So you think your kitchen is hip? Well, though stylish plates and a copy of Modernist Cuisine might make your kitchen look cool, Kate Payne thinks finding recipes you love to make, using almost everything you buy, and making healthy choices are the real keys to a smart, chic, and fun kitchen. Her new book, The Hip Girl's Guide to the Kitchen, is a manual that will lead you through everything from a basic buttercream recipe to making your own infused liqueurs for a dinner party.
Although Payne currently lives in Austin, a turning point in her quest to learn everything there is to know about a DIY hip kitchen came when she moved to Brooklyn. As a freelance writer and blogger, money was tight with her and her partner, so learning how to run her kitchen and make meals for two was essential.
"It's about making the most of your kitchen," Payne says, "and trying to not throw things away."
That's where it started: being creative at home on a strict budget. From picking the right olive oil to using produce that can be stored at room temperature, the book has a bit of everything. However, the real money-saving tips come when she shows you how to reuse kitchen scraps you normally would discard to make the basics like stocks and fermented vinegars.
Payne says even mayonnaise is so cheap and easy to make that once you start, you probably won't stop. The secret is to try making everything at least once to find what you like to make and sticking to it.
"I would never tell someone who doesn't like baking that they should bake their own bread because then it wouldn't be worth it," she says. "It turns out I liked it but I did have to take a moment and look around online, asking 'Is it okay to be a modern empowered woman and like baking bread?"
Of course, the answer she came upon is a resounding yes, especially as someone on a gluten-free diet who had really limited bread options when she started nearly 10 years ago. It isn't all about kitchen basics, though. Payne also focuses on everything from healthful eating to party planning.
Eating healthy came into play for Payne through her research and desire to cut through some of the cross-talk that happens in the industry.
"So many people are confused -- and rightfully so. There's a lot of info out there and most of it is conflicting," she says. "I present a simple approach to what you need to know because there's a lot of noise out there."
On the other end of the spectrum, Payne's book also has helpful tips for those looking to plan a DIY party. To her, this means infusing your own liqueurs and bitters, making Everclear a liquor cabinet essential for her.
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She says the book is primarily for people setting up their kitchen, but also for people, no matter what age, looking to change their approach or attitude toward curating their kitchen repertoire.
"It's not about skinny jeans or fads," she adds. "It's about learning things that you like and incorporating them into your life."
Kate Payne is on tour promoting The Hip Girl's Guide to the Kitchen. She will stop at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe to do a demo on fermenting pickles, while teaching knife skills. The book signing and demo takes place on Monday, June 30, beginning at 7 p.m. You can buy Payne's new book for $19.99 and find more information on the event by visiting the Changing Hand's website.