Tomatoes are in at Farmer’s Market

By Doug Walton

Nothing quite brings out the true flavors of summer better than the taste of home-grown tomatoes, which are now available at the Muskogee Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.

Whether red, pink, yellow, green or even purple, fresh home-grown tomatoes, like some other distinct flavors of the season, have a way of conjuring up fond memories of food and fun from years gone by.

And those rich complex flavors which help tomatoes to stand out from other fruits of the vine are mostly due to the unique balance of sweetness and tartness, which can vary widely among different tomato varieties, shapes and colors.

Besides their great flavor, tomatoes also provide a number of essential nutrients such as vitamins A, C and K, plus important phytochemicals like carotenoids and lycopene which can help our bodies prevent and fight off illness and some diseases.

Market growers will also have a variety of fresh locally-grown produce such as sweet corn, green and colored bell peppers, yellow squash and zucchini, cucumbers, cabbage, eggplant, red, yellow and white onions, new potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, basil, cilantro and other fresh-cut herbs, radishes, beets, turnips, kohlrabi, garlic, lettuce, carrots, asian spinach, collards, swiss chard, kale, micro greens and more.

Farmers will also have bedding plants, hanging baskets, fresh cut-flower bouquets, potted herbs and vegetable transplants including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and more.

Other food items expected at the market include various ready to eat lunch and breakfast items such as tamales, burritos, hot dogs and links with grilled veggies, lemonade and other tasty items.

Vendors will also have hand-made candles, soaps, natural body care products, pet treats, jewelry, aprons, handbags and more. Not all produce or other products listed are available on Wednesdays.

SNAP benefits (food stamps) are accepted at the farmers’ market. Customers wishing to purchase eligible foods with their Oklahoma Access card can visit the farmers’ market tent, swipe their card in exchange for tokens, and shop with vendors offering eligible items, which also include food-bearing plants.

And on most Saturdays, B.J. Charbonneau of the Muskogee Swim and Fitness Center will teach free Tai Chi classes near the band-shell and lawn area next to the market at about 10 a.m., weather permitting.

Also on most Saturdays, Muskogee County Master Gardeners from OSU Extension will be on hand to tackle yard and garden questions from anyone needing their help. This Saturday’s session will focus on turfgrass and lawn management, as well as helpful tips for learning about minerals and soil.

For more information, reach Doug Walton at (918) 360-2012 or email him at doug.ewalton@gmail.com.

HERBED TOMATO SALAD

Makes 4 servings

3 large ripe tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1/2 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons fresh chopped mint

1. Combine oil, juice, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, paprika and mint in jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake; refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. Slice tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick, pour the dressing over and serve.

Spring crops abundant at market

Another week of cooler than average temps will help ensure a long season of fresh salad fixins and other springtime crops at the Muskogee Farmers’ Market, now open every Saturday from 8am until noon.

 

The farmers’ market, located downtown directly in front of the Muskogee Civic Center, features local growers with a wide variety of springtime produce including asparagus, green onions, leeks, radishes, turnips, lettuce, spinach, arugula, collards, swiss chard, mustards, micro greens and other springtime leafy veggies.

 

Stilwell strawberries will also be plentiful, thanks to the wonders of modern agricultural technology such as black plastic mulch and fabric row cover, both used to warm the soil and add frost protection for plants.

 

Other food items expected at the market this Saturday are farm-fresh eggs, honey, sorghum molasses, hand-made tortillas, tamales, burritos; plus hot dogs, polish sausage and hot links with grilled veggies.  And new at the market this year will be fresh-brewed coffee, yogurt parfaits, homemade granola and a variety of dips and spreads from The Bite.

 

Nursery growers will be on hand with a variety of tomato, pepper and other vegetable and herb transplants for the garden or patio, as well as lots of bedding plants and hanging baskets.

 

Vendors will also be there with hand-made crafts, candles, soaps, natural body care products, pet treats and more.

