We’re delighted to kick-off Author’s Corner with cookbook author and cooking instructor Karen Covey and her incredible book, The Coastal Table. The Coastal Table is a unique exploration of seaside cooking, living and eating in Southern New England. Filled with beautiful images and wholesome, simple recipes, the book embodies what is meant by fresh, local and in-season. It’s also a perfect, relaxing beachside read for your summer vacation.
Karen, can you tell us about your background and how you got started in the food world?
I grew up in the restaurant business from the time I was six years old and even as a child, I loved everything about the kitchen — the sounds, the aromas, the whole vibe of it. While I’ve always loved being around food and cooking, I never thought it would be something I would end up doing for a living. It was around the time I started my food blog, Gourmet Recipes for One, that my professional focus went from (graphic) design to writing about food and developing recipes.
My mom and dad were both amazing cooks so I think I instinctively loved food from an early age. My mom loved to entertain and threw great dinner parties. She would always let me help her plan the menu and do a lot of the prep work with her. It was something we did together and made me really love and appreciate the thought she put into each party.
What made you decide to write The Coastal Table?
In the almost 10 years I’ve lived along the southeastern coast of Massachusetts, I discovered so many amazing people growing and producing some of the best products anywhere in New England. There are little pockets of artisans dotting the entire landscape here, from wine and cheese makers, to seafood, to some of the best produce grown anywhere in all of New England. After doing a bit of food writing about the region, I soon realized there was a lot more to tell and thought a cookbook would be a perfect way to do it.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
I think the hardest part was narrowing down who and what to include. I tried to provide a well rounded variety in the cookbook of both recipes and profiles but it’s really only a small sampling of what you can find here. My hope is that the cookbook will not only inspire you to cook the recipes, but to get out and visit not only the places mentioned in the cookbook, but to discover the countless others throughout the region as well.
Why do you think the food and farms of New England deserve attention?
We are so lucky with the abundance of what New England has to offer. From fresh seafood and amazing farmlands to small-batch artisan products, it’s a very special place. The South Coast of Massachusetts in particular has the longest growing season in all of New England which yields some of the best produce I’ve had anywhere. Weaved together with its long history of whaling ships and fishermen, it has much to offer on many levels.
What is your favorite regional food and why?
That’s a really tough question as I’ve come to really love so many, but one of my favorite discoveries has to be Shy Brothers Farm in Westport (MA). All of the cheeses they make are unbelievable but their cloumage now has a permeant place in my refrigerator. And the people behind the farm are some of the nicest I’ve met anywhere.
I understand you offer cooking classes to children. Can you tell us a little bit about why you think this is important? Also, do you see a cookbook for kids in your future?
I think because I was lucky enough to be around good-quality food my whole life, I feel really strongly about how important it is for kids to know as much as they can about where food comes from. We are living in a such a fast food, super-sized world right now, that if I can educate and inspire young kids that cooking can not only be fun but taste good too, than that’s a great reward for me. A cookbook? Yes, quite possibly.
Karen, thanks for your time. While we eagerly await your next book, we’ll throughly enjoy perusing the pages of and trying the recipes in The Coastal Table.
Karen J. Covey is a food writer, personal chef and cooking instructor.
She is also the creator of the website: Gourmet Recipes for One.