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Time to chill… or not.

November 7, 2011

I figured with Fall coming, it would be time to scale back, take my time, do a little maintenance, prepare for next year. Boy, was I wrong!

First, Phoenix had an exceptionally long Summer. It’s always long anyway. But this year, the high temps just went on and on, well into the end of October. The demand for cool, refreshing treats remained steady.

Then, well, there was our first Food Truck Festival. I’ll have to go back and add a post dedicated to just that. The sum is, I spent pretty much every day in October making samples for it. Plus, planning my display table, getting supplies, etc. etc.

At the same time, I was making pops for a big custom order. Aetna ordered 1,000 pops to hand out at the open enrollment expos for state employees. They were planning to attend five expos throughout the state, over the course of a week.

Here we are about half way into the production process. I’ve got samples in the doors and test tubes, and full-sizes in the molds and in the bins in the bottom.

What resulted, was a few weeks of picking up large quantities of ingredients, buying dry ice, packing coolers, and meeting these good folks at all hours of the day and night in random parking lots, in order to make the exchange.

I dropped off the last cooler yesterday. All I have left to do is pick up my empty cooler. And… breathe.

The cart is snug under its tarp. The hot pink tiki umbrella is closed, and leaning in a corner of the house. The ramps, chairs, buckets and bags are emptied from my truck.

All that is left to do is to make some inventory for the urban grocery at Phoenix Public Market, and then, good people, I’m on vacation.

Well, sort of. I’m officially on vacation (seriously – offline, and out of the country) for a week, and then back to testing recipes, putting in applications for festivals, doing my taxes, fixing my trailer, and all those other behind the scenes details. Until Spring, stay safe and be good (but not too good).

Shots! Shots! Shots!

August 19, 2011

… and other small format ice pops.

I have a couple of special events coming up. So I thought I should probably figure out how I’m going to serve at these things. Plastic wrappers and wooden sticks just won’t do.

First, I came up with some little tastes. I had some leftover roasted banana – toasted sesame pops (AKA “abra-banana, TOASTED SESAME!”) mix. I turned into sample size sesames:

They remind me of tiny mushrooms, which, unfortunately, got this song stuck in my head. Again.

Then, I tried my hand at some “shots”. I dug some shot glasses and swizzles sticks out of the bar, to experiment with. They came out really cute!

The swizzles were a bit big, but otherwise, I’m pleased. These would be awesome in custom-imprinted shotglasses, like say, for a wedding or corporate event. They could event be a bit boozy.

Since these are just experimental, I used whatever I had in the cooler – jamaica, and apple juice.

I’m really excited with how these turned out. Now I’m obsessed with finding unique little vessels and cool sticks!

Epic Ice Pop Weekend

August 8, 2011

This past weekend, I decided to tackle both First Friday (for the first time) and the Saturday morning farmers market. Foolish? Ambitious? Hard to say. I do know that, while it was a lot of hard work, it was also great fun.

I hadn’t been to First Friday in years.  So much has changed since then. It is so organized now, and I like that.

Despite the heat, there were hoards of people there, supporting local business, and enjoying the arts scene. We even had some fireworks, from the nearby Diamondbacks game:

At the end of a successfully night, I loaded up, unpacked, and scarfed down some food, and called it a night. Bright and early the next morning, I loaded up, and headed to the farmers market.

While I enjoyed hanging out with my street food peeps, and I had some friends stop by, turn out seemed lower than usual. I wonder if perhaps everyone else was the First Friday lag as much as I was. *yawn*

First Day at the Farmers’ Market

July 21, 2011

The downtown Phoenix farmers’ market has been my goal from day one. I love going there, and always thought my pops would be a perfect fit. So when I got word that I was approved to sell at the market, I was so stoked!

Still reeling from the chaotic weekend before, I was excited that all I had to do for this event was show up with some ice pops. I still had plenty already made, labeled and ready to go. Of course, I couldn’t resist making one more flavor. I needed another simple, unintimidating, refreshing flavor, that tastes like Summer – watermelon!

