Seasoned Shopper – August 2020


Something New is Blooming

    Welcome to the new flower vendor Aimee Thornhill from Brentwood Blooms. Planning, planting, nurturing, picking and arranging are all in a day’s work.
    Her small quarter acre of land produces an array of flowers and ornamental herbs to make beautiful bouquets to sell at the farmer’s markets in Orinda and Livermore. August will produce more beautiful sunflowers, cosmos and zinnias. The flowering basil plants and sprigs of rosemary are cut to add some character and extra fragrance to Thornhill’s creations.
    This month is bursting with plenty of fresh-picked produce. Look for eggplants, grapes, plums, figs, peppers and cucumbers. Tomatoes and melons are at their prime.
    Each tomato season seems to bring more varieties. Old-fashioned beef steak and Celebrity along with the yellow Golden Jubilee tomatoes are some of the best choices for the ever-popular fresh tomato and mozzarella salad.
    Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella at least one quarter inch thick and arrange with the basil leaves in an alternating pattern in a serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Make your own balsamic glaze by adding 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and simmering for 20 – 25 minutes partially covered until reduced to a thicker glaze.
    Melons are another favorite this month and you’ll find both muskmelons and watermelons. Muskmelons are a diverse group made up of many shapes, sizes and colors. These may look familiar to you as the cantaloupe and Persian melon with netted skins and honeydew, Crenshaw and Juan Canary with smooth skins.
    Watermelons scream summer as a juicy refreshing taste treat. Red varieties remain dominant but orange, yellow and seedless varieties are something to watch for.
    The big question looming at the melon stand is which one to pick. Choose any melon that is free of bruises, soft spots or cracks. The rind underneath the netting on cantaloupe should be golden or orange, the stem end should yield to gentle thumb pressure and the aroma should be nothing but fragrant.
    Ripe honeydew melons should be a dull, pale yellow and heavy for their size. Watermelons should also be very heavy for their size (they are 92 percent water) and have a creamy, buttery yellow ground spot where the watermelon sat on the ground to ripen.
    The Orinda farmers’ market is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays on Orinda Way in Orinda Village. For more information, go to, and Instagram@OrindaFarmersMarket or call the market hotline 925-431-8361.

(Barbara Kobsar, Photographer)
Aimee Thornhill of Brentwood Blooms, a new flower vendor at the Orinda Farmers’ Market, shows off some of her arrangements. .

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