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A Hit-the-Ground-Runni ng Approach

to Stocki ng Up and Cooki ng Del icious,


Nutritious, and Af fordable Meals
Foreword by Eugenia Bone
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THE HIP GIRLS GUIDE TO THE KITCHEN: A HIT-
THE- GROUND-RUNNING APPROACH TO STOCKING
UP AND COOKING DELICIOUS, NUTRITIOUS, AND
AFFORDABLE MEALS. Copyright 2014 by
Kathryn E. Payne. All rights reserved. No
part of this book may be used or reproduced
in any manner whatsoever without written
permission except in the case of brief
quotations embodied in critical articles and
reviews. For information address Harper
Design, 195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007.
Harper Collins books may be purchased for
educational, business, or sales promotional
use. For information please e- mail the
Special Markets Department at SPsales@
harpercollins.com.
First published in 2014 by:
Harper Design
An Imprint of Harper CollinsPublishers
195 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
Tel (212) 207- 7000
harperdesign@harpercollins.com
www.harpercollins.com
Distributed throughout the world by:
Harper CollinsPublishers
195 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
ISBN: 978- 0- 06- 225540- 2
Library of Congress Control Number:
2014934592
Book design by Suet Yee Chong
Illustrations by Meredith Dawson
Calligraphy by Alison Hanks
Printed in the United States of America, 2014
First printing, 2014

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Ive come a long way in the kitchen, believe me. My twenties


were paved with good intentions and a shameful lot of wasted
groceries. Besides the fact that I was missing all that money
that was literally composting at the bottom of the refrigerator,
I was also missing that amazing feeling that comes when you
realize you are able to feed yourself to walk into the kitchen
and use what you have on hand to make something edible, and
maybe even delicious.
My version of kitchen confdence is as simple as knowing
how to feed yourself from basic ingredients in as much or less
time than it takes to go buy something premade from a grocery
store, restaurant, or deli. And that confdence can change your
day, your week, and your life.
Our society seems to like the idea of cooking much more
than the actual cooking, as evidenced by our obsession with
buying cookbooks, food magazines, and fancy kitchen gear;
watching chefs make stuff on TV; downloading apps; and try-
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I NTRODUCTI ON
ing to technologize ourselves out of and around the matter at
hand: cutting up food and cooking it. All these great resources
and tools are at our disposal, and yet we often feel too busy to pre-
pare meals at home. The disconnect between our cutting boards
and the dinner plate is paramount.
why cook, why you?
Let me rephrase that question: Why do it yourself when its so easy
to eat out or buy the packaged item? My answer to that question
is quality, nutrition, and economics.
quality
Food you buy from restaurants unless money is no issue and
you plan to dine only at local, sustainability- focused, farm- to-
table restaurants is likely composed of the cheapest ingredients
the owner could fnd. My dad is in the wholesale food business
and our family has owned restaurants in the past; he knows both
sides of the industry really well. Pesticides, hormones, and GMOs
are on my list of things to avoid when possible, and the cheap-
est ingredients often include many of these on their bottom- line
price tags.
nutrition
Food processing (the act of turning whole ingredients on a large
scale into packaged and/or ready- to- eat items) strips many foods of
valuable nutrients, primarily to preserve them and keep them from
spoiling before they land in our shopping carts. Unfortunately,
these processes also make it harder for our bodies to digest or pro-
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cess the foods in many cases. Its unreasonable to swear off all pack-
aged food in busy, modern life, but its important to understand
that the less we buy in a package and the more we cook from whole
ingredients the better. There are many cheap (and cheaply made)
convenience items out there packed full of stuff our bodies werent
designed to consume, at least on a regular basis.
economics
Making choices about and changes to what you and possibly your
family consume is a big deal. There are long- held beliefs and hab-
its to consider and then issues of monthly budgets to factor into
the equation. My wife and I had to bid farewell to the majority
of the packaged, premade goods we liked buying (oh, the conve-
nient gluten- free cookies!) in order to make room in our budget
for more expensive dairy and meats from cows and other animals
raised mostly locally and without antibiotics and hormones.
I understand not everyone is able to make these kinds of choices
(as those cookies or convenience items might not be in the bud-
get to begin with). The wider problems of food access and hunger
are issues I care deeply about, and I hope to see viable alterna-
tives for those living with these realities. This book is intended
not as an approach to solving these issues but rather as a tool to
bring those of us with income that covers our basic needs (and
this still includes tight budgets) to a place where feeding ourselves
with better- quality things for approximately the same amount of
money is a reality.
