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The Bookshelf: Canal House Cooking

Anna Mowry

Anna Mowry

December 21, 2009


Anna Mowry reports on the debut of the Canal House Cooking series

As we first turned the pages of the winter and holiday issue of Canal House Cooking—the second volume by former Saveur staffers Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer—we were struck by its approachability: an apple pie with an eroding crust, basking in mellow, natural light; red peppers blackening on a flecked and splattered stove top. As the authors write in their introduction, Canal House Cooking is “home cooking by home cooks for home cooks.”

“We are used to styling and shooting food for cookbooks, but when we shoot for ourselves we are quite loose about it,” said Hirsheimer via email. “There is an authenticity about the images because that is what is going on—you are seeing things in real time.”

There is an intimacy to the book as well: recipes have been passed down from mothers and grandmothers. And the only hands at work are Hamilton and Hirsheimer’s—they cook, design, illustrate, write, and photograph every detail of the magazine. (Until recently, they also handled marketing, publicity, and sales.) They are now operating for a fourth year in the Canal House, located in a red-brick warehouse in Lambertville, New Jersey. A third issue, featuring late winter and spring recipes, is on the way.

Out of all the wonderful dishes in the book, we especially like the looks of this hearty yet luxurious lobster stew. Just as Hamilton and Hirsheimer hope, it makes us want to dash into our kitchens and cook.