I've spent more than my share of time in the kitchen, particularly over the past few years. Along the way, I've learned a thing or ten, tips and techniques that I've uncovered either by trial and error or by working with others with greater savvy than I. Being at ease in the kitchen is a skill that comes with time; none of us is born with the knowledge.
But you can shortcut your way to being a kitchen ninja, thanks to Kate Payne. Kate first came to our collective rescue with The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, where she taught us all how to keep a happy, healthy home, with bonus sanity-saving tips on things like how to fold a fitted sheet. (My previous method involved rolling it up in a wad and cramming it in the closet.)
I first met Kate when she and her wife, the talented photog JoAnn Santangelo, came to the Bay Area to promote that book. At Blue Chair Fruit, we had a not-your-grandmother's tea party with finger sandwiches, scones ... and homemade tea liqueur courtesy of yours truly.
Since then, Kate and I have maintained a friendship, and last year she and I did a panel at BlogHer Food 13 with Sarah Tetreault on how to maximize yield of your food through a variety of preservation techniques.
This is the sort of thing Kate does best -- frugality through common sense methods. And with her new book, The Hip Girl's Guide to the Kitchen, she applies the same clarity to the most important room in the house.
The book is chockablock with sensible information on making the kitchen an efficient and functional place. While there are recipes in it (including my husband's American white bread recipe), it's not really a cookbook. Rather, as Kate says, it's more like a kitchen friend, like having someone over who just happens to know the right thing to do in every occasion.
From the basics of setting up a kitchen for maximum practicality to establishing your perfect pantry, like making smart decisions in buying packaged versus bulk and the proper way to store herbs and spices, this book is ideal both for the first-time kitchen denizen (think college students and other fledgelings) to even establish cooks who want to up their game or are moving into a new space and building a kitchen from scratch.
Though the book is packed with brass-tacks news you can use, it's important to note that the tone is far from dry. As with her first book, Kate's chirpy, flirty voice permeates the book, making even plaintive information fun to read. By way of example, the section on feeding yourself with your magnificently stocked and organized kitchen is titled, "Kitchen Kick-Ass: Tapping Into Your Depression-Era Granny." Kate manages to be hip without being hipster.
As with her first book, this one will live in a special section in my bookshelf. Otherwise laden with cookbooks that I pull out once in a great moon, this belongs in the canon of cooking reference books, a mini encyclopedia, if you will, that is worthy of perusing again and again.
Wanna win a copy? Simple. Just leave a comment on this post, letting us know what kitchen technique do you want to learn. Alternatively, click here to tweet about this giveaway, and be sure to log the URL of your tweet in the Rafflecopter widget below. You have until midnight Friday, May 30, so hop to it.
Want even more options? Head over to Hip Girl's Guide to the Kitchen's landing page for the virtual book tour, and enter to win even more copies. While you're at it, poke around and look at the other posts about the site. See why we all heart Kate.
Check out the trailer for the book: