The Sous Vide Weed Chef Out To Decolonize Your Cookbook
How Monica Lo of Sous Weed explores heritage and history, plus her recipe for Kabocha Squash Snickerdoodles.
The name of Monica Lo’s food blog isn’t just great wordplay. It’s the culinary cannabis creative’s origin story.
Lo worked as an art director and designer for ten plus years, dabbling in food and photography in New York City before landing in San Francisco. Then in early 2015, a brutal herniated disc resulted in an immediate need for cannabis-based pain management—and thus an apartment-friendly form of cannabis. At the time, Lo was working as the creative director at a small sous vide startup, and as she brainstormed ways to medicate, her eyes wandered towards one of the sous vide machines sitting in her kitchen.
“Sous vide refers to the process of placing your food in a bag or airtight jar and cooking it at a precise temperature in a pot of water,” explains Lo. “Since the cannabis and oil are sealed in an airtight bag and placed underwater, there's no smell! It worked perfectly. There's also no need to babysit a hot stovetop. You can walk away without worrying about overcooking your cannabis.”
This easy method for infusing food with precision was exactly what Lo had been seeking, as she got more adventurous with her infusions, she documented her journey. Within the year, she organized her explorations in Asian ingredients, history, cooking, photography, and cannabis into a blog called Sous Weed. She crafted recipes from scratch, put a thoughtfully Asian spin on others, photographing everything herself, and sharing cannabis education along the way.
“My platform is meant to be both teacher and friend,” says Lo. “For those unsure about cannabis, it offers educated information about how cannabis works and why. For readers interested in utilizing cannabis for wellness, it’s a source of inspiration with approachable ways to infuse a variety of cannabinoids into a sustainable daily routine.”
Five years later, and Sous Weed is a full-fledged brand renowned in the West Coast’s cannabis community. Her sous vide weed recipes are published in multiple books, and Lo has become a prominent voice for Asian-Americans in the cannabis industry. In the fall of 2019, she gave a talk at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum on Cannabis in Ancient Asia.
“As a Taiwanese-American child growing up in Texas, I adopted a lot of Western approaches and values,” says Lo. “Those beliefs have been challenged time and time again as I’ve moved, traveled, and connected with people from all walks of life. I now long to bridge the gap to my ancestors and their indigenous knowledge; to better understand the immigrant experience.”
Lo’s recipes evolve with her understanding of these ingredients’ origins, and the more she learns, the more significant the act of “decolonizing your pantry” becomes.
“Much of American literature—cookbooks included—comes from the perspective of a white-dominant culture,” she says. “Cookbooks are powerful—they contain recipes that feed your family and through repetition, become tradition.”
If you seek out marginalized voices and make space for them on your bookshelf, you’re helping deconstruct dominant colonial ideologies. As does understanding and caring about where your food comes from and how the ingredients are being sourced.
“During this time especially,” notes Lo, “it’s also about shopping small and supporting local mom-and-pops and immigrant-owned businesses to make sure our community can weather this pandemic.”
In quarantined life, Lo is maintaining her creativity by disconnecting from social media at least a few hours each day and soothing her travel itch by reading really, really old cookbooks from around the world. Her holidays will be quiet, but she’s looking forward to a reflective rest of the year and the time to enjoy some recipes like this Eastern spin on a Snickerdoodle cookie.
“Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter squash with an edible rind that’s wonderful steamed, roasted, boiled in porridge, or pureed,” notes Lo. “I’ll often opt for roasted kabocha puree as a substitute for any recipes using canned pumpkin, but feel free to use canned pumpkin in its place.”
Sous Weed Kabocha Snickerdoodle
Makes 18 cookies
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
- 4 cloves, ground
- 2 allspice, ground
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 6 Tbsp butter, room temperature
- 2 Tbsp Sous Weed Butter room temperature*
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 1/4 cup roasted kabocha squash puree
- Cinnamon Sugar Topping
- 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, spices, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt until combined. Set aside.
2. In a stand mixer, cream both butters and both sugars until uniform and fluffy. Add egg yolk, vanilla bean paste, and roasted kabocha squash puree. Scrape down sides of the bowl and mix until combined.
3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. In a bowl, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon together and set aside.
6. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Scoop out 2 tablespoons and roll into a ball by hand. Coat the ball in the cinnamon-sugar mix and arrange on baking sheet 3 inches apart.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are light golden brown. Remove from oven and give them a light tap with the back of a spoon to allow them to flatten out. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
*The amount of cannabis butter specified in this recipe is a very loose suggestion. Dosing homemade edibles can be tricky, so the best way to test for potency is to start with one portion of a serving (in this case, one teaspoon) and wait one to two hours before making an informed decision whether to consume more. Always dose carefully and listen to your body, and never drive under the influence of cannabis.