Tag Archives: fair trade

Lemon and Raspberry

3 Jun

Large and Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies

These cookies happened totally by accident, a happy, happy accident!  I was on Martha Stewart’s website looking at cookies recipes and I came across this Old Fashioned Lemon Cookie Recipe.  I’ve been toying with the idea of offering a lemon option at the farmers market because several customers had asked about it.  I happened to have a lemon sitting on the counter and I already had the other ingredients, so I decided to give these lemon cookies a try.  I compared Martha’s recipe to my own sugar cookie recipe and it was pretty much the same, so I just added the lemon to my own recipe. I added a lot more lemon to my recipe!

Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies

So, I followed Martha’s instructions and didn’t chill the dough but getting them onto the cookie sheet was a bit challenging.  I sprinkled them with a fair trade cane sugar before baking  for added tastiness.  I wanted to be able to offer samples of these cookies at the market so I made some little and I made some bigger.  The bigger ones, really came out huge!

Large Lemon Cream and Raspberry cookie

After the cookies came out of the oven, they looked really good and they were a bit crunchy.  I really liked them.  My 4 year old liked them too!  Some of the little ones didn’t come out looking very smooth, but the second and third batch came out smooth, like the picture above.  Eva, my daughter, and I had to eat the uneven ones, of course!  She kept sneaking  back into the kitchen and eating cookies!

I still had some lemon juice left over and I was contemplating glazing the cookies or making some kind of icing for the tops.  I couldn’t decide what to do and I was concerned about how the icing would do once I put the cookies in the bags for the market.

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This is how I package the cookies for the market ^.

So, I thought, what if I make cookie sandwiches and put a lemon cream inside the cookies!  I made the lemon cream and i started to pipe the icing onto the cookies.  I had just purchased 2 jars of organic jam, raspberry and blackberry.  Unfortunately, the blackberry jam had huge seeds in it and I couldn’t use it in these. 😦  The good news is raspberry goes really well with lemon and so I put the two flavors together and success!!!  I am in love with these cookies!  The litmus test would be how do they do at the market.  I sold the mini ones in single bags for $.50 each and the big ones, as one customer fondly referred to them as whoopie pies, sold for $2 each.  The next day the cookies were much softer even after they were in the fridge all night.

Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies


They sold out!!   Everyone was delighted and I was very pleasantly surprised!  These may just make the regular rotation!  I love creating new products. Baking brings me joy!

These cookies can be ordered by the dozen and they can be made gluten-free with almond flour by request!  If you live in Northeast Florida you may order a batch today via email or Facebook!

Thanks everyone!!


Thumbprints – a very popular treat

13 May

Strawberry and Raspberry Thumbprints

This delightful treat is one of the most popular things that we sell at the farmers market.  The recipe isn’t complicated or even that special, it’s the technique and time that it takes to make these joyful tasty bite-sized yummies that makes these so great!

Buttery Thumbprint Dough

I start out with a basic cookie dough, whose name I will not say…gotta keep trade secrets, secret, you know!  The dough gets refrigerated and when it’s ready, I start making little balls of yummy, buttery goodness…

Buttery Thumbprint dough

These get rolled in cane sugar to be prepped for the thumb indents and shaping to come…

Thumbprint cookie dough

This step takes the longest…shaping each ball into to the thumbprint shape.  Of course, I am a perfectionist when it comes to baking goods, so I have to make each one the same size and same shape.  This process takes about 2 hours…once the dough comes out of the fridge until the finished dough goes into the oven.  I put the jam in before I bake them and then they are baked to perfection!  I’ve made these with apricot, orange marmalade, raspberry, and strawberry jams.  Raspberry is the favorite!  I sell out of those every time at the market and it never seems like I make enough!  I’m probably going to have to start doubling the recipe and just make raspberry.  I would like to try blueberry jam though…I love blueberry!  Sometimes, what I love doesn’t translate into sales though…I will try it out and see how it goes!

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Here are the finished, packaged cookies…this picture was taken at Christmas, hence the snowman plate.

The best thing happened this weekend at the market.  A customer bought a bag of the raspberry thumbprints and she started walking away from the table.  She casually opened the bag, took out a cookie, and popped it into her mouth.  She exclaimed, from several yards away, “These are the best cookies ever!!”  I turned around to see where that exclamation came from and she waved to me.  I laughed and turned to the next customer walking by and said, “After that endorsement you almost  have to buy something now!”  That person, immediately came to the table to check out what I was selling!

I love my job, well it’s not really a job when it’s your own company and you get to do what you love!

