A Conversation with Monica Lo, Creator of Sous Weed® & author of The Weed Gummies Cookbook
You might have noticed we are big foodie fans at SoStonedCo. There is so much exciting innovation at the intersection of the cannabis and culinary worlds. Which is one of the reasons we were so excited to sit down with one of our favorite dank and delicious digital creators Monica Lo the creator of Sous Weed® and the author of The Weed Gummies Cookbook.
Monica Lo is a multidisciplinary creative and the creator of Sous Weed®, a blog-turned culinary cannabis resource founded in 2015. With a formal background in communication design from Pratt Institute, she honed her skills as a food photographer and stylist while working in the advertising industry in New York City.
Her work for Sous Weed has been featured on The Today Show, VICE’s Munchies, Healthyish, and in magazines such as Vogue and Kitchen Toke. Born in Dallas to food-loving Taiwanese immigrants, she finds pleasure in documenting family recipes for posterity, collecting vintage Chinese cookbooks, and researching ancestral cannabis in ancient Asia.
Good food was a theme in Monica’s childhood home and has always represented love and creative play for the chef. “I grew up in a household that put a lot of emphasis on good food, trying out new recipes, and discovering all the best local eats whenever we travel. I had a pretty adventurous palate from an early age! My parents are Taiwanese immigrants so they had to figure out how to take ingredients from American grocery stores and recreate nostalgic flavors. We ate the majority of our meals at home though so I was constantly helping mom out. The kitchen has always been my playground.”
Monica’s exploration into cannabis consumption came out of necessity when she began experimenting with consumption as a way to treat painful back trouble she had been suffering through. “I initially started Sous Weed to document my healing journey with homemade edibles when I herniated a spinal disc back in 2015. All the pain medication I was prescribed wrecked my stomach, making the whole situation worse. The moment I had a cannabis-infused edible, I knew I needed to figure out how to safely make my own medicine. There was a lot of tinkering in the kitchen with my sous vide machine.” Since then, Monica has been able to manage her back pain and anxiety with cannabis.
It was necessity that also led Monica to creating her own approach to infusion. “At the time I lived in a strict no-smoking building, I had to be discreet about the wafting scent of cannabis; this meant I had to rule out cooking on the stovetop or in an oven. At the time I was a creative director of a sous vide start-up and thought I’d put our machines to the test–and it worked! Since the cannabis flower and cooking oil are sealed in an airtight bag and placed underwater to infuse–there’s no smell! Plus, I can make multiple cannabis infusions at once, using all my favorite cannabis strains. I would use these infusions in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.”
The Sous Weed platform opened up so many doors for Monica as a creative in the cannabis industry, and allowed her to provide education and tool-sets within the cannabis & culinary communities. Monica has also made tremendous strides when it comes to representation in the canna-community Asian American woman. “I didn’t feel like I was accurately represented in the mainstream media. Asian Americans face unique issues when it comes to cannabis use and acceptance due to differences in culture and social stigmas. I most definitely did not fit into the ‘lazy stoner’ stereotype and I wasn’t posting photos of boobs, butts, and bongs. On the contrary, the goal with my food and lifestyle photography was geared towards changing the general public perception on cannabis. I wanted to be a responsible face for cannabis users, to educate, and to help dispel myths and stigmas around this beneficial plant.”
Monica’s latest venture was her first book launch, The Weed Gummies Cookbook. Putting this beautiful book together was definitely a labor of love for Monica who wrote, designed the book, and shot the photos all while pregnant (we love a multitasking productive queen). This book offers ways to make budget-friendly delicious and dank infusions that we can’t wait to try out!
“In 2021, cannabis edibles sales in medical and recreational states began to skyrocket as an
impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We started to see consumers choosing edibles, specifically gummies and candies, over inhalable forms of consumption. It was the perfect timing to work on a cookbook focused on sweet treats and I was excited to team up with Ulysses Press to do it.”
“The idea behind it is, it’s far more cost-effective to make your own infusions and treats at home, especially as dispensary prices are on the rise due to a variety of reasons from taxes to operating costs. Dispensary edibles often have preservatives to extend their shelf life– but when you DIY, you can make your edibles without the commercial preservatives and also customize the dosage to your body’s needs.”
The idea behind it is, it’s far more cost-effective to make your own infusions and treats at home, especially as dispensary prices are on the rise due to a variety of reasons from taxes to operating costs. Dispensary edibles often have preservatives to extend their shelf life– but when you DIY, you can make your edibles without the commercial preservatives and also customize the dosage to your body’s needs.”
