Farmers Markets in Oklahoma City and Norman: My Farm-to-Table Experience

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I do not have a green thumb. I think someday I might “cultivate” one, but my current attempts at gardening are too sporadic to actually produce anything. For example, I attended a free gardening seminar at Will Rogers Park and was so inspired that I actually went home and planted a small flower garden. I pulled out a section of weeds I call my lawn to make the bed, planted the flowers, and topped them with a healthy bed of mulch. The only thing I didn’t do was clean out the gutters beside my house. I kept saying “I’ll save that for next weekend.” By mid-summer, the flower garden I had sweated over all day in April was pretty much just stray pieces of mulch the rest had washed away. Obviously, I like the idea of gardening, but I struggle just to keep the handful of herbs I grow alive. Lucky for me, I don’t need that green thumb at the farmers market – I just get to admire other people’s work.

Radishes and Parsnips - photo by Lynne Rostochil Crochets and Knits - photo by Lynne Rostochil
Eggs – photo by Lynne Rostochil Adopt a Pet - photo by Lynne Rostochil

Photos by Lynne Rostochil, from the Old Farmer’s Market downtown

The Norman Farmers Market was my first stop last Saturday. Knowing my penchant for distraction, I figured I should get up early, start farther from home, and work my way back to the Oklahoma City Markets. I’m usually not a morning person, but I loved the open-air portion of the Norman Farmers Market. The wind and smiling faces, along with the anticipation of what I might find, put me in a great mood.

I was really excited to have the opportunity to visit the OM Gardens booth. Oklahoma Mushroom Gardens is a small family farm, USDA certified organic, which grows a large variety of mushrooms. I first learned of OM Gardens while watching the LudivineOKC channel on YouTube. Steve Morton was there, and I felt like we’d already met from watching the Ludivine video. He has an enthusiasm for what he does that shows through in his great smile and personable attitude. I hope to meet the whole family sometime. Knowing the work, effort, and love that goes into the food at a farmers market really makes it taste better. I love mushrooms. People that don’t like mushrooms are, in my opinion, wrong. There’s a lot of variety to their flavors, shapes, and textures. To say, “I don’t like mushrooms,” probably just means, “I haven’t eaten the right one.”

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Bag of Mushrooms – photo by Kim Hickerson

Some people have the strange impression that mushrooms have no nutritional value as well, but they’re high in vitamins and fiber and very low in calories. That’s about as science-y as I’ll get about it for now. If you want to strike up a conversation about mushrooms or anything else foodie, e-mail me, I’m interested.

OM Gardens

Hi, How are you, Mushrooms? – photo by Kim Hickerson

I bought some beautiful Shitake Mushrooms and I’m in love with them. I spent a lot of time just admiring how attractive they were before I even considered what I would cook with them. My husband’s one of those people who thinks he doesn’t like mushrooms, so I wanted to make something he’d enjoy with them, because I like proving him wrong. I also wanted to make something for a mushroom lover like myself, so I could really enjoy as much of that mushroom flavor as I liked. I settled on a Shitake and Bok Choy stir-fry for myself one day and then a twist on Tom Yum soup to share with my husband the next day.

Tom Yum – photo by Kim Hickerson
Here’s my Tom Yum Soup – recipe follows this article!

The second booth I visited was Luxy Cupcakes. Their cupcakes are made from one hundred percent local products and come in a variety of fantastically special unique flavors. My husband got the smores cupcakes with handmade marshmallows on top that are toasted right there on the spot. I got the Raspberry Beret, and while I was eating it thought to myself, “I like being an adult, because I can eat a cupcake before 10 a.m.” I can feel really good about eating these sweets since Luxy’s cupcakes are filled with so many local ingredients. They also had the Cibo Matto Lemon Cake Basil Mascarpone with a Cream Candied Pancetta. I’m pretty obsessed with Luxy’s cupcakes right now. P.S.: I’ll have more details on Luxy’s soon, so check back in a couple weeks.

On my way out, I picked up squash, cherry tomatoes, and freshly squeezed lemonade with strawberries. It was a perfect way to start any Saturday.