New Product: Coffee Gateau

24 Apr

Coffee Gateau Mini Cupcakes

This weekend at the St Johns River Farmers Market we will have these lovely cupcakes available for sale!! Yummy! This recipe is a family recipe passed down to me from my mom and grandma. We call it Coffee Gateau, which means Coffee Cake. In America, Coffee Cake is something totally different from this recipe though. My mother was born in England and they do things a bit differently than Americans, so sometimes the names for food are the same but the food itself is not! My mom makes this as a 2-layer cake most of the time and I’ve changed the recipe into mini cupcakes. This is my all-time favorite cake and the one that my mom makes for my birthday every year! I’m excited to debut it at the market and coffee lovers are sure to love this cake! Of course, I make it with organic and fair trade coffee, sugar, and vanilla! Gotta make it fair trade!

Coffee Gateau Mini Cupcakes
The cupcakes have a coffee buttercream and chopped pecans on top!

Oh and another thing, I’ve used organic ingredients to avoid gmos!

Check out my facebook page for more information about what we will be making this week! We are working on getting things in place to start selling online, but unfortunately, we can’t yet!

I’m looking forward to being at the market this weekend! Coffee lovers unite!!

Christmas at the Farmers Market

20 Dec

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This is our table from last week’s farmers market. We are currently selling a variety of Christmas Cookies and Gift Baskets.


Thumbprint Cookies

Here is one of our baskets with cookies, fair trade tea and fair trade chocolates.

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We also have some baskets with fair trade coffee. You can mix and match what you would like in the baskets and the prices range from $10 -$30.

Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cookies

Last week we had sugar cookies dipped in fair trade chocolate.

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These Thumbprint cookies were a big hit! We made them in apricot and raspberry varieties. We almost sold out of these last week. We will definitely have them again this week!

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These have been a crowd favorite and one of my favorite cookies! Classic Chocolate Chip. Some had walnuts too! Chocolate Chip Cookies were my first cookie that I baked on my own way back when I was just a teenager.

On the menu page there is a list of all the cookies that we make. We only bring a few varieties to the market and we do special requests as well. You can always order a dozen or three and pick them up this Saturday! Come out and see us on the 22nd at the St. Johns River Farmers Market on Rt 13 in Fruit Cove. The market is set up inside Alpine Grove Park from 10am – 2pm every Saturday. This is the last chance to get a gift basket for your neighbors, teachers, friends, and family! We make everything from scratch with organic and fair trade ingredients!

Merry Christmas from The Cooking Activist!!

Human Trafficking Awareness at the Jacksonville Zoo

9 Oct

On September 22nd I was part of a human traffikcing awareness event at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. It was called the SCTNow Jacksonville 5k walk and the purpose was to gather the community together to educate others about trafficking and modern-day slavery.

SCTNow sign on my table
This is the SCTNow sign that was on my table.

SCTNow 5k walk 9-22-12

My company handed out free fair trade cookies and muffins to the participants of the SCTNow 5k walk.

The Cooking Activist Company Table
The Cooking Activist Company Table

The Cooking Activist
This is me, The Cooking Activist!

My business partner and friend, Monica Greenblott, is the SCTNow Jacksonville Ambassador and she organized the walk. We set up a table and when people finished their walk, I got to talk to them and tell them what I do.  I love to talk about this cause.  It is dear to my heart and I am very passionate about it.

The Cooking Activist Company

My cookies were made with fair trade sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chips.  I also use organic and non-gmo ingredients when I bake because I am concerned about the health ramifications of pesticides and other cancer causing side-effects of gmos.  When a product is labeled as fair trade or ethically resourced or something along those lines, it means that there wasn’t any child labor/slaves harvesting the product.  The label also guarantees that the the farmer gets a fair price for his goods and no adults were enslaved or in debt bondage in order to harvest or manufacture the product.  The supply chains of many popular products are full of modern day slavery and  human trafficking.  Buying products with a fair trade label shows you that the company takes action against human trafficking and avoids slavery-produced goods.

Fusion Ministries
These lovely ladies are representing Fusion Ministries of Jacksonville!

I also made Banana Oatmeal Muffins, which the bananas were Whole Trade guaranteed by Whole Foods Market.  Whole Foods has a program called the Whole Trade Guarantee that investigates the supply chains of companies and their bananas have the this Whole Trade sticker on them.  Their pineapples, teas, coffee, and other products with this sticker show that they are ethically sourced.  I was excited to use these bananas and it made the muffins a wonderful example of how we can use products that are ethically sourced.

World Relief Jacksonville and NEFHTTF
This is my friend Michelle Clowe, who is the current Chair of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition and she is the Human Trafficking Liason for World Relief Jacksonville.   There is another 5k coming up on October 13th called The Human Race.  Another friend of mine, Seth Johnson, is coordinating this 5k for  Transitions Global, another great organization that rescues and restores girls trafficked into the sex trade.

