The air is completely still and warmly heavy. The sweet, resiny smell of pine mingles with the mineral scent of the marshy mud surrounding the lake. We are hiking in the foothills of the Adirondacks, in the woods surrounding the banks of Lake George trying to find the trail to Shelving Rock Falls and my senses have taken over. I hear far off birds chattering away, now the buzz of an insect getting too close. I wait expectantly for the hopeful sound of leaves shuffling, the signal that a gentle breeze has arrived to relieve the heat.
Not being the most ambitious of hikers, I still love being out in the woods. Short climbs along a well marked trail are just the kind of activity my husband and I will commit to on a hot day. Exploring the Saratoga Springs area rewards us with many options for simple hikes in pristine wooded parks and state forests within 20 miles of the town that is famous for its spring waters, thoroughbred race track and the highlight for me: the fantastic farmers' market held twice a week.
I am always on the lookout for places to swim. Most of these little ponds are too shallow and clogged with algae for such an enterprise.
The dense forest provides some relief from the heat of the day.
Once I have stomped out of the woods I am ready to eat. The Saratoga farmers' market has been particularly rewarding this summer. As food writer Melissa Clark rightly noted in the NY Times last week- we are being blessed with a perfect tomato season, so grab them up while they last.
The vendors at the Saratoga market DO NOT sell things cheaply. sigh. I hunted around, poking over every table and found these cherry tomatoes on sale for $1 a box. Excellent! The hunt paid off.
This heirloom variety is new to me. They are so attractive and look like picture perfect plums.
Even with the high prices, it is hard to stay in a bad mood at a beautiful market like this. I actually got teary eyed looking at all the magnificent produce. So much good food, so little time to cook and eat it. I over-shop as usual when presented with such abundance.
Several vendors were offering squash blossoms. These are particularly lovely. Seventy five cents each and they melt in your mouth in one bite, especially when stuffed with something yummy like cheese, and then lightly battered and fried. Sigh. I have a few zucchini plants in my backyard and will wait to harvest the flowers from them.
Johnston's Winery. I had the chance to sample their Chardonnay at the Galloping Grapes wine tasting event at the race track last Sunday. The Johnston's Chardonnay was by far my favorite wine of the tasting; fruity and complex with a pleasing and nicely balanced flavor. I am pretty crazy about their cheeky label too!
-r e c i p e s-
Corn RisottoLidia Bastianich. The advantage is a more delicately flavored risotto where the fragrance of the wine infuses the dish.
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup of fresh corn, removed from the cob
1 shallot, minced
1 cup risotto rice
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups boiling water
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1/2 cup soft goat cheese
Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the shallot and saute for 4 minutes till the shallot softens and browns a bit. Add the corn and stir to coat the corn in the butter and oil. Continue to stir and cook under medium heat for another minute or two. Add the risotto rice and stir to coat the grains. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Add the wine and lower the heat in the pan. Let the wine cook down into the rice and absorb all the liquid.
Begin to add the boiling water a 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the water to cook down completely into the rice before adding more. When the rice is tender but still chewy add the thyme and the goat cheese and stir to combine.
Pan Glazed Carrots
1 pound of carrots
1 Tbs Butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup sweet white wine (if you use dry wine and add a dash more sugar and or a splash of good quality balsamic vinegar)
Trim the carrots into 2-3 inch pieces length-wise and then half width so they are all about the same size. Leave a bit of the attached root on the carrot for a rustic, farmy touch.
Heat the butter in a saute pan and add the carrots, the salt and the sugar, sauteing for about 5-8 minutes till the carrots begin to soften and caramelize. Add the wine and lower the heat, allowing the wine to simmer slowly and the carrots to finish cooking till tender, about 3-5 more minutes.