The Hungry Girls’ Cookbook was created by three Melbourne girls – Rachel Pitts (recipes), Leah Holscher (photography) and Katherine Bird (design/illustration) – initially as a Christmas gift for their family and friends.
The cookbook is now up to Volume 2 and is sold in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Recipes editor Rachel Pitts speaks with MiNDFOOD about healthy, hearty food.
What is your food philosophy?
It’s very much based on seasonal produce and using ingredients that are close to hand. Nothing too cheffy, very homestyle food with lots of fruit and veggies. Food that makes you feel really good and tastes really good, that’s simple and healthy.
You mention in the book that you started a vegetable patch. Is it still thriving?
My partner and I have just moved house and I’m mostly sad to have left our established vegetable patch, but we’re in the process of setting up a new one.
A vegetable patch is definitely a key part of my food philosophy, just being able to walk out into your backyard and pick whole bunch of spinach and be able to cook something without having to go shopping.
What role did food play for you growing up?
I didn’t come from a huge cooking family. My mum was a bit of a gardener and a good cook. But I started getting interested in cooking when I was in my early teens. I was interested in making cakes as lots of girls do. Cakes turned into veggie burgers and curries. I’ve always been fascinated by cuisines of the world.
How have your travels influenced your style of cooking and the recipes in this book?
More and more. Volume 2 of The Hungry Girls’ Cookbook has more of an international flavour because my husband and I had come back from three month trip around Asia. There’s just so many exciting recipes out there, you could have a different meal on every night of the year and never double up.
How many people were involved in making the book? What inspired you to create it?
There’s three main girls and then a whole bunch of friends, at least 10, who help us glue the spines on and sew pieces together. They’re all volunteers. We have them around at the same time and we cook for them. Many of our friends are crafty and actually enjoy doing crafty things. So they come round and we cook dinner and we all sew and drink red wine, everyone enjoys it.
What inspired you to create the cookbooks?
The three of us just got together and we created the first edition as a gift for our friends and family for Christmas and that was as far as it was going to go. We made about 100 copies, and just gave it to our friends. But at the time Katherine and I were involved in a café that our partners owned and we started selling a few books through the café and then we realised that the general public were also enjoying the book. So we thought maybe we could take it to bookshops and it snowballed from there.
What’s your criteria when deciding on a recipe to include in the book?
If I really enjoy it myself and that it is not too challenging. But hopefully it has an interesting twist that makes it different to other versions of granola or pasta. I test it on friends and family and the other hungry girls.
For stockist information or to buy Volume 1 and 2 online visit www.hungrygirls.com.au.
(Sold in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom).