I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate the traditional pumpkin pie that always appears on Thanksgiving. About 30 years ago, when I started to really experiment with cooking, I realized it was the consistency of pumpkin pie that bothered me, not just the taste. I then made it my mission to find something that was unusual and then adapt it from there. This particular recipe is the final result – it combines toasted pecans and rum for a rich, nutty flavor, and with heavy cream instead of the traditional evaporated milk, it has a nice consistency that is fluffier than other pies. The ginger adds a bit of interest, and cuts the squashy taste of the pumpkin. Our problem was solved. Deliciously.

I always thought when I retired, I’d have unlimited well-regulated days, with plenty of time to Create in the Kitchen. I know millions of retired boomers are laughing at me right now. What’s more common these days is spending the entire day running your ageing parent (or in my case, in-law) to various specialists, tests. or pharmacies, and taking care of shopping or other household needs, all the while hoping you’ll hit the road to home before rush hour, and the resulting Death Commute that you retired to avoid.

Who doesn’t like rich, dark chocolate? These incredible brownies are just shy of qualifying for fudge status, and I’ve been able to adapt them to gluten free when necessary. A friend gave me this recipe 20+ ago, and it has been a staple since. I’ve seen variations of this recipe in foodie magazines, but I still like my original best. I vary the flavors for different tastes, and have included our three favorites below. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

This dish I created years ago based solely on what I was growing in my garden. You can switch out any ingredient you don’t like, and add any you do. Make this YOUR recipe. You can play with the herbs for a different taste. I use in the sauce a hearty red wine like a Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Barbera or Nebbiolo. Anything robust and Italian goes great in this dish. We then finish what’s left in the bottle with dinner.

Cooking is not just for retired people. It’s gaining greater status for the younger generation as well, who are more concerned about what they’re putting in their bodies, do not want packaged or processed food with chemicals, sodium or the like, and the high cost of pre-made food. People of my generation who have existed on take-out during their working lives are getting into it too, and are starting to cook seriously in their 50’s and 60’s.