by Laura Araujo
It’s a warm summer morning and Cherry Street is bustling with activity as the community comes together for the farmers’ market. Watching people stroll down the street, moving from booth to booth, the crowd is full of happy faces, colorful flowers, totes laden with fresh fruits and veggies, and kids enjoying a cold cup of homemade ice cream. Here are five reasons I love the farmers’ market.
- The community. I enjoy the chance to chat with the person who grew my food—sometimes not just about the food. On my last trip, I learned more about Thai basil (which I’m in love with) plus where to eat the best Pho in Tulsa. I also enjoy meeting fellow market-goers and finding out what they plan to prepare with their purchases.
- It’s inspiring. As someone who loves to cook, the abundance of fresh, colorful ingredients is very exciting to me. I can’t wait to get home and create something! The cauliflower and tomatoes I found at the market inspired me to make a cauliflower-chickpea curry (see recipe below).
- My kids. I let them pick out one item to take home. While they’re looking they become curious and they end up learning in the process. On a recent trip, my five-year-old was asking why the garlic looked “weird” (not like when we buy it at the grocery store). She learned about garlic scapes and enjoyed feeling the soft “bulbils” growing on the scapes.
- Freshness. Fresh ingredients taste better. If I’m not growing, raising or making it myself, the farmers’ market is the ideal place to find the best-quality produce, eggs, meats and baked goods available. Oftentimes, the farmers harvest the produce the day before—or even the day of—the market.
- Supporting local farmers. I talked to one Bixby-based farmer at the Brookside market who said the over-abundant May rains completely wiped out his strawberry and potato crops. Yet, he makes his livelihood from farming and it’s because of him and other farmers that we have food on our table.
Here are some of my favorite Tulsa-area markets. (There are a few I haven’t visited yet, but hope to check out this summer!) What’s your favorite market and why?
GUTHRIE GREEN MARKET, Tulsa
Where: Guthrie Green in the Brady Arts District
When: Thursdays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Having recently moved to Thursday evenings, this market’s dozen booths offer a variety of items including fresh produce, baked goods, wines and meats. One of the anchor vendors is R&G Family Grocers. Katie Plohocky is passionate about their mission of bringing fresh, healthy foods to so-called “food deserts”—areas with limited access to these items. Plohocky harvested the produce I purchased on the morning of the market from one of their two Tulsa-area farms.
Tip: Make an evening of it! After we visited the market, we grabbed a bite at Joe Momma’s and returned to the Green for movie night.
Where: 41st and Peoria, Whole Foods Parking Lot
When: Wednesdays, 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
This mid-week market is a smaller version of what you’ll find on Saturday at Cherry Street. Though smaller, the selection is excellent! Twenty-some vendors are on site with their homegrown produce, eggs, meats, cheeses, baked goods, honey, canned goods, flowers and more. The Brookside market continues through the winter months on a bi-weekly basis.
Tip: Stop by on the way to work for a quick mid-week shopping trip.
Rose District Market, Broken Arrow
Where: Broken Arrow’s Main Street
When: Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
For suburbanites who don’t want to make the trip to Cherry Street on Saturday morning, the Broken Arrow market is a great alternative. I talked to frequent Rose District market-goer Bill Braughton to find out a few of his favorite vendors. He recommended Gibson Gardens for their wide variety of tomatoes; Thunderbird Berry Farm for their berries and a variety of vegetables; and Grandma Nellie’s for free-range, antibiotic-free chicken and Cornish hens.
I look forward to August when pickup trucks arrive at the market with beds full of watermelon. There are several different varieties you don’t often see in the grocery store, including sweet, yellow watermelons.
Tip: The market’s large pavilion takes an edge of the summer’s heat; plus, parking nearby is ample.
Where: Cherry Street (15th Street between Peoria and Harvard)
When: Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The biggest market in the Tulsa area, and the favorite of many, the Cherry Street market boasts 80 vendors with a variety of products. As an “Oklahoma Grown” market, everything at Cherry Street is grown or produced in Oklahoma; it’s also a producer market, meaning that the person you buy from is the same person who planted the seeds, raised the animals or harvested the honey!
Tip: Plan to eat breakfast at the market. A few of our family’s favorites are the breakfast burritos from Palace Café and the cinnamon rolls and ham and cheese croissants from Artisan Bakers. On the way out, we often treat the girls to a cup of homemade ice cream from Koehn’s Grassfed.
This Indian-inspired vegetarian dish is a great way to use the fresh cauliflower, onions, garlic and tomatoes you find at the farmers’ market this summer!
3 pounds fresh roma tomatoes (or 1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes)
1 large head cauliflower (or a bag of frozen cauliflower)
1 large yellow onion
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons grated ginger*
5 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to your preferred heat level
½ cup dried chickpeas, soaked and drained (or one 15 ounce can, rinsed and drained)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream (substitute coconut milk to make it vegan)
- Prepare the fresh tomato sauce. (Skip this step if you’re using canned tomatoes.) Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a roasting pan. Salt liberally. Bake for 2 to 3 hours, or until they are very tender. Transfer tomatoes to a food mill, set it on top of a medium bowl and process; or carefully remove the skins (they should come off easily) and puree in a food processor.
- Blanch the cauliflower. (Skip this step if you’re using frozen cauliflower.) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Place them into the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower to an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Set aside.
- Slice the yellow onion into very thin rounds. In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it turns black. (I know this sounds strange. I learned this from an Indian friend and it adds a great flavor to the dish!) When the onion is done, transfer it to a small bowl.
- Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne pepper to the pot. Add additional oil if needed. Sautee for about a minute. Add the chickpeas and allow them to toast for a couple minutes.
- Transfer the onion back to the pot along with the 3 cups of the tomato sauce, the drained cauliflower, the sugar and salt to taste. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add the heavy cream and continue cooking just until heated (don’t allow the cream to boil). Serve with basmati rice. Curry is even better the second day!
*Peel leftover ginger, wrap it well and put it in the freezer. Grate the frozen ginger straight from the freezer using a microplane grater.
Laura Araujo writes about food for Oklahoma Living magazine and blogs at mannaandquail.wordpress.com. She would much rather spend the morning at the farmers’ market than mall!