Author Archive | Karen Shreefter

Love at First Bite

Led to the Altar Like a Lamb to the … Curry?


On our first date Chris Blair offered to cook dinner for me at my place. As an architectural designer he felt the need to redo his kitchen, but during the construction phase he was suffering withdrawal from his addiction to cooking. To ease his pain, he searched for places to cook.

I happily obliged, since the way to my heart, mind, soul and anything else was and is through my stomach.

I beamed when he arrived prepared with all the fixings: beautiful lamb and spices for a lamb curry and even a pan. I blanched, however, when he pulled out The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Fannie was great for simple, American fare, but Indian food?

The joy of being wrong. He emerged from a clean kitchen—which I loved—and served one of the best curries I ever eaten.

Bok choi was another early date food where mercifully I kept silent when I watched him burn butter and then braise the quartered bok choi in the pan with a little chicken stock. At the meal, I grabbed a glass of water prepared to drown the burnt flavor, but instead closed my eyes and savored the caramelized vegetable, which resulted from his browning the butter, not burning it.… Read the rest

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Life’s Too Short— Mix it Up

Let Your Garden Edibles Range Free

Photos courtesy of Sean A. Roulan, Food System Design Group.

Do you banish all your edible plants behind a garden fence? If yes, have fun setting some free into other areas around your home.

Just imagine red, orange or yellow cherry or pear tomatoes interspersed with lovely but non-edible groundcovers and flowering plants. Spectacular pairings might be White Swan coneflowers dwarf Hydrangea paniculata “Bombshell” and ground-hugging tiny green-leaved Cotoneaster horizonatalis.

The possibilities abound for alternative food gardening displays. As a landscape designer, I have many clients in Berkshire and neighboring Columbia counties, who are only here on weekends or in the summer. They know one of the joys of being in the Berkshires is locally grown food. It is sometimes my task to create both welcoming landscaped gardens and find a way for clients to have fresh vegetables and fruit from their own plants.

Some clients don’t have the time, space or inclination to establish a separate vegetable bed. No problem: I create container vegetable gardens so they can pick sweet or hot peppers, fresh basil and some French marigolds right at their door—assuming that door gets full sun, because most vegetables need a least six hours of direct sunlight.… Read the rest

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