I had a wonderful time meeting new people and educating others about the importance of consumer purchases in the fight against modern-day slavery and human trafficking!

World Relief Jacksonville signage

There are much more exciting things coming my way this fall! Stay tuned for more exciting updates!! Remember to buy fair trade and check the labels for ethically sourced companies!!

Got Allergies?

5 May

Chocolate Cake, no gmos, no gluten, no soy

My sister and her husband visited a few days ago and I attempted my first cake with gluten free all-purpose flour. I’ve made flourless cakes before, but I hadn’t had much success with gluten free flours yet. When Vicki and I get together, it is not easy to eat at restaurants because we are allergic to soybeans and she can’t eat any gluten. It is also a challenge when we go to someone else’s house to eat because most prepackaged foods contain soy in some form or another. Vicki said my house was a safe zone because virtually everything I buy is soy-free! Our mother’s birthday was on May 3rd, so I needed to make a soy-free, gluten-free cake.

Unfrosted Gluten free cake

I found this recipe for a gluten-free cake. Of course, in my normal way of trying new recipes, I changed most of the ingredients. I always try to use organic ingredients when I can get them because my sister and I don’t eat GMO’s. I made some other changes as well, and the next time I make this recipe I intend on changing it further. I used different flours, different chocolate, and a different fat. I also doubled the recipe and baked it in a glass pan.

Gluten free birthday cake

This cake came out really moist and dense. I was surprised at how good it tasted! The frosting was delicious! I used a fair trade cocoa powder and butter from grass-fed cows to enhance the frosting, so it was ethical and healthier! I didn’t even measure the cocoa, I just dumped a lot into the bowl and it tasted more like a dark chocolate frosting. My husband and kids have become accustomed to the organic, homemade foods and we are definitely not the average American household.

I love experimenting with food, especially when it comes out great!

Canning Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

7 Nov

One thing I’ve been wanting to learn is canning.  My dad has tons of stories about his mom, my grandma, canning all types of things when he was a kid.  He grew up in the deep woods of the South, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Bassett, Virginia.   He has those stories of walking miles to school, in the snow, uphill both ways, fighting off snakes, etc…classic!  Anyway, they didn’t have electricity back then, nor indoor plumbing…which means they used an outhouse even in the dead of winter.  My grandma canned everything that could be canned.   Unfortunately, I never learned the art of canning because we had electricity and refrigerators when I was a kid, back in the 80’s.   My mother tried to learn some of the deep south cooking techniques and she made pickled peaches and strawberry jam, but canning was never necessary so she didn’t do it often.  My mom still makes pickled peaches though, but she doesn’t can them, they are stored in the fridge and are eaten very quickly by my dad and my husband!

In my desire to learn how to do everything from scratch and to store large quantities of food, canning is next on my to-do list.  I was offered the opportunity to join a MOPS group, courtesy of my friend Suzanne, when they did a canning lesson on spicy pepper jelly.  I jumped at the chance and I also was able to talk to the moms about choosing organic, buying fair trade, and how to avoid gmo’s.

Homemade Spicy Pepper Jelly

I don’t have the recipe that we used, but here is a link to another recipe for spicy pepper jelly, I haven’t tried this recipe and it is spicier than the one we made and it is paired with lamb, yum!

Here are instructions on canning pepper jelly.  We used red peppers and Jalepeno peppers when we made this.  Make sure you use fair trade cane sugar in your recipe so you know that you are supporting farmers and farm workers!

Pepper Jelly tastes really good!  I enjoyed it with organic cream cheese and organic wheat crackers…mmm!  Let me know of your experiences with canning or any funny memories from your parents!

Are you buying chocolate for Halloween?

19 Sep

It’s been awhile since I posted anything here, things have been very hectic at home.  With my 4 children home with me this summer, I hardly had time for anything blog related!

Seasonal Chocolates

I wanted to blog about Halloween candy.  Stores are putting up their displays and setting up isles of candy and chocolates for us to purchase.  Each year I do less and less for this day, I just don’t care for it anymore for several reasons.  One big reason is the chocolate.  Ever since I learned about child trafficking and the forced labor that goes on with cocoa harvesting, I don’t buy conventional brands anymore.  There really aren’t many options for this time of year for ethical chocolate and so I just haven’t bought any for the last 2 years.  I am a chocoholic, there I said it!  But, I only buy chocolate when I go to Whole Foods or Native Sun because fair trade chocolate is not mainstream or widely available anywhere else.  I have to stock up because I live far from both stores and only go once every 2 weeks.

