MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 23, 2013

Salsa Time at Farmer's Market

By Doug Walton
Fresh at the Market

— As we approach the peak of the harvest season for many summer crops such as tomatoes, peppers and bulb onions, it’s a great time for whipping up a batch of garden fresh salsa.

Fortunately, all of these ingredients are plentifully 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.

And this Saturday is the annual salsa-making and tasting event, where shoppers can see how easy it is to make fresh salsa, try some free samples and pick up some recipes for testing at home.

Whether it’s a mild or medium-hot tomato salsa, or a sweet and spicy watermelon, cucumber and jalepeno mixture, there will something for everyone to try.

And fresh salsa works as a healthy and tasty snack or a great addition to any meal, served with chips, taco salad, baked potatoes or egg dishes.

Besides all the salsa fixings, market growers will also have watermelon, green, red and pink tomatoes, okra, cantaloupe, green and colored bell peppers, cayenne and other hot peppers, yellow squash and zucchini, cucumbers, cabbage, eggplant, red, yellow and white onions, new potatoes, green beans, basil, cilantro and other fresh-cut herbs, radishes, beets, turnips, garlic, lettuce, carrots, asian spinach, collards, swiss chard, kale, and micro green radish, mustard, basil, sunflower and more.

Farmers will have various cuts of frozen grass-fed Dexter beef, potted and fresh-cut herbs such as rosemary and fresh cut-flower bouquets.

Other food items expected at the market include various ready to eat lunch and breakfast items such as sub sandwiches, tamales, burritos, hot dogs, polish sausages and chicken dogs 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.

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 made salsa.

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 with handy demonstrations and ready to tackle yard and garden questions from anyone needing their help.

This Saturday’s session will focus on entomology (bugs), as well as helpful tips for deadheading flowers.

The Muskogee Farmers Market is open every Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 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 doug.ewalton@gmail.com.



MEDIUM TOMATO SALSA

Makes about 3 cups

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup bell pepper, any colors

3/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 whole jalapeno, most seeds removed, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1. Mix garlic, lime juice, cumin and salt.

2. Add tomatoes, onions, herbs and pepper; toss.

3. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or several hours in the refrigerator.

(For hotter salsa, leave in jalapeno seeds or substitute a serrano or cayenne pepper)