Coconuts: High Demand, Yet Short Supply

It is always a treat to take a few bites out of a coconut macaroon, especially a fresh one from our retail store, and I think our customers would agree. Anna G. of San Francisco commented on Yelp that, “[The coconut macaroon] was everything I never knew I wanted from a macaroon, and so much more. Another Yelp review from Meghan R. of Santa Cruz stated, “It had this great chewy and crispy edge all around and the inside was cooked perfectly. Only thing that could have made it better would be a quick dip in some dark chocolate.” In fact, we do dip our macaroons in chocolate, and they have become our 2nd most popular cookie, according to the retail store’s manager, Cher.

Unfortunately, coconuts are a bit hard to come by these days. Cara, who handles our ingredients ordering, stated, “in talking with some coconut distributors, one mentioned that they used to place shipping container load orders and receive the product within 6 weeks to 2 months…and now their orders are out anywhere between 4 – 6 months.” The reason, you ask? Within the last year, the Philippines, one of the world’s largest coconut producers, experienced the worst drought they have had in 20 years (believed to be caused by the El Nino Effect) and then subsequently experienced increased rainfall and damaging floods. The effects of these extreme weather conditions on the flow of coconut production (especially with the understanding that “a coconut tree needs about 200 days of sunlight to have a normal production” of coconuts) has been devastating to this industry. You can read more about these growing conditions HERE.

With less coconut on the market, prices have increased about 20% in the last two months, making it more and more difficult to find a distributor with our preferred “size” of coconut shred at a reasonable price. What do I mean when I say “size” of coconut shred?  There are different shreds of coconut, ranging from short and medium (pictured left and right, respectively) to longer shreds.

Right: Short shred; Left: Medium shred

The shorter shred of coconut is less expensive and more available because it is less ideal of a shred. Regardless, we are able to use it in our Almond Joe and Cahootz without much difference in cookie density since coconut is an added ingredient in these two cookies. However, when used in our coconut macaroon, the cookie comes out too dense and our signature style is just not done justice. With the medium shred, we are able to achieve more of the desired effect, but the increased quality costs a bit more. As a result of these conditions, we did, for a short while, stop baking our coconut macaroon. Cher, our retail store manager, informed me that her customers were “extremely bummed” when we were not baking the macaroons. Even Cher herself stated, “I don’t want to see it go!” Although we have found a suitable replacement shred for the time being, it just goes to show how fragile the great things in life can be. Who would have thought that the weather circumstances in the Philippines would have affected our coconut macaroon production?

So if macaroons are your go-to treat, and if you are in the neighborhood and feel like stopping by on the days we dip our cookies, swing by on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to cure that sweet tooth – cookies and chocolate all at once! Hope to see you then!

 

Mama’s Night Out

In Southern California, the opportunity to get “dressed to the nines” and strut around town in a classy pair of heels presented itself more often than not. Even a simple summer night strolling Victoria Gardens (the local outdoor mall where I grew up) called for a matching clutch and cute pumps. But my move to Santa Cruz sharply contrasted the consumer driven bubble I grew up in. Here I was met face to face with comfort in the form of anything and everything hemp, organic cotton, O’Neill, yoga attire, or Birkenstocks. With this in mind, when the idea arose for Pacific Cookie Company to be the primary sponsor of Mama’s Night Out, a “shabby chic” benefit event for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, you can imagine my slight uncertainty of the intended attire.

My father’s words of wisdom cut through as I remembered him always telling me it was better to be overdressed than under-dressed. So, I left the house that evening in my matching satin blue heels and two-tone aquamarine feather earrings, ready to join the throngs of other women who gathered at this special occasion to help raise money in the name of Liam Witt and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. As I fed a few dollar bills into the parking meter, I heard the once familiar clicking of heels on concrete and was shocked to see a small group of women in slim-fitting black dresses with shiny clutches tucked under their arms. I approached the Rittenhouse building in downtown Santa Cruz where the event was being held, and checked in.

I was directed to a large elevator around the corner, and amidst a collage of floral perfumes and the distinct smell of Chanel No. 5 I ascended towards the soft rhythms of a jazzy beat. As I turned the corner towards the mingling cliques of women, I was overwhelmed by the exquisite nature of the space:  beautiful drop chandeliers hanging above simple white tables and decorated with pink and orange satin runners, an illuminating pink and orange glow radiating from the tabletop candles, colorful floor lighting that highlighted black and white photographs of various families who donated to the event, and small twinkling white lights that seemed to draw one’s eye back to the vast array of locally donated sweet treats so artfully arranged on long banquet tables framed with pink and orange Gerbera daisies.

It was at that moment that I realized the significance of the event. Mama’s Night Out wasn’t just another night on the town; it wasn’t about socializing with friends or with other mothers; it wasn’t about showing off your new shoes, or winning a few raffle prizes; it was about family. It was about solidarity. It was about creating awareness. It was to teach how to Love Like Liam.

Liam was the son of Gretchen and Larry Witt, a couple devoted to raising money for pediatric cancer research by way of their non-profit organization, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Their dream to “support the development of new and better treatments” began with just a few bake sales and 96,000 cookies. Just 3 years later, they have facilitated in the hosting of thousands of bake sales across the country and raised millions of dollars in the process. Liam would have been 7 years old this past May. To commemorate his life, a call to action was made to host 700 bake sales in his honor and to continue the fight against pediatric cancer. In association with these bake sales, The Glad Products agreed to match all proceeds in May up to $225,000.

