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The Canal House
Meet the Women Behind Canal House Cooking

"Welcome to the Canal House—our studio, workshop, dining room, office, kitchen, lair, lab, and atelier devoted to good ideas and good work in the world of food. We write, photograph, design, and paint, but in our hearts we both think of ourselves as cooks first." And so begins the introduction to Christopher Hirsheimer"s and Melissa Hamilton's enchanting seasonal cookbook series, Canal House Cooking. Fans know well the story behind Canal House: Christopher and Melissa, former magazine editors, gave up the magazine world and daily commute into New York City for a simpler existence, living on opposite sides of the Delaware River and cooking together each weekday in their New Jersey studio alongside a historic canal. The recipes in Canal House Cooking celebrate home cooking by home cooks for home cooks. Seasonal ingredients shine in their delicious, simple dishes designed for cooks of every level of expertise.

Hamilton and Hirsheimer cook every day. In the middle of the day they stop their work, set the table simply with paper napkins, and have lunch. They cook seasonally because that's what makes sense. Thousands of devotees check in daily to their blog, "Canal House Cooks Lunch," to see what these two women have cooked up in their pretty kitchen studio. These daily offerings are the inspiration for their cookbook collection.

A Conversation With Hirsheimer & Hamilton

Q: What's the story behind Canal House? What inspired you to create it?

A: We had worked with each other as food editors in the magazine world. We traveled the globe in search of essential and authentic recipes, sliding into banquettes in famous restaurants, meeting big deal chefs and even cooking in far-flung home kitchens. It was great and exciting. But our work took us both away from our families, our homes and our gardens, away from what really matters, after all.

Q: What summer fruits and vegetables do you most look forward to cooking with?

A: The way we cook in the summer couldn't be simpler. We forsake the convenience of the supermarket and live in the season—slicing big ripe tomatoes, preserving tomatoes, grilling leeks, roasting chickens and slathering them with herb butter, foraging for chanterelles, turning corn into succotash, baking berry cobblers and making apricot jam. Cooking is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the season around you.

Read the full Q & A on our blog

Building a Meat Platter The Perfect Cheese Platter Simplest Tomato Sauce Red Berry Jelly Strawberry Preserves Dilly Beans Buy the Award-Winning Cookbook
Christopher & Melissa's Top Picks For The Kitchen

Le Creuset Dutch Ovens
These handsome classic pots last a lifetime. Our kitchen would be incomplete without them, in any shape or color, but we're partial to Dijon and Flame.

Weck Mold Jars
The wide mouth and darling shapes of these glass jars make anything you put in them look wonderful, whether it's a little jar of fruit preserves or a batch of tall fat pickle spears.

Stainless-Steel 3-Piece Mesh Colander Set
Every kitchen needs a couple of colanders, and these sturdy mesh strainers do a fine job of straining.

Kilner Stainless-Steel Jam Pan
For all our jam-making, we love to use this beautifully designed pan with its pail handle for easy lifting and its intelligently placed interior measurement markings.

Kilner Clip-Top Jars
We love the look of these sturdy jars and are particularly fond of their attached, hinged, clamp-shut lids that never go missing.

All-Clad Stainless-Steel Mesh Skimmer
We grab this fine-mesh skimmer to skim the surface of any foam or debris when we're making stocks and boiling fruit preserves.