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IR­ISH CHEF CLODAGH McKENNA TALKS TO ELLA WALKER ABOUT RAIS­ING CHICK­ENS, AND WHY WEEK­NIGHT MEALS DE­SERVE A ‘SPRIN­KLE OF HAP­PI­NESS’

- Lifestyle · Cooking · Food · Instagram · The Today Show · United States of America · Ireland · London · Blackrock

CLODAGH MCKENNA ac­tu­ally man­aged to do what many of us vaguely imag­ined do­ing dur­ing March’s lock­down: she went and wrote a book. Dur­ing that first nev­erend­ing-feel­ing stint, the Ir­ish cook and telly pre­sen­ter turned to In­sta­gram.

Post­ing a daily recipe video, she hoped to go some way towards an­swer­ing the many, many mes­sages she was re­ceiv­ing from house­bound peo­ple across the coun­try in need of lock­down-suit­able dishes, non-stress­ful sup­pers, fam­ily-friendly midweek meals, in­ter­est­ing din­ners for one, and more.

“I did them ev­ery day,” says Clodagh of the videos. “Ev­ery sin­gle day – I did over 120 of them. It was ex­haust­ing, but it was also a real pur­pose.”

A whole new com­mu­nity formed around th­ese brief snippets of chic, blonde-fringed Clodagh whip­ping up a solo bread-and-but­ter pud­ding, or a tray of retro chicken kievs. And that com­mu­nity pro­vided real-time feed­back that the chef then scooped up and used to help fuel the book: Clodagh’s Week­night Kitchen.

She con­sid­ers it a “real com­mu­nity cookbook”.

“I wanted to fo­cus on the week­nights,” ex­plains the Bal­ly­maloe Cook­ery Schooltrai­ned cook.

“We’ve got so much go­ing on dur­ing the day and it comes to six o’clock, and it’s like, you’re hun­gry, you’re tired and you’ve had a hard day, how can you put a meal to­gether, with­out it get­ting on top of you?”

The re­sult is a 100-strong brand new col­lec­tion of recipes which, Clodagh, 45, says are “in­cred­i­bly sim­ple to make with in­gre­di­ents that are com­pletely ac­ces­si­ble.”

The un­der­ly­ing mes­sage for Clodagh is the dif­fer­ence cook­ing for your­self makes.

“Some­times a take­away can be great, but it doesn’t give you that same feel­ing of – I call it a sprin­kle of hap­pi­ness, be­cause that’s what it is to me,” adds Clodagh, who also presents recipe seg­ments on the To­day Show in the US.

“Whether it’s for one or for two, you’ve made some­thing for your­self; phys­i­cally you feel bet­ter; men­tally you feel bet­ter.

“Some weeks go by and it’s like you don’t have any spe­cial mo­ments at the table. It all be­comes TV and a take­away, or heated up food, and you live for the week­end. I’m like, let’s live for ev­ery night.

“Only good can come from plan­ning your week and cook­ing week­nights,” she adds.

“Only pos­i­tive things can come fi­nan­cially, men­tally, health-wise, ev­ery­thing.”

Some­thing that has brought huge de­light into Clodagh’s life re­cently is the ar­rival of her ‘girls’ – a brood of hens.

“They’re the light of my life at the mo­ment,” she says glee­fully. “My dog Nolly is very jeal­ous ev­ery time

I come in, smelling me like crazy, like, ‘Who are th­ese other girls in our lives?’

But they are an ab­so­lute joy. I mean, I was ter­ri­fied the night be­fore they ar­rived – all of a sud­den you’ve got six new an­i­mals that need look­ing af­ter. But they’re do­ing re­ally well.”

They even put them­selves to bed: “One night it was get­ting kind of dark and we’re look­ing ev­ery­where for them, and they’re all in­side their beds all perched up wait­ing for the lid to go down! And they’re mak­ing me break­fast ev­ery morn­ing, which is great.”

Born in Black­rock, Ire­land, Clodagh was a cheff­ing “city girl” in Lon­don for years be­fore re­lo­cat­ing to Broad­spear – the

home in Ire­land she and her part­ner have been restor­ing and turn­ing into a fully sus­tain­able home­stead.

“I feel like I’ve learned so much over the year and I kept a di­ary through­out,” says Clodagh.

She also re­veals that she’s plan­ning to share her find­ings too, to help oth­ers with their veg plots, and so she can carry on trad­ing wis­dom with her online com­mu­nity. “There are things that we took up over lock­down that will stay with us now,” she says. “You’ve prob­a­bly stopped the things that you didn’t en­joy that much, and you’ll keep the ones that you did en­joy.” And for new in­spi­ra­tion, there’s al­ways the kitchen.

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 ??  ?? Be­low: Clodagh’s Week­night Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna, Kyle Books, £20. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Dora Kazmierak.
Be­low: Clodagh’s Week­night Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna, Kyle Books, £20. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Dora Kazmierak.
 ??  ?? Clodagh McKenna with one of her tasty dishes
Clodagh McKenna with one of her tasty dishes

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