Why write a book?

I’ve been asked why I chose to write a book about global warming and its effect on our society. Take a look around you, especially these past few days – the West and Northwest parts of our country are seeing record heat. The Northeast is sweltering, too. Harsh storms, rising temperatures, rising ocean levels, ground baked by the sun, crops wilting and dying … it did not take much imagination to write about these things. All I had to do was ask myself: what’s going to happen? What will life be like on our warming planet in two, three, ten generations? To my way of thinking, there are only two ways to go, if the planet becomes uninhabitable by humans – leave for another planet (not likely!), or move underground, where it is cooler and safer. Hmmm.

Never See the Sun Again (yes, I did change the name – I like this title much better!) will be released on August 2, 2021 – but it is available now for pre-order. (E-book only; the paperback will be available on August 2, 2021).

Covidia: The Pandemic Chronicles

Well. Yes, I know, it’s been awhile. Where have I been, you ask? Writing! I have a new book coming out mid-summer 2021, Covidia: The Pandemic Chronicles. It is a work of speculative fiction, taking place in New York City, 300 years in the future. See how a future society, brought to its knees by climate change and social upheaval, copes with emergencies like a sweeping pandemic. While many things are different in this future society, it seems that some things never change.

Would you like a free copy of Covidia: The Pandemic Chronicles? I am offering the book for free for a limited time. Claim your free book here: susanfeltman.com

Medical marijuana infused in coconut oil – make your own “canna-caps” with cannabis infused coconut oil

If you are looking for a way to manage your chronic pain with a marijuana extract, try making marijuana-infused coconut oil.  Although other types of oil can also be used (olive oil is also a favorite choice), coconut oil has the ability to absorb more of the cannabis than other types of oil. Coconut oil infused with high-grade medical marijuana is so easy to make, and it keeps in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark cabinet for a long, long time.

Medical marijuana infused into coconut oil (the best of all types of oil to use) can be made into capsules, or placed drop by drop directly beneath the tongue.
Medical marijuana infused into coconut oil (the best of all types of oil to use) can be made into capsules, or placed drop by drop directly beneath the tongue.

There are a few different ways you can use marijuana-infused cocnout oil. You can buy empty gelatin capsules on Amazon or at many other places, and fill them with your infused coconut oil, making your own homemade pills.  This is an easy way to avoid the butter/sugar/flour of baked goods containing medical cannabis (although they are delicious), and is much more discreet than pulling out a pipe or vape the next time you are out in public and in need of pain relief.

Coconut oil infused with marijuana can also be placed directly beneath the tongue, drop by drop.  Hold it in your mouth without swallowing for at least 20 seconds, and the marijuana will pass directly into your bloodstream.  This sublingual method bypasses the stomach, making it ideal if you have digestive issues, and takes effect very quickly, literally in a minute or two.  This makes dosing much easier, as you can see in a few minutes whether or not you’ve taken enough.  If pain wakes you up during the night, this is an easy way to get back to sleep quickly.

That’s not all you can do with it, though.

Coconut oil infused with medical marijuana can be used in a few different ways. Try mixing it with moisturizer and using it as a topical cream.
Coconut oil infused with medical marijuana can be used in a few different ways. Try mixing it with moisturizer and using it as a topical cream.

I’ve struggled with chronic pain for years, lower back pain that can stop me in my tracks.  How I wished that there was some magic cream that I could just put on the parts of me that hurt. Try this: Take a few – or several – drops of coconut oil infused with medical marijuana, add a nice dollop of your favorite moisturizer, rub your palms together for a moment to mix the two together, and then spread the mixture on the part of you that hurts.  Ahhhhhhh.  The first time I tried this, I laughed out loud.  What a relief!

Here’s what you need to make your own coconut oil infused with medical marijuana:

a crockpot

a meat thermometer

coconut oil, about 1/2 cup or so

3.5 – 7.0 grams of marijuana, chopped

measuring cup with spout

spatula

one-cup drip coffee filter

paper liner for the coffee filter

small glass bottle with dropper

tiny funnel that fits the glass bottle

.

Before you can combine the coconut oil and medical cannabis, you will need to decarboxylate your marijuana. It will increase the amount of pain relief in your infused coconut oil.
Before you can combine the coconut oil and medical cannabis, you will need to decarboxylate your marijuana. It will increase the amount of pain relief in your infused coconut oil.

