Since it's our 4-20 issue, we wanted to find a subject for Food Focus at the intersection of eating and cannabis. The unusual thing is, we didn't have to look very far. Before long, somebody suggested we talk to Kirk "Captain Kirk" Reid, 45, an Ann Arbor resident who's been making delightful confections for about seven years now, and has garnered several national awards from High Times for creating these mouthwatering and life-giving treats.
Metro Times: How'd you get started in this?
Kirk Reid: Actually, getting off pain pills. Around 2007, I ended up in the hospital and they kinda sent me home with all kinds of pills, and it just got really bad. I had always used cannabis recreationally until then. That's when I started discovering the beneficial medical uses.
MT: Did you have a background in cooking or anything culinary?
Reid: Mostly, I just grew up in the South pretty much watching a lot of older women in the kitchen. Of course, they weren't cooking with cannabis then, but it was their recipes that I was brought up with and taught to cook. Don't get my wrong, I'd tasted pot brownies and stuff before, but usually they were so overbearing in taste that it really wasn't enjoyable to eat them. So when I got into this, I thought, "I would really like to provide the effects, but without that overwhelming, nasty taste." And so through trial and error I've learned how to do that.
MT: It's also worth noting, in addition to your legitimate medical aims, that you've managed to rack up a number of awards with the folks at High Times. Can you talk a little bit about your 2013 L.A. Cup honorable mention, your Oklahoma sweet cake?
Reid: I have won three others, I've entered four times — that is the one I did not win. But I have won three other first-place awards with High Times, two here in Michigan, one in Seattle. I won Seattle's first first-place Cup. So that was really cool.
MT: What was the treat in that competition?
Reid: In the very first one that I won here in Detroit, it was the Key lime cheesecake, which has been endorsed by Willie Nelson — he's enjoyed it three times. The second one that I won was in Seattle with a gingerbread cake truffle and a sugar-free buckeye, and they all came in a little box together. And then this last one that I won here in Clio, Michigan, was called the lime and the coconut. You have to think, there's a whole market out there of people making brownies and chocolate bars, but what they're forgetting about are the diabetics that need sugar-free. They're forgetting about the gluten-free people, the vegans. Those are things that I wanna start catering to.
MT: What products are modified to meet any dietary restrictions?
Reid: Pretty much the sugar-free hashers, and I do a lot of sugar-free edibles for those folks that really need that, 'cause there are a lot of diabetics. A lot of the older folks are diabetic. For example, when I came across Tommy Chong, and I was talkin' to him about making something for when he'd come here, I asked him if he was a diabetic. He says, "You know, man, no one's ever asked me that. Thanks for asking. Matter of fact, I am. I can't have sugar at all." And it's a good thing I found that out. And he asked me why I asked him that, and I said, "Well, no offense ... I deal with a lot of the elderly. You know, older folks." And a lot of the older folks like himself and John Sinclair are diabetics. And it was really John Sinclair to bring me into the light of the diabetic scene because he was just like, you know, five or six years ago, he was like, "Everything everyone's got out there has got lots and lots of sugar, and I can't have that." And I really focused on that.
MT: Was it the sugar-free buckeyes that you gave to Tommy Chong?
Reid: Actually, what I did for Tommy Chong was a sugar-free, gluten-free lemon truffle. Basically, it was made with no egg, it was gluten-free, it was, well, it was the truffle and it was rolled in toasted coconut. For the sugar replacement, we used agave. And then basically the powder that binded everything to it was ground almonds. Now, I could have made this vegan by replacing the butter with coconut oil. Then it would have been a vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free truffle. So, I know a lot of the older folks that I'm working with in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor are more catered to that end, sort of like the sugar-free granola.
MT: How did Chong like them?
Reid: He ate them all. I've got pictures with him holding 'em. It was really off the hook. He was really scared at first, 'cause he was like, "Man, I don't wanna be high all day!" I told him I really made them mild, I had them tested, they were 1 milligram each. He had them all day and they didn't knock him out. Just enough to give him a hint of the flavor, and just enough to give him a little tiny pain relief without knocking his ass down. And that was my goal. And he really enjoyed them, so it worked out great. It was just wonderful.