Cheri Sicard has been a seasoned food writer and lover of good recipes long before she became a medical marijuana patient and activist. She created and launched the popular cooking website FabulousFoods.com and has authored books on the subject including last year's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Easy Freezer Meals. Now, as 'Cannabis Cheri,' she presents readers with over 120 kitchen tested recipes in her latest work The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook which was released at this past February's High Times Cannabis Cup in Los Angeles.
A foodie focused on flavor, Sicard believes that medical marijuana users need not sacrifice taste in exchange for the benefits that edibles provide. To that end, she provides recipes for main courses, appetizers, soups, side dishes, drinks and much more with 40 full color photographs to help further illustrate her point.
As part of our special 4/20 pot extravaganza, Cannabis Cheri spoke with the Weekly about her new cookbook.
OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): What was your first experience with edibles? Looking back, did you ever think you'd become 'Cannabis Cheri' complete with cookbook in hand?
I was in my late 30s before I started using cannabis regularly. My first experience were some cookies I made from the trimmings of a friend's grow at the time. I had no idea what I was doing and they came out exceptionally strong. It's been over 15 years and people are still talking about those infamous cookies. I was a food writer long before cannabis entered my life in a regular way. I was also the typical closeted American marijuana user, so no I didn't envision it then. But the more I used marijuana for my medical conditions, the more I started reading and doing research, and the more I learned the angrier I got about the way the public has been the victim of decades of government sponsored lies and propaganda designed to demonize cannabis in order to further corporate financial interests. Within 6 months I went from closeted smoker to outspoken activist and haven't looked back since. Once I came out of the cannabis closet, it was only natural to turn my research to food and cooking.
You have a professional background in food writing and recipe development. How was the process like shifting those skills into writing The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook?
A lot easier than it would be for someone who doesn't already know how to cook well. I already half the equation down. I just had to learn to effectively incorporate the medicine. When I started looking into it, I did what most people do and went to the internet. What I found was a ton of information, some of it vastly conflicting. It was common to find instructions on two different websites that directly contradicted each other. So I started experimenting, putting things into practice, and taking copious notes on what worked well, what didn't. I am a foodie, so I wanted to create recipes that tasted good that were also effective. And more than just recipes, I wanted to teach people how to cook with cannabis, so they can take those principles and apply them to the kinds of food they want to eat. Why choke down bad tasting medibles when the food can be both delicious and medicated?
Our editor has a book out on the history of Mexican food in the U.S. Are there any recipes in your cookbook for medicated Mexi meals?
Yes, there are quite a few. Namely guacamole, quesadillas, albondigas, chicken or tofu green chiles enchiladas, chiles rellenos, and strawberry licuados.
People can find an array of edibles at their local dispensary these days. What are the advantages of turning to your recipes instead?
There are many advantages to doing it yourself and it's all about customization. You can use strains that works best for you in amounts that meet your specific needs — whether you have a high tolerance or are a cannabis lightweight, you make your edibles with the amount of medicine that works best for your individual needs. That customization factor also extends to other ingredients. What ever your dietary needs or restrictions — vegan, gluten free, diabetic friendly, etc, you make your homemade medibles fit the profile.
Restaurant critic Jonathan Gold recently wrote in the LA Times about discreet dinner gatherings on the down low featuring cannabis cooking. If marijuana is to be further normalized someday, do you see cannabis restaurants and cafes in the future?
I do, although I see the medicated food augmenting a regular menu. I have heard about the private cannabis dinner parties. While they sound fun, unless the food is extremely lightly dosed you probably won't want to, nor should you, consume an entire large meal composed completely of medicated foods. I think it far more practical to medicate one or two courses and just enjoy well prepared food for the rest of the meal.
We live in a fast paced society. Cooking slows us down, but in a good way. But for those on the move, you're writing a 'Quick and Easy Cooking with Marijuana' volume. What can you tell us about that followup project?
It will be medicated recipes that home cooks can put together quickly and with minimal fuss– still wholesome foods and made from scratch, but quick and easy to prepare so cooks can throw something together at the spur of the moment. The current book, The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook, has some of these, but it also has a balance of different types of recipes. All the book's recipes are accessible enough for beginners to make, but sophisticated enough to appeal to connoisseurs.
Lastly, what's your personal favorite recipe to prepare and why?
Tough question, they're all my babies! But if you're going to put me on the spot, I'll pick the New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp. I'm not sure why this favorite New Orleans recipe has this name, because it never comes near an open flame, but that's what they call it there (Angelenos might know it as “Killer Shrimp” from the popular restaurant of the same name), but it is shrimp cooked in an intensely spicy broth and served with crusty French bread for soaking up said sauce. While I love this recipe even without the cannabis, it has so many wonderful flavors going on, its the perfect vehicle to mask that usually unwanted herbal flavor marijuana can add to foods. Yum!
The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook is available for purchase online at cannabischeri.com