By Doug Walton
Fresh at the Market
As summer weather and routines begin to settle in, the time can be ripe to try out some fresh ideas for preparing and serving seasonal fruits and veggies.
One such method involves a commonly available outside cooking appliance, the charcoal or gas grill. And while these often get plenty of use for burgers, chicken or steak, grills are also great for heating just about any fresh vegetable or fruit that one can eat.
And to prove it, this Saturday is the Annual Grill Crazy event at the Muskogee Farmers Market from 9 until 11 a.m. Free samples and recipes will feature freshly grilled locally grown items straight from the farm to the table.
One key to grilling these munchable wonders of nature is to keep them moist while cooking until just tender, usually over a medium temperature flame. Oil and vinegar-based salad dressings work great, as do homemade marinades like the one below.
Another tip is to use grilling screens on top of the existing grate to help keep things on the proper side of the fire. These screens are commonly available in the outdoor cooking department of some local merchants.
Besides keeping things cooler in the kitchen, grilled veggies and fruits have especially scrumptious flavors that are difficult to obtain otherwise.
And so, local producers will have a variety of items ripe for grilling such as yellow squash and zucchini, red, yellow and white onions, cucumbers, green and red tomatoes, cabbage, green and colored bell peppers, new potatoes and green beans, Brussels sprouts, basil, cilantro and other fresh-cut herbs, radishes, beets, turnips, kohlrabi, cabbage, garlic, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, spinach, collards, swiss chard, kale, mustards, micro greens and more.
A limited quantity of sweet corn may be available this Saturday, while supplies last.
Farmers will also have various cuts of frozen grass-fed Dexter beef, plus 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 a wide variety of ready-to-eat lunch and breakfast items for enjoying on location or taking on the fly. A few items include yogurt parfaits, tamales, burritos, hot dogs and links with grilled veggies, salads, hot and cold sandwiches, lemonade, malts 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 a variety of veggies cooked using the grilling marinade below.
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.
For more info, reach Doug Walton, at 918-360-2012, or email him at email@example.com.
Grilled Summer Squash or Zucchini
2–3 medium or large squash
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste
Mix olive oil, vinegar and basil and let stand at room temperature.
Wash squash and trim ends.
Cut squash lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick “steaks.”
Stir or shake oil and vinegar mix and brush both sides of each steak generously.
Lightly add salt and pepper and let stand 10 – 15 minutes.
Grill over medium heat (higher rack placement) for approximately 10 minutes, turning occasionally and brushing as needed to keep moist.
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Whisk together all ingredients and apply to or soak veggies accordingly before grilling. Or prepare ahead of time, then cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes to overnight.