What’s with the name?
Kar · ma cu·ci·na
While the words nod at the two very different cultures, this is not a blog on Indian-Italian food. I wanted to represent a bit of my culture in using the Italian word for “kitchen” in the namesake, while also putting it next to a word from a very different culture that expresses ethical liability and also highlights my interest in the cuisines of the world.
Kar · ma
“the force generated by a person’s actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person’s next existence”
“style of cooking; cuisine”
What you put in you get out. Your actions and choices surrounding your meal – and life – will alter your reality on a day to day basis and well into the future. If you put crap in your body, you’re body’s going to run like crap. Let’s give our bodies the fuel they need to perform at the next level – to grow, reproduce, and repair – in order to have a more fruitful existence. Food alone cannot sustain a person, but I firmly believe this quest towards our best life begins in the kitchen.
What’s your history in the cucina?
I’ve had a torrid love affair with food my whole life deeply rooted in my mother, Lisa’s, kitchen. She is a very gifted and unique culinary talent, in that few people can be a master in both the art of cooking and the art of baking. Most fine restaurants will have their executive chef masterminding the savory, while the pastry chef will see to the sweet. My mother wears both hats and does it extraordinarily well, never batting so much as an eyelash. That, my friend, is where my appetite for food and education in cooking commenced.
My heritage is mainly Italian with a healthy dollop of Polish and most of the fare during my upbringing was centered around these cultures, with a strong slant towards the Mediterranean diet.
What is this enlightenment you referenced in your “About Me”?
A World of Flavor
During my twenties, I was exposed to a variety of cuisines between the experiences of college, traveling and studying abroad, and living in various locations. I tasted an avocado for the first time over five years ago and wondered where in the hell this amazing pear shaped glob of creamy green goodness had been my whole life! And then, I found out there were other herbs out there besides the Italian commonplace basil and parsley! Yes, it’s true! There’s cilantro and rosemary and ginger, oh my! So you see, while I was exposed to exquisite food my entire life and gained a real aptitude for cooking while apprenticing my mother, the palette of flavors I was exposed to was somewhat limited and slanted towards the Mediterranean staples. Apparently, there was a whole new world of flavor awaiting me and avocados and cilantro were just the tip of the iceberg!
Cooking Up Consequences
Along with the flavor enlightenment I experienced came an intellectual enlightenment and a greater understanding of nutrition and how it affects me. I started paying attention to how I felt as a result of what I put in my body – whether that’s satisfied between meals a longer period of time; more energy; insulin spikes; bloated, etc…. I experimented with various diets such as Abs Diet, Atkins and South Beach and realized that while none was part of a sustainable lifestyle, there was a lesson to take away from each.
My real Eureka moment occurred when I read The Omnivore’s Dilemna (later followed by In Defense of Food, both by my hero, Michael Pollan… more of that on the blog at a later time). I pored through this book and was overwhelmed with disgust as I learned about the food industry in America and all of the processing and chemical nonsense that goes into making our “food.” I realized if I don’t ensure what I’m eating is wholesome and take personal responsibility for my plate, no one else will.
Who do you experiment on?
I experiment on my handsome hubby, Joe, family, and our closest friends. However, Joe usually tries new recipes first, as I am always a little hesitant to debut an untested dish to others without receiving a passing grade from him first.
Tell me more about Joe.
My love, best friend, inspiration, greatest supporter, favorite travel companion, sous chef, taste-tester, and one-man cleaning crew. That about sums him up.
What inspires you?
Every photo of food I see, dinners out, magazine clippings, food blogs, and the list goes on. I love nothing more than seeing faces plastered in pleasure and eliciting moans and groans with one of my creations… There is no better compliment.
Who are some of your favorite chefs?
Ina Garten, Giada DiLaurentis, Heidi Swanson, Michael Symon, Mario Batali, and my mom.
Cooking or baking?
Where do you get your recipes?
Mi familia, amici, and of course countless other sources including, but not limited to Food Network (love my Ina), newspapers, magazines, and restaurant menus. While I strive to invent and reinvent recipes, sometimes there’s no need to. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In those cases, I will always be cognizant of my beloved sources and make sure they receive the appropriate credit.