I love a fresh start, a clean slate with nothing except hope and anticipation. I relish the opportunity to be intentional with that fresh start and jump into it with an open mind and endless possibilities. This year, though, I didn’t feel the need to flood my journal with lofty goals and courageous achievements but rather to simply focus on well, the simple.
Let me rephrase that. It’s not that what I want is simple in the sense that it’s easy. I mean I have three kids, there’s nothing easy about that, my everyday life is not necessarily simple but I don’t help matters by overcomplicating them either.
A few days into the new year I ran across some advice given to writer Jen Hatmaker by her agent. He told her that if it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no. Simple as that.
Since bumping into those words they have become my filter. It helps if you share this revelation with a spouse and/or good friend so they can remind you when you inevitably forget. But when I do remember and put those words into practice I make decisions that give me life rather than leave me drained and sluggishly walking through my days.
Of course it’s more complicated then living life with every hell yes because if I was real honest today’s hell yes would be chocolate cake, the couch and Netflix. All day. But when used with the little whisper of the responsible adult that lives somewhere deep inside me then those words help make the decisions that are truly tied to my purpose. In theory it’s simple, in practice not so much but what I’m finding is the more no’s I say to the things that don’t ignite a fire within me or don’t get me fluttery with delight, the easier it becomes.
Since we’re on the subject of simplicity I thought I’d share recipe for a pasta dish that is the sort of that gave me pause at the start because I feared that it was perhaps too simple. My original intent was to give you all a salad because it’s January and that’s what one does in January. But we’ll save the salad for another time because today I’m saying HELL YES to this pasta.
All fears of its over-simplicity lost its credibility while twirling the fork, wrapping noodles around its prongs, as I caught wisps of rosemary, whose woody pine scent reeks of winter. There’s texture and heft from walnuts – here deeply toasted almost to the point of bitterness, and shavings of Parmesan, sort of thick and clunky so you don’t lose them to the heat of the pasta. And let’s not underestimate the lemon here which first perfumes the butter with its zest and then brightens the whole dish with its zippy juice at the end.
Simplicity wins, every time.
I can’t wait to see what a year of hell yes’s look like. I hope you’re excited too.
Fettuccine with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs
Serves 6 to 8
This recipe was adapted from the gorgeous (and genius) book, Plenty More. The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup sage (also, I changed the quantities around a bit to suit our family) but I was craving the woody and pine scented pop of rosemary. Feel free to use whatever you happen to crave – or have on hand.
1 pound fettuccine
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup roughly chopped deeply toasted walnuts
1 cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups Parmesan shavings
Cook the fettuccine noodles in water that tastes of the sea until al dente, about 8 minutes or so.
While the pasta cooks add the butter to a large skillet, once melted add the rosemary and lemon zest and cook over medium heat until the kitchen is perfumed with the scent, about one minute. Stir in the cream and a hefty pinch of salt then turn off the heat while you wait for the pasta to cook.
Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water to use as needed.
Toss the pasta into the skillet with the perfumed cream and use tongs to move the noodles around until they are all covered. If the sauce feels a bit stiff add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to thin it out. Finish with the walnuts, parsley, Parmesan and lemon juice. I like to reserve a bit of the parsley and Parmesan to add to the top of the serving bowl. Taste and adjust the salt as needed.
Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and add the reserved parsley and Parmesan.