With this goal in mind, Michelle Riddle of Michelle Riddle Photography and our own Cara Pearson put their heads together to plan what became Mama’s Night Out. Their goal was to attract 200 women looking to spend time with their girlfriends while raising $10,000 for pediatric cancer. The event was a smashing success – from the fantastic wines complimentary of Epic Wines to music by DJ Sparkle to various vendors including personalized perfume creations (Studio Parfum) and bra fitting (Essential Body Wear), Mama’s Night Out attracted 275 women, and raised $18,000 which, after matched by The Glad Products, came to a grand total of $36,000!! Needless to say, we’ve already had MANY inquiries as to whether or not there will be a 2nd annual Mama’s Night Out (of which the answer is hands down “YES!”).

I now wear a simple bracelet decorated with three beads: one pink for my sister’s June birthday, one brown for my husband’s November birthday, and one orange for Liam. And although I never met this strong young man, the stories of his innocent smiles and contagious laughter are embodied in the plain orange bead that sits between the pink and the brown. To me, my bracelet represents the simplicity of life, how fragile it is, and how quickly it can all be taken away. It represents strength and the power that we have when working together towards a larger goal. But most of all it represents Love, and reminds me to Love Like Liam. Everyday. I feel proud to be part of a community that respects and strives towards these same values, and cannot wait to be a part of the 2nd Annual Mama’s Night Out.

Thank you to all who volunteered, and an equally appreciative thank you to all those who attended! Your donations and support are furthering a cause that will one day lead to major cancer treatment breakthroughs. Remember to Love Like Liam, and in the words of Cookies for Kids Cancer, thank you for Being a Good Cookie!

The Significance of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is this Sunday, May 30th. With a little patriotic spirit we introduced the Stars and Stripes Cookie Gift Box (see below) and for every box sold, we will donate $1  towards the Santa Cruz County Veterans Center.

Although we Americans tend to celebrate Memorial Day these days with great shopping deals, beach trips, and barbecues, the significance of this day runs far deeper than the superficial media-run holiday it has become. So I thought I’d put together a few fun facts to enlighten you on the purpose of this day, and the significance it has, or at least SHOULD have, for the American people…

As I’m sure you’re all aware, Memorial Day is a celebration of those who have, and continue to fight for our country– the men and women who have fought for our freedom and democracy since the American Civil War that ended in 1865. The traditional day of honoring this holiday was on May 30th, either because it was NOT the day of any battle, or because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Either way, the first celebration took place on May 30th, 1868, and was known as “Decoration Day” – a day that the people of America could, with beautiful flowers (namely the red poppy), decorate the graves of those soldiers who gave their lives in war. Businesses closed, and residents flew their flags at half staff. Even today, flags will be flown at half staff until noon to honor the deaths of each soldier; after noon, those same flags are to be raised to full staff to commemorate those soldiers who are still with us.

Whether you pop a cold one and watch the Indy 500 with family, or take to the outdoors for a hike over your 3-day weekend, take a moment during the day to reflect on the real reason for Memorial Day. Your chance to do so will happen at 3 p.m., when our nation is called upon to take a moment of silence for the brave men and women who have fought to uphold our freedoms.

The National Moment of Remembrance was signed into Congress in December 2000 to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” (see http://www1.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp). So take it upon yourself to recognize this time – turn off the T.V., put down the video game controls, pause your game of tag football, and close your eyes, put your hand over your heart, and thank our brave soldiers for the sacrifices they have made.

This is our history. Be proud. Show your American spirit. I hope you all have a fun and safe Memorial Weekend.   I know I will! 🙂

Dashboard Cookies

Temperatures in Santa Cruz yesterday broke record highs for the area at a slightly uncomfortable 86 degrees F. Now, I grew up in Rancho Cucamonga – a Southern California hotspot, smack-dab in a smog encompassed valley – where you could regularly expect summer highs to hit the triple digits, so bearing this measly 86 degree heat was nothing. But I’ve been spoiled by beautiful beach breezes and cooler, less humid heat for the past four years as I made my way up the coast from Ventura, to Santa Barbara, and finally to Santa Cruz.

Previous heat records for Santa Cruz were 84 degrees in 1935 and 1985, and although this is nothing compared to the sweltering 110 degree weather I grew up with, I surprised myself when I found myself wishing for cooler weather again…or even just a breeze! It reminded me of the times my sister and I would go out on the street and lay down some aluminum foil to cook eggs on. And it got me thinking – how do all those folks who live with extreme heat cope on a regular basis?

Well – Brigid Steven’s of Lake Havasu has been baking cookies with nothing but some aluminum foil, a cookie sheet, some pre-made cookie dough, and the dashboard of her Ford Probe GT! These so-called “dashboard cookies” have become something of a hit in Lake Havasu City, AZ and have no doubt been catching some attention! Last year, she baked these cookies as a part of Push America’s Journey of Hope – a 4,100 mile cross-country bike event put on by the Phi Kappa Phi fraternity to raise funding and awareness for people with disabilities.

What better way to take advantage of the scorching desert heat than by baking cookies on the dashboard of your car? “Mrs. Dash”, as she’s come to be known, is able to harness the sun’s excruciatingly intense solar energy (the inside of her car has been measured at highs of 200 degrees F!) to cook the cookie dough to that nice crispy golden color that we all know and love.

Want to make a trip to taste these novelties? Check her out in Lake Havasu again this year from June 26-27th. Read more about the details of the event at http://www.pushamerica.org/events/JOH/

And the next time you’re in a heated situation, just stop, and bake some cookies! 🙂