Foreword by Mindy Kaling
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- Hardcover $28.00 $36.50 CAD
- ebook $14.99 $18.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 12, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
Decades ago, every young woman left home knowing how to cook, but now, well, not so much. And while they’re happy times have changed, authors Gabi Moskowitz and Miranda Berman want to save millennials from the perils of takeout and take back the kitchen with their new book, Hot Mess Kitchen.
These ladies aren’t serving caviar and champagne; they’re making Quarter-Life Crisis Queso. They’re not giving you a plan for the perfect dinner party, but suggesting How to Throw a Fabulous Dinner Party Without Having an Anxiety Attack. And they’re going to be there each step of the way with easy, delicious recipes and personal stories that make it feel like they’re right there in your kitchen with you, showing you which knife to use and wiping the mascara from your face as you cry from onion chopping. They’re going to be your friends. Your kitchen friends, your Hot Mess Kitchen friends. Your best friends? No, no, this isn’t like a Her type of scenario. Have real friends.
Read this book and all their stories, and let Gabi and Miranda show you how cooking has helped, or how it could have helped them, in their messiest moments!
by Mindy Kaling
I wish I was a hot mess. Looking back on my twenties* you probably could’ve described me as an “anxious mess,” a “workaholic mess,” or maybe just a plain “mess mess.” Unfortunately, I lacked the sexy confidence it would have taken to qualify me as a hot one. So when Miranda and Gabi gave me their book, I was so excited. Reading it felt so aspirational. If I can’t be a hot mess, at least I want to learn all the secrets of two bona fide ones (who also happen to be adorable and chic and blond).
And who wouldn’t be excited to tear into Hot Mess Kitchen? This book is awesome. I came for the recipes and stayed for the funny, personal writing. How could you not love a book with recipes like “Fuck It, Let’s Just Get Stoned Nachos” and “All My Friends Are Married Mud Pie”? Surely there is not one among you who has not felt both sentiments. You could buy this book and enjoy it without ever taking out your oven mitts.
But not me! I take my foreword-writing seriously, and I wanted to test out some recipes. A word about me: When it comes to cooking, I am really basic. I like things really obvious and hard to mess up. The extent of my cooking in my twenties was a piece of steak flattened into submission on my George Foreman Grill, then covered in Tabasco sauce. So I was a little worried about testing these out. The great news? They’re legit and they’re easy AF (am I using that acronym right? I’m old). My personal favorites were “Schadenfreude Sundae” and the “Netflix and Chili Con Carne.” If you think it sounds a little sad that I made a batch of delicious chili and ate it while watching Narcos alone on my sofa, then you don’t know just how good that recipe is. I feel sad for you.
This is a great gift for your young, coolest friends and an even better gift for yourself. I can’t wait for you to get your copy and promptly cover it in food stains, as I did. Joyfully.
WELCOME TO OUR BOOK
Hello, beautiful reader,
Gabi and Miranda here. Welcome to our book! Thanks for buying it! Or maybe your cool aunt bought it for you as a graduation gift? Perhaps the delivery guy who drops off your weekly burrito gave it to you passive-aggressively with your last order? Maybe your mom sent it to you after having hacked into your email account and deciding you were incompetent. Are you yelling at your mom right now? Stop! Forgive her. But just for buying you this book (because you will like it). No need to forgive her for anything else. You can blame your parents, or anyone else, forever and never assume responsibility for anything! It will be healthy and fun. Just kidding. Unfortunately, at some point, you do have to grow up and take care of yourself. We know, we know, this is truly a horrific endeavor (no matter how old you actually are), so we’re here to help by teaching you how to cook. We’re not asking you to open your mail every day or even to go through the giant stack of papers sitting on your bedroom floor. We’re merely suggesting that you think about learning how to cook.
Keep reading! Don’t run away because cooking seems scary and/or you’re lazy. We get it and we agree: doing basically anything is terrifying. What are plans? Do you stick with them? You do? You’ve left the house before? Whoa. Well, for the rest of us slackers, we’re going to demonstrate how to cook fun, tasty, mostly healthy food in a manageable way so that you actually do it when you say you will. The trick is breaking things down into steps and doing a little bit at a time, starting with what to buy at the grocery store and going all the way to using your culinary skills to trick someone into falling in love with you forever.
Cooking is a thing you can do to truly treat yourself well. Do you have some vision of a perfect, put-together, chic, awesome version of yourself? Are you worried you’ll never become her? The only way you will is if you start acting like her now. You, lovely reader, deserve to have a nice meal when you come home from work, or wherever you go during the day (we don’t judge). It will make you feel better. We promise. Okay, we know this is all very corny, and we’re sorry about that. We promise the rest of the book won’t be like this. Okay, it might have some moments, but everyone just chill.
