By Doug Walton
Fresh at the Market
Thanks to a cooler and wetter than average spring, some early season crops such as asparagus should remain available at the Muskogee Farmers’ Market for a little while longer. The market is located downtown, directly in front of the Muskogee Civic Center and now runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Local growers this week will have a nice selection of other springtime produce such as green onions and garlic, radishes, turnips, lettuce, strawberries, baby carrots, broccoli, cilantro, spinach, collards, swiss chard, mustards, micro greens and other leafy veggies.
Producers will also bring locally-grown cut-flowers, bedding plants, hanging baskets, 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 breakfast and lunch items for enjoying on location or taking on the fly.
Options include yogurt parfaits, tamales, burritos, hot dogs and links with grilled veggies, salads, burgers and more. Fresh-brewed coffee, homemade granola and a variety of dips, spreads and other goodies are also normally available.
Vendors will be there with handmade crafts, candles, soaps, natural body care products, pet treats and more.
On most Wednesdays, from 10:30 a.m. to 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 picked asparagus.
SNAP benefits (food stamps) are gladly 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.
Not all products listed are available on Wednesdays.
One handful of fresh-picked asparagus (about 20 spears)
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
2 cups water (for parboiling)
Wash and trim asparagus (bend each spear, working up from the bottom, until it easily snaps). Compost the bottom portion (or feed to the chickens), and use the remaining “tip” which should be about 5 to 7 inches long.
Bring water to boil in large skillet, add asparagus and cover. (If some spears are especially thick, add those a couple minutes before the smaller spears).
Parboil asparagus for about 3 minutes, being careful not to overcook. Drain water.
Add butter or oil and lemon or lime juice to the warm asparagus in skillet on med. heat.
Stir/shuffle to coat evenly and cook for approx. 3 to 5 minutes, being careful not to over do it. (the asparagus will usually be bright green when it’s just done enough — still some firmness)
Great served warm or cold!
Reach Doug Walton at (918) 360-2012, or firstname.lastname@example.org.