By Julia Howard
What do the Saratoga Farmers’ Market and Valentine’s Day have in common?
Love. Love that is colorful, flavorful, sweet and savory, hearty and light, decadent, delightful and healthy.
This Saturday, we invite you to share the love and use the farmers’ market as your venue for creating the best valentines on the planet.
I did it myself last Saturday. I created a few valentines for a few of my loved ones – my mother, my partner Sean, and my 2-1/2 year old daughter Taiga.
My mother has everything she needs. But what does she want? Chocolate, for starters. I snagged a few milk chocolate heart-shaped stir sticks from Something’s Brewing, along with a ceramic ring holder from Zoe Burghard and a bottle of Northern Cross Vineyard’s Oak Marquette. Oak leaves from this vineyard help create the earthy taste of this red wine, a romantic twist that appeals to my mother’s artistic side.
Next up was Sean, the epitome of practicality. Give him a hammer and gloves and he’s happy. But he’s got a soft spot for infused spirits, and so I chose a maple moonshine from Springbrook Hollow Farm and Distillery. They use New York grains and Adirondack spring water to create their small batch spirits. To Sean’s valentine, I added a loaf of Murray Hollow Bake House bread and basil and garlic cheese curds from the Argyle Cheese Farmer. Practical, right?
And finally Taiga, the love of my life. I can’t shower her with enough gifts, so I had to practice self-restraint. I thought about a honey crisp apple from Saratoga Apple and a basket of cherry tomatoes from Shushan Valley Hydro Farm. Ultimately, I went with a flannel shirt from Feathered Antler that featured a moose hand-painted by artist and owner Gretchen Tisch. For Taiga, I also tucked in a jar of Slate Valley Farm’s beeswax based Sugar Maple lotion and an oatmeal raisin cookie from Rock Hill Bake House.
As market director, I often am too busy running the market to shop for myself, let alone others. But Valentine’s Day creates an excuse to indulge in some love. Shopping for others was a gift to myself. I invite you to give yourself that gift at our market every week.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the Lincoln Baths building in the Saratoga Spa State Park.
Red Beet Chocolate Cake
Adapted from recipe by Rita~ on Food.com
*Ingredients currently available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
• 1 3⁄4 cups unbleached flour, sifted
• 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
• 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
• 3 large eggs*
• 1 cup coconut oil, melted (or substitute vegetable oil)
• 1 -1 1⁄2 cup beet, pureed (3-4 medium beets, roasted, cooled, peeled)*
• 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (melt and cool the 4, 1oz squares of baking chocolate.)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1. Wrap beets in aluminum foil and roast at 375 degrees F for 45-60 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool, then peel and puree. Set aside
2. Preheat oven to 350 and grease 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.
3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
4. Combine sugar, eggs, and oil in a mixing bowl.
5. Beat with an electric mixer set at medium speed for 2 minutes.
6. Beat in the beets, cooled chocolate, and vanilla.
7. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating well after each addition.
8. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until cake tests done.
9. Cool in pan on rack. If desired, cover and let stand overnight to improve flavor.
10. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.