And we’re going to be here every step of the way, telling you which knife to use and how to tell if your meat is ready or if you’ll be getting salmonella (relax, you probably won’t). We’ll be there when your mascara is running because you’re chopping onions, or because you’re crying, or because you sneezed right after applying it. And we’re going to sprinkle all our recipes with interesting musings and embarrassing anecdotes to keep you entertained. We’re going to be your friends. Your kitchen friends, your hot mess kitchen friends. Your best friends? No, no, this isn’t like a Her type of scenario. Have real friends.
We’re excited to hang.
Gabi and Miranda
Before we get deep into the cooking, Gabi and I want to introduce ourselves properly. You’ve got to be wondering who the hell we are and why you should bother listening to us. Well, I’m a comedy writer living in Los Angeles and Gabi is an accomplished chef. Gabi will be our sage cook throughout this book and I will be our more novice hot mess chef.
So, I’ll start with my hot-messness. One of my main problems in life is that I really do not want to grow up. In my adolescence, I’d wake up crying in the middle of the night realizing I was going to age and eventually have to leave my parents’ home. I’d like to be a true baby forever. My calculations have proven this impossible, so I’ve begrudgingly aged, fighting it harshly every step of the way. Refusal to accept certain responsibilities has left me acting like a hot mess for most of my twenties.
Sure, there are times when being a hot mess is fun and glamorous, like in a mainstream romantic comedy, but then there are also times when it’s really fucking terrible, like in an indie romantic comedy. I once ate dirt after seeing a YouTube video of someone else doing it. And it wasn’t even the right kind of dirt. It’s supposed to be, like, clay and I ate from a potted plant. I’ve never gone into full self-destruct mode in a visible way, although doing so seems very old-Hollywood chic, but I’ve never really taken care of myself in a serious way either, until recently.
I’d already been going to therapy and had even downloaded a meditation app on my phone (and used it like three times), but I still needed to make changes to my everyday life. I needed to do things like sleep in feet-softening gel socks every night, actually finish Infinite Jest, and finally, I needed to learn how to cook. (Probably never going to finish IJ.)
My mother rarely cooked when I was growing up, and when she did, she’d yell at me to get out of the kitchen. I also am pretty certain I was born without motor skills. I do love mixing things together though. Like, I was always the friend who put too much extra shit in the cake batter so no one would eat it. My friends thought I was sloppy and disgusting. I thought I was creative and that I might grow up to be a fairly decent chef. I was right. And if I can cook, then you can cook.
And I swear you will like it, or I hope you will like it. Honestly, sometimes just opening my pantry to see that I have flour in my house reminds me that I’m a human. Noticing dirty dishes in my sink reminds me that I had friends over for dinner last night and that I probably won’t die alone. Cooking also can distract you from your problems when you’re in a panic. It makes people like you and makes you want to entertain. Most importantly, it’s a great way to seduce people.
Are you still not convinced that you can cook? Okay, well then: read this book, and all our stories, and let us show you how cooking has helped us, or how it could have helped us, in our messiest moments.
I love you and the person who bought you this book, but I promise to always love you more.
I THINK WE’RE GOING TO LIKE EACH OTHER
Miranda and I wrote this book because, in separate ways, we each discovered that cooking is an excellent way to take control when life feels out of control. For her, it was a lesson that came in her midtwenties. For me, it started when I was a little girl.
I was a sensitive, moody, and probably clinically depressed kid. I was smart and creative, but I had a hard time fitting in. When I was eight, my mother bought me an antique set of pots and pans to play with. I begged to use them for real cooking, so she gave me her copy of Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and let me try my hand at some simple dishes.
In the kitchen, with my little mixing bowls, frying pan, and kid-size chef’s knife, I learned to dice, chop, bake, and sauté. I learned to trust my instincts with flavor combinations, putting my own stamp on recipes. I learned that if I could taste, I could cook—it was just a matter of learning a few simple techniques and being a little bit brave. The world was hard and scary, but the kitchen was a safe place where I could always be myself, and where my hard work was rewarded with something delicious.
