Victoria Nguyen

Pot in the kettle


Save for the teeny-weeny skirts and gunfights, Sandy Moriarty is like Nancy Botwin, the main character of Showtime’s Weeds. To casual observers, these women may look like regular God-fearing folk, but in their circle of marijuana smokers and edibles-eaters, both are local celebrities. Unlike the activities of her television counterpart, everything Moriarty does is legal.

Known now for best-selling lemon bars — sold exclusively through Oakland’s Blue Sky dispensary and made with her psychedelic 10X cannabutter — and as a cooking professor at Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, Moriarty’s culinary escapades with cannabis began as a personal endeavor to test the plant’s potency.

"I’ve always been interested in cooking and I was intrigued by the process of cooking with cannabis," said the Fairfield resident. "I wanted to push the plant to its limits and see what it could render me."

In the process, Moriarty discovered she could help a larger range of cannabis patients who needed stronger medication in their food. These "extreme case" patients, Moriarty said, include those with spinal injuries, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

"The need for something stronger [than what was available] intrigued me," said the mother of two. "I wanted to help those people."

So for several years Moriarty sporadically experimented with different cooking techniques. Her aha! moment came in the fall of 2004, when she discovered that slowly simmering a mixture of butter, leaf shake, and water for a few hours would evaporate the water and render all the THC-rich trichomes off the leaves. Unlike the cannabutters she had produced before, she could smell a sweet, rich, and buttery aroma that had a nutty taste.

"I let other people try it, and when they started dropping like flies, I knew that was it," Moriarty said. "It was like — wow!"

The discovery helped the 58-year-old catapult her life in a new direction. Though still a property manager by day, Moriarty now tends simmering stockpots of cannabutter in the kitchen of her ranch-style home at least four times a week (usually in the late evening or near dawn). And since January 2008, she’s been sharing how to make her cannabutter, as well as other ways to cook with pot through oils and alcohol-based tinctures at Oaksterdam cannabis college.

Indeed, her cooking class — which is incorporated into a Oaksterdam weekend and semester curriculum that includes lessons on horticulture and politics/legal issues — is one of the most popular courses at the school. "A lot of students come just for the cooking," says Oaksterdam facilitator Trish Demesmin. "And once she gets to talking about her 10x butter, they’re all ears."

But Moriarty hasn’t stopped there. Feeling that she has conquered the realm of baked edibles — her creations, which are known for packing a potent THC punch without the ganja taste or smell, have gained something of a cult following — Moriarty is now focused on creating savory dishes such as pastas, salad dressings, and sandwiches. And thanks to the super-concentrated butter, Moriarty has been able to incorporate the green herb into dishes like fillet of sole Florentine, Thanksgiving turkey — even fried chicken. She plans to feature these dishes, along with recipes for baked goods, drinks, and vegan- and diabetes-friendly food items, in her upcoming cookbook, tentatively titled Cooking with Cannabis.

Moriarty’s brother Al Wilcox says his big sister has come a long way from her days of baking brownies filled with stems and seeds. Wilcox, who medicates every day to help his arthritis, said the greatest advantage of his sister’s food is that its strong potency means patients can eat less while watching their weight. The proud sibling predicts Moriarty could become the next Brownie Mary. "She’s done this all on her own, and she’s been real gung-ho about it," Wilcox said. "She wanted to help people, and now she is."

To attend Moriarty’s cooking class, enroll at Oaksterdam University, 1776 Broadway, Oakl. (510) 251-1544, Weekend seminars and semester-long courses are available. All students must be 18+. Nonmedical cardholders are welcome.


Want to take your Thanksgiving dinner to new heights? Try Moriarty’s recipes below.


1 cup cannabutter (plus an extra 1/2 cup or less to rub inside and outside of the turkey)

2 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 Tbs. fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried sage

1 Tbs. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. clove

1 cup chicken stock

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the ingredients together, except for the chicken stock and eggs. Blend the mix with the chicken stock and eggs. Rub extra cannabutter on the outside and inside the cavity of the turkey. Stuff the turkey with stuffing mix and bake for 20 minutes per pound. Bake until outside of the turkey is golden brown and stuffing reached 165-degrees.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup cannater melted

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×12 baking pan. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend the eggs, milk, sugar, and cannabutter together. Mix the flour and cannabutter mixtures together, including the blueberries. Bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.



THEATER San Francisco’s Brava Theatre is mostly dark, except for the spotlights on stage. Under the white light, singer Nomy Lamm’s face peers out from under the beak of a vulture headpiece. She flaps her feathered wings and thrusts her hips, like she is working a hula hoop in slow motion.

