Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My first event this year!

Last night I attended my first event as The Cooking Activist!  I am so excited!  I joined several organizations that are here in Northeast Florida for a documentary viewing, a panel discussion and information fair.  We showed the movie "At the End of Slavery" by IJM or International Justice Mission.  The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about human trafficking and modern day slavery and to give people the tools they need to take action and do something about slavery.  These were the organizations that were there: 
Amnesty International UNF-Northeast Florida:
A Jacksonville-based grassroots organization actively involved with hosting, sponsoring, assisting and collaborating with human rights related events, organizations, activities, campaigns and research.
Transitions Global They have an aftercare facility in Cambodia and they assist other organizations in establishing homes for survivors of sex trafficking around the globe.
Made By Survivors: Their handicraft programs offer survivors of sex trafficking a job that enables them to support themselves and live a meaningful, independent life.   Made By Survivors also provides an economic alternative to slavery and exploitation for women and youth at high risk for being trafficked. 
World Relief Jacksonville: World Relief provides refugee services to foreigners by helping them adjust to life in America through a variety of ways.
My table for Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2011This is a picture of my table at the event!  I made and packaged organic fair trade cookies, I displayed some fair trade ingredients, and I had some handouts for fair trade resources, a sample of my bakery menu and a packet that included a little about me, my plans for a bakery, and my cookbook.
My homemade organic chocolate chip cookies This is the label I made for the chocolate chip cookie. I made it with fair trade sugar and chocolate.
Delightful Oatmeal Cookie, organic and fair trade This is the label for my signature cookie, Delightful Oatmeal Cookie, these were a big hit!  I was able to sit on the panel for the discussion after the movie.  I was able to tell the audience about my passion for ending trafficking, how I got started as an abolitionist, and what they can do to help end slavery today.  I shared my heart last night and it was great to sit with others that are passionate about this as well.  I look forward to working with these organizations in the future for more events like this!  I'm excited for what God has in store for me this year. This is going to be my best year ever because it will be my best year spiritually!(my pastor, Stovall Weems)
I want to thank Robin Rossmanith for organizing the event!  You are awesome!!  Robin has a website called, Shop To Stop Slavery, which is a fantastic online guide for all of your fair trade shopping needs.
Each of us can do something to help abolish slavery!  Tell a friend today, share my blog with others, get involved volunteering, buy fair trade products, donate to one of these awesome organizations that I described above, or organize an awareness event!  Get started today and let me know what your plans are!

Libby,
The Cooking Activist

Organic Leak and Potato Soup

Organic Homemade Leak and Potato Soup

I made this soup today and it was very easy!  Today is day 3 of the fast and this is what I had for lunch.  Visit Awake21.org for a virtual conference and more information on this 21 day fast.
Here are the ingredients:
3 Tablespoons of olive oil or organic unsalted butter(don't use if you gave up dairy for fast)
10 small organic potatoes, washed, peeled, and chopped
Package of organic potatoes Organic white potatoes
2 1/2 cups organic leaks, washed and chopped, green and white parts
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cups of water or vegetable broth
sea salt
black pepper

Heat the oil or butter in a pot and then add the leaks and garlic, season with sea salt and pepper. Here is a picture of the leaks and garlic right before I put them in the pot.
Organic leaks
Cook for 5 minutes and then add the potatoes, bay leaves, and thyme.
 Stir and let cook for about 1 minute and then add the broth or water.  Bring the soup to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and let the soup cook until the potatoes are soft about 20-30 minutes.  Once the potatoes are nice and soft, turn off the heat and ladle the soup into a blender.  You will need to blend it in batches and be careful with the steam, fill the blender only halfway.  Once it is blended it will be ready to serve, season with sea salt and pepper to taste once it is in your bowl.  Makes 7 cups of soup.  You can garnish with cream or cheese if you did not give up dairy.  Lovely soup for a cold winter day like today.  Enjoy!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Penne with sauteed vegetables

Penne with Sauteed Vegetables

Today started the first day of a 21 day fast that I am doing with my church.  Everyone choses what they will fast from and each one tailors their fast to fit their needs.  Today I started out with just liquids until dusk, about 5pm. Since I already have to avoid pretty much everything due to my soy allergy, I figured that starting off with just liquids would be a good idea.  I had just water and coffee until lunch time and for lunch I made a smoothie.  Here is the recipe:  Please, don't use soy milk...unfermented soy is not healthy in large quantities, especially conventional(gmo) soybeans.

Makes 2 servings
8 frozen organic strawberries
1 frozen banana, cut up
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 large spoonful cashew butter(for protein)
1 cup of 100% cranberry-raspberry juice(or your fav) no sugar added
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk, almond milk, or coconut milk
Blend, add more juice or milk as needed. Enjoy!


