By Julia Howard
For many, eighty-degree weather and the end of the school year are hallmarks of summer. We plan for gatherings with family and friends, schedule vacations, and fill the calendar with activities. Ultimately, summertime hits full speed once the Fourth of July is upon us.
But sometimes, the simplest things make summer most memorable—like fresh flowers on the table, snacking on sun-ripened berries, or the smell of dinner on the grill. Time slows as we absorb natural flavors, colors, and scents straight from the earth.
Summer cooking doesn’t need to be complicated—a vinaigrette of vinegar and olive oil can dress thinly-sliced cucumbers, grated carrots, and crisp greens. Snap peas and tender yellow squash may be sauteed lightly with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, maintaining their taste and crisp texture. Beets and potatoes may be boiled until soft, then sauteed with onions. Add fresh herbs for a burst of flavor.
Local meats and poultry also call for a simple preparation, as the meat’s flavor lies in its quality. For grilling cuts of beef, pork, and goat, bring the meat to ambient temperature (let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes), rub it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then grill. Cook meats to the proper temperature and try not to rely on time. Once cooked, cover tightly with aluminum foil and let rest for approximately five minutes. Chicken gets special treatment with a simple marinade of olive oil, garlic, herbs, and a hefty squeeze of citrus. Let it soak in the marinade for 30 minutes to 8 hours before grilling.
When entertaining or picnicking, a loaf of artisan bread paired with local cheeses can quickly satisfy a group. Add pickles, honeycomb, jam, chocolate, crackers, or fresh fruit for an array of delectable flavors that compliment one another and make for a sweet and savory summertime meal.
Beverages are always necessary for backyard barbeques or just enjoying time in your backyard. Limoncello, whiskey iced tea, and other spirits make cocktail hour easy. Or maybe Junboucha or lavender lemonade is best to quench your thirst.
Visiting the summer farmers’ markets reminds you of the bounty that comes from this region. We realign with nature and slow down to enjoy the pace—smelling flowers and savoring flavors, and it’s all available here.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at High Rock Park in downtown Saratoga Springs. Find us online at saratogafarmersmarket.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.