The part Kenny show on news talk with Marter private network during current restrictions. Don't ignore your health concerns. Our expert team is ready to help. Constant cries of I'm hungry have been ringing out in households right across the country with boredom being a big factor in the increase in children's appetites. But for parents, it's caused great stress between home schooling, working from home and having to cook.
So how would you as a parent like to take that stress out of cooking and have more time on your hands?
Food writer and author of her second book released last month called Simply We're Hungry. Chiara Attwell joins me now. Kyra, good morning and welcome. Hi, how are you?
I'm very well. This is a terrific book, I have to say, because it's a kind of a primer. If you were a total novice or even if you've been cooking all your life, there's sort of a How-To element in all of this, which I love. Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, you know, this is my second book now, and I'm very much I'm not a chef. I am a home cook. So everything that I do is simple, you know, with basic ingredients that you can find in any shop, any supermarket, you don't need any kind of fancy kitchen equipment. It's all very much pared back short ingredient lists as well, because I think there's nothing more off putting than a recipe.
That sounds lovely, but when you start reading the ingredient list that goes on, you know, 20, 25 ingredients, now you have a section, a small section on Ingredient Hack's how people look at that. What's that all about? So what's an ingredient?
Haak So it's just little tricks that are used to make putting together meals a bit easier. Things like frozen onions and garlic. I absolutely love. I mean, you know, using fresh is great. But sometimes the difference between pulling out some frozen veg like that from the freezer or chopping up yourself, it could be 10 minutes. And that, you know, for a busy family, that extra 10 minutes in the evening might mean the difference between someone actually making a home cooked meal or not relying on something processed or packaged.
You have divided the book into various sections at lunch. One pot wonder as family favourites, slow cooker breakfast, of course, I mentioned as well your slow cooker, which is a key part of your cooking arsenal.
Yeah, I mean, I absolutely love myself, cooker. I just think it's a fantastic way. If you're a busy family, you know, if you're working during the day or, you know, like most of last year, even not. But you find yourself just being really pressurised in the evening come five o'clock trying to think, what am I going to cook? What am I going to get on the table quickly with a slow cooker? You can get everything in there first thing in the morning and the work is done.
So, you know, it could be the entire meal in the slow cooker or you might just have to cook a little bit of pasta, bit of rice and potatoes. But it just means that all the heavy work is done first thing in the morning and it just takes that stress out of meal times.
You also suggest it's something that people try to do but don't often do it very successfully. Cook once, eat twice.
Yeah, this is this is probably my favourite chapter in the book because I wanted to do something with leftovers. But I think, you know, leftovers kind of have have a bad rap of you just reheat them the next day and essentially you're eating the same dinner two days in a row. And I think most people don't really want to do that. So what I've done with this chapter is to take a meal. So, for example, there's a cheesy leek risotto in there.
The idea is that you make loads, you make almost double the result of that. You eat, you put it in the fridge, your leftovers, and then the next day you turn that into arancini, which are those delicious Italian rice balls. And you can serve those with some crude to say like chopped carrots and cucumbers and peppers. And it just means that you have an entirely different meal the next day with minimal prep, minimal cooking. And, you know, your family is happy.
They're not complaining and it just makes mealtimes a little bit more exciting.
Now, you mentioned some of your ingredient hacks, you know, the frozen onions, frozen garlic, whatever it is, you talk about your freezer stash bags. And these are things that, you know, might take forever to do if you've got to assemble a meal.
But suddenly remember, oh, I have X or Y something, you know, chopped and ready in the freezer and that'll save me fifteen minutes.
Exactly. So the idea with these is, you know, we're kind of used to the idea of freezing leftovers, of freezing cooked meals. But with this, the idea is that you get all your ingredients, prep your raw ingredients into one bag. So it could be like a stew or a casserole. I've got a really lovely chicken tikka masala in there and you get all the ingredients ready, mixed, chopped, anything that you need to do. They go in the big freezer bag and then you freezes and then say, you know that on Tuesday you've got a really busy day on Tuesday.
On Monday night, you pull that bag out of the freezer and then it's ready to go on Tuesday and you can either pop in the Soko. Or or pop in the oven or on the job later in the evening, and it just means that all the prep is done, all the hard work is done, all you need to do is to just get it cooked.
Now, I watch MasterChef all the time and Greg particularly will say, you know, what this meal is crying out for is a sauce or what this is crying is for seasoning.
And you have a chapter on stock sides and sauces, the kind of things that add massive flavour to your meal and you always have them to hand.
Yeah. Again, it's just little ideas to use what you have. So, you know, if you're cooking a roast chicken on Sunday, don't throw away the carcase because you can produce a really delicious stock or broth from it and then you can use that later in the week in something like a risotto or a stew. And there's a basic tomato sauce in there as well, like a basic pasta sauce, which is I just think is always really handy to to be able to whip up that yourself at home.
So cheap, so easy, and you can kind of build on it. So it's a basic tomato sauce, but you could say add some mascarpone to it, you could add some cheese to it. You know, you can really kind of make it your own. But yeah, it's just a chapter to have kind of staples, you know, the you know, you're going to be able to cook and also that you can freeze or refrigerate as well.
You make a very important point about portion sizes. You know, when it says something will feed for and you're saying, well, that usually is two adults and two kids. But in fact, if you've got two teenagers, you should be cooking for four very hungry adults.
Yeah, it's always a tricky one coming up with a portion sizes, because even if you're doing, you know, an average family of four, that could look so different, you know, somebody could have two toddlers or two teenagers. So it looks very, very different, you know, depending on what your family looks like. So I say it's kind of like to mid range age children. So my children are seven, my daughter's almost ten. So I kind of based the portions on them.
But I do say to people, you know, if your kids are younger or older, then obviously adopted.
As you need to know, I love the way you've laid out the book. It's colour coded for things which might contain gluten or whatever. So it's very easy to identify, but also various foods.
How long they last in the freezer, how long they last in the fridge, whether or not they have no right to exist outside of a fridge.
You know, there are things like jobs that will last forever in the cupboard. But then there are other things that you just don't keep out of a fridge like burgers and meatballs and things like that. There's one section, though, I think people might find very profitable to pursue, and that is about making snacks in batches because kids are always hungry, they always want snacks.
And if you're buying them in the shop, the price can add up really. And also might not be the healthiest thing in the world.
Absolutely. I think, like, there's no family in the country that hasn't heard. I'm hungry. Can I have a snack like three times a day? For the past year? I think we were all probably sick of it. And I I'm quite grateful they're back at school. We don't have to be producing these constant snacks. But I mean, even then, like, my my children still need snacks every day for school and as you say, buying them in the shop, you know, it's easy, but the cost does add up and the ingredients are not always the healthiest.
So, yeah, the snack chapter in there, again, is all about making snacks or ideas that you can make, you know, muffins and cakes and popcorn bars and brownies, all ideas that you can make yourself at home again, put in the fridge or put it in the freezer. And it just means that you can I mean, a lot of these even can be taken out of the freezer in the morning, put into their lunch box.
And by lunchtime, there's a frosted says, make your life a little bit easier having stuff prepped.
Well, as I say, it's a terrific book. It's got a simple title. We're Hungry.
It's published by Is It Lagom Press. It's available right now.
You can order online, of course, and we'd advise everyone to order from their local bookshops.
But its author, Chiara Attwell, thank you very much for joining us on the programme today.