Speaker: Christopher Hirsheimer
Hirsheimer (left, above) has spent the last thirty
years immersed in all things to do with the great
pleasure of food. From a family of great travelers and
eaters she has, from a very young age, experienced the
world the way it should be experienced: food first.
She has served as Food and Design Editor for Metropolitan
Home magazine, and was one of the founders of Saveur
Magazine where she was Executive Editor.
Hirsheimer has co-written four cookbooks published by
Chronicle, the award-winning Saveur Cooks series and
The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Cookbook.
She is a writer and a photographer. Her pictures have
illustrated over thirty cookbooks for such notables as
Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Lidia Bastianich, Mario
Batali, Rick Bayless, Frank Stitt and Alice Waters.
They have also appeared in magazines such as Saveur,
InStyle, Food & Wine, Country
Home, Metropolitan Home, and Town &
Country. She lives in rural Pennsylvania with her
along with food stylist Melissa Hamilton, opened a
studio, Canal House, in 2007. They now self-publish
Canal House Cooking and continue to collaborate,
photographing and designing cookbooks.
House Cooking: Volume No. 1 Introduction
to the Canal House: our studio, workshop, dining room,
office, kitchen, lair, lab and atelier devoted to good
ideas and good work relating to the world of food. We
write, photograph, design and paint, but in our hearts
we both think of ourselves as cooks first.
did we get here? Neither of us set out to make careers
in the food world. Actually there wasn't much of a
"foodie" world when we both started. But our
deep interests led us down paths that unfolded in
front of us.
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.
live in little towns across the river from each other,
one in New Jersey, the other in Pennsylvania. So we
decided to join forces. We share similar backgrounds,
having grown up in big families where food came first.
In a time that seems like a million years ago now, our
aproned grandmothers nurtured us with wholesome,
comforting food -- buttermilk pancakes drenched in
salty butter and maple syrup. Our mothers were
glamorous. They loved parties and cocktails and
restaurants and brunch with Bloody Marys -- food was
exciting. Last night's Chinese "takeout"
would show up at breakfast reheated with two poached
eggs on top. Both of us have deep food memories and
large legacies to uphold.
found our loft studio in an old red brick warehouse
downriver from where we live. A beautiful lazy canal
runs alongside the building. 100 years ago, mules
plodding along the tow path hauled provision-laden
barges up and down the state. In warm weather, we
throw open the French doors and the voices of the
people walking or fishing below float up to us. We
plant herbs in our window boxes and grow tomatoes in
pots on our wrought-iron balcony. In the winter we
build fires in the Franklin wood stove to keep cozy
when it's snowy and gray outside.
Canal House has a simple galley kitchen. Two small
"apartment-size" stoves sit snugly side by
side against a white tiled wall. An old wooden
carpenter's worktable with a little sink at one end is
our long counter and pots hang from a rack suspended
above it. We have a dishwasher, but we find ourselves
preferring to hand wash the dishes so we can look out
of the tall window next to the sink and see the ducks
swimming in the canal or watch the raindrops splashing
into the water.
town around us is a small American river town. A noon
whistle still blows and church bells chime -- no
kidding! There is a drug store around the corner.
Across the street is an old hardware store, and the
best bar in the world is right down the alley.
every day we cook. Starting the morning with coffee or
cups of sweet milky tea, we tell each other what we
made for dinner the night before. In the middle of the
day we stop our work, set the table simply with paper
napkins, and have lunch. We cook seasonally because
that's what makes sense. We want stews and braises and
rich thick soups in February when it's snowing and
blowing. In mid-summer, we buy boxes of tomatoes to
dress as minimally as we do in the heat. And in the
height of the season, we preserve all that we can, so
as to save a taste of summer.
it came naturally to write down what we cook. The
recipes in this book are what we make for ourselves
all summer long. If you cook your way through a few,
you'll see that who we are comes right through in
these pages: that we are crazy for melons in late
summer, that we love to cook big paellas outdoors over
a fire for a crowd of friends, that we make jarfuls of
teriyaki sauce for slathering on roasted chicken, and
tubs of homemade ice cream for our families.
House Cooking Volume No. 1 is our first effort. It is
a collection of our favorite summer recipes -- home
cooking by home cooks for home cooks. With a few
exceptions, we use ingredients that are readily
available and found in most markets in most towns
throughout the United States. All the recipes are easy
to prepare (some of them a bit more involved), all
completely doable for the novice and experienced cook
alike. We want to share with you as fellow cooks, our
love of food and all its rituals. The everyday
practice of simple cooking and the enjoyment of eating
are two of the greatest pleasures in life.
Christopher and Melissa