I first met Kate Payne in early 2010. She was living in Brooklyn at the time and was making a day trip down to Philly to explore a little and see what delicious things the city had to offer. We met up for drinks and dinner and spent a solid three hours talking non-stop. It was one of those instant friendships, where you go from being strangers to being friends, without any intermediate stops along the way.
In the years since, I’ve helped to lead a canning workshop in Kate’s kitchen and hosted a book party potluck for her when she was traveling around the country and sharing tips and tricks from her first book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. She and her wife put me up when I was in Austin a couple years back, waiting for my sister to give birth to Emmett and served me a scrumptious meal when I was in town back in January.
Today is the release day of Kate’s new book, called The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen: A Hit-the-Ground Running Approach to Stocking Up and Cooking Delicious, Nutritious, and Affordable Meals. It is a sturdy paperback that is bursting with everything you need to know to rock the most important room in your house.
Though I call it a cookbook up in the subject line, this volume isn’t really a cookbook as we traditionally see them. There are plenty of recipes, to be sure, but the bulk of the book focuses on skills, techniques, and helping you build out your knowledge so that you can become a culinary problem solver. When you think about it, that ends up making it far more useful than any one cookbook could ever be.
The book is divided into three equally important sections. Part one is called Stocking Up and contains everything you need to know about cookware, pantry staples, maintenance of your tools, how long things last, how to store everything, and even details about the labeling you’ll most often find at the grocery store (conventional, organic, and GMO free, to name a few.
Part two is called Feeding Yourself and digs into the nuts and bolts of how to make good, approachable, and affordable food, day after day after day. You’ll learn the basics (homemade vinaigrette! mayonnaise! soup from scraps!), some simple substitutions for when you’re out of eggs, buttermilk, or sugar, and some very useful tricks for baking up a wide array of muffins, cookies, and breads with what you have in the pantry. I promise, you will return to this section again and again.
The final portion of the book is called Feeding Others. It’s in this section that you’ll find information on canning and preserving (because we do that as much for our friends and family as we do for ourselves).
There’s also some really great laundry lists in this section that are simply titled, “Things to do with…” She digs into vegetables, fruit, dairy, eggs, herbs and spices, and more. It’s a ridiculously useful resource for those moments when you’re staring at the bundle of oregano that came in your CSA share and wondering how you’re ever going to make the most of it.
From the time I was very young, I had a deep interest in food and cooking. Because of that, I paid a great deal of attention to my mom as she grocery shopped, packed lunches, and cooked dinner.I thought I knew everything I needed when I finally acquired my own kitchen, but I quickly realized that there were a number of details upon which I was a little fuzzy. Through trial, error, and lots of phone calls home, I was able to fill in the gaps. However, had Kate’s new book with me in the kitchen, things would have been a whole heck of a lot easier.
My bottom line? Whether you’re an experienced home cook or someone just starting to get to know your stove, you should have a copy of this book within easy reach of your kitchen.
For more stops on Kate’s online book tour, visit the following blogs: