By Doug Walton
Fresh at the Market
Some fresh produce items seem to get overlooked more than deserved, for reasons not fully understood.
Take sweet bell peppers for instance, with a bright array of colors ranging from green to yellow, orange, red and everything in between, to even purple.
Without tasting some of these rainbow-hued wonders, many people might not realize just how sweet and crispy-crunchy these peppers can be, when simply cut and served chilled and raw
Members of the same family which includes tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, bell peppers tend to be particularly high in vitamins A, B6, folate and especially vitamin C, where a half cup serving of red bell pepper has more than twice as much vitamin C than the same volume of navel orange.
Beside numerous pepper options, a wide variety of locally-grown produce continues to be available at the Muskogee Farmers Market including okra, green, red and pink tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini, cucumbers, peaches, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, watermelon, cayenne and other hot peppers, eggplant, red, yellow and white onions, new potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, basil, lettuce, radishes, garlic, asian spinach, collards, kale, micro greens and more.
Growers will also have potted aloe vera and fresh cut-flowers.
Other food items expected at the market include ready-to-eat lunch and breakfast items such as breakfast burritos, tamales, beef and bean 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 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.
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 Wednesdays and 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 featured topic will be seed saving.
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.
Spanish pasta salad
Makes 8-10 servings
4 cup cooked, drained mixed-color spiral or macaroni pasta
1 1/2 cup salsa, divided
1 cup chopped red onion
2 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup cooked black or red beans
1 cup cooked corn kernels
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1. In a bowl, mix macaroni and 1/2 cup salsa.
2. Cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes, then add 1 cup salsa, onion, tomatoes, red and green peppers, beans, corn and cilantro.
3. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
For more information, reach Doug Walton at (918) 360-2012, or email him at email@example.com.