Happiness, Alone-ness, and Lemon-Broccoli Pasta

When you picture yourself happy, what do you see?

And I don’t mean this in a melodramatic, how-do-you-really-want-to-live-your-life way.  And I don’t mean to imply that I am unhappy and thinking about the “if onlys” all the time.  What I mean is, when you’re having a crappy day at work, or you miss the bus and get stuck walking home and it’s sleeting, or you’re feeling uninspired and bored, what is the image that pops into your mind?  The very first one, before you actively construct a daydream?

When I picture myself happy, I am usually alone.  Is that weird?  Alone, but not lonely.  Alone, but knowing that the people I love the most are very close.  So close that I can go see them whenever I want, or even call out to them and have them arrive.  But still, that first image that pops into my mind – it’s just me.  And I was wondering – are there people who picture themselves as truly happy when they’re at the center of a circle of friends?  Or dancing with all eyes on them at a wild party?

Someone once told me that the difference between an introvert and an extrovert was this: “Both an introvert and an extravert can have fun at a party, but the introvert needs to recover from the party before the next one and the extravert sees the party itself as the recovery and fuel for the next event.”  When I heard this, it made so much sense to me.  I like being with my friends, I like going to parties, I like meeting new people, and I don’t consider myself socially awkward… but I frequently need down-time.  More than most of my friends seem too.  The term “introvert” has so many negative connotations to it in our culture, but I’m decidedly on that end of the spectrum.  I actually found this Wikipedia article about it pretty interesting at a basic level.  And it brings up so many more questions – what else does that aspect of personality correlate to?  Does it correlate to religiousness because introverts are more reflective?  Does it correlate to athleticism because extraverts are more likely to be active or out with others for more of the day?  Do introverts get along better with other introverts, or better with those who are more outgoing?  Obviously you could get too focused on this one aspect of human personality when there are so many facets, but it’s interesting to think about.  And good to realize that although the US tends to celebrate and encourage extraversion, there’s value across the spectrum – people just have physiological differences in their personalities.

Back to my happiness vision: I am by myself.  I am always outside.  Light is always important – it is usually early morning or late afternoon.  I am always somewhere rural, and somewhere quiet, and somewhere green.  I might randomly envision myself picking peas on a summer afternoon. Or holding a cup of tea and watching a quiet harbor.  Or simply sitting somewhere vast and beautiful and open.  The overwhelming feeling that I am experiencing is peacefulness.  It’s quite nice

Anyhow, I was just musing on that, and thought I’d share – along with a recipe that for whatever reason resonates with me when I think of being happy and by myself.  Maybe it’s the simplicity of it.  Or the fact that it’s really easy to make a single serving, with no forethought or planning involved.  Or that the fresh veggies remind me of being outside doing wholesome things.  Or maybe I just really like cream and parmesan cheese, and so that makes me happy.  No matter, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you’re cooking for a crowd or just for yourself on a random weeknight, this is sure to please.  And yes, it’s basically a variation on this recipe with kale, but I’m making it with broccoli these days, so I thought I’d re-share.  I hope everyone enjoys their weekends!  I’m headed to Blog Better Boston on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of you there!

Creamy Lemon Fettucine with Peas and Broccoli

Serves 2-3.

  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1 large shallot, sliced into half circles
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 TBS)
  • 1/3 c. grated pecorino romano
  • 2 medium heads broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. fettucine
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  When it reaches a boil, add broccoli florets, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until stems are tender when pierced with a fork.  Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove broccoli and set aside.  Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente.
  2. In a large pan, melt butter, and sautee shallot over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add peas, cooked broccoli, cream and lemon juice to pan and stir to incorporate.  Turn heat to low, and cook for 3-4 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.  If cream starts to bubble, turn down heat.  Just before pasta is ready add the romano cheese to the sauce and stir until melted, then grate black pepper over the sauce.  Remove from heat.  Plate pasta then spoon the sauce and vegetables on top.  Finish with additional grated pecorino romano.

12 thoughts on “Happiness, Alone-ness, and Lemon-Broccoli Pasta

  1. I am very much like you….I enjoy the company of others, but truly enjoy my downtime. I am not sure if I would call myself an introvert, but an extrovert I am not. Maybe just a mid-vert. A boring weekend to most is refreshing to me. I like to busy myself, by myself. I would have to say that my happy place is either in a grove of trees or somewhere wide and open. I find I get the same comfort from a wide open praire or the ocean…wide open spaces please my soul. Glad I am not the only one :)

    • Haha I like the word “mid-vert,” I’m going to start using that one. And I’m totally with you on the wide open spaces… something about them makes me feel like I’m fitting in to place.

  2. Ah…a great blend of heart, perspective, and a good recipe. That’s why you are the best, Katie. Love these high-key photographs, also. As always, excellent job!

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped by your blog before. But this recipe looks fantastic. I’m compelled to comment about the introvert/extrovert discussion. I’m toward the extrovert end of the spectrum and my husband is decidedly toward the introvert end of things. He read a book called “The Introvert Advantage”–not sure of the author–but it had some great things to say about introverts. Might be worth a read!

    • That sounds like a great book, I’ll have to check it out. It’s interesting that you and your husband are opposites! My boyfriend is probably around the same place as me, on the spectrum, and I do wonder how that affects the way we act when we’re out together. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. It was nice to meet you on Saturday, Katie. I enjoyed your post; I’ve often felt the same thing but been hesitant to consider myself an introvert when I have so many contradicting traits.

    This is my kind of pasta dish. Simple, flavorful, fresh. I’m glad to have found your blog!

    • Actually, no, that will make a really watery sauce. I wouldn’t go any less than half-and-half with this recipe, although if you’re really set on lightening it up you could maybe play around with a mix of plain yogurt and milk until you get a creamy consistency.

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