Kiss the Cook

We’ve all heard the old adage: The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. While the truth to this theory is debatable, some would say culinary skills (novice or advanced) are necessary for navigating the newlywed days. After all, you’ve both gotta eat, right? Here, three  young, local brides share their tips and tricks for success in the kitchen as well as that first year of marriage. So, get ready to break out all those registry items. 

Gaynor & Harris

Meet the Newlyweds
Harris Reynolds, 27, was born in Montgomery and graduated from University of Georgia and University of Alabama Birmingham Medical School. He is currently in his first year of residency at Naval Medical Center in San Diego. Mobile native Gaynor Luce, also 27, went to Auburn and later received her masters in marriage and family therapy, specialized in art therapy, from Loyola Marymont in Los Angeles. She is now painting for an art show in Coronado.

The Wedding Oct. 20, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Chapel in Battles Wharf
The Reception The Owl’s Nest (the bride’s family home) in Point Clear
The Honeymoon Turks & Caicos
The Registry
Everyday china Casafina Forum
Stainless The couple is using Harris’ stainless from his bachelor days until they find what they want.
Fine China Palmyre dinner plates and Ithaque Gold salad plates by Bernardaud
Sterling Bamboo by Tiffany

◗ How did you meet? We met at the Camellia Ball while we were waiting in line for pictures.
◗ What is your favorite memory from your courtship? We dated long distance for the first part of our relationship, so we would frequently rendezvous across the Bay, in Los Angeles (where Gaynor was in her masters program), at the Gulf, or somewhere fun like the Bluegill.
◗ When did you know that he was “the one?” I knew Harris was the one for me when he started calling me by my nickname, “Punk” (short for Punkin’). (Harris says he knew during his first visit with her to the Mulherin Home as he watched her take care of her younger sister Rancey who has Rett’s Syndrome.)
◗ How did he propose? Harris hung the ring on a beautiful “ginger” rose and dropped to one knee as I walked in the door from a long five-hour drive from Mobile to Huntsville. 
◗ How long was your engagement? Seven months
◗ What was your favorite part of the wedding day? Before the ceremony, my father and I were standing outside the church, and we could hear the women in the gospel choir cranking up. That was special. I also enjoyed riding off into the moonlight in an old wooden inboard boat. Harris loved the railroad flares on the wharf as we were leaving and dancing under Chinese lanterns at the reception.
◗ Do you have any particular foods or meals that are meaningful to your relationship? Harris is a Mexican food fanatic. We also love crème brûlée.
◗ Who does the meal planning, cooking, cleaning and shopping? I do the majority of the cleaning and cooking, but Harris is no stranger to the kitchen. Like any other man, he loves his grill so we do a lot of grilling.
◗ Any advice for other couples? Eat dinner together with the TV off. Invest your time in activities each of you enjoy. Take the time to cultivate a relationship with the in-laws. 

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Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

Gaynor loves this tasty twist on traditional pesto. The budget-conscious bride says cilantro is a lot less expensive than using all fresh basil; the same holds true for the pumpkin seeds versus pine nuts. It makes a speedy supper, especially if the pesto is prepared in advance.

1 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems cut off
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup olive oil (plus extra for storage)
1 jalapeño, seeded 
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
1 package pasta (Gaynor prefers linguine.)
1/2 cup of crumbled Cotija or Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spread pumpkin seeds in an even layer on a dry baking sheet. Put in oven and bake. Check and shake the pan every few minutes. After about 10 minutes, once they start to brown, take them out and let them cool in a bowl.
3. Put cilantro, basil and olive oil into a food processor and puree. Add the jalapeño, garlic, pumpkin seeds and Cotija or Parmesan, and pulse until it becomes a coarse puree. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cook pasta according to package directions.
5. Toss pesto with pasta. Add extra Cotija or Parmesan on top. (To store excess pesto, put it into a container with a tight-fitting lid and pour a very thin layer of olive oil over surface to keep air out. It will keep for 10 days.) Makes about 2 cups.

Catherine & Tunstall

Meet the Newlyweds
Tunstall Inge, 29, was born in Mobile and is a salesman for Scotch Gulf Lumber. He went to St. Paul’s and graduated from Auburn in 2006. Catherine McPhillips, 26, also grew up in the Port City and teaches middle school writing and communication at her alma mater, St. Paul’s. She graduated from Auburn in 2008. 

