We caught up with real-life bruja Lynsey Ayala of BreadxButta about celebrating Samhain and Dia de Los Muertos instead of Halloween, and what goes into the best Coquito witch’s brew.
Blame it on the turning of the seasons, the fact that all of your friends are obsessed with “The Pattern” and “Co-Star” apps, or the not-so-quiet murmurs of a country trying to cope before another heart-wrenching election — but witchcraft is back, baby! (Even the New York Times thinks so.)
Since there’s no month that’s witchier than October, this week’s Baked to Perfection recipe is a CBD-infused brew for brujas by way of Lynsey Ayala, the self-ascribed Curandera behind BreadxButta, a Brooklyn-based botanica brand focused on fusing cannabis wellness, art, and education. If you’re into infused honey, weed lube, CBD smokes, reiki, crystal healing, and/or sound baths, consider this your one-stop shop for plant-based magic in New York City.
One of my favorite parts about weed witches is that they come from all walks of life. Ayala’s concentration is particularly dope because she channels traditional pan-Caribbean and Puerto Rican home remedies with cannabis as alternative medicine. New York’s Caribbean-centric neighborhoods like Crown Heights, Flatbush, Bed Stuy, and elsewhere have always been homes for these thriving communities, where a botanica will undoubtedly be within arm’s reach of a bodega. So, as a second generation NuYorican from the Bronx, it’s only natural that cannabis would become Ayala’s literal bread and butter (a ha!).
More importantly, as the country awaits to see how New York state will address cannabis legalization in 2020 and beyond, Ayala is among a number of independent producers eagerly awaiting to see how legislation will impact existing marginalized communities that have operated on the fringe before cannabis was considered cool by deep-pocketed VCs.
“As a born and bred New Yorker who has been using cannabis for years, it’s really amazing to see the language and stigmatization of cannabis change for the positive,” she said. “For me, it’s gone from smoking in the stairwell as rowdy kids to working with the plant, learning her nuances, and now bringing that knowledge and medicine to the masses. One thing that I have been in constant gratitude of, is seeing how many women and POC are taking charge and paving the way for more of us in the industry.”
Read on for her reefer riff on coquito, why she’s a witch who doesn’t celebrate Halloween, and her thoughts on why Brooklyn’s weed culture will always be one to watch.
By Lynsey Ayala of BreadxButta Botanica, New York
Serves: 6 to 8
– 3 12-ounce cans of full fat coconut milk
– 1 cup BreadxButta Botanica Healing Honey
– 1 cup white rum (can be omitted for a great non-alcoholic version)
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 2 tablespoons coconut cream
– 2 teaspoons nutmeg
– 2 teaspoons cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon cloves
– 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax seeds to 3 tablespoons water mixed together)
– 1 handful of coconut flakes
– Cinnamon sticks, to garnish
In a medium saucepan bring 2 cups of coconut milk and Healing Honey to a simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, flax egg, and 1 tablespoon of coconut cream. Keep stirring, you’ll notice it getting thicker. Once all ingredients have combined and the mixture is smooth let it cool for about 20 minutes.
While it’s cooling, add the rest of the ingredients into a blender and then add the cooled ingredients and blend. Store in the fridge until ready to serve, and then garnish with cinnamon.
Gallery — Check Out These Other Infused Dishes That Will Blow Your Mind:
MERRY JANE: BreadxButta has developed quite the cult following in New York and on Instagram for your CBD sacred herbal smokes, events, and distinctive focus on Caribbean and Puerto Rican “brujeria magic.” Before becoming a viral sensation, how did you get involved with the cannabis industry?
Lynsey Ayala of BreadxButta: I have been a part of the NYC cannabis industry for the last three years. But I’ve always considered myself more of an herbalist who works with cannabis and hemp plants as medicine. I began my work with the Queen Sativa in my teens as a regular user, indulging in the plant’s magic. About eight years ago, I started to work on a cannabis farm in Northern California and it changed my life. I began to understand the plant on multiple levels and how to integrate her power into my daily life as a means for health and illumination. It led me to my current work creating infused remedies to aid in physical health and our subtle body energy fields. BreadxButta Botanica (our brand’s product line) meshes medicine from my Puerto Rican heritage with the medicine of cannabis and CBD.
When did you start cooking with cannabis and what is your preferred method for infusing (flower, concentrate, etc.)?
I started cooking with cannabis around the same time that I started to work on the farm. We had a lot of extra trim, a lot of time on our hands, and we got very creative! It was a nice way to experience the differences in the strains and give our lungs a break. My favorite method for infusing is definitely using honey when it comes to sweeter recipes and fatty oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil for more savory dishes. In my opinion, if you’re infusing food with cannabis or CBD flower, go the good fat option. The fat molecules absorb really well into our systems. Our Healing Honey, however, is made with locally sourced honey infused with turmeric, ashwagandha and CBD isolate. I chose to use isolate in our honey to utilize the simplest form of CBD as a great additive and enhancing agent to the plant medicine of turmeric and ashwagandha.
