By Doug Walton
Fresh at the Market
For the first week of fall, the weather sure has been fitting, with lows in upper 50s and highs barely in the 80s — almost too nice to believe.
And while we’re likely to have a few more bites of summer-like temperatures, the ever-shortening day length and lower angle of the sun tell us that we’re mostly out of the woods for having much more summer heat.
Despite the recent fall weather, many tastes of summer will still be available at the Muskogee Farmers’ Market for weeks to come. And yet we’re also beginning to see some local produce items which often signify a turning of seasons, like fresh dug sweet potatoes, winter squash and pears.
Sweet potatoes are one of those veggies with which many people seem to have a somewhat limited range of experience, often entailing boiled, mashed, whipped and then baked with a marshmallow topping. Not that they aren’t tasty that way, but it’s important to realize that sweet potatoes can be prepared in many additional ways to be equally, if not even more scrumptious — like in the recipe below.
Plus, sweet potatoes are considered one of the most nutritious vegetables around, with crazy high levels of vitamin A, and moderate amounts of vitamin C, B6, manganese and potassium.
Besides sweet potatoes, a wide variety of other 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, green and colored bell peppers, cantaloupes, watermelon, cayenne and other hot peppers, eggplant, red, yellow and white onions, new potatoes, green beans, basil, lettuce, radishes, garlic, asian spinach, mustard greens, kale, micro greens and more.
Growers will also have potted aloe vera, fresh cut-flowers and grass-fed Dexter beef in a variety of frozen cuts.
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.
For more information, reach Doug Walton at (918) 360-2012 or email him at email@example.com.
Makes 6 servings
3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed (about 2 lbs)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 red onion
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Halve potatoes lengthwise; cut crosswise into1/2-inch slices. slice peppers and onions into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces.
2. Put vegetables in large bowl. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme and olive oil; toss to coat.
3. Spread mixture thinly in a large roasting pan or on a cookie sheet; sprinkle with salt. Bake at 425 degrees 20-25 minutes. Until tender and a little brown.