Now that Martha Stewart has moved her eponymous show to the Hallmark Channel, some of the brightest stars from her company are getting programs of their own. On top of holding down her full-time job as Martha's executive food editor, hosting the radio show EatDrink on Sirius XM and, most impressive of all, actually finding time to eat dinner with her family on most weeknights, Lucinda Scala Quinn has miraculously found time to star in her own show, Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn.
Based on the concept of her popular book, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys, Lucinda's new show is geared at bringing the family back to the dinner table in an approachable and realistic way. After years of experience feeding her husband and three ravenously hungry sons, Lucinda has developed techniques and tips for cooking under budgetary and time constraints.
I had a chat with Lucinda and found out how she gets dinner on the table, how she deals with complaining kids and much more.
iVillage: The title of your book is aimed at feeding men and boys. Does your show also cater to everyone else?
LSQ: It's really about the family, and in fact the book is about the family, too. The book was just told through the eyes of my own personal experience, having all brothers and all sons. [With men and boys,] there's no "oh, maybe they'll just nibble a little bit." It's a full-on force of nature that you have to be prepared for.
We are really aimed toward the family. And when I say family, I mean whatever family groups are—to me, they’re so different in today's day and age. It could be a typical family, an older couple, a younger couple, roommates in college, a fraternity, a firehouse, a Cub Scout group. Whatever "family" you have, there's still an urgency when it comes to the daily feeding of people.
iVillage: You must be super-busy holding down all of your jobs. How many nights do you actually get to go home and cook dinner for your family?
LSQ: Oh, many! First of all, one of the promises of my book was: "Cook for the people you love. Teach them to cook for themselves and they will pass it on." What's happened in the past four years is that my husband has become a contributing cook, and so have my two older boys, so we really tag-team.
This week, for example, I made a pot of beans on Sunday, and on Monday I called ahead before dinner. Everyone was there and no one had done a thing, because there was "no food in the house." So I asked someone to put on two cups of rice, and when I got home I heated up the beans, and I thought, "Oh God, I've got to get some greens here." I had a yellowing bunch of kale that I quickly cooked up, and it fed four of us. Sometimes I'll come home and my husband will have made a big mess of chicken wings—there’s a great recipe in my book for Crunchy Sesame Chicken Wings—but there are no greens or anything, so I’ll make a salad.
iVillage: Kids can be tough on their mom’s cooking. Even with your many years of culinary experience, does your family ever complain about meals that you cook?
LSQ: Absolutely. And I ignore them completely! Because I know what I did to my own mother—my mother had a family of six, and at a time when real convenience foods were hoisted on housewives in the ’50s and ’60s, she doggedly prepared dinner every night. It was nothing fancy—burgers, spaghetti … and I just remember how many times I was like, “Ugh, not that again.” Yet now I look in hindsight, and she raised four kids with a love of cooking. We kidded her about her haddock souffle because none of us liked it, but you can’t always please kids, and they don’t know what they want.
Oh, my gosh, I get criticized all the time. “Oh, it’s not salty enough. Oh, you didn’t put enough in there.” I take hits all the time, just like anybody else.
iVillage: Feeding hungry kids—especially boys—can be extremely expensive. What kind of tips does your show feature for budget cooking?
LSQ: Tons of tips. First of all, I'm a naturally frugal cook. I can't help myself. Everything's turning into something else. For example, I always buy whole chickens because it's so easy to gut them down, and then I have the wingtips and the backs that I collect in the freezer and turn into chicken broth. A whole bird is less expensive than parts (get Lucinda's recipe for Flat Roasted Chicken). I get more out of the whole bird, and there's less processing done to that bird in the processing plant, and more done in my home, where I can control it. I'm also a huge fan of beans and legumes—even French lentils cost about $3.50. You can make a pot of lentil soup, make some homemade croutons and feed six people on about $3. I'll always save the heels of bread and make croutons from that. I just naturally think this way.
iVillage: Give us just a handful of items that everyone should have on hand to make a quick meal.
LSQ: Garlic, onion, olive oil, pasta, a can of beans—and then a tube of tomato paste, some capers and hot sauce. I’m a hot sauce fanatic—I like it to build flavor. Those things you can just keep in your pantry, and you can pull a meal out in no time.
iVillage: What’s the best advice you can give to busy moms who feel the pressure to feed their families?
LSQ: Decide it's important to you to feed your family fresh-cooked food. It may feel arduous and like a thankless task, but you are building a font of wellness opportunities when it feels good to be at the dinner table. It feels good, physically, to eat good food. And you build a sense of community. It's so corny, the saying "it takes a village." I say it takes a family meal. Because in that one little space, so much goes on through the necessary act of eating.
Mad Hungry premieres September 13 on the Hallmark Channel.
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