There are a whole lot of people out there entering grown-up-hood without having ever learned their way around a kitchen. Enter the new cookbook, "Hot Mess Kitchen: Recipes for Your Delicious Disastrous Life," where authors Miranda Berman and Gabi Moskowitz set out to turn hesitant millennials into home chefs.
Moskowitz is the more experienced cook of the two. Already the author of three other cookbooks, she's spent years writing low-cost recipes for frugal chefs on her blog, Brokeass Gourmet. Berman, on the other hand, is a comedy writer who's spent much of her career writing for "The Mindy Project." Together, they've written a cook book that is part cooking, part storytelling. For each recipe, they take a humorous, self-deprecating look at common life events (quarter-life crisis, anyone?), and then make food based on it.
Marketplace's Adriene Hill went to Berman's kitchen to learn how to make the first dish in their book: "Someday I'll Be Rich Rice and Beans," a handy, flexible recipe that's basically a burrito bowl, but better. Hill wanted to get the scoop on the authors and the millennial cookbook market. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Adriene Hill: Why did you guys start your cookbook with this recipe? And the "Broke AF" chapter, why was that where you started?
Gabi Moskowitz: Well, so when we started talking about what being a "hot mess" means, and what our readers are going to want, and going to need, and what we think is important, I mean, cost was such a big part of that, and so this recipe is the quintessential inexpensive, filling meal. You can switch up the beans, you can switch up the vegetables, the toppings, whatever. It's very customizable, and it's a great sort of, "Look how quickly this comes together, look how easy this is, maybe cooking isn't so scary" kind of recipe.
Hill: What about this idea about writing a cookbook for people who don't cook? That's something else that struck me as a challenge here is, how do you get people to actually use their kitchen?
Miranda Berman: Well, I think making it funny so that they pick it up is one thing. And also, appealing to sort of a specific audience that really can use cooking, even if they don't already.
Moskowitz: There are enough books out there for people who love cooking. And I don't feel that our skills are necessary in that boat, like, they already exist.
Berman: And the other thing is that I didn't cook, but now I do. And so I would want a cookbook for someone like me, who is afraid to admit that they don't know how to clean up their kitchen, but, like, wants someone to help them. So we want to be there, holding your hand, and saying it's fine.
Hill: So, when you were thinking about all the recipes that you've cooked, all the recipes you might want to cook, what did a recipe need to have to make it into this book?
Moskowitz: So it either had to have a direct connection to a story, and be something that our readers, and we, would actually want to make. But it also needed to be something that wasn't too expensive and that had ingredients that were accessible, and easy to find, and with a process that was straightforward and easy to do.
Hill: What are your personal hopes for this cookbook? What do you guys want to get out of it?
Moskowitz: We'd love a television show.
Hill: You’d need two.
Moskowitz: But I think on sort of, like, a mission level, our generation, and I'm a few years older than Miranda, but I love to say that we share a generation —
Berman: We do, we do.
Moskowitz: So many of us grew up with both parents out of the house and therefore eating convenience foods, not really learning how to cook. And then we went out into the world with no domestic skills. And I feel really strongly that learning to cook is one of the best ways to be healthier, to be financially healthier. There are a lot of funny cookbooks out there that don't have great recipes. And it was really important to us that the recipes be great, because, as funny as the book is, and as much fun as it is, I want readers at the end of the day to feel like, "I can make this stuff in there, and it's going to make me feel better, and it's going to be tasty, and easy, and fun."
Hill: So it's a book you actually want people to use.
Berman: We really want people to use it. Yes. I don't want somebody to just pick it up and be like, "Oh, this is cute." I want them to say, "Oh, I was in this situation, like, I recognized this funny title, and it applies to my life, and so I'm going to make this." It's like a call to action. I can cook because this is telling me what to do in this exact moment, and it's not that hard.
Here's a recipe for Hot Mess Kitchen's "Someday I'll be rich rice and beans," excerpted from Hot Mess Kitchen Recipes for Your Delicious Disastrous Life by Gabi Moskowitz and Miranda Berman
SOMEDAY I’LL BE RICH RICE AND BEANS
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup frozen green peas
¼ white onion, diced
½ cup uncooked brown rice
Pinch of salt
½ (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
*Optional toppings: sour cream; guacamole or avocado; leftover cooked chicken, beef, or tofu
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
Add the carrots, garlic, peas, and three-quarters of the diced onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
Add the rice, stir well, and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in 4 cups of water and the salt.
Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the beans and ½ cup of water in a pot over medium heat or in the microwave, until heated through. Drain the beans before serving.
Once the rice is cooked and the beans are hot, transfer both to a serving bowl.
Top with the reserved diced onion and the cilantro, plus any of the optional toppings you like.