Review: Hot Mess Kitchen

Hot Mess Kitchen

Hot Mess Kitchen: Recipes for Your Delicious Disastrous Life by Gabi Moskowitz and Miranda Berman

This book made me laugh. Many times, in fact. That’s not something an ordinary cookbook does, and this is not an ordinary cookbook. Hot Mess Kitchen is a genre-crossing book: part comedy, part memoir, and part self help. But importantly, it’s also an actual useful cookbook with usually amusingly named recipes (Bounced Check Burrito, I’m a Fraud French Toast, I Created a Relationship in My Mind Cupcakes, Bad Sex Baked Potatoes, and on and on). It’s a blast to read, and a nice gift idea for the twenty-something (or older) hot mess in your life.

Berman and Moskowitz have a mission: Get millennials to eat less take out and cook more, and they approach their mission with a hearty dose of humor. (Moskowitz is the editor-in-chief of the site Brokeass Gourmet and co-producer of the TV show Young and Hungry; Berman worked on the show The Mindy Project and for some time was the assistant to Mindy Kaling.) They also open up about their own struggles and, by example, encourage their readers to laugh at themselves a little bit while also giving them the confidence to make some changes. That’s no small feat.

While the recipes are humorously titled, they are real recipes to cook real food, and to prepare plenty of beverages as well–Chapter 6 is called “Let’s Get Drunk,” after all. Lots of carb-heavy recipes fill the “Broke AF” chapter. And there are lots of junk food-type recipes and ones that approximate take out. And since they wrote the book for the young and generally kitchen-challenged, they include short cuts like canned lentils (these actually exist?) in their recipes. But there are some more “elevated” options, like the chicken legs with kale and sweet potatoes, also know as “Cheap Chicken Legs (and a Free Trip to Europe).” They also offer good advice, like use a cast-iron skillet, and they walk you through stocking a pantry.

While the writing is genuinely funny and taps into the millennial zeitgeist, it’s also really honest and encouraging. Where was this book when I was twenty-something? The authors are honest about the big things, like not really knowing how to get started with a life on your own. See Berman’s essay about setting up a kitchen. She opens up about her fear of settling into a less-than-perfect life in a less-than-perfect LA apartment, and offers some good advice on dealing with that. And while accepting your first apartment as a home and buying dishes for the first time aren’t relevant to everyone, the honesty is welcome. And frankly, who can’t benefit from the advice that you can make something your own when its not what you had pictured, even if she already has enough flatware?

While the book is geared toward millennials, especially women, the humor, the advice, and, importantly, the recipes make it more widely relevant…and enjoyable.

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