I’m Linda, aka ‘Suzy-Q’, with my husband and side-kick ‘Cowboy Mark’ to tell you my story of the beginning of Suzy-Q’s Dang Good Western Dressing.
Back in February of 2017, while grilling rib-eye steaks, I thought of adding a nice salad to our evening meal. That’s when I remembered an old salad dressing recipe of mine in my old treasured recipe box (yes, I still keep a recipe box with those 3×5 cards). I decided to dig it out and make the dressing for the salad to go with our dinner. The recipe card has been in my box since the very early 1970’s. I’ve used that dressing for salads and fondues, and it has always been just Dang Good with steak and shrimp.
While eating dinner that evening Cowboy Mark said, “This is so dang good! You need to bottle this, seriously!” A thought came to me that maybe I should do just that… BOTTLE IT! Now, I had never canned a single jar and I wanted to do it right so I started searching the internet to see if it was a possibility. I won’t bore you with the next few weeks of phone calls and chats, but I did find out that yes indeed, I could safely ‘bottle’ my special dressing recipe using the warm water canning process (per the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Cottage Industry Guidelines), so I did just that!
Cowboy Mark and I have really enjoy Saturday mornings getting a nice fresh cup of coffee at our favorite coffee shop in Mahtomedi, MN (The Ox & Crow). We love sitting outside to watch the action of all the locals walking by, biking through and shopping at the local Farmers Market across the street in Triangle Park. While sitting with my coffee one of those Saturdays, I began to think of perhaps selling MY dressing at that Farmers Market. When I inquired to find out if there was an opening, I was told “yes indeed, there sure is a spot for you!” and the rest is history.
We had to research the canning process, buy the jars and the products to make it at home, come up with a catchy name for the dressing, create labels and design the “look and feel” for each pint jar, and with some online training from the MN Dept. of Agriculture we were on our way. Along with my ‘Cowboy Mark’ and my handy-dandy kitchen blender, a cutting board, a blue-speckled canning pot and a cupboard full of those ‘special’ ingredients, we began processing our first jars of Suzy-Q’s Dang Good Western Dressing.
At the opening of the market that summer we began with 100 jars of my dressing. What a lot of hard work and time that was! But our excitement overrode that fatigue. We had no idea how this would turn out or how much we would sell. This was truly a pioneering venture.
On the very first day of that Farmers Market we loaded up the car with our vendor’s tent, all the supplies we would need and of course the dressing – all 100 jars of it! We wondered, “…what could we sell, 10 jars, 20 jars, 50?” There was no way to tell.
I came up with the idea to serve a small bite of lettuce in a cup with a little squirt of my dressing so folks could do their own ‘taste test’. That’s all it took! Once folks got a taste of my dressing the sales started. Lots of sales! That first Saturday at the Mahtomedi Farmers Market we sold 48 jars! Yay!
So, starting the following Monday, we canned and canned and canned, and each week had new customers. Many folks came back each week for more, bringing friends and neighbors with them. Word began to spread. One woman returned to purchase a whole case of Suzy-Q’s Dang Good Western Dressing for her staff to give out as Christmas gifts.
We attempt to participate in at least four Farmers Markets in the area. This includes White Bear Lake, Mahtomedi, Lake Elmo and Tamarack Nature Center (in Nov-Jan). There may be more so you should check our schedule here to see which one works best for you.
I am excited as all-get-out to see you and share this marvelous creation with you. I’m certain that once you taste it for yourself you too will agree it is “dang good!