When Kelly Kyser graduated high school, she said the last thing she wanted to do was live in Greensboro and marry a catfish farmer. But after graduating college and starting her career, that's exactly what she did.
Now she's thankful for her home on the Kyser family farm in Hale County.
"I really do love being back home," Kelly said. "The hour commute to Tuscaloosa is rough at times, but it gives me the opportunity to put aside work before I get home. It's fun watching (our daughter) Laura grow up out here. And when I talk to friends from college who are raising their kids in the city, I appreciate the culture and exposure that comes from farm life. Laura loves to ride around the farm to see all the animals, and every time she sees water, she thinks there's fish in it."
Laura, now 22 months, has become a constant traveling companion on the couple's many trips, trips that have become quite frequent now that husband Townsend chairs the Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"When I was pregnant with Laura, people kept saying we'd slow down after the baby came, but we really haven't," said Kelly, who is assistant chief of Health Administrative Service at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuscaloosa.
"She just packs up and goes with us, or our parents keep her. That may change with our second child on the way though. William Townsend IV will be here in September, and having two small children may mean we spend more time at home. We're fortunate to have a lot of family help around us, though."
Because of their schedules, Kelly doesn't prepare as many meals as she used to, but they love to entertain.
"We really do have people over probably at least one night a week," she says, adding that her recipes this month reflect their love of entertaining. "We've made Pickled Shrimp for dinner parties, wedding showers and tailgating, and it's one of our favorites. And Twice-Baked Potato Casserole is great for dinner parties because it's an easy side dish that feeds a bigger crowd."
With such hectic schedules, the food Kelly and Townsend prepare often has to be quick and simple. In observance of Catfish Month, Kelly includes several catfish recipes that are easy crowd-pleasers, including one that has become a surprise favorite of hers.
"I really didn't eat fish before I started dating Townsend," Kelly confesses. "One of the first meals I ate with the Kysers was Kyser BBQ Catfish, and I thought catfish and barbeque sounded like an awful combination. It was delicious though, and it has become one of my favorite catfish dishes. Townsend's mom, Bevo, wasn't a fan of fish when she first came to the family either, and Kyser BBQ Catfish was the recipe that changed her mind, too."