FOOD BOX, Food Writing



I woke up this morning utterly parched with thirst. It was one of those cold mornings in San Francisco, gloomy and gray. Even though the blankets were wrapped around me, I was shivering and AJ had gone to work already.

I laid there in bed, trying to figure out if there was any substance at all that could help quench my dry throat. Then it hit me. I knew exactly what I so desperately needed, what would warm me up like nothing else. I needed hot water to drink. But how do I boil water?

It’s such a difficult thing to make at home! Or is it?!?.

The first thing I did was do my research. I grabbed my iPhone, next to my bed, and skipped Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and Google+ (ha! like anyone ever checks G+ on their phone) and launched my browser. I hit up America’s Test Kitchen, then Saveur and then Bon Appetit. But none of them seem to have a recipe for how to make boiling water at home.

Then I visited my favorite popular food blogs: Simply Recipes, The Pioneer Woman, David Lebovitz, Gluten Free Girl. Nothing. I mean, boiling water is naturally GLUTEN FREE Shauna! Get on that. Even the apparently misnamed Steamy Kitchen seemed to not have a recipe for boiling water. The site is called STEAMY KITCHEN! Boiling water produces steam . . . oh Jaden, how you missed a golden opportunity. Even when I broke down and checked Pinterest it disappointed me as there were NO moody dark underexposed photos of boiled water that I could find. PIN FAIL.

Clearly someone needed to show the internet how to boil water. So I got out of bed, while still wearing my Faded Glory (a private label version of Fruit of Loom if you must know, because I’m not fancy) sleepy plaid flannel pants and nearly worn through oversized t-shirt that had a faded burger printed on it with a word bubble coming from it that had the words “I want to be inside you” lewdly hovering above it. I hauled myself into the kitchen and started to experiment with water and how to boil it.

After all, if I was going to go through all the trouble of figuring out how to boil water, I needed to make sure I created a recipe that was utterly foolproof. A recipe perfect for summer. And Winter. And Spring, and Fall (though really, San Francisco really has messed me up in terms of the seasons as we don’t really have them). I needed a recipe that is the best ever, utterly amazing and completely delicious. Most importantly, I needed a pin-worthy recipe. The DEFINITIVE recipe on how to boil water. And after 27 attempts, I think I nailed it. Let me know what you think. And ABSOLUTELY let me know if you have any problems with this recipe. Like all food bloggers, I totally LOVE it when I get comments telling me how the recipe doesn’t work . . . especially when the reader who tried it substituted different ingredients. Those are the best comments ever.

How to Boil Water


A gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly, meatless Monday friendly, cane sugar-free, soy-free, peanut and nut tree–free, egg-free, dairy and casein-free, vegan, vegetarian, local and organic recipe. NOT water-free though. So if you are allergic to water, you’re out of luck.

Forget all those “uni-tasker” items that take up so much space in the kitchen like the novelty whistling tea kettle (it whistles when the water boils!) or those hot water dispensers that are always sitting on your sassy-but-slightly-obsessed-with-wearing-sunscreen-all-the-time Asian friend’s counter. Making boiling water is as easy as buying $4 toast and way easier than making a Kouign Amann or a Green Shamrock Shaped Guinness Infused Potato Irish Cheddar Bread Corned Beef Sandwiches with Orange Mayonnaise. And, it’s just as much fun!

Now there are a million variables in boiling water, but I’m not going to get all persnickety and tell you how you need to use a scale to measure out the right amount of water to use.

Nor am I going to tell you that you have to use that copper All-Clad pot or that you need the TOP notch ingredients like the spring water drawn from the remote part of Canada which takes three days travel just to get to the location where it’s sourced. No, amazingly delicious perfect boiling water can happen with just basic everyday water and any old pot. Seriously. Just follow my easy step-by-step instructions . . . to make sure you don’t make any mistakes in making the absolutely gorgeous fun-to-drink super-fun-to-make cup of boiling water!