"I remember the feel of your hands on my body," Lamm sings. "Makes me scream, ‘Am I broken?’"

It is three weeks before the premiere of this year’s Sins Invalid’s performance art show of the same name, and artistic director Patty Berne sits near the back of the theater. She watches Lamm’s rehearsal intently, and as the performance ends, her face splits into an approving smile. "Oh Nomy, I am so frickin’ excited," Berne exclaims. "That was so hot — you don’t even know!"

Currently in its fourth year, Sins Invalid is an annual performance project about sexuality and disability. The upcoming show, which runs for three nights at Brava, showcases 12 performances from local and international artists, including Oakland’s Seeley Quest and the U.K.’s Mat Fraser. The collection of theatrical, musical, spoken word, and multimedia performances includes passages that are confrontational and provocative and moments that are soft and sweet.

According to Berne, who is also the cofounder of Sins, the show’s dimensions reflect the diverse issues that people with disabilities face, living in societies where they are traditionally perceived as unsexy, or even sexless. "[People with disabilities] are thought of as asexual and [it’s assumed] that our lives are defined by our disabilities," she says. "Thinking that we are neutered is absurd. It’s like assuming parents stop having sex because they have a child."

According to the Sins Invalid mission statement, the performance project not only supports artists with disabilities, it also strives to centralize "artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists." The goal of the organization, explained cofounder Leroy Moore, has been to create a community of historically marginalized artists and to provide a mirror for those who are disabled, queer, or of color.

The tone of this year’s two-hour show is set with Lamm’s opening act, "a sexy monster rock opera" called The Reckoning. Dressed as a vulture, Lamm plays a dejected animal that struggles to know itself and its place in the universe. In the more intimate Bird Song, she is an abandoned baby bird that sings from a nest made of stuffed panty hose and prosthetic legs.

"[Bird Song] is about quiet power. It’s like, ‘I know what I have, and when you’re ready to see it, come say hi,’" said Lamm.

Other artists, among them Fraser and choreographer/dancer Antoine Hunter, use their bodies to create powerful performances. In the solo act No Retreat, No Surrender, Fraser taps into his martial arts training to simulate being physically beaten to a soundtrack of insults commonly hurled by ableists. In The Scene, theater marries film in a sexually explicit and tense performance about a man who visits a dominatrix and unexpectedly undergoes an inner transformation.

Moore, who plays the visitor in The Scene, explained that in addition to flipping the notion of who visits a dominatrix, the piece is about loving oneself. "In the beginning [of the scene, the man going to the domme] is not sure what to expect. At the end, he comes to love himself and know ‘I am beautiful.’"

Since the inaugural Sins Invalid showing at Brava in 2006, what once was a one-night annual event has blossomed into a three evenings of performance. According to Berne, previous shows have packed full houses. The public’s reaction to the project, many Sins artists say, has been a validating — if not overwhelming — experience.

For Sins performer Quest, who lives day-to-day as a "broke-ass artist schlep," receiving shout-outs from past audience members is one of the most rewarding parts of the experience. "All year ’round, people are like, ‘I saw you at the show, and I told about my friend about you guys!’ People are circuutf8g the news and it’s totally gratifying."

By helping to create new dialogue among the disabled and able-bodied communities, many of those involved with Sins feel like they are making history — and as Moore states, rewriting the books as well. "[Being involved in Sins] feels like I’m correcting history for people with disabilities," says the Berkeley activist. "History is not written from us — it’s always about others. Now we get to speak our own stories."

Houston-based Maria Palacios, a spoken word artist who has been with Sins for three years, feels that the project passes the torch of hope to the next generation of people with disabilities. "When I was growing up, I didn’t have a Barbie with a wheelchair," Palacios said. "But now kids will have us as heroes to look up to — they will have a history in place already."


Fri/2–Sat/3, 8 p.m.; Sun/4, 7 p.m.

Brava Theatre

2789 York, SF

(510) 689-7198,

Theater You Can Eat


PREVIEW For me, the next-best pleasures to actually eating food are reading about food (Laura Esquival’s Like Water for Chocolate), watching movies about food (Juzo Itami’s 1985 Tampopo), and singing about food (Millie Small’s My Boy Lollipop). Now I’ve found another option, and that is to watch theater about food. If this sounds as appetizing to you as it does to me, check out Theater You Can Eat. The People’s Theatre presents John Robinson’s world premiere of a play that examines how what we put in our mouths can affect our souls, minds, and the way we interact with one another. Served as a multicourse meal, the play consists of four humorous narratives that surround specific foods: coffee, salad, ceviche, and chocolate. The first, Wake Up Cup, explores how the rules of social protocol can be broken when a person is deprived of the essential morning caffeine (don’t we all know a little something about this?). In another called The Toss Up, Chef Lola finds out if food can trigger unpleasant memories when she enters her salad into a contest her ex-lover is judging. Theater You Can Eat is appropriately served up at Peña Pachamama, a Bolivian raw food restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach. For a full experience, theatergoers can either purchase a tapas or dinner ticket with the play.