I couldn’t let it be just watermelon, though. That would be too easy. Watermelon-lime! Sweet and tart.

And in separate layers. Now we’re talkin’!

I made 50. Yeah, I’m an overachiever.

Thanks to the Phoenix Public Market guys, especially Lawrence, unloading and loading were smooth as silk.

BIG thanks to everyone who came out and had an ice pop (or two). I won’t be there this Saturday (the 23rd), but I will be on the next (the 30th). See you then!

Vending Boot Camp Weekend

July 11, 2011

A while back, I was contacted by the Phoenix Museum of Art. They wanted me to bring my cart to an event they were putting on for their members. At that point, it was weeks away — plenty of time for me to finalize my permits, get my equipment ready, and make a load of pops. I also liked having a nice, solid deadline.

Alas, I hit several delays, and the process dragged on. After knocking on a few doors, and making some calls, I got my commissary agreement ($100). Check!

The event was the next day, and I only had a couple obstacles in my way. I had to take my cart to Environmental Services for inspection. Problem 1) I bought my trailer sans title. No title = no registration and tags. Problem 2) the trailer wiring on my truck was a tangle of broken wires. No lights = no registration.

After some tinkering, I finally had functioning trailer lights. I took the trailer and cart down to MVD, where it passed inspection. But found that I have to go through a lengthy bond process to get a title, and thus, tags. Ulgh. At least I got 90 days tags. That will do, for now.

While I waited for the MCEnviro inspection station to open, I swung by Phoenix Public Market to get my Toilet Use Agreement signed. Yes, this is a requirement for my peddler permit, along with a menu, sample labels, my Food Manager’s card, and a bunch of other things.

Then it was inspection time. The inspector looked all around the cart, and in it; asked me a bunch of questions. He hmmed, and scribbled some things down on his clipboard. It wasn’t looking good. Alas, my lettering was too small! Well, some of them are. The F’s and P’s are OK.

Nonetheless, it passed! I just have to fix the lettering in 90 days – no problem! Another $120, and I was done.

Time to head to the kitchen and bag and label a million kajillion pops, before the next morning. It was a late night, but I got it done.

The next morning, everything was going just swimmingly, when I managed to dump the 300 lbs freezer cart off the trailer, and right onto my quads. Owwie owwie! Power through! Lesson learned: make sure the trailer is secured to the truck, before attempting to stand on the back, especially if the freezer is not strapped down.

Now, that freezer cart has been on the trailer since I bought it. It took three people to get it on there. I was on my own.

I put out the ramps and gave it a go – and managed to slip it off the ramps, and onto my ankles. Owwie Owwie! Power through!

After some finagling, I got it back in place, strapped down, and loaded full of pops. Even with all that, I was still on time, though a bit bruised and sweaty.

Turnout wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. But I think I made some new fans – and big bonus – it was air conditioned. The music was nice too.

When the event was over, loading on went a LOT more smoothly than the first time. I headed back to the kitchen, and plugged in for the night.

I still had so many pops left. Then I remembered hearing about a small festival taking place in my very own neighborhood the next day. I hit up the Facebook page of the Hotter Than July Chili Cookoff & Salsa Fest, to see if they would be interested in having me join them. Sure enough, they were!

Bright and early the next day, I headed up the street to join in the fun.

I’d say the turnout was smaller than the day before. But the crowd was boisterous and hot. I was very busy most of the day. I met so many interesting people and loved chatting with them throughout the day.

At the end of the weekend, I was beat – sore, dehydrated, and bruised. But I never had so much fun and learned so much at once. The whole weekend was so rewarding. If it was any indication of what’s in store for me, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Dog-tested, dog-mom approved

July 7, 2011

Everyone likes ice pops, including dogs. So I whipped up a batch of healthy pops, to bring to the farmers market. These are made with primarily bananas and mesquite meal. They are gluten- and dairy-free. Tasty, too! Heck, I would eat them myself.

frozen dog treats popsicles Phoenix Arizona

Of course, some recipe testing would be needed. If only I could find some dogs to try them out…

I’d say they were a hit.

Don’t be sad.

There’s more in the freezer 😉