes. The next morning after coming home from school, the room was something along the lines of a wreck. Moreover, on my bathroom counter were the shards of a broken weed pipe, the then-emptied weed bag, and their written notice about my forthcoming zilch of a social life over the next few weeks.
After that incident, for the rest of my high school days, I kept to my parents’ biddings inside the house about weed. The subject was taboo, and kids that had a penchant for smoking were not mentioned, nor invited over. I managed to stifle my curiosity for fear of the vocal horror show’s reprisal, and eventually, I forgot what it was like to get high.
After moving to New York for undergraduate school, though, I quickly rekindled the spark for ganja love at my liberal-minded university at the first dorm party. In addition to indulging copious amounts of weed, over those four years, I managed to expand my knowledge of weed from “it’s the stuff that gets me high” to an encyclopedic Cliff Notes of Urban Outfitters’ stoner-friendly literature. The different flavors and effects of weed strains became archived (based on whatever memories I could recall); 4/20 was a hedonistic, slowburn holiday celebrated religiously; and best of all, I managed (puns unintended) to hybridize my budding appreciation of weed with my newfound skills in the kitchen.
Beginning with my culinary contributions of “green” eggs and ham to a 4/20 breakfast my sophomore year, I gradually familiarized myself with the requisite base of practically all edibles: weed butter. Surprisingly, cooking cannabutter is a relatively simple process: using a pot, melt butter or any other fat on low heat while stirring in finely ground weed (optionally de-stemmed and seeded for universally superstitious reasons) for 45 minutes, allowing the THC and herbal notes to infuse into the butter (my anti-earthy flavor friends advise using a slow cooker, but that depends on how much effort [read: time] you really want to put into making the butter). Intuitively, the more weed added to X amount of butter, the stronger the butter will be.
Together with friends, I experimented with baking or cooking up edibles. Starting with the classic pot brownies, the bizarreness of our concoctions escalated to spicy Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes. Eventually, we even tried cannabutter-loaded versions of corn cookies that probably would have been pined for internationally by food-blogging potheads. Essentially, whenever cannbutter was available, I put that shit in everything.