MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

July 9, 2013

Tomatoes are in at Farmer's Market

Nothing quite brings out the true flavors of summer better than the taste of home-grown tomatoes, which are now 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.

Whether red, pink, yellow, green or even purple, fresh home-grown tomatoes, like some other distinct flavors of the season, have a way of conjuring up fond memories of food and fun from years gone by.

And those rich complex flavors which help tomatoes to stand out from other fruits of the vine are mostly due to the unique balance of sweetness and tartness, which can vary widely among different tomato varieties, shapes and colors.

Besides their great flavor, tomatoes also provide a number of essential nutrients such as vitamins A, C and K, plus important phytochemicals like carotenoids and lycopene which can help our bodies prevent and fight off illness and some diseases.

Market growers will also have a variety of fresh locally-grown produce such as sweet corn, green and colored bell peppers, yellow squash and zucchini, cucumbers, cabbage, eggplant, red, yellow and white onions, new potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, basil, cilantro and other fresh-cut herbs, radishes, beets, turnips, kohlrabi, garlic, lettuce, carrots, asian spinach, collards, swiss chard, kale, micro greens and more.

Farmers will also have 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 various ready to eat lunch and breakfast items such as tamales, burritos, hot dogs and links 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.

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 to tackle yard and garden questions from anyone needing their help. This Saturday’s session will focus on turfgrass and lawn management, as well as helpful tips for learning about minerals and soil.

For more information, reach Doug Walton at (918) 360-2012 or email him at doug.ewalton@gmail.com.

HERBED TOMATO SALAD

Makes 4 servings

3 large ripe tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1/2 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons fresh chopped mint

1. Combine oil, juice, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, paprika and mint in jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake; refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. Slice tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick, pour the dressing over and serve.

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