I wanted to post what I made for dinner tonight.  It was really good!  
1 tablespoon oil, some good oils to choose would be; coconut, avocado, or olive oil. Avoid any soybean oil based spreads.
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 package of mushrooms,chopped - any mushroom will work
1/2 package of fresh string beans, ends snapped off
1 package penne noodles
veggie broth or organic vegetable boullion cube
black pepper
sea salt

I started off with some oil heated in a pan.  Cook the minced garlic for 30 seconds and then toss in the onions.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until the onions start to brown.  While the onions are cooking, boil some water in the same pot you will use for the pasta.  Blanch (place them in the boiling water) the green beans for 2 minutes, remove from the water and then chop into bite sized pieces.  Once the onions are ready, put the mushrooms and green beans into the pan and season with pepper and two dashes of sea salt.  Cook the veggies until the green beans are done to your liking.  I like mine crisp.  
Vegetable stir-fry
While the veggies cook, place the pasta and boullion cube into the water, or dump out the water and use broth, this will add more flavor to the noodles.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Once the pasta is done, drain the liquid and place in a large bowl.  Toss with the vegetables.  Serve.  Makes 4-6 adult servings.  This veggie stir-fry would go well with brown rice too!
Enjoy!

Libby
The Cooking Activist

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why am I an activist?

This a repost of a blog that I wrote for another blog site.  I wrote this a few months ago and I have added to it...

As a black American, I grew up learning about an institution that is part of my heritage...slavery.  My ancestors, which I'm doing research on, were slaves.  American slaves toiled on plantations in America, working as servants and farm laborers.  I've read countless novels, history books, and watched many, many movies about the plight of the American slave and the Transatlantic slave trade.  In America, slavery was abolished and every one lived happily ever after, right?  Well, not quite, the effects of that time period are still felt today in the culture of America in the still present cultural and racial division between blacks and whites.  This has been part of my life growing up here, especially being a product of a mixed-race family.  Up until 2 years ago, I had assumed that slavery was something from the past, not something going on today and if it was going on today, it certainly wasn't happening anywhere that had anything to do with me!  I have found out that slavery most definitely does exist today AND it is going on right here in America, but not just in America, in Florida...in my neck of the woods.
Florida is the #2 or #3 destination State for human trafficking!  When I read that, I was floored!  I learned about agricultural slavery because of my research into organic food due to my soy allergy and I learned about agricultural slavery going on right here in my state.  The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has a lot of information about slavery on Florida farms.  Migrant workers are trafficked into Florida and forced to pick tomatoes and other produce.  They are not paid enough to live on, they are often in debt bondage, they are kept in substandard living conditions, the women and girls are often raped and sexually abused, and there are travelling brothels, with sex trafficked girls, that travel around the state to the farm workers.  The workers are subjected to massive amounts of the pesticides that are used on conventional produce and even though organic  farm workers are not subjected to the dangerous pesticides, there are no labor laws to protect them and they are not paid properly or have unions to help them.  The Organic Consumers Association works to raise awareness for the need to protect farm workers, here in America, and Whole Foods Market is also joining the fight for fair labor laws for organic farm workers around the world.

People in America are being tricked, coerced, and/or forced to work as strippers, prostitutes, housekeepers, janitors, nannies, in construction, in nail salons and massage parlors, in pornography, among other "jobs".  Children are a big part of slavery, 50% of slaves are under the age of 18.  All over the world, men, women, and children are living as slaves.  They are beaten and whipped, paid very little or not at all, they are raped and sexually abused, they are living in awful conditions, and receive little to no medical care.  What good is the American dream if it is brought to us on the backs of slaves?  Everywhere I look since I've become aware of this, I see the blood, tears, and pain of children abused, women beaten, and men broken by the needs of a society that has to have things cheap and convenient.  It is estimated that 14,500 to 18,000 men, women, and children are trafficked into the United States every year.  90% of the women and children are used in the sex industry and the average age of entry into the sex industry is 14.  There are 300,000 American children in the United States that are at risk for being trafficked into sexual slavery.  These numbers have been changing since I became aware of what is going on.  Authorities don't know the extent of trafficking victims because it is such a hidden crime and so many people don't know anything about it.  A lot of victims don't even know that they are trafficking victims and they don't know their rights.  In some cases, police will arrest the victims or deport them and their trafficker is never brought to justice.  In the case of foreign victims, their trafficker/pimp will take their documentation papers, visas, and passports so they cannot go the authorities and their papers will expire.  They are told lies by their "masters" and believe that no one will help them if they try to leave.

One misconception here in America is about prostitution.  It is not a victimless crime and the pimp is a trafficker and making money off of sexually abusing children.  The "johns" that utilize prostitutes are really pedophiles and abusers of women because a lot of girls are not there by choice or they have been beaten and raped so many times that it has become the only thing that they know.  I watched a documentary a few weeks ago called Very Young Girls and it was really an eye-opener for me about what American children go through when they are victimized by a pimp.  The girls in the documentary were as young as 12 when a pimp forced them to sell their bodies for money.  Gems is the foundation that made the documentary and has been providing services to sex trafficking victims in New York City.

