This is the time of the year when I really miss my mother - or should I say the boxes of Florida oranges she would send me no matter where I happened to live.

Plump and gorgeous with intoxicating aromas, some of the oranges would be quickly piled into a big glass bowl for display on my dining-room table, some would sacrifice their peels, to be cooked with sugar and transformed into marmalade, and some got whacked in half to be squeezed into the morning elixir for breakfast.

I grew to love citrus in all shapes, sizes and colors, and I have incorporated them in abundance into my diet. I suspect that's why I rarely get colds since my mother was way ahead of Linus Pauling in her intuitive knowlegde that the Vitamin C in citrus fruits could help stave off the common cold.

I grew up with a father who adored kumquats and sucked on a quartered orange 365 mornings a year. Such was the citrus of my childhood.

On our menu, this time of year you will find citrus in a myriad of recipes at the Madison Park Café: Meyer lemon beurre blanc for fish, fresh Meyer lemon tart, kumquat marmalade served as a condiment with pate, sections of Cara Cara oranges glistening on salads and chocolate torte with blood-orange sauce.

If Meyer lemons are an unknown to you, this is the perfect time to find them on the produce shelves. With a smoother skin the color of dark egg yolks and more flowery frangrance, the Meyer lemon is believed to be a cross between a mandarin orange and a true lemon.

Both the oil of the skin and the flesh of the fruit are less acidic and sweeter than true lemons; hence, they may be added to an abundance of recipes without the need to add tons of sugar.

We make preserved Meyer lemons this time of year that will stand us in good stead until next winter when fresh ones are again available. Preserved lemons of any sort are common ingredients in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking, in recipes that often include green olives.

I first sampled a Shamounti (Jaffa) orange on the beach in Israel more than 30 years ago. Although the skin was a paler than the oranges I was used to, the aroma was strong and delicious, and the flesh sweeter than anything I had tasted.

In May, in Sicily, my sister and I were spellbound when we peeled the mottled flesh of a Moro blood orange and saw the dark-crimson flesh that would stain our teeth. The signature purplish color adds beauty, as well as taste to sauces and vinaigrettes. Beautifully pigmented in pale pink are the Cara Cara oranges, an offshoot of the Valenica orange, the slivers of which look more like pink grapefruit than oranges. For beautiful additions to your cooking, for your daily dose of vitamin C or for an aromatic, edible centerpiece for your table, grab some vareities of winter citrus fruits before you check out of Bert's Red Apple today!