Growing up has made some things easier (I made cool, like-minded friends and finally got those boobs I had been wishing for) and, of course, some things a lot harder. When I was in my early twenties, I floated from dead-end job to dead-end job, regularly overdrew my checking account, and slept with men who didn’t respect me. I was testing the boundaries, feeling my way through life, trying to get my bearings, and often failing. But through it all, at the end of every shitty, exhilarating, hilarious, disastrous day, I cooked dinner in my tiny apartment kitchen. And, just as it had when I was a little girl, it made me feel better.
Today, like just about every other woman I know, I spend my days oscillating between thinking I am amazing and questioning my worth. I am sometimes impulsive and sometimes so anxious about everything that I become immobile. We live in a world where advertisers, TV, magazines, and insane Instagram filters blast us with nonstop messages about what is wrong with us. We are told to be thin, but not too thin! Fun, but not irresponsible! Strong, but not so much that it’s threatening! Feminine and feminist, but not too much so! Have it all! But don’t take too much! It’s enough to make anyone feel crazy.
I hope this book helps make the craziness that lives both inside and outside of you more manageable. I can’t promise it will ever go away, but I do know that taming it is possible—and delicious.
WELCOME TO YOUR KITCHEN! IT’S OKAY IF YOU’VE NEVER BEEN IN HERE BEFORE.
Have a seat at your kitchen table, pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or vodka—whatever soothes you—and get ready to get cooking. Look around. Welcome to your kitchen! In case you two are still in the initial phases of getting to know each other, allow me to show you around.
This big boxy thing is your stove. You’ll boil, sauté, and fry up top, and down below you’ll find your oven. This is where your cookies will crisp up, your chickens will roast, and your mac and cheese will bubble and brown. Show it love by keeping it clean. It will love you back.
Real quick: Go find your broiler. Is it above the top rack of your oven? Or is it the old-fashioned kind, a pullout beneath the oven door? If it’s the latter, do not attempt to store baking sheets there—they will warp and then your cookies will slide right off them. Or plastic containers: If you’re like Miranda, who foolishly stored Tupperware down there, forgot about it, tried to make lasagna, and then was treated to the stench of burning plastic, you will completely fuck up your cookware, break your oven, and have to make an awkward call to your landlord. Learn from Miranda’s mistakes.
Found it? Good. The broiler is the G-spot of the kitchen: hard to find, but once you do, things get a whole lot more fun!
Okay, moving on. Let’s check out your fridge. This frosty rectangle should be where your fresh foods are kept fresh longer. Is it crusted with leftover lo mein and aging yogurt? Is there an indecipherable smell coming from your veggie bin? Better give it some loving.
Take everything out. Toss anything you’re unsure about or that is clearly not good anymore. (Do not feel guilty about throwing away your roommate’s moldy cottage cheese—if she cared so much about it she would have eaten before 11/3/13, when it expired.) Once everything that needs to go has gone, give it a thorough scrub-down.
Now give the same treatment to your pantry and any other cupboards you use to store food. Clear out the old stuff, wipe down the shelves, and make sure the only food left in there is usable. (We know you think you’ll eventually finish all four of those half-eaten bags of stale tortilla chips—you won’t.)
All good? Good. Now let’s fill it with all the good stuff. First, the basics.
TIME TO MAKE YOUR LITTLE HOUSE A LITTLE HOME WITH A LITTLE KITCHEN THAT YOU USE
Hi there, you budding chefs de cuisine. Get ready for your first very moving personal tale, the purpose of which is to push you into buying pots and pans and stocking your pantry. I swear we don’t have some deal with the pots and pans company, but maybe we should. (Note to editor: Talk to Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast. I feel like she’ll get our vibe and cut us a deal. Cartoon Mrs. Potts or Emma Thompson will work. I’m sure she has time for this.)
My only criterion for my first apartment in LA was “shortest lease possible.” I had a job I was excited about, but I still wanted to be able to pick up from my life at a moment’s notice and run far away, like to Dubai or something. Not only was I afraid of being alone, but I also had paralyzingly high expectations for what my life should look like. I wanted my first apartment to be perfect and it wouldn’t be, so I figured why bother trying at all.
My lack of effort best manifested itself in the kitchen. I did not stock my fridge. I only had vodka. I romanticized it by thinking of myself as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to cats and also I hate them, so I bought a stuffed animal cat and called it Cat and went about my business.
Once a week, I would go to a specialty store and buy a fancy piece of cheese, jam, and some premade tuna salad. This reminded me of my parents’ house. Fancy cheese and pretty jam were my security blanket. I slept with them at night. Sure, my sheets were sticky, but whenever friends came over they thought I was having a lot of sex. They also thought I was disgusting.
