A May Letter from the Editor: It’s Spring! Let’s Eat Outdoors. (If I Can Do It, So Can You.)

published May 7, 2019
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Credit: Faith Durand

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that if there is one thing I love to look at even more than food it’s plants. I am not a great gardener or even a patient one, but there are few thrills like watching a mysterious new shoot come up in spring (a weed or … a peony?) and seeing how much bigger my hellebores are this year. (SO BIG.) This lust for plants is not to be equated, however, with a love for eating outdoors, which I have historically considered terribly overrated. The bugs, the sun, the hay fever, the wind — why eat outdoors when you could be inside?

But this spring, something feels different. 

Maybe it’s the awful winter we had, or the cool, moderate weather we are enjoying in Ohio (which tends to go from sleet to sweat in one long weekend). But I’ve been sticking my nose outdoors, hanging out on the front porch while my kids tromp through the mulch. I’ve even, yes, eaten my dinner on the stoop. And it feels right. As a cook and as an eater, springtime is when I remember with a jolt that my food comes from somewhere and, if I am very on top of things and get my herb boxes filled before Memorial Day, it could even come from right outside my door. The farmers market just reopened too, another tangible reminder that as cooks and eaters we are fundamentally connected to the earth, whether we want to sit our butts down on it with a plate of grilled chicken or not. 

This month at Kitchn we’re focused on rediscovering that sense of ourselves as cooks and eaters outdoors and connected to the world of living, growing things — whatever that may look like to you. Maybe it’s opening the kitchen window a crack, or maybe it’s a full-blown picnic in the park this Saturday. Maybe it’s the triumph of watching new greens crawl up through the dirt, or buying a sheaf of peonies at Trader Joe’s. If you’re too sneeze-y for the truly wild outdoors I do understand, but take that as one more prompt from Mother Earth to sign up for a CSA immediately.

For me, as a mom of very small children, the outdoors represents a breezy break from cabin fever, and a new eating environment that is so much easier to clean up than the kitchen floor.

Speaking of cleanup, you know what else is easy cleaning? The grill. 

Our biggest focus this month of food outdoors is grilling. To those of you who just came to a screeching halt on this bucolic outdoor proposal, blocked from grilling by the iron grip of fire codes or the lack of a patio to park a gleaming hunk of metal, hang with me. Grilling is the mastery of fire and heat in the most unfiltered, direct setting. Conversation with cooks who have mastered their grill (and we have some fun ones this month!) can inspire you whether you have a Weber sitting on your patio or not.

I also think that we have some pretty spectacular recipes coming up this month that can be done indoors or out, and might give you a fresh inspiration on cooking this spring (grilled guac? Smoky ranch dip with charred kale? Grilled BRUSSELS SPROUTS!).

If you’re actually just waffling on whether this is the year to invest in a grill, unsure whether it’s worth it for the same old, same old of brats and burgers, we really have a great month for you. See, we come to May with two passionate ideas.

One: The grill is your best weeknight friend, a flavor buddy for meal prep and no-cleanup dinners. (No burgers required.) And two: The grill is the most amazing weapon in our endless desire to eat more vegetables, and to fill our plates with a fresher, more modern take on all things plant. The grill is the secret to cooking the way we want to eat — flavor, fire, and weeknight simplicity in one awesome tool.

So look out for grilling this month. We will publish some recipes throughout May but will cash it all in the week before Memorial Day for a full-on Grilling Week.

One more piece of spring cleaning, as we throw open the windows: Beginning this week, we’re shifting all of our reader community accounts into a new, more secure, and more flexible platform, which will require you to log in again with your username to create a new password. We will also be asking you to accept our updated terms of service, which is intended to help the quality of comments across both of our sites (you can check out our full explanation here). The time window for the transition is June 1, 2019. That means if you don’t make the transition in this month, you will have to sign up again as if for the very first time. If you’re reading this now, please make sure you log in ASAP. If you have any issues, please contact us at help@apartmenttherapy.com

This reader account change has one nice big perk, too. Remember post-saving? And recipe-saving? The ability to save articles will return within the next two weeks, thanks to this account upgrade. So get your account fixed up and set up, and ready; all the recipes and stories you’ve saved in the past will be waiting for you there.

Welcome to May at Kitchn: I hope you enjoy reading it and cooking from it, whether you do that indoors or out. I quite literally wrote this entire missive to you from my back deck, smelling my neighbor’s fresh-cut grass and waving off bees the size of my thumb. There’s hope for us outdoor-avoiders yet. It’s spring. Let’s eat like it.

Much warmth,