Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking
Kate is an author, freelance writer, and educator. She’s written two books, Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking and Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen. And her writings can be found in publications like Edible Austin, HGTV Mag, and websites such as Canning Across America and The Kitchn. Kate learned to be an avid home canner and a gluten-free baker while living in New York City and she now also teaches classes on home food preservation.
I am so happy to have Kate Payne of Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking joining me here on the show today.
(*All photos below are Kate’s.)
On What a Typical Day Looks Like:
Every day is very different. Either I am preparing for a class which usually means I am gathering vegetables, I am emailing farmers or I am buckling down and doing some writing, which happens often. So in those days, I hole up with the computer and a cup of tea and nail out maybe three or four hours of time to sit and write or work on other deadlines and things like that. I also just launched a bitters line. So now, my days are interesting and they have new bitters making tasks in them as well.
It’s pretty all over the place. I am a procrastinator. So my writing usually is fit into the very last time slot between when it needs to be turned in. I try, I really try to set up times where I have a morning writing schedule or routine, but I am not having much luck with that.
On Food Preservation and Canning:
I think my mom would vote me the least likely to be domestic leaving high school and into college. But I really took it on and moving to Brooklyn, moving to New York in 2008, the stock market broke and I was trying to start freelancing. I was even applying for other jobs and I felt like my budget didn’t really match. My capabilities for spending money didn’t match the opportunities that I would have liked to spend money. So I really felt like it was time to get creative and if I like jam, maybe I should learn how to make it. If I wanted pickles in the house, then I better figure out about making those because buying a $10 jar every week isn’t going to work out any longer. So, I stumbled into it via the food community, going to the farmer’s market, getting a CSA.
I had some great mentors with food preservation. I found a mentor in New York City. I now live in Austin, Texas. I moved back about five years ago. But I found a mentor in New York, Eugenia Bone is her name, and I am sure everyone is familiar with her, but she wrote a book around the time that I was researching called, Well-Preserved. And that’s a really wonderful guide to folks in food preservation, and she was kind enough to let me into her home after I invited myself over and decided to ask some questions. She was a great mentor and she actually wrote the foreword to my second book.
On Encouraging Home Cooks to Try Food Preservation:
I think, first of all, just knowing some basic science which you can read in just a few pages of either my book or a few resources that I have put forth in my book. Just understanding the science behind it, you will understand very early on then that you are not going to kill your friends and family with a jar of jam, most likely. Similarly, you are not going to likely kill your friends and family with a jar of pickles either.
So, the things that we find very intimidating, it’s because we just don’t have the knowledge of how botulism bacteria is borne. My first canning experience was canning peach jam, and I was sure that the bubbles inside the jar were botulism spores or something. And it was just me not knowing that you couldn’t even see them if there were, but they can’t bloom in that environment.
We create safe products by following simple recipes and basic kitchen cleanliness like don’t pet the dog and then shove stuff in your jar, rather than try to achieve sterility. That’s just so not possible because oxygen is all around us. We are breathing and everything travels in the air. So, really, I just try to remind people to relax. So if you prep the fruit or cut up the veggies the night before, and then the next day you actually make the thing, those are the most practical and simple recipes to do because it really just cuts it up into reasonable chunks of time rather than saying, “Hey, you have three hours to work on this,” which many of us often don’t.
On Some Good Resources for Learning More about Food Preservation:
I would definitely recommend both of Linda Ziedrich’s books, The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves is one. And then, her other book, The Joy of Pickling. She is also one of my mentors. She reviewed the whole draft of my first book’s manuscript and really a great food preservation mentor. But her books are amazing, wonderful, small batch, really highlight the flavor in seasonal aspect of foods and you will not go wrong with her.
And then, a newer resource, not when I was actually getting started but I think you spoke recently with, Cathy Barrow of Mrs. Wheelbarrow. And she just wrote a beautiful book that has a lot of great information on pressure canning. In my book, I don’t really have a tutorial. I teach some classes on pressure canning, but I think it is so important to be able to put up your broths and stocks that you make, your bone broth and everything you are making nutritiously in your kitchen, to be able to store that on the pantry shelf versus in your freezer.