The Wedding June 30, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Chapel
The Reception The groom’s parents’ house in Spring Hill
The Honeymoon Antigua
The Registry
Everyday Lastra by Vietri with Woodlands by Spode
Stainless The couple is using Tunstall’s bachelor stainless.
Fine China Pastorale by Rosenthal and Stafford White by Spode as an accent. (Pastorale was a wedding gift passed down from Catherine’s grandparents,  Manning and Madeleine McPhillips. It had been their wedding china pattern.)
Sterling Louis XIV by Towle

◗ When and how did you meet? We got to know each other when I moved home after college. Tunstall and my brother, Davis, are good friends.
◗ What are your favorite memories of your courtship? We dated for a few years. Some of the best parts were trips to Braves games, time at the Bay and the river, and getting to know each other’s families. These are still our favorite things to do. Marriage hasn’t changed us much! 
◗ How did he propose? Tunstall proposed on a Friday afternoon. I was sitting in his backyard, when he walked out, got on one knee, and asked me to marry him. We went to see our families for dinner afterwards.
◗ How long was your engagement? About eight weeks
◗ What was your favorite part of your wedding? Judy Greene made my wedding dress, which was a gift from my siblings. It was a tall order for such short notice, but she made a beautiful dress. I wore the long version at the church and the short at the reception. The fact that it came from my family made it even more special. Both of us wanted a small wedding. We had family only, and the reception was at Tunstall’s parents’ house. Everything was so casual and centered on our families. They all worked so hard to make it a really beautiful day – exactly what we wanted.
◗ Do you have any foods that are special to your relationship? We cook really big breakfasts often. Other than that, we cook a little of everything!
◗ What has it been like adjusting to cooking every night? There wasn’t any adjusting to be done regarding cooking; we prepared meals together all the time while dating. Tunstall is a great cook, and I love to experiment. I do the shopping and planning, but we do the cooking and cleaning together. 
◗ Any advice for other couples? Marriage is fun! Enjoy it and take advantage of the time you have together! 

Boursin Asparagus

Catherine says this decadent recipe is a little messy to prepare, but the results are utterly delicious. Asparagus can be prepared singly for an appetizer or bundled together for a lavish side dish.

1 bunch of asparagus 
1 package Boursin cheese (Catherine prefers black pepper flavor.)
1/2 pound of prosciutto,  sliced into strips
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Wash the asparagus and pat dry. Set aside. 
3. Spread an ample amount of Boursin on top of asparagus spears or bundles.
4. Wrap a thin strip of prosciutto around each stalk or wrap thicker strips of prosciutto around a bundle of several asparagus.
5. Place wrapped asparagus stalks or bundles on a greased cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Turn oven up to broil and continue cooking for 2 – 3 minutes. Serves 6 – 8 as a side dish.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

The savory stuffed mushrooms recipe is originally from Tunstall’s side of the family. Catherine says she has tweaked it a little bit and often serves it to friends.

4 large portobello mushrooms,  wiped clean, stems trimmed
1 vidalia onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 links Italian sausage,  casings removed
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon lemon juice
dash of soy sauce
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 ounces gouda, feta or mozzarella cheese,  grated or crumbled
4 large leaves fresh basil,  julienned

1. Preheat oven broiler.
2. Place mushrooms, cap down, in a medium-hot skillet for a minute, letting them flatten slightly. Remove and place in an oven pan.
3. Place onion, bell pepper and celery in a food processor. Pulse until well chopped.
4. Cook sausage in a skillet until brown. Remove and drain.
5. Wipe the skillet down, then add olive oil and chopped vegetables. Cook over medium heat.
6. As these cook down, add the wine, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Allow this to boil/bubble and stir in the sausage and parsley.
7. After a couple of minutes, pour mixture into a mixing bowl.
8. Add bread crumbs, salt and cheese. Stir with a fork to loosen the ingredients as the cheese softens.
9. Spoon mixture into mushroom caps. Sprinkle with more cheese. Broil about 3 minutes. Top with basil and serve. Serves 4.

