BLOG CELEBRATES FOOD, COMMUNITY AND FOLLOWING A DREAM
First, there’s the food. Oh, how it entices. The succulent piles of shaved chocolate destined to be enhanced with chiles and spices, transformed into savory mole sauce. Mmm. The handfuls of fresh basil converted to an impossibly green pesto sauce that punctuates a grilled pizza covered with cheese, herbs and halved cherry tomatoes. Yum. Strawberry and rhubarb cobbler slow cooked in a Dutch oven over a campfire, then consumed with gusto after a long day’s hike up a mountain. Delicious.
More than just a blog, Happyolks is an immersive experience. While the recipes and photography are undeniably delicious, there’s a philosophy at work here that is hitting a cultural sweet spot. The brainchild of 23-year-old Kelsey Brown ’12, her blog, Happyolks: Recipes and Stories for Happy Folks, has the goal of celebrating the experience of “creating a wholesome meal and the happiness that inherently grows from it.”
“It’s really about mindful eating,” Brown explains. “The body is a vessel that allows us to do great things.” She’s got a passion for bringing people together that’s just as strong as her fervor for food. It’s working: Since she started the blog in 2009, it’s steadily gained a loyal following, currently garnering 100,000 visits a month, and dozens of thoughtful comments building into true conversations after each post.
“The blog is about me giving my heart,” she says. “But it’s just as much about the community of readers who visit the site and where they find themselves in their lives.” She shares her own journey as well. This fall she announced her engagement through a lyrical post: “Here’s to all the years and lines and thrills we have still to earn and learn. What do you say? Meet me in June next year, by that mountain we love with all of our friends? I’ll wear a white dress, and hand you my whole heart.”
Much like the zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes she grows in raised beds in her Denver backyard, the blog’s growth has been organic.
“I didn’t even know blogs were a thing,” she laughs. “But writing has always been a part of my life, and when I moved from my dorm room in Maher Hall to an apartment with an actual kitchen, I wanted a place where I could archive the experimenting I was doing with cooking and mindful eating.” And an online forum was a great place for her to further hone her love of writing. “There was no pressure, no grades, and eventually, people started to like what I had to say.”
An international relations major, Brown was drawn to USD in large part because of the school’s stellar program and emphasis on study abroad. She looks back at her Semester at Sea — which took her from Nova Scotia to Africa to Asia and finally back across the Pacific Ocean — as a life-changing experience. “I had thought the way to save the world was to work as a diplomat,” she explains. But feedback from friends and professors convinced her that she could make a career out of her aptitude for writing.
So far, it’s working. While she doesn’t make any money from Happyolks, its success has gotten her a number of writing assignments from quarterly print magazines like Pure Green, Kinfolk, and Food & Wine. Most likely there will be a book in her future, but for now, she’s happy that her likeable persona coupled with an infectious passion for health and mindful eating is resonating in the blogosphere.
Not that her ethos is all kale and quinoa. “Nourishment doesn’t always mean nutrition,” she says with a laugh. “Sometimes what you really need when things aren’t going your way is a nice big piece of cake.” — Julene Snyder
Happyolks was a finalist for Saveur’s 4th Annual Best Food Blog. Find it online at www.happyolks.com.