1. Find the perfectly sized pot for your water to sit in. The size of the pot is going to limit the amount of water you boil, so make sure to pick one that will hold the right amount of boiling water that you want.

2. Locate the sink in your kitchen and bring the pot to your sink. Turn the faucet to the “on” position, which means water will be running out of the faucet. If you are pushing the handle or turning the knob and no water is coming out, you are pushing or turning in the wrong direction. Try pulling or twisting the other way.

3. Run the water until it gets cold, as the end result will be better. I taste-tested cold water, lukewarm water and hot water myself then decided to run a focus group blind taste test with 25 of my favorite food blogger friends and all but one of them picked the boiling water that started with cold water. I later found out that Sean, the sole dissenter, had a sinus cold and stuffy nose so his taste buds were totally off.

Why he didn’t tell me up front, I don’t know. I’m never inviting him to one of my taste test focus groups again.

4. Fill the pot up with as much water as you would like to boil. There is no right or wrong answer to this. This is not a trick question. Just fill the pot up.

5. Turn the faucet off and walk the pot to your stove. Place the pot on stove top, over one of the burners. If you have an electric stove just place the pot on one of the circles on the glass that specify where the heat comes on (or if you are old school electric, place it directly on the electric coil itself). If you have an induction stovetop I hate you and you’re on your own.

6. Turn the heat up to high for the burner or electric circle/coil that you placed the pot on. You can certainly use medium or even low heat to boil water, but high heat is definitely recommended. You want to make sure to really sear the water surface initially with the high heat. This is called the Maillard reaction and it really gives the final boiling water a lovely flavor and color.

7. Now cover the pot with a lid. If you’ve lost the lid or the lid is so bent up that it doesn’t fit over the pot properly, then either grab a sheet pan or metal cookie sheet and cover the pot with that, or just skip covering the water. Just be forewarned that the water may take longer to boil, and the resulting water may be more concentrated in flavor because some of it will have evaporated in the heating process. But if you like a more concentrated water flavor, then by all means, don’t cover the pot.

8. Now wait for the heat to do its job. If you covered the pot, you can periodically check underneath the lid to see if the water is boiling. Just be aware that the more you uncover the pot, the slower it will take for the pot to boil. So check JUST frequently enough to see if the water is boiling, BUT not frequently enough that you slow down the heating process. The range of checking usually is between 2–5 times but sometimes is more and occasionally less. Just try not to go over 8 times because then you look like an impatient fool. Plus the whole “a watched pot” thing …

9. The water is boiling when large rapid bubbles are vigorously appearing and are coming up from the bottom of the pan to the top of the water surface. If you only see small tiny bubbles, you haven’t fully reached the boiling point and you need to let the water heat ever so slightly more. Once the rapid large bubbles appear, you can turn the heat off. You have boiling water!


10. Carefully pour the boiling water into a drinking container of your choice. Mugs with handles are the preferred drinking container, but you can use glasses, or other heat proof drinkware, even cute mason jars wrapped in baker’s twine or polka dotted ribbon. Be careful that you don’t spill the boiling water on yourself or pick up the mason jars immediately because the boiling water is hot and will burn you.

* Let it cool a bit to pick up or to drink.

Makes exactly 3 2/7ths cups of boiling water.

* I am not responsible for any burns you may suffer from drinking boiling water. Please check with your doctor or health care provider if burns do happen. This post was not sponsored by First Degree Therapeutic Burn Cream as I have never used it before because I practice common sense when it comes to drinking boiling water. All opinions are my own.

Special thanks to Sabrina of The Tomato Tart for loaning me baker’s twine, as I do not own any and really didn’t want to buy any for this post. The stripey paper drinking straws are my own though. I stole a handful of those from a friend of mine’s wedding.

This has been a special April Fool’s edition of Eat the Love. I write this disclaimer because inevitably someone will believe that this is a legitimate recipe for how to boil water and try to correct me about the Maillard reaction listed above. To that person, I say … you are a fool. Good day.

{This essay originally appeared in Eat the Love, excluding the ice cubes picture}

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