I found this website called Sweet Earth Chocolates that has Halloween candy that is fair trade and organic!  I’m so excited and I wanted to share this with everyone!!  Ethical and socially responsible shopping begins with each of us.  Knowledge gives us the tools and motivation to do the right thing.  I gave up conventional/commercial chocolate for two reasons, one, I only support those companies that care about the people in their supply chains and two, I am allergic to soy and soy is in most chocolate because it is cheaper than cocoa butter.  Now, in most chocolate they put GMO soy lecithin and GMO high fructose corn syrup along with the child labor.  You can protect your health,  your family’s health, and the lives of the 100,000 children exploited on the cocoa plantations on the Ivory Coast, when you buy organic and fair trade chocolate.

For me, Halloween celebrates evil with all the scary and dark costumes and decorations and it is taken one step further when the massive purchases of chocolate perpetuates the abuse of children.  Is that Kit Kat or Hershey bar worth it? Not for me…and my hope is to educate others about the hidden parts, in the supply chains of the products that are on the shelves in our grocery stores.  Remember that when you walk into a store and see the displays of Halloween candy, the product brands and marketing that bring back childhood memories and pictures of fun and excitement!  But just like on Halloween, when kids will be wearing masks and having fun, the chocolate companies wear masks everyday, hiding behind their brands that exploit and abuse children on a daily basis.  We can make a difference!  Buy fair trade, Whole Trade, and fairly traded chocolate this Halloween and everyday!  Tell your friends, family, and co-workers and be a part of something greater than yourself!

Homemade Oreo Cookies

25 Jun

I love oreo cookies!  I have always loved cookie sandwiches.  When I was a little girl, my friend Melissa and I would remove the filling from the cookies, eat the cookie and roll the filling into a ball and eat it very, very slowly.  We would savor every bite of the sweet filling.  We didn’t always eat oreo cookies, we did this with every brand of cookie that our parents bought.  Ever since I found out that I was allergic to soybeans, I have been on a quest to re-create some of my favorite processed foods with homemade recipes.

First I started with this homemade chocolate cookie, it is like a chocolate graham cracker and I bet it would make an awesome chocolate graham cracker pie crust too!  I intend on trying that one of these days!
Chocolate Graham Cracker Cookie

I sprinkled a little organic sugar on top of the dough before I baked them. These taste great by themselves and adding frosting to them just bumps this recipe up to fantastic!
I used this fair trade organic cocoa powder:
Organic Fair Trade Cocoa Powder
Now for the frosting, traditional oreo cookie filling is made with oil. I would like to try to make a filling with coconut oil the next time I make this recipe but all I had on hand was butter. So I made my classic vanilla buttercream frosting for the filling and ooohhh…they tasted so good!

Chocolate Graham Cracker Cookie Sandwich

My children went nuts over these cookies! These cookies tasted even better the next day! The first time I made these cookies, I used someone else’s recipe but they came out more like whoopie pies, soft but really good. This time I created my own recipe and they came out crisp and crunchy like an oreo cookie. These cookies certainly don’t taste exactly like oreo cookies, but I used organic fair trade ingredients. I’ll take these any day over the processed variety! I know exactly what is in them since I made them myself. The only drawback, if you want to call it that, is they don’t have a shelf life because I don’t use preservatives like store-bought cookies. They have to be eaten within 2-3 days, oh darn! In my house they didn’t last 2 days! In order to make the cookie dough last longer, I didn’t make them all on the same day. The dough keeps in the fridge for a few days so I baked a small batch every day until I ran out. This way, I don’t have to worry about them going stale, which I wouldn’t have to worry about that anyway, but it does save me from having to eat them all! I have so much fun with new recipes and this one is going in the cookbook, too!

Homemade Barbecue Pulled Pork

24 Jun

I love to experiment with food. I had never made this before so I Googled how to make pulled pork. I went to Whole Foods and picked out 2 pounds of pasture raised pork butt (I know it sounds so funny). Once I arrived home, I made my own spice rub and coated the roast and let it marinate in the refrigerator. I slow roasted the pork for a few hours and then let it cool. It is a very simple process.  I shredded the meat once it was cool enough to handle.

Homemade Pulled Pork

I used my own recipe for barbecue sauce, which is loosely based from my mom’s recipe. This barbecue sauce is very easy to make, with just a few tweaks to make it with fair trade, organic ingredients and seasonings to suit my own tastes. I also made homemade whole wheat bread and homemade coleslaw. I invited my parents over for dinner and we enjoyed testing out this recipe together. It was a hit! I can’t wait to make this again. I paired it with sweet potato fries that I baked in the oven with olive oil and some seasonings. The bread was very tender and soft. This recipe is definitely going in my cookbook!

Pulled pork barbeque sandwich