"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.
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.