I’ve got an epic rant and popsicle post to share with you today, but first I wanted to let you know about a culinary Kickstarter campaign by my friend Vanessa, who is starting a company that produces boxes filled with 5 unique ingredients and recipes to use them. Vanessa is an accomplished home chef who has traveled the world, and her recipes are both brilliant and simple, with influences from various countries and continents. If you fancy, check out her campaign and help a foodie out. $20 gets you a box and recipes of your very own. The campaign ends this coming Monday, June 30th.
Speaking of unique ingredients, I’m getting these fancy frozen treats in just under the wire for Wit & Vinegar’s Popsicle Week. While I am usually an epic procrastinator, this time it’s truly not my fault. I have a great excuse, and it’s not that the cat ate my homework (he prefers almond butter-tahini sauce). You see, for the past month, I’ve been pop-blocked.
None of my local kitchen supply stores had the popsicle maker I was seeking, so I ordered one through Amazon from a kitchen supplies vendor; let’s just call them Surly Kitchen. The photograph of the image showed a silvery, metal lid holding 10 classic popsicle molds. It looked perfect.
When it arrived a couple of weeks later, I removed it from its box, only to find that the mold actually had a blue plastic lid. This wouldn’t have been an issue except for the fact that I was planning to photograph it.
The receipt in the box instructed me to contact the company for returns, so I wrote a congenial note saying that I had received the wrong item, a popsicle maker with a plastic lid rather than the metal one shown in the image, and that I would like to exchange it. I expected a reply along the lines of, “Oh, we’re so sorry! That was our mistake. Of course you can exchange it. Here’s a label so that you don’t have to pay for return shipping.” I don’t expect the customer to always be right – I worked at Farley’s – but I do expect a company to admit when they’ve made a simple error and take steps to correct it.
Instead, Surly Kitchen replied, “Dear Customer thank you for writing I am very sorry for this. For me to be able to help you better can you be more specific about the difference that you are stating. Our Amazon description does not specifies that it is a metal lid. Please let me know what color of lid did you receive and I will be more than happy to assist you.”
So I reiterated the problem, adding that the lid was blue. The next day, they replied, “After reviewing the item information I found this item information clearly states the item is of BPA free plastic, there is no mention the top is made of metal. I am providing you the link for you to confirm the information I just provided you. Thank you for allowing us to assist you.” Prior to my purchase, I had read the description and saw that the lid claimed to be made of BPA-free plastic, but I had assumed that this referred to the underside or some such thing, since the image clearly showed a metal top.
I followed the link and saw that they had changed the image to reflect the blue plastic lid.
For a few hours, I wondered whether I was crazy. This is not an uncommon thing for me to do, particularly when faced with an incongruous reality like the one that Surly Kitchen had provided. Perhaps I had simply ordered the wrong product? I had been giving Jay the blow-by-blow and when I saw that they had changed the image, I pointed this out to Jay. He gave a non-committal grunt, and I thought, “Traitor. You think I’m crazy, too.”
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking. I wanted to get a popsicle post up, and all I had was a blue plastic-lidded pop-tease. I briefly considered using the mold to begin testing recipes while I waited for the surly jerks who didn’t know how to run a business to grant me permission to return their stupid product. But their return policy clearly stated that the product had to be un-used. Since they were already trying very hard to prevent me from returning the mold, I imagined them jumping on any opportunity to send the thing back. They would undoubtedly include a bitchy note masked with false politeness explaining that since they found the DNA of tayberries on the mold, they would be unable to take it back.
So I poured a test batch of popsicles into small glasses, using a chopstick as the handle, and balanced them precariously in the freezer. I was still wondering if perhaps I *had* mistakenly ordered the wrong product. Maybe the light in the photo had made the lid look like metal?
Then I had a brainwave.
“Aha!” I cried, triumphant. My receipt from Amazon included a picture of the mold with the silver, metal lid. “Look!” I said as I pointed out the image to Jay.
He sighed. “Just send it back,” he begged. “It’s not a big deal. It’ll be, like, ten bucks. I’ll pay for it.”
