Spring

strawberries.jpgWhen my in-laws from Rhode Island were visiting recently, I mentioned that our strawberry season was coming to a close.

My mother-in-law said, "You mean it's starting, right?

"Nope," I said. "California's strawberry season usually starts in January and ends in June."

"But I don't understand. That's when our strawberry season is just starting," she said. 

Exactly.

California is the advanced-gifted child in the classroom of strawberry production. The United States produces about 2 billion pounds of strawberries every year, 90% of which are grown here. Thanks to our temperate climate, we're able to produce strawberries in the wintertime and ship them across the country. That's why people in Massachusetts can buy fresh strawberries at the Stop & Shop in frigid February.

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astrawberryblondeSo strawberry season is upon us. These sweet treats have been zipping up I-75 from Florida for a while now and Middle Georgia’s very own crop is coming!

Places such as Lane’s  has a strawberry patch and, well, if by chance one finds themselves pickin’ in the patch, one might as well stay for ice cream! Since spring is upon us, let us enjoy the fruits of the season!

What a perfect name for a lovely drink! Taking the fiery redness of strawberries and blending it with the calming color of cream, one will find the most beautiful pink drink to serve your friends and family.

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radishrecipesMany vegetables take the spring spotlight: asparagus, fresh peas, and fava beans, among others. And then there a few humbler ones that fall to the wayside, like small bright-red radishes.

Many people don't give a second thought to radishes, more or less ignoring them in the market. But it's just not right, and we're going to right this wrong.

Besides just eating radishes raw with salt or on a piece of buttered bread (a HuffPost Taste favorite), radishes can add a lot of interest to recipes, like a great crunchy texture and peppery, spice-y flavor.

You'll find the best radishes are available now, during spring when they're the most delicate. 

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asparagiWe bought our house in Umbria ten years ago this past summer.

A couple of months after the sale was completed the former owners, Bruno and Mayes, came over for lunch. And as the lunch lingered, as lunches in Umbria do, Bruno interrupted himself in mid-lecture on the glories of Roman pasta.

“Asparagi,” he said calmly. He got up from his chair, crossed over to the wall of our ancient wood-burning oven and snapped off a pencil-thin spear of wild asparagus that was hiding in and among the other grasses.

“It’s all over the place,” he said. “April is the time. You’ll see hundreds of contadini in the fields and by the side of the road, harvesting them. Here, taste.”

I bit off the end of the slender stalk and chewed on it a bit. It was raw, of course, and a little stringy but the taste fairly attacked me with its vibrancy. Wild asparagus is way wilder than tame asparagus.

“Just imagine,” I thought, “how it’ll make my pee smell.”

With that noble scientific quest in mind, I immediately began to search for more. I looked all around the forno, where Bruno found his and then up the hill toward the olive trees, but there were no more spears to be found.

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herbpotatosaladWhat do Jerusalem artichokes, horseradish and dandelion greens have in common? You'll never guess. Each has a name that is an English version of a foreign name. The Jerusalem artichoke is a variety of sunflower, and the name is derived from "girasole" which means sunflower in Italian. Horseradish is "meerrettich" in German and because "meer" sounds like "mare" the English called it horseradish. Dandelion comes from the French "dent de lion" or lion's tooth, in reference to the jagged leaves of this bitter yet tasty weed.

Like horseradish, dandelion has quite a bite to it. It can be eaten raw or cooked and like other leafy greens, it is a good source of vitamin A, calcium and iron. But frankly, I'd never cooked with it until this weekend. I found a Jamie Oliver recipe for a potato salad using chopped dandelion greens and I also heard raves about a potato salad with chopped fresh mint, so I decided to combine the two.

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