There are many wonderful things in the latest issue of Canal House Cooking. The self-published cookbook by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton are like a grown-up’s kids-book, with photos, illustrations, writing and recipes that will take you away from wherever you are, and into a very magic (and attainable) world. There are also treasures you won’t find anywhere else, like Gabrielle Hamilton’s essay about Christmas Eve (she’s Melissa’s sister and chef of Prune in NYC), and Melissa’s drawing (in pastel?) of a ham. Frank Stitt‘s primer on Grower Champagnes – artisanal champagnes made by small producers whose name is on the label – is a revelation. But our favorite bit of all was this excerpt from Melissa’s and Christopher’s forward “An Open Door Policy”…
“Sometimes life arrives at our door unexpectedly. One evening while we were working late, there was a shy knock at the door. Elizabeth and Tom, in their Saturday night finery, stepped into the studio beaming. Walking by after dinner, they’d seen our lights glowing into the dark and climbed the stairs to share some good news. He’d just proposed. She’d accepted. The room turned into a dream—they stood there floating in love. We were transported too, the first to know. Thrilled to share the happy moment, we pulled out a chilled bottle of Champagne, popped the cork, and toasted to their happiness and to a good life to come.
Soon after, Gabrielle arrived from the city with Melissa’s two young nephews, Marco and Leone, for a few days in the country. Her visit coincided, unfortunately, with our deadline, a do not disturb sign hung on the door. But the boys wanted/needed to say hi to their aunt for just a minute. They met Henry the dog. That minute turned into ten as boys and dog raced around the studio chasing each other. Then off they went on a walk, and returned with Henry wet and covered in mud. Everything stopped. Time for a bath in the sink. The boys helped scrub him up with lots of soapy bubbles. They pulled out the burrs from his long feathery coat. We baked a tray of sugar cookies and gave in to the moment. The ten-minute hello turned into a two-hour adventure for the boys, the dog, and for us. We made our deadline anyway.
The good life surrounds us. We find it in our everyday rituals. But often it comes through the unexpected, too, and we gratefully embrace it.”