Friday, May 27, 2011

And On the Second Day ....

I promise I will not continue this biblical titling of my postings ... it just seemed appropriate for the first two days ... 

I'm still thinking about the focus of this blog ... why DID I start it?  I am sure that the majority of people who stumble across it are going to wonder if it is just a conglomeration of random utterances from someone with the initials KK.  I'm hoping lightning bolts will come out of the heavens and give me some great inspiration.  Unfortunately, we've got nothing but rain, rain and more rain falling this spring, so no great inspiration yet.

I'll tell you a little about me and my family today and then share a recipe.  I love to bake, so if I do share recipes, they will most often be desserts.  Cooking is not my favorite thing to do, but I do enjoy making comfort food recipes ...  although this one tonight is not a comfort food recipe ... just a favorite.

I am married to Ed.  He was a federal government employee for 40 years and retired 8 years ago!  (And, yes, I just retired 4 weeks ago!)  He couldn't wait for retirement and had been counting down the days for several YEARS before the actual date arrived.  He has loved being retired and having the house to himself for the past 8 years.  He has taken on the cooking and cleaning during that time ... well, except for toilets and floors.  Those continued to fall to me somehow.  Until recently, he never really seemed eager for me to retire ... actually he often reminded me that I had had 10 years at home in the 70's while he worked, so he felt entitled to 10 years at home ALONE now.  I reminded him that I had raised 3 children during those 10 years and offered to find 3 stray kids for him to care for.  No enthusiastic show of acceptance for that suggestion.

I think he finally got tired of cooking and cleaning .. don't we all after 8 years or so?  It does seem so novel at first.  About 6 months ago, he started making subtle suggestions that I might want to think about retirement.  Words such as "You know if you work forever, we're going to have all of this money in the bank and our health won't be good enough to enjoy it" started coming out of his mouth.  I, who have always loved my job and the people I work with, was really not quite ready to retire.  I was sure when the right time came, I would know it.  Not too sure what the sign was going to be, but I would know it.

I was a paralegal who worked for a major medical device company.  It was a fulfilling job and one that made you feel good about what you did .. our products saved people's lives!  I wasn't sure just where my "purpose" in life would come from if it wasn't from my job.  I told Ed I would think about retiring and even went so far as to talk to my manager about going part-time .. my way of "easing into" retirement.

In February, the company hastened my decision by offering all of us aged 60 and over an "enhancement" package if we retired early.  Not exactly one to refuse free money, it seemed like taking it was the right thing to do and so, I suddenly found myself retired as of Aprll 30.  I'm waiting for the "Oh-I-have-no-idea-how-I-ever-had-time-to-work" phase to set in, but so far I find myself doing a lot of cooking and cleaning (funny how quickly that got back into my column in the divided duties marriage ledger), visiting my 92-year old mom in her assisted living and walking around the house at 2:00 in the afternoon saying "Isn't there a meeting I'm supposed to attend?"  

We have 3 adult daughters whom we love dearly.   They bring 8 grandchildren, 2 sons-in-law and a "good friend" into the mix, so, when we are all together, there are 16 of us.  Having been the 2nd oldest of 10 kids, I love the attendant chaos of family gatherings.  Having been the oldest son of 3 quiet siblings, my husband is still (after 45 years of marriage) adjusting to that chaos.  The girls are all successful young women of whom we are justifiably proud.  

That's the bare bones of who I (we) am/are.  I will fill in as I go along.  The grandchildren range in age from 16 to 8 and many of my sharings will be about them I'm sure.  Nodding off is allowed.  I won't be insulted.

I know this is dense.  Pretend we are in the "newly dating" stage of our relationship during which we talk, talk, talk, talk.  Down the road apiece, we'll get to the stage where we barely exchange words over the dinner table stage, and you won't have to wade through such massive postings.  

On to the recipe.

This is a cranberry chicken salad that I used to order at Doolittle's Air Cafe, a local restaurant that closed a number of years ago.  It was a fabulous salad and I have replicated it as best I can.  Since Doolittle's is closed, I can't look at the menu to ensure I have all of the ingredients, so, if anyone has the REAL recipe for this salad, I'd love it if you would share.

This served 2 of us generously.

Romaine lettuce (I made this really easy by buying a bag in the produce section)
Grilled chicken strips (Again - easy - Tyson's makes these and you can find them in your freezer section ready to be heated up and eaten!)
Candied pecans (see notes below)
Craisins (dried cranberries - available in the produce section)
Crumbled blue cheese (I used reduced fat)
Poppyseed dressing

To make the candied pecans:  
Put 1/4 cup of pecan halves into a small pan.  
Add 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp water.  Stir to melt sugar.  
Bring to a simmer on low-med heat.  
Simmer for 5-7 minutes until pecans are a dark golden brown. Be careful as they burn easily.  Turn pecans onto parchment paper and cool.

When ready to serve, combine all of the ingredients except the poppyseed dressing.  Serve poppyseed dressing on side so each person can dress to their taste.


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