First, if you have not already done so, decarboxylate your marijuana.  This extra step takes time (40 minutes, to be exact), and maybe you are thinking that you don’t have time to do this, or that it won’t matter anyway.  You would be mistaken.  Please don’t skip this step – you can thank me afterwards.

My first batch of infused coconut oil used 3.5 grams of medical marijuana.  The next time I made it, I used a full 7.0 grams (1/4 oz.) of medical marijuana, to make it stronger and more concentrated.  To me, it seems very strong; I need only 2 drops beneath my tongue for a daytime dose of pain relief. You might also want to start off slow and see what you think, before forging ahead with all of your precious weed. Note that 2 drops sublingually, beneath the tongue, will affect you differently than 2 drops taken by pill, which goes through the stomach and liver, etc. Just sayin’ – so be cautious and try things out carefully.

Easy does it! Gently pour all of the decarboxylated cannabis into the slow cooker, before you add the coconut oil.
Easy does it! Gently pour all of the decarboxylated cannabis into the slow cooker, before you add the coconut oil.

Take the decarboxylated marijuana out of the oven, and let it cool for a couple of minutes.  Then very carefully lift the sheet of parchment paper or non-stick foil and carry it over to the crock pot.  Add the marijuana to the crockpot.

Pour in enough coconut oil to completely cover the marijuana, but not more than that.  The less oil, the more concentrated the marijuana will be.  Just make sure that the medical cannabis is saturated with the coconut oil, and that there are no little pieces of medical cannabis poking up from the surface of the coconut oil.

Cover the marijuana with coconut oil, but don't add more than that - the cannabis should be totally covered, but extra coconut oil does not provide any advantage.
Cover the marijuana with coconut oil, but don’t add more than that – the cannabis should be totally covered, but extra coconut oil does not provide any advantage.

Cover and set the crockpot on low heat setting for six hours.  That’s it.  Really, that’s all there is to it.

In no event should the temperature in your crockpot exceed 245 degrees.  You should walk past the crockpot and check the temperature with a meat thermometer every once in a while.  If it is getting too hot, turn it off for ten minutes and then back on.  You can do this every hour or two, during the six-hour cooking period.

When the six hours is up, the infused coconut oil is done.  Turn off the crockpot and let it cool until you can comfortably touch the handles.

Assemble the coffee drip filter and filter paper, and place them inside a bowl, in case anything spills. You don't want to lose any precious drops of infused coconut oil.
Assemble the coffee drip filter and filter paper, and place them inside a bowl, in case anything spills. You don’t want to lose any precious drops of infused coconut oil.

Place a measuring cup inside a large bowl or on top of a plate to catch any potential spills, and place the coffee filter on top of the measuring cup, paper liner inside the filter.

Pour the infused coconut oil through the filter paper. Use a ladle to spoon the cannabis and coconut oil through the filter, if your crockpot is too heavy to hold.
Pour the infused coconut oil through the filter paper. Use a ladle to spoon the cannabis and coconut oil through the filter, if your crockpot is too heavy to hold.

Pour the contents of the crockpot right into the coffee filter, using the spatula to get every last drop out of the crockpot.  If your crockpot is heavy like mine, try this:  use a small ladle to get most of the cannabis-infused coconut oil into the coffee filter, before lifting the crockpot to pour out the last little bit of infused oil. 

Gently stir the coconut oil-saturated medical marijuana inside the filter with a spoon, encouraging it to completely drip through.  When it is just about done, pick up the filter and give it a good squeeze with your fingers, pressing hard to get all of the infused coconut oil out of the filter.  The filter can then be discarded.   

A tiny funnel is very useful when pouring the infused coconut oil into a glass bottle with dropper. Notice the plate beneath the bottles, in case anything spills.
A tiny funnel is very useful when pouring the infused coconut oil into a glass bottle with dropper. Notice the plate beneath the bottles, in case anything spills.

Using the funnel, carefully pour the infused oil into the waiting dropper bottle, and screw on the cap.  Done!  You can store the coconut oil in your cabinet (not next to the stove, please – a cool, dry storage place is best), or you can use the dropper to fill empty gelatin capsules each with a small amount, and store them in your refrigerator. 

