The Best of Home Grown, Home Baked and Hand Crafted by Local Farmers, Gardeners and Artisans.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Vendor: Linda Simmons, How Sweet it Is

Linda Simmons began selling with the Emporia Farmers Market in 2010. She is well known for her gourmet cookies and sweets. She sells cinnamon rolls, pies and breads. She also often has sugar free baked goods for sale.
  Baked Goods by Linda Simmons
Q: What's your first kitchen or baking related memory?
A: My first baking memories were from my pre-teen, 4-H years. Next was after Wayne and I married and left Denver following the flood of June 1965. We moved to a farm in Nebraska and I spent a lot of time alone while Wayne was working in the fields, so I read cookbooks to entertain myself. One cookbook showed how to knead bread, so I tried it. From there, I moved on to other baked goods. Five years later I became interested in decorating cakes. I enjoyed that for many years, and making cinnamon rolls.

Q: Some say baking is simply science, but your cookies are often as beautiful as they are delicious. Would you describe yourself as more scientist or artist in the kitchen?
A: Art was my favorite class in high school and in the years I attended college, so I guess I'd consider myself more an artist in the kitchen than a scientist.
Q : What's your favorite thing to bake?
A: Cookies were not something I'd done much of until we moved to Emporia, and making fancy cookies is every bit as much fun as decorating cakes, so those are the kinds I make. I try to do a variety of fancy cookies in sugar free, as well. That, I guess, would be the science part of my baking.

Now I'm baking artisan "rustic" breads as well, and that's a new kind of art. And yes, it's as much fun as cakes, cookies, a variety of quick breads, and baklava!
My favorite thing to bake? Everything. I just like to bake.

Q: How long have you been in Emporia? How did you get started with the Emporia Farmers Market?
A: In earlier years I had sold baked goods at the Dodge City farmers' market. When we lived outside Kansas City, MO, we drove to Emporia to visit family and liked to visit the farmers' market while we were here. So when we moved here in 2009, I was already interested in taking part.

We really like Emporia. The people are extremely friendly. In a city this size, the farmers' market is an important part of the community. I look forward to interacting with the folks shopping at the market, as well as the other vendors.

updated: 1/27/2015

Q&A with Debra Arb, of Waite & Allenby Soap Company

Q:   How did you get started making soap? Waite & Allanby
A:   My sister bought a book and loaned it to me. That was in 2003. I was intrigued with the beautiful soap pictures and started collecting ingredients and tools at once. My first soaps were made from beef tallow and were definitely not the quality they are now!

Q:   How did you get started at the Emporia Farmer's Market?
A:   In 2010, my husband and I went to a beekeeper's fun day in Lawrence, KS and they had soap, lotion and lip balm classes as well as classes for beekeepers. I picked up some more tips about soap making that helped me improve my skills, as well as gave me ideas about marketing my soaps. When I suggested selling them, my husband was skeptical, but he paid the fee and built an awesome vendor stand for me.

Q:   What makes your soap different from what we can buy at the grocery store?
A:   We use natural base oils like extra virgin olive, coconut, sustainable palm and castor oil and then we add different botanicals, clays, essential oils, skin-safe phthalate-free fragrance oils and other natural ingredients to make a really gentle bar of soap. We don't add artificial colorants, preservatives, hardeners, latherers, or petro-chemicals. Most commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin that is produced during the saponification process. Glycerin is a highly profitable substance sold to other companies for use in lotions and moisturizers. Then these companies add synthetic lathering agents and harsh chemicals so that the resulting bar is now a detergent bar that can be purchased cheaply; it is bad for your skin and bad for the planet. If you have noticed, the vast majority of bars on store shelves say "beauty bar," "moisturizing bar," or "body bar" because they cannot legally be called "soap".

Q:   How long does it take to make a bar of soap?
A:   The process of making soap can take me anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes depending on the type being made; that's not counting the time it takes to get the molds and ingredients ready. Then, when the soap loaf is unmolded the next day, it has to be cut and set to cure at least 4 weeks.

Q:   In the three years that you've been selling at the market, your selection has grown quite a bit. How many soaps do you now make?
A:   Well, I currently make 30 different kinds of soap. A few of those are seasonal and a few I haven't marketed yet. The different types of soap I now have are: body soap (of course), bug repellent soap, seaweed soap, sea salt soap, gritty soap for deep dirt, shampoo bars and dog shampoo bars.

Q:   What do your customers say? What makes them repeat customers?
A.   I get a lot of positive feedback from customers on the soaps. They comment on the scent, the beauty of each bar and the way it makes their skin or hair feel. We have had people come back and buy after receiving a free sample or some became customers after receiving our soaps as a gift. I think there is just something fascinating about a bar of handmade soap that makes people want to use it.

Q:   How has your participation at the market enhanced or helped grow your business?
A:   Selling at Emporia Farmers Market has given me confidence in my product through the one-on-one conversations with the customer. I get customer-input directly regarding my product as well as my service. I have seen my business evolve over the last 3 years due to customer opinion and, as a result, I now have my product in Studio 11 and Nature's Paradise.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Biscuits and Gravy at the Indoor Winter Market on Saturday

Friends of the market will be serving biscuits and gravy on Saturday, February 15; two biscuits for $4 or 1 biscuit for $3. The Indoor Winter Market is open 10:00am till noon at the Emporia HumanitarianCenter215 W. 6th Avenue. Live musical entertainment will be provided by Lee Muller of Americus.

Produce expected at the market includes kale, spinach, radishes, lettuce, apples, cider, honey, jams and jellies, and a variety baked goods. Come to the market for fresh farm eggs, grass fed and oat fed beef products, and original crafts by local artists.

The Indoor Winter Market takes place the first and third Saturday of every month through April. Sign up for free market e-reminders and monthly e-newsletters at