Inspiration from The Happiness Project

I just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s not the typical book that I read, a sort of an upbeat self-improvement book. Ms Rubin tells the tale of her year-long quest to become happier. Her baseline was already pretty happy, but through a set of monthly resolutions, she becomes more mindful of habits and strategies for maximizing her daily happiness.

My own baseline is also pretty happy. Of course, I welcome extra happiness in my life. Yet, I’m not the kind of person who is remotely organized enough to set up, let alone follow through on, my own happiness project. Nevertheless, I found a lot of inspiration in this book.

Month by month, Ms Rubin found happiness in the little things. I embrace that wholeheartedly. I’ve always tried to fill my days with little things that make me happy. For example:

  • Reading in bed for 15 minutes when I first wake up
  • Starting the day with a cup of my favorite Earl Grey tea
  • Checking the garden for the tips of spring bulbs popping up (now that the snow melted!)
  • Taking my dog Bella for a walk in the woods
  • A steaming hot latte as an afternoon treat
  • Spotting a hawk soaring above
  • Falling asleep holding hands with my honey

Another thing the author mentions is being nicer. Since last week, I’ve been more conscious of trying to be nice to people, at home, at work, just out and around. It’s easier to do than I would have thought, and it’s a great mood lifter.

I am often overwhelmed by all the things I don’t have time to do. The author reminded me to try breaking things down into smaller tasks and attacking them as time allows. It’s only been a week, but five minutes spent here and there has yielded some progress.

If you want to check out more about The Happiness Project, you can check the website.

Lots of little food-related things make me happy. One is weekend breakfast. At our house, this is a weekly treat, sometimes on both Saturday and Sunday. With St Patrick’s Day last week and a 5-pound corned beef to work through, a natural choice for the weekend was some corned beef hash, topped with poached eggs. It’s not a fast breakfast, but we like weekend breakfast to be more leisurely. That includes the process of preparing the meal.

Corned Beef Hash
Serves 4
Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Russo & Sheila Lukins

2 boiling potatoes (about 1 lb), unpeeled, diced into ¼ inch pieces
4 Tbsp butter
½ green pepper, diced into ¼ inch pieces
½ red pepper, diced into ¼ inch pieces
1 onion, diced into ¼ inch pieces
¼ lb corned beef, diced into ¼ inch pieces
¼ cup + 1 Tbsp chopped Italian (flat) parsley, divided
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl. (You can do this the night before.)

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and peppers. Cook over medium heat until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add to the potatoes in the bowl. Add the diced corned beef, ¼ cup parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine ingredients.

In the large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp butter with the olive oil. Add the hash and spread evenly in the skillet. Place a heavy lid or plate slightly smaller than the skillet on top of the hash, to weight it down. Cook over medium heat until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and turn it over as best you can (it will remain loose). Cook the other side until it is slightly browned, about 5 more minutes.

Divide the hash onto plates. Top each portion with one or two poached eggs. Sprinkle with scallions and the remaining chopped parsley.

If you want to serve with poached eggs, cook the eggs during the last 5 minutes that the hash is cooking.

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Posted on 22 March 2011, in Books, Charcutepalooza and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This dish looks great! And, your list of things to make you happy is wonderful!

  2. hi. looks yummy. the book sounds very interesting & thought provoking. will look it up. helyn

  3. Since this is a food blog, I’ll mention how I break my baking up into smaller tasks–I usually measure out the dry ingredients and let them sit a while–then when I am ready to finish up it goes so much faster. Sometimes I want to bake or cook something but it seems overwhelming to start, so I just say I’ll do the measurements, or pull out the spices, and then once I get that done I realize I might as well finish it up!

    I also like her one minute rule–if it’s just going to take a minute to do, then do it then rather than allowing it to pile up for later. I don’t always follow it, but I think it helps just to try at it.

    • Sara, I know what you mean about breaking up the baking. For evening baking, sometimes I measure the dry ingredients in the morning before I go to work. When I mix things together later, it’s like using a homemade mix!
      I only read this book 2 weeks ago, but I find myself following Gretchen’s advice every day. I also love the one minute rule. Also don’t always follow, but do when I can!

  4. I´d love to read this book. It´s on my list. Thanks for sharing.

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