Ahhhh Spring! Welcome back in all your pollen-laden, rain-drenched glory!

There are a lot of aspects of an Ohio spring I could gladly do without: the allergies, the schizophrenic weather, the new bug population... Even after all the years I have lived here it never ceases to amaze me how one week I can be trudging through several inches of snow and the next week it is eighty-five degrees.

And yet, even as I get out my winter coat one more time after a weekend spent in shorts and head to the drugstore for another bottle of Zyrtec, I feel as if a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can finally breathe again. The grey and leaden shroud of winter has finally been lifted and life has returned. Days are longer, I hear birds in the morning, and everything is growing. Everywhere I look I see buds and flowers and all shades of greens, yellows, pinks, and purples. Of course all of these growing things bring with them that agent of misery which cause so many of us to stumble about in a sneezing, sniffing allergy haze: pollen. But here's the thing: without this stuff, life would be pretty bland. Not only would we be without all of those beautiful flowers, plants, and trees, all of that lovely produce that we gorge ourselves on during the warmer months would not happen. To me, that would just make life just about unliveable.

As much as I love the long, slow-cooked flavors of winter, my mouth literally waters at the prospect of a big bowl of juicy watermelon, a plate full of earthy tomatoes, or a simple dessert of sweet peaches carmelized on the grill. I am a sucker for vibrant colors and flavors, so of course using these foods in my menus makes me all kinds of happy. So I encourage all of you to take full advantage of all spring, summer, and even early fall have to offer. Plant some tomatoes, fire up the grill, throw some beers on ice, and enjoy the bounty.*

*It so happens that I will be teaching a cooking class at the Dorothy Lane Market School of Cooking on July 9th that is aimed at highlighting the produce of summer.

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