Talking shop with Martha Brown, owner of Ms. Martha's Cookies

Monday, November 7, 2011
Martha Brown of Cape Girardeau is the owner of Ms. Martha’s Cookies, a homemade gourmet treat business. (Kristin Eberts)

When Martha Brown isn't working in the city of Cape Girardeau's planning department, she can be found in her kitchen baking up a batch of specialty cookies or cupcakes. Brown started Ms. Martha's Cookies last year and since then, her business has grown and expanded to include cinnamon rolls, cupcakes and other specialty desserts.

Question: What inspired you to start Ms. Martha's Cookies?

Answer: I've been baking since I was in high school -- it's been something I've enjoyed for a long time. I love being in the kitchen baking. The challenge of making cookies and cupcakes better by experimenting with recipes is fun. I have picked up a lot of tips from watching many shows on Food TV. Friends kept asking me to bring them baked goods. I decided that others might enjoy home baked goods, as well. My good friend (and boss), Kelly Green, has two young sons who would ask their mother if "Ms. Martha" made cookies for them -- which is the origin of the name "Ms. Martha's Cookies."

Q: Tell us about your day job with the city of Cape Girardeau.

A: I started working in the Planning Services Division with the city in June 1997.

Before moving to Cape Girardeau, I worked for 15 years in Fairfax, Va., for Fairfax County and with a private developer, Elm Street Development. I primarily handled zoning and land use matters there. I have a master's degree in urban and regional planning. My interest in city planning started when I was getting my bachelor's degree in a suburb of Chicago, Elmhurst. When I was living in Columbus, Ohio, while my husband was getting his Ph.D., I decided to get my master's degree.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: I love that every day presents different challenges. I get to deal with a wide variety of citizens and enjoy trying to resolve issues. I also get to see the results of hard work, in the form of finished city projects like the river walk trail.

Q: Is it challenging juggling both your own business and your job with the city?

A: It hasn't been hard to maintain my full-time day job with the city and my part-time baking. I do my baking in the evenings and on weekends. It keeps me busy, and there are times when being on my feet in the kitchen at night after a full day of work at the city gets tiring. But I am doing what I love and am blessed to be able to bake. It's very gratifying to have happy customers.

Q: You don't just bake cookies. What other items do you make?

A: I started off just making cookies, but I have added cupcakes, since they are so popular, muffins, cinnamon rolls and specialty desserts, like chocolate pecan turtle bars.

Q: Do you have a favorite sweet treat yourself?

A: I don't have a favorite myself. I really like everything I make. I'll make a batch of sugar cookies and think they are my favorite until I make some oatmeal raisin pecan cookies, then they are my favorite. Of course, nothing can really compare to a warm cinnamon roll right out of the oven.

Q: Have you had any interesting or unusual orders?

A: I haven't really had any unusual orders. I have tried experimenting with different flavors, like adding bacon to maple pecan cupcakes. My most challenging order was baking 105 dozen cookies in three days for Delta Companies last December.

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