A Good Home

Idiot-Proof Comfort Food


For a few years now, I’ve been following two rules to improve my cooking, and save money at the same time:

  1. Use simple recipes
  2. Use what’s already in the fridge, freezer or pantry

The first recipe my friend John Garside taught me has just three ingredients.

“You can’t go wrong with this one!” he said.

“Wanna bet?” I asked.  “I made a two-ingredient dish — cauliflower and cheese — and completely forgot the cheese!”

John just smiled a beatific smile.

“I’m serious,” I insisted. “My husband stopped me from cooking for years after the accident. I’d either forget the pot on the stove, or forget half the ingredients. Awful.”

“Just try this recipe,” John said. “And let me know.”


First, get about 3 or 4 medium size onions.

Then, 2 or 3 medium size sweet potatoes.

Then a can of chickpeas.

“Got that, Cynthia?”

“Yes, John.” I madly scribbled as he spoke.

“You can add seasonings if you wish, but not necessary… Now, slice up the onions and simmer them in a pot with a bit of oil or butter for one hour.”

“One hour?”

“No less than an hour.”


“Peel and slice the potatoes, thinly.”

“How thinly?”

John held his thumb and forefinger slightly apart.

“Layer that on top of the onions and simmer for one hour.”

“One hour?”

“Yes, another hour. Then, rinse the chickpeas, add and simmer for an hour.”

Another hour?”

“Yes. Do not try to hurry it up. It won’t taste as good.”

“Okay, John,” I said obediently.

“Ann and I call it ‘Fired Onions'”.

“Fired onions?”

Turns out, the name comes from when the couple stopped at a restaurant that had a sign saying “Fired Onions”. Someone misspelled the word ‘fried’.

“Now,” said John. “Remember what I told you: the burner must be at the lowest level. Not medium, not a bit low, but the lowest setting possible.”

“Okay, then!”


It worked! Thank you, John.

Photo by John Garside

60 thoughts on “Idiot-Proof Comfort Food”

  1. Thank you for sharing this simple and delicious sounding recipe with us, Cynthia. I’m on the lookout for healthy simplicity in the kitchen–so I’ve pinned this one. 🙂 My husband and I are both forgetful these days. We’ll turn on the timer to remind us to do something, and then we’ll forget why we turned it on. As long as we don’t burn down the house, I’m able to laugh it off.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

      1. Giggle. On the same evening my husband forgot to turn the heat up on the hot-tub (not a fun soak), I forgot to turn on the dishwasher. Our kids often come to our rescue. But when they forget stuff, that’s when I feel helped the most. It’s not just us older folk doing the forgetting. Hugs.

  2. One of my biggest food issues is time. So while I used to be like you–and needed foolproof–now I just need time. It is so hard to find easy and good–so thanks for sharing this one:).

    1. You are welcome. I make it so often that Hamlin sometimes says: “Is that the ONLY thing you can cook?” Then I threaten to stop talking to him. And laugh when he turns away.

  3. Well this sounds like something I have to try. I LOVE every ingredient and have them at home. I am going to make this tomorrow for my meatless dish on Good Friday.

    Now I know I haven’t hit the big 5-0 yet (it’s just around the corner), but I have to write everything I need to remember down. I even have a checklist for Easter lunch already and I have to “check” each item off or I will forget to put something out. My purse looks like a bulletin board with all the sticky notes in it. Sad but true!!

  4. Sounds good. I love anything with chick peas. My grandmother would make a casserole which consisted of nothing but chick peas baked with a bit of ground black pepper.

  5. This did make me laugh–I think we are kitchen sisters, full of insecurity in that venue! I hope your find that, having had success with this recipe, you can re-visit cauliflower and cheese and find success there, too!

    1. Oh, Lord — knowing my luck, I’d remember the cheese but forget the cauliflower this time. I’m so glad to hear that you’re also insecure in the kitchen — thank you.

  6. Cette recette me fait un peu penser à une recette de chez nous(BAECKEHOOFFE) à base de pomme de terre, oignons, carottes et viande(le tout recouvert de vin blanc et cuisant pendant 2 à 3H) Bon WE Cynthia

      1. Oui, c’est cela. Le tout dans un pot comme celui que vous utilisez à laisser mijoter au four pendant 3h.(c’est une recette traditionnelle alsacienne/une région du Nord Est en France). Belle journée

  7. Such an easy meal. Mine go to easy meal is frozen veggies, rice, and thin slice of meat that can be made in 30 minutes or less. PS I have been using reminder timers since my kids were little so I didn’t forget to get them from school! I had one that I could wear around my neck (before smart phones).

  8. That does sound good. I love onions. I have never had chick peas in a hot dish before. I also have only had sweet potatoes with brown sugar and maybe marshmallows, I bet they would be good in a savory dish. I will have to try this. 🙂

    1. Sweet potatoes go well with brown sugar and the marshmallows — never cooked it but have had it a couple times. Yummy. The nice thing about sweet potatoes is that they are sweet on their own and somehow, they and the onions and check peas come together nicely.

  9. I have never cooked with chickpeas before (I’ve eaten hummus a couple of times) so this will be a ‘voyage of discovery’! It will have to be a weekend meal as I have a little more time for cooking then. Weekdays I aim for meals to be cooked in less than an hour. Thank-you for sharing this recipe Cynthia.

  10. Very special Cynthia – thank you for the recipes. And this meal looks so easy even I could make it!! I’ll definitely be giving it a try.

  11. This does sound good and simple – though it takes time, and for me time is a factor. Maybe on a weekend. If I remember soon enough. I often change what I’m going to cook because I have forgotten to soak the dried beans…

  12. Very intriguing, Cynthia! The ingredients don’t match together, in my understanding. It only means that the taste will be a big surprise 🙂 Off to get some chickpeas 🙂

  13. I think this one will be turning up here soon. Thanks! We grow lots of onions and sweet potatoes, and we’re big fans of chickpeas and simplicity. 🙂

  14. Amazing how many people don’t eat chickpeas. Standard fare in my part of Spain. The recipe I got from my neighbour was chickpeas, potatoes and spinach/acelga. I add onions and garlic to everything. I use dried chickpeas, so soak night before and cook for 35 mins, or soak with boiling water for an hour or two same day and cook for 40 mins. Casserole takes as long to cook as the potatoes do as garbanzos are already cooked, also, use their juice for stock. Add spinach last so it isn’t soggy. It works well. I also have loads of spinach in the garden. 🙂

    1. I never used to eat the thing, except in hummus. It just looked and tasted so bland. But now I use it in my Everything Salad and this dish and I really like it.

  15. Wow! That sounds delicious! Next time you make it, will you please include a picture of it after it’s done! I would love to see what it looks like before I attempt it. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂 ❤

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