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Some non-tasty, but necessary work.

June 13, 2011

There is a lot of downtime, as I wait for paperwork and permits to grow through. It nice to spend these times with my hands on “real” things.

Ideally, I would be testing ice pop recipes. But at the moment, all my gear is locked in a commercial kitchen that I don’t have official permission to use yet.

However, I still have my freezer cart, and the rickety craigslist trailer it sits on. They both need some attention. No use in having delicious popsicles, if I can’t get them out to the people of Phoenix.

I spent some of this downtime scrubbing out the cart, sealing its seams, and even started dressing it up a little. The white coating is dry erase material. That way, I can write my current selections right on the cart! Of course, a vehicle wrap would be a better solution. But that will just have to wait.

There is still a lot to do, but it’s a start.

Sweet Serendipity

April 4, 2011

What a crazy, amazing, and wonderful week I’ve had! First off, I got to meet the lovely Jill of the Sweet Life Garden, and tour her gorgeous property. She and her family are blessed with great greens, chickens, and a ton of fruit trees. Look for ice pops made with her peaches, apricots, and other delicious homegrown goodies later this Spring!

In the course of talking with Jill, I learned about Caroline and her fabulous garden (Boho Farm & Home) nearby. Not on that, Caroline would be hosting a farmers and flea market, and it would be a perfect venue to introduce my pops to the people of Phoenix.

As soon as I got home, I contacted Caroline to get the scoop. She told me that yes, there was room for me, and yes, I should come. Fantastic! Problem was, the market was less than a week away, and I had no pops in the freezer.

Since I had such a short timeframe, I had to work with what I had on hand. Lucky for me, I had GREAT stuff on hand. There were hand-picked prickly pears in the freezer:

And Jill gave me a big bag of valencia oranges, from one of her trees:

I kicked butt all week long, and managed to crank out three batches of pops: prickly pear, orange-yogurt, and kulfi (yogurt, saffron, honey, cardamom, pistachios, and golden raisins), and I found about a half dozen red plum pops in the freezer.

The prickly pear ones gave me no end of trouble. They ended up quite sticky, and difficult to package. A thin dusting of lime zested sugar cured that!

Friday night, I was unmolding and wrapping the last batch of pops, and baking mesquite chocolate chips cookies to bring as well:

Bright and early the next morning, I ran to get dry ice, loaded up the old rig with popsicles and all the goods for my booth, careened across town, and rolled up just at the start of the event. I got a really sweet spot on the porch:

After a cool morning, it ended up being a really hot day. My ice cold pops were appreciated by all, as they shopped all the unique crafts and homegrown produce.

It turned out to be a marvelous day. Not only did everyone enjoy the popsicles (I sold out!), I got to meet so many wonderful people. I had some great conversations with all who stopped by, and look forward to seeing everyone next time!

Two more winners

February 8, 2011

First up, avocado-lime-coconut

This one teeters on the line between sweet and savory. Perfectly balanced sweet, sour, and a touch salty.

Next, mesquite bean


Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste a bit like smoke! Made from the syrup of mesquite beans, it tastes like caramel or dulce de leche.

Not only that, it contains no added sugar. The pericarp of the mesquite bean is very sweet. But it derives its sweetness primarily from the fructose it contains, which has a low glycemic index.

Though it tastes delicious, I’m not sure it will be in the regular rotation. It is a huge process to make mesquite syrup. So this will more likely be a “special edition” type of deal.

Call me crazy

January 28, 2011

But I happen to think that figs and goat cheese make an awesome popsicle:

Combined, sweetened up a little, with a touch of balsamic added, they made a frozen treat that tastes somewhat like fig cheesecake.

This was my first attempt at a swirl, and I gotta say, they turned out pretty well, I think. Cheers to Crow’s Dairy for the lovely goat cheese!

Inspiration comes to me in varied and unusual ways. This is just one route that it chose to take.

As you may or may not know, in addition to being an ice pop maker, I’m also an urban forager, gardener, and canner. Every summer, I stash away dozens of figs, culled from the trees of Phoenix.

I stash some in the freezer, dry some, others, I roast with lemons and sugar, and preserve with a little Malbec.

As my gentle readers well know, figs and goat cheese go together like bacon and chocolate. I like to serve it with lots of other goodies, for a happy hour snack.

Back in August, I was Googling around, when I came across this guy’s blog, where he made fig and goat cheese ice cream. Not only that, he used David Lebovitz’ recipes for each ice cream. The Perfect Scoop and a Cuisinart ice cream maker have been the Wonder Twins of my kitchen, ever since I received them for Christmas a couple years ago. So I knew it had to be good. I stashed it in my flavor folder, to try out on a rainy day.

When that day came around, I had to figure out how to translate it into my current love, ice pops? It was easier than what you would think, but not perfect. Delete the eggs, sure. Change up the dairy a bit. I like the the little bit of acidity the Malbec lends to my canned figs. But I want this to be booze-free. Thus, sub in balsamic for the wine.

The result was definitely tasty, but needs refinement. The goat cheese element came out a bit icy. I don’t love the seeds of the figs. The two sides could be better swirled. So whether or not this one makes it into the line-up is still in question. But like all the flavors I try out, it’s a start.

Tested on animals

January 22, 2011
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I thought I might try out some frozen doggies treats. I whipped up a batch of pops, made from cashew butter and mesquite meal.

Mesquite meal is made from the beans of the mesquite tree. It is high in protein, gluten-free, and has a delicious, slightly sweet and cinnamony flavor.

My test subjects seem to approve.

I shall dub them, rufrufpops!

A little learning goes a long way

January 19, 2011

Last night I attended one of the very helpful Mobile Food Unit workshops, offered by the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department. It was a great opportunity to learn about what MFUs need to do in order to be in compliance, and also a chance to ask questions specific to my operation. I got some great information that I think will save me a lot of time and hassle, as I get frufrupops off the ground.

Maricopa County food truck paperwork