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Side Dishes: “Leftover Queen” rules her online empire from Hyde Park

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The Foodie BlogRoll is Vermont based, but you’d never deduce it from a browse of the popular site, which aggregates links to 9188 food-centric blogs devoted to everything from Pakistani cuisine to restaurant-quality home cooking on a budget. The slick site, which also features ads, contests and giveaways, has approximately 30,000 visitors each month.

In the right-hand column, a photo of a crowned woman with rosy cheeks is labeled the “Leftover Queen.” Text identifies her as “Foodie BlogRoll founder and manager” Jenn DiPiazza Campus.

Click on her smiling face and you’re transported to Hyde Park, where Campus and her husband, Roberto, relocated in April. After three years living in St. Augustine, Fla., Campus says, they “couldn’t take the heat.” Having enjoyed a previous stint in Vermont, they decided to move back and bring their blossoming web business, which takes in revenue via ads and contests and serves as Jenn Campus’ full-time job.

The writer’s affection for her tiny new Lamoille County hometown shows in her writing. On October 11, Campus blogged an “ode” to Hyde Park’s Applecheek Farm, as well as recipes for duck with olives and preserved plum tart. Previous posts recap a charity event put on by Magic Hat and Boloco in Burlington, and a visit to Bistro Sauce in Shelburne.

But mostly Campus fills her blog with recipes and stories about growing and preparing healthy whole foods without breaking the bank. “It challenges me to learn new things in the kitchen. It’s like putting myself through my own version of culinary school,” she says.

The Foodie BlogRoll, established two and a half years ago, was an offshoot of Campus’ efforts to spread the word about her own site. “I was looking for tips and ways to network with other bloggers,” she says. “I was looking for a network to become part of to get that support.” When she didn’t find one, her husband suggested they create it. The Foodie BlogRoll “just took off,” Campus recalls. Nowadays, it gets about 25 to 30 new signups daily.

As BlogRoll founder and Leftover Queen, Campus exemplifies an increasingly common mix of old-school values and new technology. Internet access and site revenue enable her to work from home, in between raising chickens, whipping up batches of ice cream, and pickling and preserving excess from her garden.

When she and Roberto launched the BlogRoll, Campus says, “We never expected it would become what it has become.” Right idea, right time...

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