Notes from a Minimalist
Say goodbye to the things you don’t need.
I’m going to start an edibles business because everything out there sucks.Laurie Wolf
“Back then we were all hippies, hated the war and used drugs”, recalls Laurie Wolf, the acclaimed “Mother Stewart of Edibles” and pioneer of the edible cooking movement. Growing up in the Bronx during the 1970s, Wolf was raised in the heart of an affluent New York City revelling in its years of hedonism and rebellion. As long-haired teenagers protested the Vietnam War and Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side snarled through the radio, her parents hoped that sending their daughter to a respected all-girls’ school would shield her from the promiscuous morals of the outside world. Wolf remembers the moment her 15-year-old self came home to find her mother weeping inconsolably. “I was like, “what’s wrong?” she laughs. Her mother, sick with horror, responded, “I went to your school and they told us that everybody but one person didn’t use cannabis. I’m praying that the person is you.” Amused, Wolf quipped, “Oh no, I use cannabis. In fact, I’m a little stoned right now.”
Out of the wild haze of her adolescent years, Wolf developed an illustrious career working in Manhattan kitchens, styling food for photo shoots and developing recipes for magazines like New York, Self and Mademoiselle. Despite putting her weed habit on the backburner, she recounts returning to the young voices of her children, curious as to why mum was in such a good mood after “taking out the garbage”. It wasn’t until moving to Portland, Oregon ten years ago, that she discovered the potential compatibility between cannabis and cuisine.
As one of the nine US states where recreational use of cannabis has been legalised, Portland has quickly developed a reputation as a “Hipster Haven”. The city is the kind of place where Wolf suspects ‘‘if you don’t have a beard, you may have to spend a little time in jail”. Portland’s liberal approach to cannabis use aligns with its reputation as the nexus of counter-culture; a city overflown of artisan coffee shops, microbreweries and a thriving indie music scene.
Within the first few weeks of her arrival, a Portland local sat next to Wolf at a dinner party. He leaned in to share how a medical prescription for cannabis had helped subdue his long-term struggle with seizures. At the time, Wolf had been suffering with seizures for over 27 years. These frightening episodes would trigger terrifying waves of disassociation. Wolf describes the experience as akin to feeling “spaced-out” and unaware of her surroundings. Medical doctors had prescribed pharmaceuticals that brought with them significant side effects. “I couldn’t drive for a lot of the time and I had to go for blood tests every couple of months because the pills that I was on could do damage to my liver and kidneys,” she explains. Buoyed by the promise of an alternative cure, Wolf went to see a doctor who issued her her first medical marijuana card.
“My first choice was to try edibles,” she explains, “but at that time they were really dreadful.” Wolf describes the crude taste of her first edible; a thick bud of cannabis dipped into chocolate. Appalled by the experience, Wolf announced to her husband, “I’m going to start an edibles business because everything out there sucks”. In the early days of her venture, Wolf recalls how she would start her day developing recipes at 9 in the morning, before passing out in bed, high by 3 in the afternoon. Shortly after Wolf’s initial foray into the business, weed was legalised for recreational use in Oregon. Mary, Wolf’s daughter-in-law soon got involved in the business, sharing in the operational and creative responsibilities. The duo now operate from a commercial kitchen where, to Wolf’s relief, tasting on the job is strictly prohibited.
Since launching her journey into the culinary world of cannabis, Wolf continues to publish specialist cookbooks and regularly contributes recipes to every leading cannabis-focused magazine in America. More importantly, she hasn’t suffered from a seizure in almost six years. “We had an event in our kitchen last week targeted to women from 30-70,” she shares, “we all talked about what cannabis did for us and how it’s affected us… and pretty much everyone had a story about how cannabis really changed their lives for the better.”
Before launching her range, Wolf recalls how dispensaries would offer 500mg edibles that “wouldn’t kill you but would make you say “what was I thinking? I can’t move!”. For those who aren’t after the drug’s psychoactive effects, Laurie and Maryjane also offers a CBD-only bar that offers “a feeling of wellness, but without any kind of head change”. Each of the Laurie and Maryjane bars provide a distinct type of high. Breaking down the anatomy of edibles, she explains that those infused with the sativa strain of cannabis are mostly associated with clarity, creativity and energy. A writer friend of hers describes eating just one of the bars before working as being “like the equivalent of taking an Adderall”. On the other hand, those made with the indica strain, known in the community as “in- da- couch” (which Wolf admits is “kinda corny and awful”), are more conducive to the stereotypical ‘stoner’ vision of relaxing . The third variation is a blend of THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis that gets you high), and CBD, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-pain and antipsychotic properties. Laurie and Maryjane bars never contain more than 50mg of THC and she recommends a starter dose of 5mg.
Wolf’s edibles range now offers five baked goods and four energy bars. The latter are all vegan and free from gluten and GMOs, an important plus as Wolf cheekily adds, “every other Portland person has some sort of issue; somebody’s gluten free or someone doesn’t eat bacon on fridays.”
Laurie Wolf is a Portland based cookery writer, author, chef, award winning culinary entrepreneur and a leader in the edible community. After having worked as food editor for the likes of Mademoiselle and Child for 18 years, in 2014 she founded her brand of cannabis edibles Laurie + MaryJane along with daughter-in-law Mary Wolf.
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