, Muskogee, OK


July 30, 2013

Cooler summer helps cucumber harvest

Is it really the end of July, with frequent rain continuing to come and daytime temperatures still below the century mark? Pinch me, please.

After a long, cool and moist spring, we’re now also getting a merciful summer with a much-needed break from the extreme heat and dry conditions of the past couple years. Even if it really heats up at some point, chances are it won’t last too long before shorter days and the sun’s lower arc of late summer and early fall begin to kick in.

And a cooler summer has meant a delayed but more sustained harvest of many crops available for sale at the Muskogee Farmers Market.

One of those, which has been producing since early June and is still coming on strong, is the ever reliable cucumber.

A member of the squash and pumpkin family, cucumbers are a cool, refreshing and nutritious addition to almost any summertime meal or snack.

From long and slender oriental varieties to short and stubby picklers, and everything in between, the farmers market will have plenty of cukes for picking or pickling.

Also at the market will be a variety of fresh locally grown produce such as watermelon; green, red and pink tomatoes; okra; cantaloupe; peaches; green and colored bell peppers; cayenne and other hot peppers; yellow squash and zucchini; 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 potted herbs, bedding plants, freshly cut flower bouquets and a few vegetable transplants.

Other food items expected at the market include ready-to-eat lunch and breakfast items such as pulled-pork sandwiches, chicken-ranch wraps, breakfast burritos, tamales, hot dogs, polish sausages and chicken dogs with grilled veggies, lemonade and other tasty items.

Vendors will also have handmade candles, soaps, natural body care products, pet treats, jewelry, aprons, handbags and more.

Not all produce or other products listed are available on Wednesdays.

On most Wednesdays, from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., OSU Nutrition Educator Michelle Carter-Brown will be at the market fixing simple, affordable and healthy meal and snack ideas with free samples and recipes, featuring items fresh from the market. Demonstrations at today’s market will feature fresh local cucumbers.

SNAP benefits (food stamps) are accepted at the Farmers’ Market.

Customers wishing to purchase eligible foods with an Oklahoma Access card can visit the farmers’ market tent and swipe the card in exchange for tokens, which will be accepted by 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 with handy demonstrations and ready to tackle yard and garden questions from anyone needing their help.

This Saturday’s session will focus on watering, irrigation and xeriscape gardening.

The Muskogee Farmers Market is open every Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon, rain or shine, under the covered parking pavilions downtown in front of the Civic Center.

For more information, reach Doug Walton at (918) 360-2012 or email him at

Peasant salad

Makes 4 servings

2 tomatoes cut in wedges

2 cucumbers, sliced

1 small red onion, sliced

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Dried oregano, to taste

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup Greek olives, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions in bowl.

2. Whisk olive oil with vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper and add to vegetables

3. Toss to coat; top with olives and feta

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