On Her Books:
The homemaking book was the first book. Came out in 2011. I moved to Brooklyn in 2008 and upon getting there, I was feeling like it was the final exam for everything I had learned post college and in my DIY. How do you grow stuff? How do you clean the house without toxic chemicals that cost money? And how to not let all the groceries, the farmer’s market goods that we got, go to the compost pile? I just felt like, “Oh my Gosh, I need some help here. And I think other people like me would like all the stuff pulled together.”
So I started the blog for Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking and just started putting stuff out there because there was another aspect of it for me that was very intriguing, and it was that I hadn’t been in the kitchen before in my post college years. I mean, as minimally as possible. I was just sort of, “Here I am. I am in the kitchen but not willingly.” And then I get to New York, and I am trying out making my own bread because gluten-free bread at that time, you bought a door stop if you were getting a loaf of gluten-free bread. So I was like, “I can make better than this for less than nine dollars a loaf for sure.” So I actually liked it, I liked being in the kitchen. I was wondering, “Is this okay. I am a modern young woman, empowered woman. Am I allowed to like being in the kitchen in terms of my feminist friends?” And the answer was yes, and a resounding yes from everyone all over.
I really wanted to explore that in the Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking that gender is not…to try to drop some of the previous attachments that we’ve had to the kitchen and to the home, in general, using a controversial word like homemaking to begin with. So, yeah, I really wanted to explore all of that stuff. Then the Kitchen book, turns out I had so much more to say about the kitchen because I myself had a rocky past with getting to a place where I felt comfortable and confident. So, I don’t think it happens overnight, but I definitely wanted to let people know how to go ahead and start getting used to the kitchen or get more kick ass in the kitchen.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I don’t watch any cooking shows because I don’t have a TV, and I am not really into television so much. But I’ve enjoyed some of the America’s Test Kitchen shows via the computer and all that.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
I’d say that you would have to know about Food in Jars and you want to visit The Kitchn. Food52, I think, is another great aggregate site. And then, wellpreserved.ca. Those are my friends, Joel and Dana, that live in Canada. And then, there’s also Punk Domestics. I think that’s another great source and site for everybody to visit because it’s a great place where everyone’s recipes get pulled.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook or Snapchat that make you happy?
Well, I am really into the Dram Apothecary. Great feed and beautiful photos, and I am really into the style and design that they are doing, and I just love them. Of course, there’s Tuna Melts My Heart and he makes me pretty happy, and all the pets in the feed of my dog’s Instagram feed, she only follows pets. So just scrolling through the pets only feed is great.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
I think the most treasured item I have in there is a Le Creuset baking dish that I bake my cakes in. It’s a white enameled Le Creuset that is a vintage one that has the little shell handles. And it’s beautiful, and I only paid $10 for it. I use it at least once a week if not more. And then, I really treasure my spatulas, my high heat rubber spatulas. That’s a weird thing to treasure I think, but I love them.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
I’d say cabbage, in general, because I make kraut now. I make that bacon cabbage salad that we talked about and yeah. I’ve just never really been into cabbage and now I love all the things that you can do with it.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
I think The Flavor Bible is a great resource for folks. I consult it often. I am a Joy of Cooking girl and specifically, there are couple of editions that I am really into and following those recipes from the 1996 publication. I am really into that one.
And then, I also visit Eugenia Bones’ book often. It’s called, At Mesa’s Edge. She’s just got a lot of basic recipes in there but are really versatile, and I just love her work in general. She is a great resource.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
I guess, just the artist, in general, is Patty Griffin. She’s got a song called, Making Pies, and that’s a very inspirational song.
On Keeping Posted with Kate:
Well, I am on all the platforms. Though, I think more often you can see what I am doing at the moment on Instagram.