Elena Szeliga, founder of the food blog HappyKitchen.Rocks (www.happykitchen.rocks) discusses the joys of cooking and developing new recipes, the challenges and rewards of blogging, and her motivation for adopting a .ROCKS domain in this week’s My Side of the Dot™.
Where are you based?
Happy Kitchen.Rocks is based in Hamburg, Germany.
When and why did you start Happy Kitchen.Rocks?
I started HappyKitchen.Rocks a bit more than a year ago, although it feels like much longer. My husband was always telling me that I should start my own food blog, because people were often asking for recipes and it seemed like a good idea to keep a written record of all my recipes. It took me some time to figure out how to start a blog and how to improve my writing and photography but I think I’m a fast learner. Blogging is not easy and takes all of my time but it’s so rewarding as it brings me fulfilment, flexibility and freedom, and inspires me to follow my dreams.
What is your goal for Happy Kitchen.Rocks?
I like the idea of helping people to cook delicious and healthy food; sharing helpful tips and tricks I’m using in the kitchen; and, hopefully, inspire others to cook more at home rather than eat out or consume prepared meals, which are unhealthy. My blog is mostly focused on seasonal and healthy food which is also delicious and approachable. I do a lot of recipe makeovers, trying to turn well-loved but unhealthy meals into something more nutritious. I like to inspire my readers to cook more delicious and healthy meals at home.
When did you fall in love with cooking? What’s the appeal?
I was always interested in food and cooking and I was making dinners for my husband nearly every day since we started living together. At some point, I started to take pictures of the food I make but I had no idea about how to use my camera, set up the light, and make beautiful styling back then.
Why is it important for you to use healthy, seasonal ingredients?
Each season offers a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. In-season produce is usually fresher, perfectly ripe, and environmentally friendly. It also tastes better and has a higher nutritious value. It’s good for you and it’s good for the planet, so I don’t see the reason not to use seasonal ingredients in my cooking.
How do travel and other cultures factor into your recipes and food choices?
My Russian heritage has shaped quite a big part of my blog. Equally important, being an expat in Germany allowed me to discover German regional cuisine. There is so much more to that than just sausage and beer! Experiencing the local culture is a big part of travelling, so every time I travel, I try traditional local food and sometimes I try to recreate it in my own kitchen.
How do you come up with your recipes? What’s the process?
I’ve written an ebook How to Cook Without a Recipe, available for free download. It’s about how to combine different tastes, textures, and aromas to create a perfectly flavored dish. Most of the times I start with one or two ingredients I want to use and an idea of what dish I want to make. Then I use the flavour formula described in the book to get the most out of the dish. There is always something new waiting to be discovered and the combinations of ingredients are endless.
Do you have a favorite recipe on your site that you’d like to share?
I like easy but delicious meals and occasionally they are the ones that perform the best on my blog. The most popular recipe so far is Ratatouille which is also one of my favorites. Other recipes I like and often cook are Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Ultimate Russian Pancakes, Ricotta Spinach Quiche, and Baked Figs with Goat Cheese. I also like to prepare condiments such as Mojo Verde (Canarian Green Sauce) and Tkemali (Georgian Plum Sauce). Finally, given that I have a sweet tooth and that I’m a passionate chocolate lover, I like recipes such as Chocolate Truffles, Healthy Cinnamon Sweet Potato Rolls, Moist Carrot Cake, or Russian Syrniki with Strawberry Sauce which make my mouth water!
How did you hear about .ROCKS?
When I was looking for a suitable domain for my site, .ROCKS was available and it seemed like a great choice for my blog.
Why did you decide to register a .ROCKS domain instead of something more conventional like a .COM?
I simply like the way my site sounds. It’s more unique and personal than a generic .COM. Besides, I haven’t seen many food blogs registered with new domain names.
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