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Still cooking together after 40+ years

Couple dishes on importance of mealtime

Created date

January 29th, 2009

While most Wind Crest residents are quick to trade in their aprons for seats at the community s Fireside Restaurant, Merlin and Pauline Neff prepare gourmet meals in their apartment home a few times a week. Cooking has always bonded the Neffs. Truth be told, it s Mr. Neff who actually does most of the cooking these days which is fine with Pauline. After all, she discovered Merlin s culinary "magic" during one of his dinner parties 47 years ago. Merlin had invited Pauline and her roommates over for a dinner party featuring typical bachelor fare of steak, potatoes, and salad. But it was his homemade bread that caught everyone s attention. Assuming it was store-bought, Pauline s roommate asked where he d gotten it. All were impressed to learn that Merlin had not only made it himself but also masterminded the recipe. "Later on, [my roommate] said to me: If you don t marry him, Pauline, you re out of your mind, " Mrs. Neff recalls. That was back in April 1961. Eight months later, the two were married. King of the kitchen In the early years, Mrs. Neff did a lot of the cooking. But slowly, Mr. Neff inched his way into the kitchen and took over. "We cook together a lot, but he s really the chef," she says. "He just has a knack for it." His most recent creation in their Wind Crest kitchen? Sauteed rock fish with butter and white Dubonnet and orange-glazed carrots on the side. "He also makes a wonderful Moroccan lamb stew," she says. His cocktails aren t too shabby either. "We like to entertain, and Merlin makes great martinis and Manhattans," says Mrs. Neff. Over the holidays, they hosted two gatherings in their apartment home, cocktails and all. Social setting Outside of their kitchen, the Neffs enjoy Wind Crest s on-site dining options, especially since one meal a day is included in their monthly service package. Their favorite stop is the Fly n B Caf . "Eating our lunches at the caf works out perfectly for us," says Mrs. Neff. "It s fast when we need to eat and run, and other times, we get one of the chef s creations freshly prepared right in front of us." Others opt for a sit-down dinner at the Fireside Restaurant. "Going that route is a nice way to socialize and keep up on what s going on around the community," she says. The family-style seating is also beneficial for singles, she says, because they can sit with friends or make some new ones. "This environment invites people out of their apartment homes, where they might otherwise dine alone," she says. "This makes it easy for everyone to feel comfortable and make friends." For the Neffs, preparing and enjoying meals in their apartment home is one way they stay connected. "Eating what I prepare is not the big thing. It s more the process of preparing it and seeing others enjoy it," Mr. Neff says. Mrs. Neff certainly appreciates it, and she realizes she s one lucky lady. "When I married Merlin, I not only got a cook," she says, "I got a best friend."