Before you go filling all of your capsules, though, remember to try a test capsule or two to see how much coconut oil you want in each capsule.  There’s no way to tell you exactly how much you will need; everyone has a different tolerance level, as well as different ideas of how much is enough.  Also, every strain of medical marijuana is a little different, some stronger and some weaker.  Just as with any other medical cannabis product, you will need to test this every time you make a batch, but once tested, you can be sure that your results will be consistent each time for that one batch.  That is one of the great advantages to making your own.  There are no weird additives, and no surprises or inconsistencies.

Cannabis-infused coconut oil is a favorite daytime method of ingesting medical marijuana.  You can make several cannabis-infused coconut oil capsules at one time and store them in the refrigerator. “Canna-caps” are simple to make, neat and inconspicuous, and have no smell when you take one out of your purse or pocket, pop it into your mouth and swallow it with a drink of water, right there in public.  Hah!  Ahhhhhh.

Baking with Medical Marijuana – how to make the best marijuana-infused butter

Marijuana is expensive, there’s no getting around it (unless you are one of the fortunate few who can grow your own).  You want to be sure that you are getting the maximum amount of pain relief out of your weed.  You might be tempted to just toss a handful of chopped marijuana into a box of Betty Crocker brownie mix and hope for the best – but try this.  It’s not hard, and it will elevate your edibles to a whole new level. 

With marijuana-infused butter, you don’t need a special “weed” recipe – any recipe that requires butter is fair game.  Just substitute your marijuana-infused butter for the plain butter that is usually used.  Brownies, muffins, cupcakes, truffles, etc. – the uses for marijuana-infused butter are limited only by your imagination.  Put some on a baked potato, or on your toast!

Marijuana-infused butter takes on the color of the marijuana, and can be any shade of green, ranging from dark green to bright, grassy green, depending on your strain of medical marijuana.
Marijuana-infused butter takes on the color of the marijuana, and can be any shade of green, ranging from dark green to bright, grassy green, depending on your strain of medical marijuana.


In order to make butter infused with medical marijuana, first decarboxylate your marijuana.  Seriously, don’t skip this step.

I plan on making cookies with this batch of infused butter.  My cookie recipe requires one stick of unsalted butter.  (Your chosen recipe may need more or less.)  I will be putting 10 grams of marijuana into the batch of cookies.

Remember, when baking with marijuana, never bake over 345 degrees.  An oven that is too hot (350 degrees or hotter) will destroy the effectiveness of your weed.

In order to make infused butter, you will need:

a crock pot,

the marijuana, chopped, weighed and decarboxylated,

one stick of unsalted butter,

about 1/2 cup of filtered water,

a wooden or rubber spatula,

a piece of cheesecloth around 12 inches square

a rubber band

When you put the weed in the oven to decarboxylate, turn on the crockpot on “low” to give it a chance to warm up. Place the stick of unsalted butter in the crockpot along with 1/2 cup of filtered water, cover and let it sit while the weed is decarboxylating.

When the marijuana has finished roasting in the oven and has cooled down a bit, move the baking sheet away from the stove.  Working over the counter and not over the stove (just in case any of it spills), very carefully lift the non-stick foil or parchment paper and tip it into the crockpot.  Try and get every tiny little morsel of medical marijuana into the melted butter.  Give it a careful stir with a wooden or rubber spatula.  The butter and water should completely saturate the weed.

Medical marijuana-infused butter is easy to make and can be used in many different recipes - just about any recipe that uses butter!
Medical marijuana-infused butter is easy to make and can be used in many different recipes – just about any recipe that uses butter!

Set the crockpot on “low” for six hours, cover and walk away. 

Every hour or so, walk by the crockpot and take a look.  Give it a gentle stir, from the center of the pot (try and stay away from the sides, so no little fragments wind up sticking to the sides and overcooking). 

Marijuana must not boil; if you see that the butter is beginning to bubble around the edges, you can add another tablespoon or so of water.  Don’t worry about adding too much water; the butter will separate from the water later on in the refrigerator, so it’s not an issue. 

My favorite thing to do when I see that it’s beginning to bubble is to turn the crockpot to “warm” setting for about five minutes, until it cools off a little bit.  Then I turn it back to “low”.  If you do this, do NOT forget to turn it back on.  Seriously, set your cell phone alarm if you need to.  I do.

Butter-infused marijuana will change the way you make your edibles. Try this - it isn't hard to do, and makes your baked goods much more effective.
Butter-infused marijuana will change the way you make your edibles. Try this – it isn’t hard to do, and makes your baked goods much more effective.

After six hours has passed, turn off the crockpot and let it cool for a few minutes. 

