From Farm To Picnic: Filling your basket at the market

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By Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Summer hits its peak in August. Glorious sunshine in the daytime and star-studded skies at night make outdoor dining alluring. In addition, opportunities to take in a concert at the park or an afternoon at the track beckon.

            How to prepare meals in such a situation? The answer, of course, is to pack a picnic.

The word “picnic” refers to a packed meal. The meal typically is al fresco style, meaning it is best enjoyed outdoors.

What makes a picnic in August particularly lovely is bringing your basket to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market and preparing your picnic on the spot. Visit the market on a Wednesday afternoon and pack a romantic meal for two. Or start your Saturday with breakfast at the market, then shop for lunch. Plan a family outing or an afternoon at the track while you shop.

Need ideas? Try these menus:

Packing for the track: For Friends of the Market organizer Alexandra Morgan, summer is all about afternoons at the track. Morgan, who lives within walking distance of the market, creates a colorful blend of savory and sweet snacks with the following:

  • A bunch of Owl Wood Farm radishes.
  • Artisanal cheeses from Moxie Ridge
  • Saratoga Cracker Co. crackers
  • Scotch Ridge Farm blueberries.
  • And finally a pint of sweet cider from Saratoga Apple.

What makes this menu truly picnic-like is its flavor and its ease. No need to cut or cook anything. Just pack a bag and head straight from the market to the track.

Snackable produce at Scotch Ridge Farm by Pattie Garrett

Snackable produce at Scotch Ridge Farm by Pattie Garrett

The family picnic: Market director Julia Howard calls picnics “the theme of summer” for her toddler Taiga, partner Sean, and herself. Lunches at area beaches are a ritual, and Howard has the planning and the packing down to a science:

An easily prepared salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and feta cheese tossed with olive oil and seasoned with fresh parsley.

  • Freddy’s Rocking hummus and an heirloom tomato on a slice of Rockhill Bakehouse bread.
  • Puckers Gourmet full sour pickles.
  • Water or chocolate milk for her daughter, and a cold brew coffee from Wednesday vendor Electric City Roasters for herself.
  • Any fruit that’s in season, with a particular emphasis this year on local peaches from Kokinda Farms.
  • Pleasant Valley carrots.

“I aim for light foods that have sustenance,” she says, “and I am conscientious about minimizing the mess.”

Slate Valley Farm by Pattie Garrett

Slate Valley Farm by Pattie Garrett

Date night: Market photographer Pattie Garrett creates her favorite evenings out with her husband Tommy by starting with the basics: picnic table, tablecloth, citronella candles. Then, she fills the basket at the farmers’ market, varying her purchases with what’s in season and pleasing to her eye. Here’s what she came up with on a recent trip:

  • Slate Valley Farm’s lavender lemonade.
  • Cured sausages from Dancing Ewe Farm
  • A Murray Hollow loaf of whole wheat bread.
  • Easy-to-cut vegetables with Argyle Cheese Farm’s tzatziki dip.
  • Chocolate Spoon cookies, fresh berries, and Northern Star Vineyards wine.

Pack a picnic at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market every Wednesday, 3-6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at High Rock Park. Also follow us on Instagram, Facebook and