In addition to traveling and taking photos that chronicle our retirement adventure on this site, Malcolm and I are passionate about many things. Cooking and entertaining rate at the top of the list. Holidays are always celebrated with a beautifully decorated table and delicious food in our home, but we don’t limit ourselves to just those times. On average, we entertain about six times per year in addition to Holidays. That number does not include casual suppers or backyard barbecues. When I say entertain, I mean at the dinner table set with china and crystal.
A big perk of being retired is that we have time to plan a menu, shop, set a pretty table and prepare the food – together. We look at it as a shared hobby (something we do for pleasure) and realize that it is not for everyone. As a disclaimer, on most nights meals are prepared in fifteen minutes by either one of us and eaten at the kitchen counter while sitting on bar stools.
For us, the trick to having a “shared hobby” that remains fun is to balance responsibilities. We plan our menus together and then divide up tasks. Who prepares which dish depends on desire and skill. He is much better at dessert than I am, so inevitably that one falls to him. I set the table and he always makes the cocktails, without fail. By the time our guests arrive, we have had our fun in the kitchen and it is time to enjoy company.
Elegant Dinner Salad
The photo above is of a roasted pear salad that can be prepared ahead. It is tasty and makes an elegant presentation. To prepare: Scatter fresh thyme sprigs on a cookie sheet, cut pears in half, remove core and slice from the stem to create the fan shape in the photo. Place the pear halves on top of the thyme sprigs and drizzle with honey. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about twelve minutes. Let cool and refrigerate until needed. You may also leave the pears out (covered) if you will be serving within two or three hours. To serve: Toss lettuce (we use butter crunch or spring mix) with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing that you can easily make, or use a purchased product. Plate about 1/2 cup of greens on each salad plate and top with the roasted pear. Obviously, the quantity of ingredients will be determined by the number of guests being served. We use 1/4 cup of honey for two pear halves and 1/2 cup of greens per plate. Variation: top with toasted pecans or walnuts and a wedge of bleu cheese.