Learning how to make all this work on a budget is what Ive
tried to do for the past six years of my freelance writing career and
eating life. We simply dont have the money to purchase whatever
we want, so we prioritize.
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I NTRODUCTI ON
reality in small bites
My wife told someone at a party recently that the key to being suc-
cessful in the kitchen is planning one meal ahead. She taught me
that planning for at least one meal in the future will in large part
prevent the hunger meltdowns, unplanned takeout, and impulse
purchases during mealtime grocery store visits. Staying ahead of
the curve is where you want to be. Its no surprise that youre going
to need to eat three times tomorrow. Starting the thought process
on at least one of those meals now is going to bolster success in
remaining thrifty with your meal budget.
My wife cooks in fact, shes the one who taught me how stress-
free it can be. When we were living on less than $200$250 per
month for all our food costs in Brooklyn (with little to no expend-
able income for restaurants), she showed me how to regularly prac-
tice cooking. Approaching cooking as a continuous cycle really
helps turn sporadic bursts of grocery purchases (and subsequent
rot, in the downtimes) into cycles of meals you can and want to eat
as the days tumble forward, whether you feel like cooking or not.
i dont like to cook
Throughout my successes in building community around re-
claiming our homes and certain empowering domestic arts, an
unsettling reality remained. I dont inherently like everyday cook-
ing; I dont fnd it relaxing. Rather, I fnd it to be a stressful thing
that comes up more often than I feel prepared to handle. (When
its time to make ice cream, bread, or pickles, however, Im your
woman, your special projects task force who cheerfully steps up.)
In my earlier years, I abstained from daily cooking, thinking
it took too much time (that is, when there was more than $12 in
my bank account for the next two weeks), and then rushed off to
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I NTRODUCTI ON
that local Slow Food event or book club meeting where we chatted
about eloquent food prose or changing the food system (where
I felt like a hypocrite and embarked on a minishame spiral,
thinking I should have it all under control and like cooking). That
kind of thinking an absent but obligatory affection for actual
cooking wasnt doing me any favors, nor was it inspiring me to
get into the kitchen.
I am solidly a part of the group I think will fnd this book use-
ful. I took over the task of sustenance cooking in our household
while writing this book because it was important to me to practice
what I preach, to be knee- deep in the endless cycle of getting food
on the table.
Thanks to writing this book, I managed to reframe the act of
cooking into something less ominous, and I hope to help you fnd
a way to do that too. Not all of us have signifcant others or room-
mates who carry the responsibility for household sustenance on
their backs with ease or even joy. I now try to view cooking as a
challenge and opportunity to come up with creative meals from
things we already have, a minor shift that keeps my wheels mov-
ing and keeps me just out of the former drudgery and stress zone.
If my attitude (and aptitude) can change, Im betting theres hope
for you, too.
During the many evenings I spent writing this book since, in
true procrastiKate style, I left my writing for the end of the day it
was not unusual that I had to make a choice between making din-
ner and writing. I surely noted the irony in the fact that we were
eating/ordering out because I needed every minute available to
write my book on how to kick ass in the kitchen (and the other
cook in our house was working late and didnt want to eat any of
the prefrozen leftovers meals I had on hand for just this sort of
occasion).
Life happens, and eating out is not the enemy. Its not my place
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I NTRODUCTI ON
to judge you for opting for store- bought meals or takeout when
workweeks are crazy, confdence levels drop, or whatever. Nor
should you feel bad about yourself when you need to take the eas-
ier road. Your best effort is good enough; do better in small steps.
this book isnt going to cook dinner for you
Now that you know where Im coming from, its time to get in gear.
I will show you how to fold budget- friendly everyday cooking and
a few from- scratch projects into the context of your busy life, but
it does involve you making an effort to change your habits.
This is an at- your- own- pace guide, and continuing in Hip
Girls style, Ill offer Hip Tricks and Words to the Wise and tools
to stock. Resources at the end of each chapter will offer further
reading and additional sources for honing your skills with spe-
cifc projects in various aspects of the kitchen. Chapters discuss-
ing food projects will also include recipes at the end. Id probably
read frst and then go for the recipes, but you can use the book
however suits you best.
Part I offers the essentials for setting up your kitchen, from
equipping your ship to stocking the shelves. In Chapter 1, well
start with tools, cookware, equipment, and applianceswhat you
really need and where to keep it. Ill cover pantry essentials in
Chapter 2, a.k.a. what you should have on hand to avoid shopping
every time a meal needs to happen. Then, in Chapter 3, after you
have the basics on hand, Ill help you stock up weekly on perish-
ables and other fresh ingredients, so you dont end up pitching
them (and your paycheck) in the trash the following week.