If I didn’t have real food, I certainly didn’t have any pots, pans, or cookware. I mean, what would I have used them for? Like, a ska band? A place to store my drugs? Those were already in the oven. I was fine. Frankly, I didn’t want to pay for anything I wouldn’t need at the exact moment in time I was at the store buying it. I also didn’t want to do any research. Was a cookie sheet really necessary? Was I a bad person if I didn’t have a gorgeous cast iron skillet? What is a heavy-bottomed pan? Was I a heavy-bottomed pan? (I think so.) These easily Googleable questions were too daunting to deal with, so I ignored them like they were a guy who was super into me and wouldn’t stop texting. I was living paycheck to paycheck, taking out, and basically squatting in an apartment where I paid rent. I truly was a hot mess, but it wasn’t even remotely hot.
… Until six months went by and my landlord asked me if I wanted to sign a one-year lease. If I didn’t, she’d have to find someone else who would, and I’d have to move and do the exact same thing all over again. I realized I had to admit I lived in Los Angeles, and I wasn’t going home to Mom and Dad, or to Dubai (for the moment, anyway). I signed the lease. That night I stopped sleeping with cheese and jam. I also decided it was a good time to start stocking my fridge and cabinets, if only because I was getting embarrassed when my friends came over and saw I had nothing. “I only have vodka; I’m such a mess lol” is only cute for like two weeks.
I went to the cheapest section of Target, wistfully looked at a few cookie sheets, and patiently waited for someone to come over and do everything for me. They didn’t, so I called my dad, hoping he might. I asked him what kind of pan we used to make the pork chops we ate every Sunday night when I was growing up. These were the only things I knew how to cook at this point, so I figured I’d start there. The idea of making these pork chops alone at home reminded me of a new neurosis and I started to cry.
Wasn’t buying all this stuff supposed to be something you did with your spouse? Why did I have to do it all alone? Was something wrong with me? Would I be alone forever? Why didn’t I get a roommate? Why did I have to find the cheap studio alone? Was I some sort of antisocial weirdo? Was I going to get Taken-ed, or Taken 4–ed, or Taken-the-TV-show-ed? You see, my singledom was another reality thing these pans represented that I didn’t want to deal with. Not only was I an adult, but I was an adult on my own.
I relayed all these thoughts to my father and he happily told me that I was being a hysterical narcissist. I needed to stop thinking of myself as a character in a movie, he said. “This is what people do,” he continued. “They buy things to start their lives! You do it alone and then you may do it again with someone else! Do you want to be independent or do you want to be a child? Do you want to wallow or be productive? You want to cook or not?” I wanted to cook, but I also definitely wanted to wallow and be a child. Wasn’t that pretty fucking obvious, Dad? That’s like my whole deal.
So after I calmed down, my father and I went over what to buy for the pork chops, and then a couple of other pots and pans and knives and doodads that I’d probably need, including a fabulous wine opener. When I asked him “Which white bowls for cereal?” he hung up. My dad will only indulge me so much. It’s really lame.
Having purchased the necessary kitchen tools, I got home and put everything away. Then, with a new sense of confidence, I went to the supermarket and stocked my fridge and pantry. I finally bought salt. Going six months without salt because you are just that afraid of committing to yourself is not a good space to be in.
That night, I looked around my apartment and felt better than I had in a while. These weren’t the perfect things I’d eventually want in my perfect home, but they were fine for now, and I’d find a way to make them look cool on Instagram. (It’s all about angles.) These pots and pans also didn’t mean I would be alone forever, but they did mean I was making a commitment to myself and my life in the moment. So I wasn’t Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I was Miranda Berman in her life, and maybe that was even more romantic in its own way? It wasn’t, but then I remembered Holly’s ending wasn’t so happy in the book version, and I felt better. I also felt basic for imagining myself as Audrey Hepburn.
So follow my lead, and buy your pots and pans and make your little house a little home. At the least, doing so will allow you to cook for yourself, and at the most, it will make your less-together friends feel bad about themselves when they come over.
See you when you come back from the store!
THE KITCHEN EQUIPMENT YOU ACTUALLY NEED
What, you thought you could still get away with the two plastic bowls, microwave, and minifridge you had in your college dorm room? In short, no, but don’t worry—outfitting your kitchen isn’t as overwhelming as you might think!
