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Spaghetti with Lemony Anchovy Sauce and My Big Takeaway from Alt Summit

  • Kasey
  • Food
  • Jan 25, 2012

I had recently fallen into a rabbit hole called Alt Summit (if you’ve been following me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I was tweeting up a storm about everything I was learning). I’ve crawled out from under white dresses, sparkles, stationary and balloons to tell you a story about embracing who you are. Not who you project out there, but who you really are, and might sometimes be embarrassed to admit to yourself. This blog post was supposed to a recap of what I’ve learned. And while I’m sure I’ll share bits and pieces here and there, this has turned into something else. A lengthier something else (plus a recipe for weeknight Spaghetti with Lemony Anchovy Sauce, so at least there’s something tasty for you to look forward to once you get to the end).

I had the pleasure of listening to a keynote speech by Gretchen Rubin, whose book, The Happiness Project, was inspired by her personal search for leading a happier life. I have not read the book, but her speech stayed with me. Part of it addressed a crucial need for accepting yourself. According to Gretchen, we all have an idea of who we want to be. Maybe you want to be an entertainer, or a Jill-of-All-Trades. Maybe you want to be an amazing cook or musician. Maybe you want to love high heels. Or you want to enjoy traveling. You might have spent a lot of time in your life trying to do these things. And maybe at some point, some of them made you happy.

But maybe you actually hate playing music or can’t stand the stress of traveling. It might be hard to admit, even to yourself, that this is the case. It’s painful, maybe even embarrassing. But being happy starts with being yourself 100%.

I’ve been thinking about this. What are the things I’ve been telling myself I am that I am not? And has this self deception actually had a negative effect on my happiness?

Are there things about yourself that you refuse to admit…even to yourself? Do you wish you could just come out and say them? Own them, even if they might not be cool, socially acceptable or morally bruising?

Since we’re being honest here, I’m going to tell you two things I recently admitted to myself that I’ve finally started to more openly share with people. I hate baseball (and American football, for that matter). And I don’t really like movies much (I’m really, really picky when it comes to spending 2 + hours sitting and watching something). I know that well rounded people should cheer on their home team and want to go see the Muppet Movie over Christmas. But you know what? I don’t! And I’m totally cool with it. I’d rather go for a long walk in the park, or take on a complicated cooking project. Or write. I think that, for a long time, I kind of didn’t want to admit this. Not even to myself.

But once I started talking about it, it felt like this huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders! I told Matt never to invite me to a baseball game. And now I’m pretty straightforward about it with all of our friends. It feels pretty great. I don’t have to feel guilty about it and I don’t have to make up excuses for myself or for other people.

Being honest with other people starts with being honest with yourself and whether or not it means you might be happier, I think it’s a better way to live. It was refreshing to listen to Gretchen’s talk. Even though there were points she made that I didn’t agree with, I’m glad I walked away from the conference with something really poignant. Being yourself doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be better; it’s about accepting the things that make you unique and flying that flag proud.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been increasingly sharing more personal stuff with our readers. Whether it’s talking about family, my friends, hard transitions, awesome accomplishments, or scary new endevours, I’m glad that here, I’ve been totally myself. But sometimes I hold stuff back. Sometimes I’m a little scared to put something out there. But here’s another thing I learned at the conference that I’m going to keep telling myself over and over: you guys are here for a reason. And you want us to do well! You want my recipes to turn out well in your kitchen, and you want to play Matt’s mixtapes at your next party. The best days are still ahead, you guys.

Did you attend Alt? Did you follow the chatter on Twitter? Or have you just been thinking about this subject yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. xo

Spaghetti with Lemony Anchovy Sauce
adapted from Falling Cloudberries
*serves 2 as a main course, 3-4 as a first course

I know I haven’t talked much about this recipe, but truly, it’s a working woman/man kind of meal. It consists of a few simple ingredients, so be sure to make them good. Make your own pasta, or seek out the homemade stuff from your favorite grocer. Get the good anchovies. Use freshly ground black pepper. And don’t skimp on the butter. Don’t go crazy on the salt, as anchovies tend to be pretty salty already, but add some if you think the dish needs it.

fresh homemade pasta (preferably, spaghetti or capellini)
5 tablespoons of butter
8 anchovy fillets in oil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)
grated lemon zest from 1/2 of a lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon

finely chopped fresh basil, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Add 3 1/2 tablespoons of butter and the drained anchovies to a small saucepan over low heat. Stir the anchovies into the butter until they break apart.
2. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, then remove from the heat.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fresh pasta and cook until just cooked through (this should only take a few minutes if you are using fresh pasta). Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water.
4. Put the spaghetti in a large bowl. Add the anchovy sauce and the remaining butter, along with just a tablespoon or so of cooking water. Toss the pasta until the sauce coats it. Serve the pasta with a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper, basil (if using) and plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.

Musical Pairings: Twilight Singers – She Loves You + Spaghetti with Lemony Anchovy Sauce

There’s more on the Turntable.

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