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Cooking with Myra: Planning a beach wedding

April 5, 2011 at midnight
Updated April 4, 2011 at 11:05 p.m.

Erin's Chocolate Pots De Creme

Erin's Chocolate Pots de crème

2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup whole milk

5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (not unsweetened)

6 large egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring cream and milk just to a simmer in heavy medium saucepan, over medium heat. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Whisk until melted and smooth. You can add more chocolate if you would like a richer mixture. Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain mixture into another bowl. Cool.

Divide this mixture among six, 3/4-cup custard cups or 12 small pots de creme cups. Place cups in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of dishes. Bake until custards are set, but centers still move slightly when gently shaken; about 55 minutes. Be careful not to spill water into the custards cups when removing from oven. Chill custards until cold, and then serve. This recipe can be made two days ahead. Make sure the cups are covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Top with whipped cream and a chocolate shaving.

By Myra StarkeyTo have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish to death do us part.

- Book of Common Prayer

It was in June of last year when Susan called me for wedding advice. Her daughter, Erin, had announced her engagement to Steven, and my friend was in a mother-of-the-bride panic.

I was all too familiar with this sudden onset of hysteria, as my daughter had just married earlier that month, and I had experienced the same feeling of panic when I found out I had to plan her wedding.

In times of crisis, it is good to call a friend who has already been through the same thing.

Most daughters rely on their mothers to help plan the wedding, but they have very specific ideas, and the art of the event is to meld the dreams of both the mother with the bride, while staying within the family budget.

Of course, the words "budget" and "wedding" are often about as incompatible as the words "budget" and "home remodeling." Whatever you think a wedding or reception is going to cost, it always costs a lot more.

I felt that having completed this event entitled me to be an experienced mother-of-the-bride, but I doubted I had obtained the status of competent wedding planner, after having only accomplished one wedding. Regardless, I agreed to meet with Susan and share my knowledge.

Susan and I met one morning. I boxed up all the notebooks, magazines and wedding manuals we used for Hannah's wedding and had them ready to pass on. I looked at the earmarked pages worn because I constantly referred to them and felt strangely connected to the pile of books. I shared my list of professionals: caterer, cake baker extraordinaire, floral designer/wedding consultant, musicians and various websites for other ideas.

I told her that these names held the key to a successful event. Over the next several months, Susan and I talked on a regular basis about the wedding, and I could tell she was taking on her new role with more confidence.

Erin wanted to get married in Rockport on the beach. The family had grown up fishing and spending a lot of time there, so the town was very special. Having a wedding in a church is difficult enough, but when you throw in unpredictable weather, a windy beach and seagulls flying overhead, not to mention you are an hour away from your real house, anxiety is your companion.

Over the next months, I am sure all these details kept Susan up at night, but mostly she just smiled and took it all in stride.

Last weekend, the long-awaited event took place. Several friends decided to host the bridesmaids' luncheon for Erin.

Lisa, Madeline and I spent about a month planning, since this is what women do. We discussed flowers, invitations and tablecloths, and I chimed in on the menu.

Most of the time, I am included for the food portion of such events, since my friends presume I have a talent for making food taste good.

I also came up with some party favors. I had met a potter from Rockport, who had made necklaces with round medallions. The potter, Patty, or should I say Patty the potter, made starfish impressions in the discs and then glazed them with a beautiful blue glaze. I had seen these at a pottery festival and thought they would made a beautiful keepsake of Erin's day.

For Erin, we had a ceramic pitcher made by a potter near Temple with her wedding date and our names printed on the bottom.

Lisa, Madeline and I went down to Rockport on Friday to cook and set up tables. Everything for the luncheon came together perfectly. The day was beautiful and only slightly overcast, but not a drop of rain.

The girls arrived and took their places at the tables. They chatted about the rehearsal dinner and told funny stories about the bride and groom while they ate.

We over-calculated the amount of food, forgetting that most everyone in attendance had butterflies in their stomach.

The rich chocolate pots de creme we served for dessert were a big hit. Lisa had purchased some small pots, and they were the perfect size for our guests.

Later that evening, we dressed and attended the wedding on the beach. A canopy was made of bamboo and hung with orchids. Seashells hung over the edges and chimed in the wind. The makeshift center aisle was strung with starfish garland. Seagulls sung overhead, flying back and forth above the guests as the ceremony took place.

Erin looked beautiful as she glided across the sand in her wedding dress, smiling as she made her way toward her soon-to-be husband, but still for that moment at the arm of her dad. After the ceremony, the guests filed into the circular room of the bay pavilion. It had been decorated with twinkling lights and paper lanterns overhead. It was a magical evening. I loved every minute of the day and night. Two hearts were joined together, and I had the privilege of being there to witness the union.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail myra@vicad.com.

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