KNIVES. Want to know a secret? Roughly 50 percent of the single-use kitchen gadgets on the market can be replaced by just one item: a good knife. It’s also the tool you’ll reach for most often. For these reasons, it’s important to be choosy about your knives. The two most important knives in your arsenal are a good-quality chef’s knife to tackle bigger jobs, like chopping vegetables and slicing meat, and a paring knife for little things, like cheese and small fruits. A good knife should feel comfortable in your hand. If you’re buying your first knife, it’s fine to get a simpler, less expensive one, just get it sharpened at least once a year (many kitchen supply stores will do this for free).
CUTTING BOARD. We recommend getting two or three cutting boards, in varying sizes (usually 13 × 9.5 inches, 11 × 8.5 inches, and 8 × 6 inches). Ideally, one of them should be wooden (bonus: a nice wooden cutting board can double as a serving platter for cooked meats or cheeses, bread, and fruit), and the other one or two should be plastic. Plastic cutting boards are usually cheaper and easier to clean, so if your funds are limited, start with a couple of those.
TOOLS. Must-haves: a vegetable peeler, a hand-operated can opener (don’t waste your money on an electric one; they’re absurd—plus, how lazy can you be?), and two pairs of metal tongs (small ones and larger ones, which are great for grilling).
MIXING BOWLS. After a sharp chef’s knife, mixing bowls are likely to be the most-used items in your kitchen. Between batter mixing and meat marinating and egg whipping and the occasional cereal binge, everything will go in bowls. Do yourself a favor and buy a set. Oh, and also, you can use them for serving! If you can find ones with matching lids (Pyrex makes a great version), storing your leftovers will be a snap, and potluck schlepping will be a lot easier (and less messy).
MEASURING CUPS. You need at least two sets: one for liquids (usually in tempered glass with a spout—the most common brand is Pyrex, with red lettering) and one for dry ingredients (usually cup-shaped with individual cups for each amount, designed to be filled and leveled off with a finger or knife). But if you only have space (or money) for one, get a glass one with a spout.
MEASURING SPOONS. You only need one set of measuring spoons. Don’t bother with adorable ceramic ones from fancy boutiques—their cuteness will not be adequately appreciated (and you will absolutely break one when you drop it in the sink or on the floor). Opt instead for sturdy ones attached to a ring and make sure they have half measurements.
COLANDER. You’ve probably already used a colander to drain pasta, but it’s a tool of many uses: draining cooked vegetables, rinsing salad greens, and steaming vegetables over simmering water. Don’t bother with dinky plastic ones (they will fall apart and you can’t use them for steaming); opt for a sturdy metal colander instead. If you can, get both a medium one (for small pots of pasta and vegetables) and a large one (which can be used to store fruit in the refrigerator until you need it to drain the fourteen potatoes you are mashing for Thanksgiving).
SPATULA. Get at least one, and make sure it’s plastic (more flexible and won’t damage nonstick cookware) and slotted (which helps drain excess oil and liquids from your food when transferring). You’ll use it constantly.
NONSTICK SAUCEPAN. We recommend a 2-quart nonstick pot with comfortable handles (look for the kind with rubberized or plastic handles, designed to stay cooler during cooking). Great for soups, stews, and braising (make sure it’s ovenproof).
NONSTICK OR CERAMIC FRYING PAN. You need at least one 8-inch pan, though adding a 12-inch one is even better (sometimes they come in sets, which can be a bargain). You’ll sauté and pan-fry on a regular basis, and nonstick cookware is the easiest to clean. (Plus, how else are you supposed to scrape off those delicious cheese crispies that come from making a grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla?)
CAST IRON PAN.
- "With recipes like "I Want to Punch You in the Face Pasta" and "Bounced Check Burrito," Hot Mess Kitchen threatens to be the most relatable, down-to-earth cookbook on the planet. These hilarious women have crafted delicious, realistic recipes and deeply personal anecdotes to accompany them. Honestly, I'm just so damn mad this didn't exist when I was in my twenties."—Jenni Konner, co-creator of HBO's Girls
- "Gabi and Miranda's book feels like your favorite teacher from school came over to cook you a fun-filled meal and didn't mention homework. Their recipes are easy and enjoyable in a way that will have you bragging and begging people to come over to try."—Sophia Rossi, co-founder of HelloGiggles.com
- "As a big proponent of emotional eating backed up by actual cooking, I have nothing but praise for this helpful guide to fueling your climb to higher self-esteem. Gabi and Miranda will forgive me, I hope, for regarding them as the uncoolest cool girls (or is it the other way around?) ever. I would totally put myself in their hands if my life ever slipped off the track of its normal perfection. SO BUY IT ALREADY!"—Mollie Katzen, author of Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest
- On Sale
- Sep 12, 2017
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Grand Central Life & Style