One of the most serendipitous things that happened to us on our great European adventures last year was meeting up with Karen Burns Booth of Lavender and Lovage. There we were, mooching around in southwestern France, when Karen replied to an out-of-the-blue email I’d sent her. When we worked out there was less than 100km between us, we hopped in the car and sped over.
It was blisteringly hot – the photos we have of that day make us all look like we’re on the verge of heat exhaustion – yet Karen and her husband Malcolm welcomed us with open arms and a sumptuous afternoon tea. It was one of the nicest, least expected, things that happened to us.
|Photo credit: Karen Burns Booth|
When she’s not hosting impromptu visitors, Karen is a force to be reckoned with. She’s a freelance foodwriter, an extremely prolific blogger, a social media whiz and the proprietor of a charming French B&B. She also makes an extremely fine cup of Yorkshire Tea, even in rural France in 40-plus degree heat. In case you haven’t come across her blog, here’s a little bit more about her.
What’s your blog about?
Seasonal and local recipes with the emphasis on French and British cooking, with the odd drop of gardening, vintage kitchenalia, historical recipe research, book reviews and travel. Sort of food and European lifestyle!
When did you start it? Why?
After I lost my regular byline in a monthly UK magazine, Country Kitchen, I needed a creative culinary outlet to share my recipes and photos, so set up my blog. Regular readers of the magazine followed me and I am now writing for magazines and newspapers again, as well as online food sites.
|Fresh Strawberry Curd (Photo: Karen Burns Booth)|
Do you have any culinary training or professional experience?
I am self-taught and have my grandmother and mum to thank for an early start! They were and are in my mum’s case, both amazing cooks and incredible bakers, all of which seems to have passed down to me, for the most part! I have taken short cookery courses, but nothing major.
Who’s your food hero?
I know it’s a bit old hat, but Delia Smith was my first food hero and inspired me to try new things, as well as Elizabeth David and Dorothy Hartley.
|Karen’s ‘Bunny Chow’ (Photo credit: Karen Burns Booth)|
Masterchef and TV food shows – hot or not?
Masterchef used to be hot, but not now so much, well for me anyway… and although I like some TV food shows, there are TOO many of them now, which has diluted the quality in my humble opinion.
What are your three favourite posts on your blog?
My most recent post about Bunny Chow, South African Street Food, a post about Fresh Strawberry Curd and the last post I really love is my Little Victoria Lemon Daisy Cakes Recipe.
|Little Victoria Lemon Daisy Cakes (Photo credit: Karen Burns Booth)|
What’s your day job? What else do you do?
My blog is almost my day job now, along with recipe development for major UK brands. I am also a freelance writer and have more and more work nowadays, so, my day job is a food writer and food stylist. We also have a B and B in SW France that we run with cookery school courses, fine dining weekends and local wine tasting trips.
Tell us about another blog you love.
I hate questions like this as I LOVE so many blogs and follow hundreds! But, a recent discovery, that I LOVE is Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things – she is an Aussie blogger who is generous with her comments on other blogs, is a fabulous photographer and has some amazing recipes. But, there are lots more out there that I love too!
|Low-calorie cauliflower crust pizza (Photo credit: Karen Burns Booth)|
Who do you cook for?
I cook for Malcolm, my husband, and my daughter Hannah when she is home, as well as some feisty free-range chickens and two cats – Cherie who is a Korat cat and Nina who is a Burmese Blue. I also cook for my parents when I am back in North Yorkshire in England.
What’s for dinner tonight?
It’s a fast day today (I am on the 5:2 diet) and I am making my famous Low-Calorie Cauliflower Crust Pizza, but for yesterday, which was a feast day, we enjoyed good old bangers and mash with a shallot and cider gravy!