Part II is intended for a hit- the- ground- running approach, see-
ing as you need to eat three times daily whether youve mastered
your kitchen or not. This part (Chapters 4, 5, and 6) offers real-
life advice and tips to move you from clumsy to confdent in the
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I NTRODUCTI ON
kitchen. No perfect- life pastoral, bird- in- the- windowsill kind of
stuff you might see in a motivational guide; rather, Ill clue you in
on some from- scratch projects that even you can handle projects
that are geared toward people who think its too hard or takes
too long to make food from scratch. You can be the judge of what
foods you want to dish out dollars to artisan bakers and food ven-
dors for, and what you can make suffciently (and, God forbid,
even enjoy making!) yourself.
Part III, which includes Chapters 7, 8, and 9, helps you put it
all together, with entertaining recipes, preserving projects, and
party ideas. After all, one thing Ive come to learn about fna-
gling food: making it can be fun, but sharing it with others is the
real thrill. Plus, your newly acquired kitchen skills mean possibly
adding edible gifts (ones that recipients will actually want to eat)
to your gifting regime, and thus saving money while youre at it.
another cookbook?
I used to hoard cookbooks prior to actually developing a work-
ing relationship with my kitchen. I saw them as an investment
in what is possible. Unfortunately that translated to books that
sat on the shelf unused while I ate out or bought prepared foods.
So, while The Hip Girls Guide to the Kitchen has recipes, this isnt
really a cookbook. Think of it more like a kitchen friend, some-
one sitting with you helping to bust your fears in the kitchen. As
I researched to write this book, I discovered how many ways there
are to make less- than- three- ingredient things (like mayonnaise
or beans or bread) and how confusing it can get really fast. As
your kitchen friend I feel compelled to tell you that there are no
less than three and sometimes up to twelve different ways to do
almost everything in the kitchen, and honestly, I dont think its
all that important which one you choose, as long as it works for
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I NTRODUCTI ON
you. You should fnd the way that suits you best and try to learn
it by heart.
Im sharing my favorite recipes, mostly gleaned from my fve
years of experience making the kitchen work for me, and some
contributed by the invaluable community of authors and friends
who occupy my kitchen bookshelf and blogroll. Finding your
community is a large part of this book; I invite you to explore.
Ill never tell you something is too hard for you; youre smart
and you can fgure it out, even if it takes a few attempts. I will tell
you when something is fnicky and a pain in the ass (at frst, or
always) and let you be the judge. You may not fnd fun and easy
what I fnd fun and easy. Maybe the art of combining components
for nutritious meals on the fy wont be your thing because you
like meal planning and being more deliberate about your meals.
I grant you permission to fnd out what kind of kitchen operator
you are and to tailor your experience to reality. After all, you are
the only person who can make more cooking happen.
I hope you will pick a few things to add to your kitchen tool-
box; more specifcally, I hope to deliver you to a confdent state
of stocking staples and cooking simple and delicious things for
yourself.
As with The Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking, I claim myself as the
Hip Girl (with the intentional use of an apostrophe), thus you may
read on without pressure to be hip or a girl. I wrote this for any-
one who has a kitchen and needs to eat from it more frequently,
a swath of the population that includes both men and women,
single and partnered.
So there you have it, a plan for walking up and introducing (or
reintroducing) yourself to your kitchen.

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THE HI P GI RL S GUI DE TO THE KI TCHEN
counter and daily cooking essentials
Corral your everyday- use items in a vintage tray or
caddy. Youll ensure portability, a little style, and a con-
tained (easily washable) area for any salt/pepper spills
or oil drips. Its so tempting to keep your olive oil bottle
on or right next to the stovetop. The heat doesnt do it
any favors, though. Try to keep your cooking essentials
tray at least a foot or two away from the stovetop.
salt and pepper
Buy a pepper mill, for the love of God, and, if at all possible,
spend a few extra bucks and physically go into the store to manhan-
dle all the options. You and your mill will come into contact at least
a few times a day; you should like how it feels, looks, and works.
