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In time for holiday celebrations, Taste Summer! cookbook debuts

Find our recipes for summer's luscious produce all in one place

We have 15 tomato-centric recipes to share in Taste Summer! including this Cherry Tomato Focaccia.

We have 15 tomato-centric recipes to share in Taste Summer! including this Cherry Tomato Focaccia. Kathy Morrison

Summer is such a glorious time for fresh produce. Tomatoes, of course, but also cucumbers, corn, peppers, zucchini. And the fruit! Peaches, nectarines and plums are just the start of summer's bounty.

Here at Sacramento Digs Gardening, we have published five summers of recipes, one each Sunday of the season, Debbie and Kathy alternating. Each recipe features something we've harvested from our own gardens, or found at the local farmers markets and farm stands. Each recipe is tested and proven in our own kitchens.

Those 60-plus recipes are now together in one place, debuting online in "Taste Summer!" It's our second e-cookbook, following the publication of Taste Spring! in April, and it's just in time for Fourth of July celebrations.

Because Sacramento summers can be so hot, many of our recipes are designed for minimal or no cooking. Chilled peach soup, anyone? We have two versions, including a vegan one. We have some cool cocktails, too.

Tomatoes, not surprisingly, account for 25 percent of the summer recipes, ranging from cherry tomato focaccia to tomato tart, tomato pilaf to tomato clafoutis. We have an easy slow-cooker sauce for now, and tomato jam and chutney to preserve for later. We even have a recipe to make tomato powder from the leftover skins: It's great sprinkled on salads or popcorn.

Summer produce works so well in both sweet and savory recipes. We put pluots in salad, cantaloupe in gazpacho and white nectarines in salsa. Squash gets into the act with Kathy's popular chocolate zucchini bread. 

Then there are the delicious surprises: Baked cucumbers! Tomato crisp! Roasted grapes! Zapped pickles! (That one uses cukes or zukes.) Debbie also has an easy salsa verde that makes terrific use of fruit from a tomatillo plant on overdrive.

Whether you harvest your own fresh summer produce, or indulge at the farmers market, you'll find delicious and useful recipes for fruits and vegetables in Taste Summer!


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Taste Spring! E-cookbook


Find our spring recipes here!

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Garden Checklist for week of June 16

Summer officially starts Thursday. The good news: No triple-digits – at least until next weekend.

* Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden, with tomatoes and squash enjoying the heat. Deep-water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal or rock phosphate can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, melons, radishes, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

Taste Summer! E-cookbook


Find our summer recipes here!

Taste Fall! E-cookbook

Muffins and pumpkin

Find our fall recipes here!

Taste Winter! E-cookbook

Lemon coconut pancakes

Find our winter recipes here!