Photo: Coral Von Zumwalt
If Cat is the spirited show woman in the relationship, Jennifer exudes California calm, an impression augmented by her monklike buzz cut ("It's so liberating," she says. "I spent so much time trying to keep gray away, and now I'm just embracing it"). The boys hang on her and throw themselves at her feet, but she never loses her cool.

When Cat travels, Jennifer shuttles the kids to school and to playdates and gets them fed and bathed and tucked in at night. "Cathy comes home and she's tired; the kids want her, I want her, and then she has to leave again," she says. "That's the hard part."

With their youngest nearly 2 years old, the couple is planning a kid-free vacation for the first time in years, to a spa near San Luis Obispo.

"Raising young kids is stressful on a marriage," Cat says. "We're no different than anyone. But we want to grow old together."

In an effort to spend more time with each other, Cat is trying to reduce her travel by 50 days next year, and Jennifer to increase her work with Chefs for Humanity, the organization Cat founded to combat hunger and provide nutrition education in poverty-ridden countries like Honduras and Zambia.

With the backyard bathed in an orange-blossom-scented, late-afternoon glow, Cat now calls her guests and the boys—who are motoring around the yard accumulating grass stains—to a picnic table set with artfully mismatched dishes and little jars of lavender.

She sets out a platter of the chicken skewers along with the grilled corn, slathered with ancho chili–lime butter, and two healthy sides: a broccoli slaw with a garlic-cilantro vinaigrette, and a citrusy asparagus and snow pea salad with roasted pumpkin seeds.

"How loud are the neighbors' dogs?" observes Jason, one of the adult guests. "I'm immune to noise," says Cat with a wry laugh.

Jennifer slides onto the picnic bench next to Cat with Nash, who is gnawing away at a spicy jalapeño-Jack muffin, and Cat raises her wineglass. "To good friends, family, love...," she begins. Then she pauses. "Kumbaya!" As everyone digs in, there is a moment of sweet silence.

Get the menu for Cat Cora's backyard party

Summer Recipes from Cat Cora


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