 

As always, SNAP benefits (food stamps) are accepted at the farmers’ market.  Customers wishing to purchase eligible foods with their Oklahoma Access card can visit the farmers’ market tent, swipe their card in exchange for tokens, and shop with vendors offering eligible items, which also include food-bearing plants.

 

On most Saturdays, B.J. Charbonneau of the Muskogee Swim and Fitness Center will teach free Tai Chi classes near the band-shell and lawn area next to the market at about 10 AM, weather permitting.

 

The Muskogee Farmers Market is located under the covered parking pavilions in front of the Muskogee Civic Center and will run from 8am until Noon every Saturday, rain or shine and will open on Wednesdays, beginning May 8th.

 

For more info, reach Doug Walton, at 918-360-2012, or email him at doug.ewalton@gmail.com.

 

 

Spinach salad with strawberries and pecans.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cups fresh spinach (about 1 pound), washed and torn into 2” pieces
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • ½ cup of thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 ounces Gouda, Asiago or other semi-hard cheese, grated or cut into thin strips
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans (to toast, place pecan halves in skillet over med. heat until very lightly browned, approx. 5 min.)

Dressing:

 

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

PREPARATION:

Toss together spinach, strawberries, onion, cheese, and toasted pecans. Mix and whisk dressing ingredients; pour over spinach mixture and toss just before serving. Serves 4 – 6.

 

Farmers market opens Saturday

A long, cool and moist spring has set the stage for what looks to be a great year of gardening and the opening of the 20th season of the Muskogee Farmers’ Market, beginning this Saturday from 8am until noon.

 

The farmers’ market, located downtown directly in front of the Muskogee Civic Center, will boast local growers with a wide variety of springtime produce including asparagus, green onions, radishes, lettuce, spinach, collards, mustards, micro greens and other springtime leafy veggies, plus a few strawberries.

 

Other food items expected at the market are farm-fresh eggs, various cuts of frozen grass-fed Dexter beef, hand-made tortillas, tamales, burritos; plus hot dogs, polish sausage and hot links with grilled veggies.

 

Nursery growers will be on hand with a variety of vegetable and herb transplants for the garden or patio, as well as lots of bedding plants and hanging baskets.

 

Vendors will also be there with hand-made crafts, candles, soaps, natural body care products, pet treats and more.

 

This Saturday the farmers’ market will also be celebrating Earth Day and will feature live music and special vendors including Muskogee Master Gardeners with tips on growing; USDA-NRCS with free pine tree saplings (while supplies last); and Youth Volunteer Corp sharing their Hunger Awareness Project.”

 

As always, SNAP benefits (food stamps) are accepted at the farmers’ market.  Customers wishing to purchase eligible foods with their Oklahoma Access card can visit the farmers’ market tent, swipe their card in exchange for tokens, and shop with vendors offering qualified items, which also include food-bearing plants.

 

On most Saturdays, B.J. Charbonneau of the Muskogee Swim and Fitness Center will teach free Tai Chi classes near the band-shell and lawn area next to the market at about 10 AM, weather permitting.

 

The Muskogee Farmers Market is located under the covered parking pavilions in front of the Muskogee Civic Center and will run from 8am until Noon every Saturday, rain or shine and will open on Wednesdays, beginning May 8th.

 

For more info, reach Doug Walton, at 918-360-2012, or email him at doug.ewalton@gmail.com.

 

 

Sauteed Spring Greens

Makes 4 servings

 

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bunch mixed spring greens (kale, collard, mustard, spinach), chopped

3 green onions, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch of dried chili seeds
Pinch of sesame seeds
Large handful of fresh parsley and/or cilatro, chopped

 

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the garlic and carrot.  Sauté until soft.
  2. Once the carrot and pepper are soft, add the greens, onions and chili seeds.
  3. Sauté for about 10 minutes to warm them through but not to overcook them.
  4. Add the sesame seeds, parsley and coriander and stir in to heat them, briefly.
  5. Serve immediately while still warm.