At Your Bench, Cooking and a Bonus Recipe!

"Carpenter Taking His Meal" by Gerrit Van Zegelaar, mid-18th c.

“Carpenter Taking His Meal” by Gerrit Van Zegelaar, Dutch, mid-18th century.

Ahhh…it’s almost the weekend when we all look forward to catching up with family and friends, a bit more time in the shop and more time to prepare our food.

Many woodworkers pursue other creative fields such as writing, music, painting and sculpture. But, I think one of the best creative combinations for the woodworker is cooking. Whether you are making something out of wood or making a meal your senses are fired up.

Contrast running your fingers across the woodgrain to testing pears for ripeness. Your hands feel the differences in texture and weight between the metal and wood of your shop tools, as well as the knives and wooden spoons in your kitchen. Both wood and vegetables offer resistance to your tools and knives. You listen for the snick of your plane and the sizzle of a soffritto. With each shaving or chip the wood releases its scent; food aromas intensify as you add spices. You watch as each tool changes the shape of the wood; onions become translucent as you take care not to burn the garlic. While working you gauge your progress by sight and feel, and in the case of food, you get the special reward of taste.

There are going to be times when you can’t get into the shop or your project isn’t turning out as you want. That’s the time to get in the kitchen. As you slice, chop and saute new designs and solutions will be percolating on the back burner of your mind.

Here’s your bonus recipe ready for you to change to your own taste:


Suzanne Ellison

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9 Responses to At Your Bench, Cooking and a Bonus Recipe!

  1. Brilliant! Raw, salted herring, our national delicacy! Yummy.

    The type of mortising chisel in the middle of the bench was made for a very long time, up until the late 19th, early 20th century. I have a couple like that with the same large, bulbous handles. I see the type of handle on the left of the bench too occasionally in adverts on our local craigslist too.

    Thanks for all the nice pictures you post all the time.

  2. Brian Clites says:

    I agree Suzanne! And we use a similar soy glaze on Salmon in my house. Recommended side (in addition to short grain rice): pan-roasted bacon-maple brussel sprouts.

  3. Dan Zehner says:

    Are the sea bass…. ill tempered? 😉

  4. That herring-inhaling hack has been splitting out his tenons instead of sawing them! For shame. Maybe his saw handle (under the try plane to the left) is as uncomfortable as it looks…

    • Those two saws are also very typical 17th century Dutch. The tryplane you saw on the left with the nicely carved front tote too. It also should have a carved rear handle. those were made up until the early 19th century. Then you can see on the bench the bottom of a whale back plane, a “gerfschaaf”. The same model was made at least until the 2nd worldwar. I also really like the workbench. Nice details.

  5. dknott2013 says:

    I should be out working in the shop…but all I can think of now is turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, candied sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Is it Thanksgiving yet?

  6. Scott Taylor says:

    I love to cook as much as I love working with wood. And there are similarities, sharp tools (and keeping them sharp), good equipment (All-Clad, LeCreuset, Lodge..) and the planning, material selection, stock prep, assembly and finishing. And in the end enjoying what you have made…

  7. mikeholz2 says:

    “massage a little oil into the fresh of the fish” ………. Hmmm.

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