I didn’t make it to the OSU-OKC Farmers Market until around noon, but there was still plenty to see. The variety of growers and products you can find at OSU-OKC is impressive. For a full list, visit the OSU-OKC Farmers Market page.

There’s a vendor that sells lush, purple orchids in the front of the pavilion. I wanted to buy one, but I didn’t for fear of killing it in a couple of weeks. I didn’t do a price-by-price comparison, but a lot of the fruits and vegetables seemed cheaper to me, especially because I’m only shopping for two and a lot of grocery stores bundle vegetables for families of four. Many of the market vendors let you pick out just what you want and no more.

Bok Choy from Yang Farms

Just the right amount of Bok Choy from Yang Farms – Photo by Kim Hickerson

I was excited to see Yang Farms, which had a fresh variety of vegetables like bok choy, Napa cabbage, Thai basil, and more. I was attracted to a bundle of yu choy with yellow flowers. Each small bright bud looks like edible sunshine… ugg, did I just think that? I sound like some food network host on speed, apparently yu choy brings out the Rachel Ray in my otherwise Daria personality. I asked the young man at the table “how to cook it?”

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Bok Choy Sautee – photo by Kim Hickerson

He said “If I like Bok Choy (which I had already purchased) I’d probably love yu-choy” that it was great just stir-fried with a little steak or chicken. I love new ingredients, so I was totally sold. It’s something I probably wouldn’t have purchased at the grocer the first time around, but now I could really see this Chinese green becoming a regular go-to side dish for me.

Yu Choy from Yang Farms

Yu Choy from Yang Farms – photo by Kim Hickerson

I also purchased a dozen beautiful brown eggs from Charles and Paula at Horn Farm. They come in the first Saturday every month from Cordell.

Horn's Farm Eggs Cordell

Eggs from Horn’s Farm in Cordell – photo by Kim Hickerson

I was glad to see that Wagon Creek Creamery had Greek Style Yogurt, which is my current snack obsession. It’s perfect with a little Oklahoma honey and fresh fruit. They also carry a variety of butter and cheeses all produced at their farm in Helena, Oklahoma.

Wagon Creek Creamery Greek Yogurt with Honey Hill Farm Honey

Yogurt + honey = yummm. – photo by Kim Hickerson

Normally, I roll out of bed around 10 a.m. and laze around the house on Saturday before I get dressed and make my way to my favorite brunch spot. However, I’d like the farmers markets to become a regular part of my routine. No grocery store can ever compare to picking out your own fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses, and talking to the people that grew them. Farmers markets are also a great place to meet a few of your neighbors and feel like you’re part of a real community.

Tomatoes – photo by Lynne Rostochil
Photo by Lynne Rostochil

Bandits – photo by Lynne Rostochil
Photo by Lynne Rostochil

Harvestyme Bread – photo by Lynne Rostochil
Photo by Lynne Rostochil

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I’ve been cooking up a fun assortment of dishes this week inspired by my visit to the farmers markets and wanted to share one of them:

Tummy Yummy Soup (Serves 2)
(My simple home-variation on Tom Yum Soup or Hot & Sour Soup)

  • 4 cups of boiling water
  • 2 spoonfuls of Tom Yum Paste (purchased at Super Cao)
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • ½ pound uncooked deveined peeled medium shrimp
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 ounces Napa cabbage, sliced and diced
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Chopped fresh green onions

Preparation

Heat water in heavy large pot over medium heat till it boils. Add Tom Yum paste and stir as needed until it’s it blends with water about 3 minutes. Let it come to a boil if it needs to then add shrimp and shiitake mushrooms. Let the shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes of boiling. Add Napa cabbage and cook until it wilts (somewhere between 10-60 seconds depending on how crunch you’d like it)

Put into two of your favorite bowls.

Add cilantro, green onions to taste.

For an extra kick, try adding Sirachi Sauce or Lime Juice to taste.

For more recipes like Farmer’s Frittata or Mushroom Lover’s Stir-Fry, check out my blog, Enamored With Food.

(c) Kim Hickerson All rights reserved. Email Kim with any food-related ideas or suggestions!

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