WHAT ARE YOUR QUALIFICATIONS?
Kara is a Culinary Arts Career graduate from New York City's Institute of Culinary Education. She has many years experience cooking in private homes around New York. While studying to be a chef, Kara interned with chef, cookbook writer, and television personality Sara Moulton, where she assisted with recipe development, recipe testing, and food styling. She also volunteered her time in the historical kitchen at The James Beard Foundation house assisting various chefs in cooking for special events. After her studies at ICE she got lots of experience cooking on the line at a fantastic local farm to table restaurant called Rustic Root in Woodbury, NY. Working under well respected chef and Chopped winner Chef Tom Gloster taught Kara the fundamentals of working with local farmers and cooking fresh local farm raised ingredients with respect. After which she landed a freelance role as assistant food producer at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where she worked on the set of many online cooking shows produced by Martha Stewart. Kara is currently proud to be working as culinary assistant to cookbook author and television personality Nikki Dinki from Food Network's Food Network Star and Cooking Channel's Junk Food Flip. Nikki Dinki's "meat on the side" philosophy and extensive food media experience inspires her every day. Kara spends every free moment she has dedicated to The Concrete Forager blog, social media presence and recipe development for our future cookbook!
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INGREDIENTS?
All of the ingredients we buy for our home and recipes are Organic and Non GMO whenever possible. We try to grow, forage, and hunt for our own foods as much as possible. We have a garden during growing months for produce. Sean and I are both avid hunters and fishermen during the legal seasons. We preserve as much as we can to last us year round. Our favorite places to buy ingredients are local farm stands in NYC and farms on Long Island. When we are not able to get to farm stands and farms we source our ingredients where ever we can find the best quality. Local butcher shops are the place to go for meats, poultry and fish that we have not harvested ourselves. For produce, grains, and other food products we go to local grocery stores that we know and trust to have quality organic, non GMO products available. Even though grocery stores have tons to choose from we are very serious about staying on tract with our artificial ingredient and chemical free diet, so we typically spend most of our time at the grocery store reading the labels before purchasing. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes very second nature.This is what we call Foraging Real.
DO YOU FOLLOW ANY PARTICULAR DIETS?
No 'diets!' We like to say we eat 'real' food. Humans are omnivores, meaning our diet is meant to consist of vegetation and meat. Vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, legumes, meat, fish, and poultry are all fair game in our house. We stay away from overly processed industrialized foods. (you know, the ones in the fancy packaging.) Processed foods are filled with artificial chemicals and preservatives that we do not need in our bodies. Making food from scratch gives you the freedom to have exactly what you want and you'll know exactly what ingredients you and your family are putting into their bodies. No more mystery, just hearty and delicious food for your family table.
If you have a dietary restriction, or follow a particular diet, don't fret! We would love to accommodate, so contact us with the recipe you'd like to make and your dietary need. We can surely talk about how to convert the recipes so that they work for you. At the bottom of our recipes you will see logos for any diets that fit the recipe (vegetarian, vegan, nut free, gluten free, etc.) Feel free to adjust, swap ingredients, and change what ever you want. Recipes are never rules.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR RECIPES?
Our inspiration for food comes from so many different places.
Seasons: Seasonal produce is fresher, more readily available, tastes better, and is often cheaper to buy. Often times when walking through the market ideas will come to me by making a new combination out of the freshest ingredients available that day. Its also a great idea to ask the grower! At local farm stands we will often ask what is new right now or what is flourishing. This will often lead to buying an unusual vegetable and testing the flavor in a bunch of different dishes that week.
Freshness: Sometimes I have a plan when I hit the grocery store for exactly what we want to eat that week. There is nothing worst than when you plan a awesome 'Zoodle Lemon Alfredo' dish and when you get up to the zucchini bin at the store the vegetable choices are bruised, limp and sad. Well, time for plan B... or C... or even D. Whether I just swap one ingredient for something that seems fresher or I ditch the idea all together and decide on a "go-to" dish, always let freshness lead the way.
Cravings: We all have them, and we all give in to them. Cravings are often my biggest inspiration because I have cravings every day of my life. (OK, maybe not everyone has cravings as often as I do. Do they?) I think about food every second of everyday of my life. So things I am craving often lead me to our kitchen. In the kitchen I am often putting together things that we have available to try and create something to combat my often ridiculous hankering for some snack or meal I ate a year ago. Sean only has occasional hankerings for a savory snack, or a sweet pastry. So making things for his cravings is much more simple. (he is after all 'a simple kind of man') Let your imagination and taste buds lead you to a delicious combination, they never fail us!