Couples in the Kitchen with Gina and Thom {Foodie Friday}

Gina Knuppenburg of Desperately Seeking Gina

Most people burn their little black books when they become a couple. My fiancé and I combined ours. Of course, I’m talking about our little black recipe books.

Saffron Rice ingredients

Our love affair with cooking delicious meals together began in my tiny apartment kitchen. In the beginning, Thom would stand at the stove stirring and tasting and I would watch. Eventually, he would stand behind me with this arms wrapped around me to teach me how to hold the chef’s knife properly, how to julienne herbs, chop vegetables and mince garlic. If you’re thinking this scene was as romantic as that Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze pottery molding scene in the movie Ghost, you’re so, so off. Our scene involved bandages and antiseptic. I did learn and our dinner making process became uneventful over time.

Saffron Rice_final

We bought a tiny cottage with a kitchen slightly bigger than my single girl kitchen and our affair with cooking together blossomed. We continue to seek out recipes with interesting ingredients and we commit to cooking together at least one night a week, usually on weekend nights. We light candles, turn on some music, and consult our little black recipe book? it’s where we have hand written our most favorite tried­ and ­true recipes and where we keep printed copies of new to ­try recipes.

Saffron Rice_Ingredients 2

Cooking together can be relaxing, romantic, and a great escape. Here are our tips for enjoying couple time in the kitchen:

  • Be alone together? If you have children, hire a babysitter or send the kids to Grandma’s.
  • A meal doesn’t have to last hours. Set out your ingredients and tools the night before so gathering doesn’t cut into couple time.
  • Set the mood?. Lower the lights. Put on your favorite album. Light candles.
  • Have a tray of hor d’ oeuvres for snacking.
  • Try new recipes?. Spend a few minutes during the week researching new dishes the both of you would enjoy. Write or print out recipes.
  • Keep a little black recipe book of your own or set up a digital file on your computer. You can email your shopping list to yourself and make purchases during the week.
  • Divide Tasks.
  • Do what you’re most comfortable doing? if the prep work is your thing, be in charge of mise en place. If your significant makes a better sauce, let them.
  • Be adventurous, be open and just be together.

Thom_Gina Profile

Getting to Know Our ARWB Foodies

What food reminds you of childhood? 

Gina: Chocolate Fudge. My great-great grandmother’s recipe has been handed down for generations and it reminds me of the sweet moments spent with my grandma, cooking and enjoying learning from her.

Thom: The BEST homemade biscuits in the world. My mom and dad were from Arkansas and both really knew how to cook, but my mom’s biscuits were (and still) unmatched. I miss her and all her cooking very, very much. 

What is your favorite international cuisine?
Gina: Pad Thai. Thom (my fiancé) introduced me to this dish early in our relationship and we work together in the kitchen to find the perfect recipe. We’re close to getting it just right.

Thom: Thai food. I love the spicy, sweet, savory, fresh and also delicateness of the cuisine. We make it at home and encourage anyone to do it. Believe it or not, it really is simple food.

What is always in your refrigerator at home?
Gina: Jalapeños. Another introduction made by Thom. When we’re done with our own canned jars, there are always store-bought in the ‘fridge. I’m slowly turning into a chili-head.
Thom: A gallon jar of pickled Jalapeños. Always! Gina and I are true “Chiliheads”.

What is your most used cookbook?
Gina: While I have cookbooks from my single days, we don’t really use them anymore. Thom has been teaching me his own recipes and since he does most of the cooking, mine are collecting dust. 
Thom: Our “own”. Seriously, It’s a small black book of recipes that we have collected over the years.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Gina: Thom’s garlic press. He’s been using the same press for 25 years. It’s a workhorse. We use A LOT of garlic.
Thom: My 25 year old “Zyliss” garlic press. If you need one (and everyone should) buy a Zyliss.

Do you have a favorite food indulgence?  
Gina: Chocolate. No elaboration needed. 
Thom: My 25 year old “Zyliss” garlic press. If you need one (and everyone should) buy a Zyliss.

What is your go-to ingredient that you use time and time again?
Gina: When in doubt, add fresh garlic-pressed not sliced.
Thom: Garlic

What is your favorite food meal to cook at home?
Gina: Honey Garlic Pizza. We have a Pizza & Movie night once a week. It’s also the only pizza we’ll both eat cold for lunch the next day.
Thom:Right now it’s cheese Quesadillas, homemade Guacamole, fresh homemade Pico de Gallo, homemade corn chips. Ice cream for dessert to cool things off.

What is a cooking tip that you would like to share with beginning cooks?
Gina:Buy one good 8 to 10 inch chef’s knife. It can be costly but it’s a worthy investment. Thom’s favorite knife is 30 years old.
Thom: Buy one good 8 or 10 inch chefs knife and pay between $75 and $100 for it. Also, learn how to sharpen your own knives. This is VERY important. A dull knife is a dangerous knife!

When you’re not cooking, what are your favorite pastimes?
Gina:I enjoy crafting, reading, sitting outside listening to birds and enjoying our cove. Thom and I love to travel, shop (him more than me), and plan our next meal.
Thom: Audiophile audio equipment and speaker building.

What else would you like us to know about you?
 Gina: I love the Arkansas Women Bloggers community and am grateful for the friendships and connections I have made from the inspiring women who gather here. Thank you for that.
Thom: I really loves me some Gina 🙂 

Connect  with Gina:


Editor’s Note: Read about how Thom proposed to Gina and AWBU said, “Yes!”


  1. We don’t cook together often, but its fun when we do. With two meat scientists, the discussion always turns to the science of what we are cooking.

    Ed has more of a culinary background than I do, so he is really better in the kitchen. But, I know where everything is.

    I really enjoyed your post, Thanks!

    • gina says:

      I pretty much have to tell Thom where everything is because when I put dishes away, I always put them somewhere different. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Rhonda says:

    What an endearing analogy, Gina. Your black books, combined! I like stay-at-home date ideas. For parents, it could be late evening cooking while the kiddos are in bed. And I agree about a good garlic mincer and a having a good knife.

    • gina says:

      Thank you, Rhonda! I had never used a garlic press before I met Thom. Now, I have two. I won a cool one from a blog giveaway. I like it a lot but Thom’s fits better in my hand.

  3. Renee says:

    We love cooking together. It was our typical date before we got married, we still do about twice a week. We both have our style in cooking so it is fun to mix them together and see what comes out.

  4. Anita says:

    The kitchen is a great place to stay connected, as you show so well in this post, Gina. I hope you two enjoy many more happy cooking adventures. You should publish that little black recipe book.

  5. My hubby can make mac and cheese (the 67-cent-per-box kind) and microwave corn dogs. I gave up on any thing else years ago. At least he’s not picky and will eat anything I cook (as long as it’s not liver and onions). 🙂

    Lyndi, I think you’ve hit upon a great idea: a little-black-book-recipe blog. I would love to see that!

    Gina, thanks for a fun post. A girl can dream, right?

  6. Keisha says:

    Love this and how effortless it seems. Forget golf lessons. Love him coming up behind you and teaching you to julienne herbs!!! (Insert heart eye emoji!)

  7. Christie says:

    I love, love, LOVE this! Great story, well told, and great photography. I had no idea the two of you cooked together. And I love the image of him behind you, teaching, even with the bandages and antiseptic! 🙂

  8. Alison Chino says:

    I LOVE cooking with my hubs. He’s a way better cook than I am, but I’m faster. So we each bring our own gifts to the process. It’s my favorite room in the house to be together.

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