Kara Elder grew up on a wheat farm in eastern Washington, where most of her free time was spent outside causing mischief with her sister and cousins by digging holes to fill with water for makeshift swimming pools, making wheat forts (i.e. trampling wheat into hallways and rooms, an activity that was ultimately frowned upon by her farmer dad and uncle), climbing hay bales, that sort of thing. (The closest town, population 100, was about five miles away. Kara thinks this explains a lot.)
When she was 13, Kara’s mom got a job teaching students at an Air Force base in Germany, and Kara was excited to explore the world beyond the farm. She grew to love public transportation, traveling, learning German and French, and trying local foods. Determined to push the boundaries of her comfort zone even more, Kara went to Dickinson College in south central Pennsylvania, where she majored in Russian and studied abroad in Moscow for a year. (Both Dickinson and Russia came with their own unique aspects of culture shock.) In addition to language and history classes, the study abroad year immersed Kara in all manner of Eastern European cultural activities, from theater to ballet to the art of bonding with fellow travelers on long distance sleeper trains. She preferred the chaotic energy of Moscow to orderly St. Petersburg, but loved the genuinely kind vibes of Kiev most of all.
After graduating in 2011—after a brief stint working at a winery in Gettysburg—Kara moved to Washington, D.C., convinced she’d find a job using Russian but also secretly hoping to become a food writer instead. After a few temporary positions gleaned from a staffing agency, she eventually worked for a lobbyist dealing with water issues before finally, in a very D.C. way (through a mutual connection), she began working with cookbook author Joan Nathan. Kara then went on to work for the food section at The Washington Post before starting a full-time freelance writing and editing business in 2019. Kara and her husband moved to Denver in 2022, where Kara continues to write food and drink articles for newspapers and magazines, along with writing for various websites. She also edits cookbooks and recipes, and tests recipes for cookbook authors and publications. Although she’s always planning her next journey, whether local or abroad, Kara loves living closer to home and enjoys visiting family in Washington.