Take your time when you strain the marijuana out of the melted butter. Don't waste a drop of your medical marijuana-infused butter!
Take your time when you strain the marijuana out of the melted butter. Don’t waste a drop of your medical marijuana-infused butter!

Take out a glass container with a lid – a round Pyrex bowl works well – and cover it with the cheesecloth, using a rubber band to hold the cheesecloth in place.  I like to put a small strainer over the bowl and cover the strainer with the cheesecloth, and then add the rubber band to hold everything in place – the strainer makes it easier to keep the cheesecloth off the surface of the butter as it strains through.

There are many ways to use medical marijuana. Homemade edibles are economical and will allow you to control the amount of medical marijuana in them.
There are many ways to use medical marijuana. Homemade edibles are economical and will allow you to control the amount of medical marijuana in them.

Using a small ladle or large spoon, take a spoonful of the infused butter and ladle it onto the center of the cheesecloth-covered bowl.  The butter will drip through, leaving the marijuana on top.  Slowly, slowly spoon the rest of the marijuana-infused butter through the cheesecloth, using the spoon or a spatula to gently move the marijuana around so more butter can drip through. 

When you are finished, and have used a spatula to remove every last possible drop of infused butter from the crockpot, take a small spoon and carefully press the cheesecloth, gathering up the edges as you do this, to get every last drop of infused butter.  Discard the cheesecloth.

Cover the marijuana-infused butter and place it in the refrigerator for several hours, preferably overnight.  The butter will rise, making a solid hard disc just like regular butter, while the water remains sloshing around in the bottom of the bowl.

To remove the chilled butter from the glass bowl, take a very sharp knife (a tomato-slicing knife is perfect, if you have one) and run it around the inner edge of the bowl.  Then poke the knife tip against one edge, and it should easily lift up.  Use your fingers if you have to; the butter will be solid and cold.

The finished product: medical marijuana-infused butter. If the butter breaks up a bit when you remove it from the glass container (like mine did), just make sure you fish out all of the little pieces before you discard the water.
The finished product: medical marijuana-infused butter. If the butter breaks up a bit when you remove it from the glass container (like mine did), just make sure you fish out all of the little pieces before you discard the water.

Pat dry with paper towels, laying the butter down on the paper towels first on one side, then the other.  Place the butter in a new, clean container and return it to the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.  The water can be discarded.

You may be surprised at how little butter you have.  The six-hour infusion process results in the loss of moisture in the butter, which does make it weigh less than the amount with which you started out.  It will need to be weighed before you can use it in a recipe.  It’s been my experience that it can lose half of its weight, but you can easily make this up by adding more unsalted butter to it. 

Can you use a pot on top of the stove to make infused butter, rather than a crockpot?  Yes, I’ve done it both ways.  It’s been my experience that a pot, even placed on a simmer burner’s lowest setting, will eventually get hotter than the 160 degrees recommended, and is harder to control than the crockpot.  Also, on the stovetop, it tends to burn a bit around the edges.  If you do decide to use a pot, make sure that you are there in the kitchen most of the time to keep an eye on it.

Next up:  let’s make some chocolate-chocolate-chip marijuana-infused cookies! 

Wild Turkeys

Wild turkeys in full regalia, in my back yard! Who would think that five miles from New York City, there would be wild turkeys gobbling away, right here on the lawn. They frequent the neighborhood, sometimes stopping traffic.

Wild turkeys, tail feathers fully extended – what’s going on in my backyard??

Senator Joni Ernst

My heart goes out to Senator Joni Ernst, who this week was backed into a corner and forced to go public with news of her sexual assault on campus when she was a young woman. Documents related to the Senator’s divorce proceedings were inadvertently made public for a brief period of time, and she was asked by reporters about the incident so many years ago.

Date rape, or campus rape, or whatever trendy name we are using now – this is a subject that is very important to me. (Tell, and Learning to Fly.) A victim’s life can be so shattered, so completely derailed during an evening of partying in a consequence-free atmosphere, while the perpetrator – the rapist – suffers no such lingering trauma.

Is that fair?

Too cold out there!

It’s 9 degrees here in northern NJ, too cold to go outside! Brrrr. It is a good day to stay inside and write. And cook! Here are some homemade pork and shrimp dumplings that we had for dinner last night. I learned how to make these by watching a YouTube video, of course.

Hand made gyoza! So nice to have a good supply of these on hand.