Kelsey Brown '12 has combined her passions for writing, food and social justice in a delightfully tasteful blog, titled "Happyolks: Recipes & Stories for Happy Folks." The foodie and community volunteer spoke with us about her passion for "real" food and what it means to eat mindfully.
Kelsey, happyolks.com is a gorgeous more-than-food blog, filled with heartwarming stories, tips for conscientious eating, and inspiring recipes. Why did you choose that title, and what role does food play in a happy life?
The name "Happyolks" came to me about a year ago when I cracked three eggs into an empty bowl and one of the yolks broke into a crescent smile. The ad hoc happy face was the impetus to start a blog as medium to share my passion for real food with others and to document the adventures (and misadventures) in a small kitchen and on a budget.
I believe that nourishing, whole foods give us the energy and vitality to pursue our dreams and share our enthusiasm and light with others. In exploring our relationships with food, we are expanding our consciousness to what it means to nourish the body and spirit. The love and energy we spend creating a meal elevates our awareness to the interconnectedness of all living things and becomes an expression of gratitude for our communities and the planet. Gratitude, nourishment and awareness will ultimately lead to greater happiness.
"I'll visit the farmers market on Sunday to pick up my Suzie's Farm CSA box, and then supplement that with other fresh produce that I find interesting or am inspired by. From there it's sort of like putting together a puzzle, trying new things based on the flavor profiles and textures of seasons."
I notice you use a wide variety of foods in your recipes. Which comes first, the recipe idea or the food purchase?
It depends. My recipes follow the changes through the seasons, so often times my recipes are inspired by what's growing and thriving in our region. I'll visit the farmers market on Sunday to pick up my Suzie's Farm CSA box, and then supplement that with other fresh produce that I find interesting or am inspired by. From there it's sort of like putting together a puzzle, trying new things based on the flavor profiles and textures of seasons. Sometimes though, I will find an amazing recipe within my collection of cookbooks or from an admired blog and will try to put my own spin on things. When I have a specific recipe in mind, I will make a list of what I think I'll need and make a trip to Whole Foods in Hillcrest.
What does it mean to be a conscientious eater?
In addition to listening to the needs of our body, eating mindfully requires that we make food choices based on the answers to a few more globally-minded questions: Where does this product come from? How many miles did it travel to get here? Who will be affected by this purchase? Often, when we take the time to trace a particular item to the origin of production, we will be shocked by what we discover. For example, a recent surge in the demand for Quinoa in this country has created food insecurity for indigenous growers in Bolivia who can no longer afford to purchase the grain for their own families. Only ten percent of the Andean super-grain is traded domestically, meaning many Bolivians are turning to processed imports from China to feed their families. This doesn't make sense, does it? One of my favorite quotes from Oprah Winfrey is "Once you know, you can't pretend that you don't know." Awareness is power. Our work is to make as many positive-impact choices as we can.
What are your goals for the future?
I was just talking to my dad the other day about how I felt like I was standing on the edge of something really exciting. I'm not exactly sure where my passions for social justice, food policy and writing will collide, but I'm confident that there isn't a better time than now to just jump into the conversation and start the work toward creating positive change. Grassroots movements for revolutionizing the food system are exploding, and I'm committed to join together with a generation of leaders who will persistently work toward a sustainable, fair and healthy tomorrow.
Kelsey's Sweet Pepper Soup
- 1 pound sweet peppers, seeds and veins removed
- 1 hot red pepper
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 tbsp. olive oil, for sautéing
- 3 tbsp. fresh thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 7 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup brown rice
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup chives, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, bring olive oil to medium-high heat. Toss in sliced onions and peppers, sauté for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned, stirring frequently. When softened, add garlic and thyme, stirring to coat and cooking for another 4-5 minutes. Pour vegetable broth over the mixture, sprinkle in the rice, add a splash of apple cider vinegar, and stir to combine.
Bring soup to a boil, then immediately reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool for a few minutes while you prepare the blender. Transfer a few ladles of soupy-pepper mixture to the blender at a time, until all of the soup has been pureed. Serve with a few teaspoons of fresh chives and a warm country levain loaf.
- Anne Malinoski '11