While youre at it, identify from your existing bowls and jars
a handy vessel for kosher or cooking salt. Skip the grinder here;
salt doesnt contain fragile aromatics like pepper does, so the
novelty of fresh cracked salt isnt really necessary. Plus, you want
to be able to grab pinches of it while cooking. We have a salt pig;
I broke the ceramic spoon within a month of owning it and
mended it with Super Glue. A salt pig with a metal spoon (i.e.,
any smallish measuring spoon on the planet) is ideal.
olive oil
We buy ours in the bulk section from a local grocery and it costs
$6.99 a pound; each nearly full bottle refll costs us approximately
$8. We reused a green wine bottle that snugly fts an oil decanter
spout (with a little topper that hangs on a chain). We are the kind
of people who want to spend more on olive oil, but alas fnd our
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PANTRY STAPLES
counter and daily cooking essentials
Corral your everyday- use items in a vintage tray or
caddy. Youll ensure portability, a little style, and a con-
tained (easily washable) area for any salt/pepper spills
or oil drips. Its so tempting to keep your olive oil bottle
on or right next to the stovetop. The heat doesnt do it
any favors, though. Try to keep your cooking essentials
tray at least a foot or two away from the stovetop.
salt and pepper
Buy a pepper mill, for the love of God, and, if at all possible,
spend a few extra bucks and physically go into the store to manhan-
dle all the options. You and your mill will come into contact at least
a few times a day; you should like how it feels, looks, and works.
While youre at it, identify from your existing bowls and jars
a handy vessel for kosher or cooking salt. Skip the grinder here;
salt doesnt contain fragile aromatics like pepper does, so the
novelty of fresh cracked salt isnt really necessary. Plus, you want
to be able to grab pinches of it while cooking. We have a salt pig;
I broke the ceramic spoon within a month of owning it and
mended it with Super Glue. A salt pig with a metal spoon (i.e.,
any smallish measuring spoon on the planet) is ideal.
olive oil
We buy ours in the bulk section from a local grocery and it costs
$6.99 a pound; each nearly full bottle refll costs us approximately
$8. We reused a green wine bottle that snugly fts an oil decanter
spout (with a little topper that hangs on a chain). We are the kind
of people who want to spend more on olive oil, but alas fnd our
spare grocery dollars (those not being spent on
packaged things or eating out) going to sustain-
ably (mostly locally) raised meats. (When Im rich
and famous one day, I envision the olive oil spe-
cialty shop as one of the frst places Ill hit.)
Other things you might keep on a small tray near
the stove (if you use them frequently):
Cider vinegar
Bragg Liquid Aminos (better for you than
soy sauce; same liquid, salty effect)
Fish sauce
Neutral oil for seasoning cast iron (sun-
fower or canola)
Bottle of blackstrap molasses, so you re-
member to spoon it straight up or add a ta-
blespoon of it to food every day for its scores
of unrefned vitamins and minerals
other oils
Since oils are so prominent in transforming a pile
of ingredients into daily sustenance, I think its im-
portant to discuss the nature of the fats and what
happens to them when theyre heated; hence, I defer
to Sally Fallon on these suggestions. Ive distilled
into a short list her pages of text and scientifc re-
search surrounding how heat oxidizes polyunsatu-
rated oils primarily canola, soybean, corn, and
saffower and also causes an overabundance of
omega- 6 fatty acids, leaving us starved for the coun-

choosing
olive oil
Look for expeller- pressed
organic extra- virgin olive
oil. It should be cloudy
(unltered) and golden yellow
in color. EVOO is produced by
crushing olives between stone
or steel rollers versus higher
heat methods that
denature the
antioxidants in
the oil.
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THE HI P GI RL S GUI DE TO THE KI TCHEN
terbalancing omega- 3s. Oil choice is something to think
about and just do your best with.
Good cooking oils
Olive oil
Coconut oil,
*
also good for baking
Okay to heat, but use sparingly
Peanut oil
Steer clear, or use but dont heat
Canola oil (good luck fnding anything out in the world
thats not fried or cooked in canola oil; the least we can do is
avoid using it all the time at home, too)
Saffower oil
Sunfower oil
vinegars
Beyond cider vinegar, which you can make from your fall apple
scraps (see page 244), stock red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar,
and maybe some balsamic as additional favor essentials. Start
making your own fruit vinegars (see page 232) to expand your
pantry selection. Vinegars of all sorts are best kept at room tem-
perature, sealed tightly.
vegetable rack staples
I love our three- tiered hanging baskets. Level one, the big base
area, is nearly always in possession of members of the allium
* Check prices online for this and defnitely buy larger containers to
keep costs low.
Although this wont work for
everyone (i.e., vegetarians
and vegans), the best fats to
panfry in are actually animal
fats because they are more
stable and can withstand
high heat. Read more about
making meat stocks and
saving skimmed fat for
panfrying in Chapter 3.
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