You’re among the proud few who can claim rights to being a native New Yorker! So as someone who has witnessed the seeds of change, can you tell us a little bit about the current cannabis culture in Brooklyn and what you make of it right now as we head towards legalization?
The current cannabis culture in Brooklyn is rich and thriving. As a born and bred New Yorker who has been using cannabis for years, it’s really amazing to see the language and stigmatization of cannabis change for the positive. For me, it’s gone from smoking in the stairwell as rowdy kids to working with the plant, learning her nuances and now bringing that knowledge and medicine to the masses. One thing that I have been in constant gratitude of, is seeing how many women and POC are taking charge and paving the way for more of us in the industry. The culture remains very white male dominated, but it’s so refreshing to see so many other folks on the come up! We are in a very special space in NYC; the prospect of legal cannabis is very much on the horizon. As a part of what is being created — and seeing the diversity and knowledge from others alongside us — gives me so much hope for what is to come.
What are your favorite strains to cook with and why? Do you rely on terps?
My love for strains changes when it comes to smoking, but when it comes to cooking, I love Gorilla Cookies! It’s a hybrid made with Gorilla Glue and Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. I love this strain because it’s a perfect hybrid in my eyes. You experience a relaxed, chill vibe from the indica-dominant Gorilla Glue combined with a bright, uplifting feeling from the sativa in Thin Mint GSC. The effects of infusing this strain in food and drink makes for a relaxed, social, giggly, and all-around euphoric high. It’s the strain we most often infuse our food with for get togethers with friends. In some recipes involving CBD (such as cocktails), we prefer to work with high quality spices and botanicals that have their own natural terpenes in order to find harmony in flavor with the CBD.
Alright, so you’ve got a botanica and are into bruja magic, so what are you planning for Halloween this year?
I’m not big on celebrating Halloween, but I most definitely celebrate Samhain and Dia de Los Muertos, which occur around the same two days. I consider myself an eclectic bruja and often tie in lots of different modalities and practices into my own. Samhain is believed to be when the barriers between the physical world and the spirit world are the thinnest, allowing more interaction between humans and spirits. Dia de Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” is a celebration that lasts over two days where people demonstrate love and respect for their ancestors. Throughout towns and cities in Mexico, folks have parades and parties, sing and dance, create elaborate altars, and make offerings to lost loved ones. In my family, we often celebrated a version of Dia de Los Muertos. We always hosted big dinners, made bigger shared altars that were dressed with hella flowers and photos of our ancestors. We offered them food, their favorite alcoholic drinks, cigars, and money. Coquito, being a traditional Puerto Rican drink that’s enjoyed in the fall and winter, is always made and offered to our ancestors.
Let’s talk more about the coquito. Tell us about why you love this drink and what it means to you?
I wanted to share my coquito recipe because it is a cold weather cocktail staple in Caribbean homes. Coquito usually makes its first appearance as soon as the leaves start to turn, so I felt this was perfect timing: it is a cocktail made with rich coconut goodness and Puerto Rican rum. In my family, making this drink is always what I get tasked with when we have big dinners. Over the last few years, I’ve experimented with creating different versions from making it vegan to infusing the beverage with THC as well as CBD. The version I’m sharing here is a non-dairy CBD version using our Healing Honey.
Since starting my own family and my own traditions, we celebrate over the course of two to three days with different events. I usually spend Samhain with my weed witch homegirls. We make medicine together, meditate, create smoke blends to offer our ancestors and guides, dress candles, we also bring food and beverages from our cultural backgrounds and have a great evening communing and enjoying each other’s company. Dia de Los Muertos is still spent at my family’s house, but in my own home, we create a joint altar to honor both mine and my partner’s ancestors. We bring them fresh flowers, food, cigars, drinks, and spend time sitting and meditating with them. I love this time of year. It’s a time where my closest peeps come together and catch up. Coquito is always on the menu; we’re also definitely rolling up and sharing our favorite greens and favorite stories.
Any good tips for newbies trying to find the perfection infusion?
I always suggest doing some research on the strain you’re using. If your using cannabis from a dispensary or trusted source you may know the amount of THC or CBD in the flower, from there you can decide how potent you want your infusions to be. I would recommend using a crock pot as you can get very consistent heat and using the low and slow method will allow you to extract all the goodness from the ingredients. As far as the perfect infusion is concerned, it’s all about the individual so experimentation is the way to go. Start with low doses as you can always increase later!
I ask everyone this, so now you have to answer: what is your most memorable experience with edibles?
My most memorable edibles story took place about seven years ago when I came back home to NYC from the [ cannabis] farm in Northern California. I was so excited to cook and share infused brownies with my friends. At this point no one had told me to start low, so I went balls-to-the-wall with infusing a boxed brownie mix. I added a full cup of cannabutter (whereas I now know that a half-cup is more standard), and greased the entire pan with cannabutter! Needless to say my friends and I had a wild adventure that lasted much longer than anyone expected. Some people were overwhelmed and had to ride it out while others just ended up asleep. From that point, I quickly learned about THC percentages and how to do the proper math needed to create safely-dosed meals. It was a serious game changer!
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