Haden & Forbes

Meet the Newlyweds
Haden Oswalt and Forbes Sirmon, both 27, grew up in Mobile. Haden went to UMS, then Vanderbilt. Forbes went to St. Paul’s and then University of South Alabama. Now, Haden is the marketing coordinator for Cornerstone Investment Management in Daphne, and Forbes is a youth minister at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

The Wedding April 27, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. at Government Street Presbyterian Church
The Reception The Athelstan Club downtown
The Honeymoon Virgin Gorda
The Registry Haden and Forbes made the “green” decision to have their wedding presents picked up or delivered without all the added gift wrap, boxes and tissue.
Everyday China Forum by Casafina
Stainless Contour by Sambonet
Fine China Ashbourne by Royal Crown Derby
Sterling King Richard by Towle

◗ When and how did you meet? We met one summer in college while we were both counselors for kids with arthritis at Camp MASH. We were friends for a few years, occasionally running into each other, until one year I asked Forbes to be my date for a Mardi Gras party as a friend. Forbes claims that was our first date, a “date” that I didn’t realize we were on. Apparently Forbes had been trying to find a way to ask me out for months.
◗ What is your favorite memory from your courtship? When we first started dating, I was living in Chicago, and he was living in Mobile, so one summer he came to visit and we went to a Cubs game. We had such a great time wandering around Wrigleyville and going to Houndstooth, the University of Alabama bar on Clark Street.
◗ How and when did you know he was “the one?” We started out dating long distance, so we got to know each other over the phone.  After six months, I moved home, and being closer and seeing each other every day confirmed it for both of us.
◗ How did he propose? Since Forbes works at St. Paul’s, he asked me in the chapel one night in December during Christmas.
◗ How long was your engagement? Almost five months
◗ What was your favorite part of  your engagement? Four of Forbes’ best friends also got engaged around the same time we did, and we all got married this past spring and summer, so it’s been fun sharing the excitement with the other couples and talking about our plans together. 
◗ What was your favorite memory of the wedding? We did a second line walk from Government Street Presbyterian Church to the Athelstan Club with Bay City Brass Company escorting us there, playing traditional Mardi Gras music. Thank goodness for the beautiful weather! It was so much fun! Almost the entire congregation walked with us, and we took up almost two full blocks. We were in front, right behind the band, and loved looking back seeing best friends and family having a great time dancing in the street.
◗ Do you have any foods that are special to your relationship? I really wanted to eat lobster on our honeymoon, but instead Forbes cooked some for me when we got back home. We had the lobster all ready to eat and then didn’t have any claw crackers, so we had to dig through his toolbox to get pliers. It was a fun newlywed memory. Also, Forbes really loves “Star Wars.” We got some “Star Wars” pancake molds from our wedding registry, so I like to make him Yoda pancakes with green food coloring.
◗ What has it been like adjusting to cooking every night? Both of us cooked at home regularly already so now it’s just doubling the recipe! I do the day-to-day planning, but Forbes often has a recipe he wants to try so he will buy all the ingredients and go to town. He is by far the better cook, so I clean for the most part! Some of my go-to recipes are spaghetti, chicken fajitas, broiled salmon with sautéed spinach and wild rice and Santa Fe soup.
◗ Any advice for other couples? Be patient. Give to your spouse more than you expect back. If you finish off the chicken in the fridge, let your spouse know. And always make more food than you plan to eat, so you can have leftovers.

Santa Fe Soup

This is one of the Haden's favorites, especially for wintertime. It is an easy, pleasing recipe that every new couple should have in their repertoire – it makes lots of leftovers and freezes well. It is great garnished with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro and green onions. It can be served by itself or over rice or tortilla chips. 

2 pounds ground beef, turkey or chicken (Haden prefers ground chicken.)
1 large yellow onion,  peeled and chopped
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
2 packages of taco seasoning mix
1 (15-ounce) can black beans
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans
1 (10-ounce) can original Ro-tel diced tomatoes and chilies, undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
2 (11-ounce) cans shoepeg corn, drained
1 – 2 cups water

1. Brown ground beef, turkey or chicken in a big stockpot, drain off fat.
2. Add onions and sauté until translucent and beginning to brown. Stir in ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning mix. Then add remaining ingredients.
3. Best if simmered for about 2 hours, but can be served as soon as it is all heated through. Serves 6 – 8, or 2 for several meals.

China and silver provided by Claude Moore, Zundel's, The Ivy Cottage and Louise Doggett Antiques. 

text and styling by Sallye Irvine •  photos by Todd Douglas

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