photo by Harry Bosk

It’s true this town is nicknamed Smaltimore for good reason. I can’t run to the Giant without running into at least one person I know, but it might also be nicknamed Smartimore — because there’s always a rich influx of smart, talented folks to meet and make ties with. Case in point: New kid back in town Shirlé Hale-Koslowski, rocker/chef extraordinaire. Shirlé had relocated to Durham, NC, with her Free Electric State band-mate and husband David Koslowski (both formerly of Gerty), where the two continued to make music and Shirlé served as a health-conscious personal chef. Fourteen years later, they’re card-carrying Baltimoreans again, bearing creative gifts.

The voice of Shirlé’s blog (another husband-and-wife co-production), Rockin’ the Stove, is warm, funny, and readable, and the site’s packed with both rare recipes and under-the-radar record reviews. She teaches you how to make seitan, for instance, but first recollects the day she first encountered the “wheat-meat” product while shopping with a fellow student from Berklee College of Music: “Of course, I thought she said Satan and replied back with a Wha? and a strange look.”

Shirlé’s self-taught in the kitchen, but learned a ton from her Southern mother and from traveling the world after attending music school in Boston. She’s well versed in meat alternatives, but she’s not vegan and cooks everything. She strikes me as the kind of person who’s not content unless she’s in the process of learning and inventing, and reinventing.

One day, Shirlé got an email from a producer for “The Rachael Ray Show,” who’d read her blog, saying they’d like to have Shirlé  tape a segment instructing viewers on how to build a homemade wine rack. Though Shirlé says she’s not exactly a fan of Ray, she was happy to tape the how-to, but refused to call Rachael “Rach,” as the script instructed.

Zesty Escabeche Soy Cutlets

Here’s a link to her recipe for the yummy soy cutlets pictured above.

To learn more about Shirlé’s affordable personal chef service, Four Corners Cuisine, which features vegan options but many meat-centered dishes as well, with international flair, check out her website.

And meanwhile, check out her band Free Electric State’s tune, “Six Is One.” What do you think? At the risk of sounding like Rachael Ray on her way to commercial…makes me hungry for more.