Home > Uncategorized > Randall Cooks: Homemade Paletas…or Ice Pops…Frozen Treats…

Randall Cooks: Homemade Paletas…or Ice Pops…Frozen Treats…

I know, because of my day job, the word “Popsicle®” is a registered trademark. Due to this, I do make an effort to use more generic term when referring to frozen treats on sticks.

“Paleta” made its way into my personal lexicon a few summers ago, upon attending the Pickathon music festival in Happy Valley, Oregon. Though we’d likely have tried them regardless of weather, the sun was particularly oppressive during the 2009 edition of the event, driving us to find any and all methods for keeping cool while enjoying our weekend.

Fortunately, the Pickathon folks commit to food and beverage offerings being local, affordable, and delicious. Drawing from the rich talent pool of the Portland area, you get a great variety of palate temptations. Among them during what would seem a fortuitously hot weekend were Sol Pops Paletas.

I won’t go into all the details of the difference between a “paleta” and what many of us in this country typically call a “popsicle.” Nor am I that interested in their assertion of “wellness” in regard to their particular product. When the numbers creep toward the triple digits, those are simply side-show attractions along the highway to refreshingly cold sweetness (on a stick!), and I drive really fast!

Note: I drive less fast these days than I did before I became “Daddy,” which allows me to reserve the “slow down, you lunatic!” reaction I instinctively have toward the teenagers always in a rush up and down the hill in our neighborhood.

They were carrying four or five varieties at the time. From their website, I see they’ve expanded their offerings by quite a bit. Because I have a weakness for the combination of sweet and spicy, I started with the “Cucumber Lime Jalapeno” paleta, before sampling my way through their entire menu throughout the weekend.

Not only did I come away with a new word for frozen treats on sticks that was NOT a trademark, I also was hit with the revelation that the making of such items is remarkably simple and not necessarily limited to the nasty, fake flavors offered commercially.

This really should not be a big discovery. Did I not try to freeze Kool-Aid(R) in ice cube trays with toothpicks suspended in them with the aid of a sheet of plastic wrap way back in the 1970’s? Yet, many years of living in the American consumer culture ultimately turned these into things you either bought at the store or didn’t eat, the magic of their creation best left to people with factories and machinery and distribution networks. I used to think the same of, say, salsa. Takes something to shake me from the disillusion of complexity, even now.

Although our second trip to Pickathon was accompanied by weather much more typical of a Pacific Northwest summer, our need for paletas was bolstered by the addition of a seven-month-old toothless wonder. As we often thought throughout his first year-and-change with no teeth, we thought Owen might be teething and would benefit from sharing

These will ‘pay for themselves,’ but only if you’d otherwise buy your ice pops.

Though…he wasn’t really that interested in really sharing. Once he got a taste, it was all over.  He ended up eating the better part of two cantaloupe-flavored paletas in short order, which also foreshadowed cantaloupe proving to be one of his favorite foods.

While shopping for dinner provisions on a particularly warm (for Seattle) spring evening, I recalled the episode. Without any idea of a recipe other than knowing we had sugar, vanilla extract, yogurt, and coconut milk at home, I bought some “Tovolo Groovy Ice Pop Molds” and a cantaloupe (yes…organic…so what?!) and planned to deliver a surprise to my toddler son I figured would be at least as delicious as what I could buy for him, but also contain only a few ingredients and no chemical preservatives, colorings, or flavorings.

Ideally, I’d have a recipe to share.

I do not.

I got as much flesh from the cantaloupe as I could and combined it with whatever amount of low-fat Greek-style yogurt we had left in the container, a bit of sugar, and a splash of vanilla extract. From there, it was immersion blender, funnel, and paleta molds. It’s not science; it’s art. If it tastes good when it’s blended, it will taste good frozen.

The result?

Bliss!

Brain Freeze!

Sorry, son! Apparently I gave you the gift of something tasty enough for you to eat it as fast as you can, while maybe not having given you genetically the gift I enjoy for being able to absorb very cold things quickly without the dreaded “brain freeze.”

The rest of you, get to blending and freezing, but, enjoy at appropriate speeds.

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