But it was the principal of the thing. It irked me that they refused to take responsibility for the situation, or even admit to having displayed the wrong image in the first place. They tried to trick me by changing the image after the fact, and for what? I was only asking for an exchange.
I continued trying to reason with them. “The problem,” I wrote, “is that the image shown of the item was of a metal top, which is what lead me to order it. I’m a food photographer, thus the material is important to me for using in my photographs. The image has since been changed to show the one with the plastic top, however here is a screenshot of my receipt which shows the metal lid. If you don’t have the metal top to exchange, would you be willing to reimburse me for the return shipping?”
Their final response took the cake. “Dear customer, unfortunately we are not responsible for the pictures Amazon decides to post on their website. Although the description clearly did not describe a stainless top and did state BPA free plastic, we have provided you with a full refund. Although this will not happen every time a picture does not match the text on Amazon, it is more important for us to have happy customers that come back and shop us again.”
“That’s funny,” I ranted to Jay, wielding my malformed, chopstick-handled popsicle like a weapon as he tried to tune me out, “I wonder whose responsibility it is to post the correct image of a product you’re selling? Huh?!”
Jay took a bite of the popsicle. “This is good,” he said. “So… what are you going to do with that popsicle mold?”
Surly Kitchen proved to be petty and unprofessional, and I’m still perplexed by the way they handled a pretty simple situation, including crediting my card with a refund before receiving the returned product. They still refused to pay for the return shipping, so I decided to be petty and unprofessional, too. I still have their popsicle mold. I ordered a new one from a different vendor, made sure that the description included a metal lid, and it arrived earlier this week.
I made popsicles.
These were definitely worth the wait.
The base consists of tayberries, a raspberry-blackberry hybrid with a soft flavor that reminisces of roses. Tayberries aren’t as sweet or tart as other berries, so I paired them with some perfectly ripe Seascape strawberries, both of which I found first at the farmer’s market, and later, needing more popsicles, through Good Eggs.
The flowery notes in tayberries are perfectly pitched with rose geranium, an herb often used in berry pies. Its strong flavor can be overpowering, but infused into a simple syrup and softened with berry puree and creamy buttermilk and yogurt, it is positively intoxicating. Once you’ve tracked down the ingredients and a suitable popsicle maker, these are stupid easy to put together.
40+ amazing popsicle recipes can be found listed over at Wit and Vinegar.
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Tayberry, Rose Geranium + Buttermilk Popsicles
Makes 10 popsicles
If you can’t find tayberries, feel free to use a mixture of blackberries and raspberries in their place, or another variety such as mulberries, loganberries, or marrionberries. In place of rose geranium, make the simple syrup plain and stir in a teaspoon or two of rosewater into the berry puree and buttermilk mixture until you like the way it tastes. These keep well in the freezer for up to a month or two.
For the rose geranium simple syrup:
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (I used organic blonde cane sugar)
1/4 cup water
10-12 medium rose geranium leaves (about 2″ long)
For the popsicles:
1 1/4 cups ripe tayberries (or a combination of black and raspberries)
1 1/4 cups ripe strawberries (I used Seascapes), hulled
rose geranium simple syrup, from above
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk Greek yogurt
Make the simple syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and rose geranium. Bring to a boil over medium heat, swirling the pot occasionally to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat, cover, and steep 10-20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, squeezing the leaves to extract all the good stuff. Discard the leaves. You should have about 1/2 cup of syrup. Cover and chill for up to 1 week if not making immediately.
Make the popsicles:
Place the berries and 5 tablespoons of the simple syrup in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the berries are smooth. Scrape into a measuring pitcher for easy pouring.
Combine the buttermilk and yogurt in a medium bowl and whisk smooth. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of simple syrup. Scrape into a measuring pitcher for easy pouring.
Fill 10 popsicle molds with about 1/3 of the berry puree, then gently pour in 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture. Pouring it slowly and aiming down the side of the molds will help get defined layers. Repeat until you’ve used up the mixtures and the molds are full. Freeze the pops according to the instructions on your popsicle maker. They will keep for at least a month in the freezer.