We love the beautiful blend of design and minimalist beauty intertwined with rich cultural flavors and bold combinations in The Weed Gummies Cookbook. It is clear that this was a real mixing-pot and exploration of all of Monica’s culinary inspirations and flavor play. “The Weed Gummies Cookbook is my first solo book and I wanted to showcase all the flavors that define me. The Terrazzo Coffee Jelly, made with agar agar, pays homage to the version my mom used to make for potluck parties. The Snowflake Crisp Nougats are candies that originated in Taiwan, often eaten during Lunar New Year. The Chocolate Turtles instantly bring me back to my childhood growing up in Texas. The combination of chocolate, caramel, and pecans feels so Southern to me.”
In terms of the design of the cookbook, Monica wanted something that felt true to her style which is bold minimalism. “It’s a small book but it packs a big punch–it needed to stand out on bookshelves and look dope on coffee tables. The color palette used in the layout design is also reflected in the food photography, which I also shot myself.”
The Weed Gummies Cookbook is an excellent book that showcases a variety of techniques that are accessible to infusers and foodies of all levels. For people just getting started Monica says it is all about starting simple and low. “You might feel intimidated if you're dipping your toes in, but the easiest way to infuse cannabis is to make a simple alcohol-based tincture which doesn't require any special tools. You can then use that tincture to make infused sugar for your gummies and candies. I have those recipes in the book!
Safety and responsible consumption is very important for me to speak to. If you’re concerned
about dosages, all the recipes in my cookbook are designed to be low dose and snackable. The important thing is to use lab-tested cannabis flower or trim so you can do some estimations on how much to use to get the dosage you want. Once you are comfortable with cannabis cooking, you can add more cannabis material or use a more potent strain in your infusions.”
We are super excited to see some of the faded-fall recipes that Monica will be showcasing for Halloween. “I’m using Shared Culture’s Corn Modern Miso in my Miso Butterscotch Caramels. I’ve also got these gummy worm molds from LEVO that I will be using with some of my gummy recipes.” Another fall favorite is Monica’s delicious Salted Mocha Caramels (check out the full recipe featured in her book.) “The moment autumn arrives, I start making spiced molasses cookies and snickerdoodles. I recently stuffed some snickerdoodles with my infused Salted Mocha Caramels and they were so delicious! It was definitely a hit at my latest garden party. I’m also currently in the process of restocking my pantry with cannabis infused oils and sugars. It is Croptober, of course!”
As resident foodies at SoStonedCo it is always so hard for us to pin-down our favorite faded foods, but we gave Monica the task of selecting her go-to dish if she could only eat one thing moving forward and she definitely picked a delicious winner! “Does dim sum count? I feel like that would give me the variety I need and all the flavors I crave. I would eat it with my medicated chili oil.” Yummmm!
Monica is in good company when it comes to canna-culinary creators, “I always love collaborating with Haejin Chun of Big Bad Wolf (@bigbadwolfsf.) Chef Haejin is incredible at cultivating her community through themed dinners and cannabis events in the Bay Area. I adore the Mogu Magu parties that Christina Wong (@fruitandflower) and Wendy Zeng (@wenyerhungry) put on for food and cannabis entrepreneurs and creatives in Los Angeles. I am also constantly inspired by Chef Topher Jacob’s (@the.hawaiian.alchemist) flavor combinations and culinary creativity. All of these chefs are strong voices in the AAPI cannabis community and I am so proud to know them.”
Monica’s been able to experience so much at the intersection of the cannabis and culinary worlds, for her, getting to know the community and seeing the strides in progress have been some of the most meaningful. “I’ve had the pleasure and the honor to work with some really amazing brands and chefs in the cannabis space to travel and do pop-up events. It’s also been so inspiring to see friends and colleagues in the industry thriving through legalization hurdles and also the pandemic. It really has been quite the adventure these past few years, I look back on it all with such fond memories.”
She is excited for the future of cannabis, and all that comes with policy change and normalization. “ With normalization of cannabis use comes legalization. With legalization comes more medical research on how cannabis can be used as a therapeutic agent. I am always excited to learn more about the medicinal benefits of this incredible plant. “ We couldn’t agree more!
When it comes to what’s next, Monica is focused on the ever so important job of motherhood. “Motherhood is my current focus! I’m taking an extended maternity leave so I can spend more time with my son. It is a privilege that I am not going to take for granted. We’re both experiencing so many milestones together–it’s truly a special time.”
When the time is right she will start working on her next book and we can’t wait to check out the sophisticated and stoney snackage she conceptualized. Keep an eye out for future segments where we will be creating some of the gorgeous ganjafied gummies from The Weed Gummies Cookbook. To learn more about this multidimensional canna & culinary rockstar follow her on IG @sousweed, check out her page sousweed.com and make sure to check out her gorgeous new book The Weed Gummies Cookbook.