THEATER YOU CAN EAT Through Sept. 6. Fri, 7 p.m.; Sun, 5:30 p.m., $19.95–$39.95. Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF. (415) 259-1623,

“Good Boys and True”


PREVIEW According to St. Joseph’s, an all-boys prep school, its students are expected "to be good boys and true. To strive towards competence, courage, and compassion always." Well — easier said than done, right? In Good Boys and True, scandal erupts at the Washington, D.C. prep school when a violent sex tape is discovered circuutf8g campus grounds. When Brandon, captain of the football team, is accused of being the faceless figure in the tape, his life and the lives of those closest to him are changed forever. Taking place in 1988 (long before sex vids became commonplace), the rumors of Brandon’s crime spread like wildfire and send ripples throughout the very rich, very white, and very proper community.

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a writer for HBO’s Big Love, the play explores the themes of wealth, privilege, and power. It follows the relationship between Brandon and his mother as she tries to reconcile with the heinous crime her son is accused of, as well as Brandon’s relationship with his best friend Justin, which is more than just platonic. What will become of the Dartmouth-bound football all-star as his life spirals out of control? What dirty secrets will be revealed about those around him? Good Boys and True makes its West Coast debut at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, where it is one in a collection of LGBT-themed plays featured during NCTC’s Pride season.

GOOD BOYS AND TRUE Aug. 14–Sept. 20. Wed.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m., $18–$40. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF. (415) 861-8972,

Whoop Click!


PREVIEW Like most superhero tales, actor-comedian James Judd’s story begins with a spider bite. He hopes the incident will give him superpowers (specifically the ability to manipulate ATM machines with his eyes), but it never comes. Instead, the nasty bite gives him an excuse to, well, sit on his butt. And it is in his treacherously hot Palm Springs home that our hero gains a lot of weight.

In his newest show, Judd tells the story of how a poisonous spider bite on his butt leads to a two-week holiday at a decrepit fat camp in Florida. Tricked by his parents, Judd accepts a birthday gift at a luxury spa ("You’ll really love it — it’s like rehab!" says "Judd’s mom) only to arrive at a weight-loss camp in the middle of a swamp in July. To make matters worse, Judd is accompanied by his four Mormon aunts, who were all made famous in his previous show 7 Sins. In his 45-minute set, the San Francisco resident takes on 10 hilarious personalities, from the doctor who is convinced Judd’s spider bite is a brain tumor to an aunt who can’t seem to part with her Bible trivia books. Laugh along at Judd’s pain as he relives how he survives the fat camp while trying to uncover the truth behind a dark family secret. Oh, and he reenacts a scene from a porno called Ass Artist 3 — intrigued yet?

WHOOP CLICK! Through Aug 22. Sat, 8 p.m., $20, Dark Room, 2263 Mission, SF; (415) 401-7987,

Sha Sha Higby


PREVIEW To achieve inner calm, you could do an hour of yoga, meditate on a seaside cliff, or pamper yourself at a spa retreat. But if you don’t have the time (or lack the funds), you could also attend a Sha Sha Higby performance to leave you feeling reflective, refreshed and inspired. Higby began her artistic career before she was even qualified to attend preschool. At age 3, a drawing of a single bird launched the artist into a new world of expression. Fast-forward to the present, and the internationally acclaimed performance artist insists she doesn’t have another option than to constantly create.

And boy, does this lady create. Using skills she acquired through her studies in Asia, the Marin County resident’s performances combine dance, puppetry, light, and sound to introduce a mysterious and haunting world of child-like wonders. She is perhaps best known for her elaborate structural costumes, which are handmade using old techniques and materials such as silk, gold leaf, wood, and paper. During her shows, Higby fully cocoons herself in these costumes, which she uses as evolving canvasses to animate stories of life, death, and rebirth.

For her latest show In Folds of Tea, Higby does it again. For two evenings, the Noh Space transforms into an enchanted pink forest as Higby takes the stage to work her unique brand of voodoo. See you there.

SHA SHA HIGBY Fri/24–Sat/25, 8 p.m., $10–$22. Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa, SF.

(415) 868-2409,