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Over the next months together, we made jambalaya, paella, gazpacho (now there's a lot of chopping), ratatouille, cassoulet...nothing daunted us. Sometimes if we got started late, we didn't eat until nearly midnight. We talked nonstop. Before long I realized that I probably knew him better than I'd ever known anybody. Now I don't believe in "quality time" so much as I believe in a lot of time. Cooking together forced us to slow down, to concentrate on what we were doing. It made us stay in the moment. As a single working mother with those boys, I'd been so busy—but we're all always so busy, aren't we? Making stock became a way of taking stock. Cooking together also meant sharing the whole process, not just the result—an invaluable concept for marriage, too.

Hal proved to have a genius for occasions—and anything could become an occasion. He is an avid picnicker, for instance, and let me tell you, all you need is a blanket, a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, some cheese, some cherries, and a riverbank for an unforgettable afternoon. Once we both called in sick to our jobs and had a formal lunch in my backyard (white linen, silver, the works) to celebrate an eclipse of the sun.

As a writer, I can't resist the obvious metaphor: For a great relationship, start with good ingredients and measure carefully. Do you really like each other? Do you have the same values? Do you laugh a lot? Then vary your basic recipe endlessly, adding plenty of spice. It seems to me that the longer the marriage, the more important the spice—and flexibility—becomes. Hal and I take turns cooking, too. And I have to say that sometimes, on a very busy day, that magic sentence "I love you" can be almost equaled by "Don't worry, honey; I'll make dinner."

Get the recipe for Seafood Pesto Pasta

More Ways to Bond Over Food

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