By Pattie Garrett
Visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market for perfect pumpkins to paint, carve, and cook, and to get a sack full of other Halloween treats too! Between now and October 31, come to the market at the Wilton Mall any Saturday 9 am – 1 pm or Wednesday 3 – 6 pm to pick out products for constructing your own festive Halloween food, drink, and decor.
Halloween’s mascot is the pumpkin, and at the market, we celebrate this special squash in fresh baked goods, hot and cold beverages, decorations, dinners, and desserts; we even have unique, locally made, pumpkin-spiced marshmallows!
The tradition of carving pumpkins dates to Irish immigrants who came to America to escape famine. Legend says that Stingy Jack was a thief and trickster who even fooled the devil into making a promise not to take his soul when he died. The devil kept this promise, but God wouldn’t let an unsavory person like Jack into heaven. With just burning coal in a turnip to use for a light, Jack’s been roaming the earth ever since. Because of this, children in Ireland put a glowing coal into a carved potato, turnip, or beet to frighten away Stingy Jack.
Once in America, pumpkins made the perfect lanterns. That is where we get Jack-O’-Lanterns. Big pumpkins make the perfect carved jack-o-lantern, while small sugar pumpkins are delicious for roasting to make puree for pies, dips, and pumpkin bread. Save the seeds of either to sprinkle with your favorite spice and roast as a quick crunchy snack.
If Halloween festivities are on your schedule, try these tricks for some healthy and unusual treats: Use a small pumpkin or another gourd as a bowl. Fill it with a sweet pumpkin dip accompanied by sliced apples on the side, or try a savory dip or hummus with vegetable sticks.
Another fun idea is to make kebabs of fruit, veggies, or cured meat and cheese. Stick them in a painted or carved pumpkin. It’ll make a wonderful centerpiece for your table.
And on Halloween itself, visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market! We will have prizes for festive costumes, a guess-the-weight-of-the-pumpkin contest, and trick-or-treating at some of our vendors’ booths. Before heading home, grab some veggies, a deliciously prepared dish, and a jug of sweet cider for a quick dinner on this spookiest evening of the year.
This week’s recipe: Pumpkin Dip