There was a time when pairing Slurpee flavors with Sour Patch Kids by their color was considered a gourmet marijuana experience. Discovering the perfect addition to your badly stirred bowl of mac 'n cheese (yup, it's fruity pebbles) was a master stroke of cannabis culinary brilliance. These days though, with the advent of medicinal marijuana and the increasing acceptance of pot in general, herbal cooking is reaching new highs every day. Bringing this stoner-gourmand attitude right to your very own kitchen is chef-turned-medical grower Scott Bottjer, with his new book Cooking with Keif: A Gourmet Medicinal Marijuana Experience.
Despite all the progress that's been made in that department, though, it's clear even from the book's dedication that medicinal marijuana still has a ways to go before it is widely accepted. Bottjer has to thank his friends (who are also, presumably, his colleagues) by coded nicknames like Papa Joe and The Hookster, and he goes out of his way to thank the California residents who voted for medicinal marijuana.
We do have to admit that all of this, combined with the natural word-associations with a marijuana cookbook, made it a little tough to take it seriously at first. Every turn of the page had us holding our breath for a recipe for Ooey Gooey Pudding Sur-Pies or Bacon-Wrapped Jell-O Rice Krispie Explosion, but that giggly half-hope faded away pretty quickly. Bottjer really has done a wonderful job coming up with serious gourmet recipes meant for adults, and he does no pandering to the usual teenage bakers.
Pages that might be full of ridiculous creations instead list ingredients for pesto and quiche, for apricot glazed pork chops, crab cakes, and tiramisu. There is also a handy introduction to Keif itself, and an explanation of how and why cooking it works. From there Bottjer dives right in, starting with instructions for infusing Keif in cooking ingredients, including the usual butter but also bacon fat and olive oil. The text is spare and the instructions are short and sweet, and almost every recipe ends with the same final instruction: Enjoy.
Cliché though it may sound, in the book it comes off as heartfelt and quaint. The whole Gourmet Medicinal Marijuana Experience feels mature and reasonable. The book is straightforward and simple, and the instructions are totally manageable even for the already medicated. The pictures are also large and lovely, which seriously adds to the appeal.
In the end, the book provides a different take on stoner food and fills a need for gourmet medicinal cuisine in an ever-growing group of patients. Of course, if you're looking for the best snack to make with Hot Cheetos and Raspberry Jam you should probably look elsewhere, but if you want instructions for a fancier, tasty new way to take your medicine -- or throw a kick-ass dinner party -- this is the book for you.