 There is a great website called End Slavery Now that has combined all of the organizations and individuals that are working to abolish slavery worldwide.  They have tons of resources, movies, books, and pictures that tell the story of the modern-day slave.  The Polaris Project has more information about the extent of trafficking and slavery worldwide.  We can each play a part to end trafficking and slavery.  We can take a look at some of the wonderful abolitionist foundations out there in the world to see what they are doing to fight this.  We can tell everyone we know about what is going on.  We can keep our eyes open to the signs of slavery and refer them to authorities.  We can donate money, join a non-profit or start your own group.  Write a blog, get on twitter, talk about it on Facebook.  Social Networking is a great tool for raising awareness.  We have a job to do.  Jesus asks us to take care of those who can't take care of themselves, the poor, the downtrodden, the abused, the castaways, the helpless...the list goes on.   Now that you know, you should do something about it.

Much love,

Libby Mahoney
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Libby's Biography

Elizabeth was born in Cherry Hill NJ in 1976 to James and Virginia. Friends and family have called her Libby since she was very little. She lived in Pennsauken,NJ with her parents and sister until she graduated from 8th grade from a Catholic school in 1990. She moved with her family to Erial, NJ and went to high school in Blackwood, NJ until she graduated in 1994. She attended Temple University in Philadelphia, PA for 1 year with the goal of going to nursing school. She did not do very well academically that first year and she took some time off to decide what career she wanted. In 1996, Libby attended Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ to pursue her lifelong dream of being a teacher. While taking classes, Libby took a job as a preschool teacher at Kindercare Daycare Center where she worked until graduation in 1999. With her associates degree in hand, Libby left her job and entered Rutgers University in Camden NJ as a French Major in the Secondary Education Teacher Certification track. A mere 2 semesters from graduation, she decided to forgo the Bachelor's degree because she missed the preschool age children, so she left school and got a job at Children's Discovery Center in Mt. Laurel, NJ where she became the Lead 3's teacher. The preschool industry is a low-paying career that doesn't require a higher education other than a high school diploma. Instead of going for the stability and benefits of a public school teacher, Libby devoted her career to reaching children ages 3, 4, and 5. During this time she met her future husband, Michael Mahoney, and when they married in 2001, they moved to Florida.

Libby continued to pursue her career as a preschool teacher in Jacksonville by taking the required 40 hours child care credits, becoming certified in CPR and first aid, and submitting to background checks and fingerprinting through JSO. Libby taught preschool ages 3 and 4 at Calvary Christian Jr Academy from 2003-2009. She took continuing education courses and attended FSCJ to become certified to teach VPK. Libby was a key proponent for implementing VPK at her school and assisted the director in establishing the program at the school. Libby wrote curriculum guidelines for the VPK program and the 3's program using the Florida State VPK Standards and her extensive knowledge and experience from teaching. During this time, Libby birthed 4 children and worked until her youngest was 6 months old. The cost of childcare was too much for the humble income of a preschool teacher and Libby said goodbye to her career and became a stay-at-home mom. The time and freedom gained by staying at home gave Libby the chance to focus on her passion of cooking. She was suffering from an allergy to soy and she began to teach herself how to make everything from scratch. She got the idea to write a cookbook since she was creating so many new recipes and in marketing herself she began a twitter account and a blog to talk about the things she was learning.
Libby got involved in raising awareness about human trafficking after hearing Christine Caine, founder of The A21 Campaign, speak about the shelter they had built and the girls they were rescuing from sex trafficking. Libby was moved by these testimonies and desired to use her passion for cooking to do more than just write a book. She wants to open an organic fair trade bakery to show her community of Northeast Florida how consumers can affect the world around them and individual lives by purchasing ethically made products. Libby wants to use the profits from the bakery and cookbook to further her philanthropic goals. Libby has a vision of a boarding school that will take in at-risk children and survivors of trafficking. She wants to help orphans, foster kids, runaways, and throw-away children to get a chance at a life that would not be possible on their own or otherwise.
Libby plans on returning to school in the Fall of 2011 to finish her Bachelor's degree in Education with a minor in business entrepreneurship at UNF. She hopes to get her master's degree one day in Education/Business Administration so she can create the kind of school she'd always dreamed of working in.

If any investors, publishers, or literary agents are interested in Libby's plans for a bakery or cookbook please contact her at thecookingactivist@gmail.com

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

I'm starting the new year off with my first public event as The Cooking Activist!  On January 11th, to commemorate Human Trafficking Awareness Day, I will be a part of an event here in Northeast Florida.  Here is the official press release created by Robin Rossmanith from Shop To Stop Slavery.  This event will bring several anti-trafficking agencies together for a public event that includes a documentary viewing and panel discussion for the purpose of informing the public about trafficking, what is being done to combat this awful crime, and how we can change the lives of the victims and survivors. Each organization is doing something to battle trafficking and/or to help survivors. These are the organizations that will participate in the event: Shop To Stop Slavery, Made By Survivors/The Emancipation Network, Transitions Global, World Relief Jacksonville, The Cooking Activist(me), and Amnesty International. Here is a link to the facebook event page. If you will be in the area please come to the event! It will be held at Journey Church, located at 5941 Richard Road, Jacksonville, FL 32216 from 7-9pm. Tell all your friends about it!!


Happy New Year!!


Libby
The Cooking Activist