I grew up in Washington, D.C. where the long Memorial Day weekend was very much the start of summer. It was often hot — as in over-80-degrees hot. We usually drove to the Delaware shore to escape the heat and take our first swim of the season. The weekend would be filled with cousins, my grandmother Honey’s cooking, and clams or oysters my uncles had gathered.

Not much about this Memorial Day (with the possible exception of oysters, which we may throw on the grill) will resemble those family holidays. It will be just the two of us — and Farmer the black Lab — this weekend.

The weather's a bit different, too. Tonight on Martha’s Vineyard the low temperature will be 39 degrees, and as I write, the wind is howling — a steady 25 mph, gusting to 36 mph. My tomato seedlings are shivering next to a sunny window in the dining room. Fortunately, the lettuce in my vegetable garden is plenty happy; like us, it's resilient. (Need a lettuce primer? Click here.)

Traditions must go on though, and we will stand outside at the grill no matter what. I hope you will too. You could start perfecting your vegetable-grilling skills; grab some tips by reading Scrumptious Salads Fresh off the Grill.

More ...