Some lovely overnight oats with cardamom

Sweet but unsweetened! Cardamom Overnight Oats

Layer in your overnight cereal container (I love a glass one with a lid) in order (I love to make more than 1; this is just for 1, but easily doubled etc into additional containers):
•    ½ banana, sliced thickly (frozen is fine, perhaps even preferable)
•    ½ cup oats
•    ½ tsp cardamom
•    pinch salt
•    about ¼ cup blueberries (frozen is fine; smallish size is preferable)
•    scant ¾ cup milk
•    if you have them: about 1 tbl dried mulberries
•    about 1 tbl pumpkin seeds
•    about 8 whole toasted almonds

- very adapted from Baked Blueberry Banana Bread
    in Anni Kravi's Porridge
    (She suggests another lovely thing: edible dried flowers over top in the morning!)

A great day in the kitchen!

Today is November 8, which is National Cook Something Bold Day!

Today is possibly also a Festival of the Kitchen in some places in Japan, I read in one old book -- but I have not been able to confirm this festival nor to get details on how it's celebrated. However, what a wonderful idea to have such a festival -- I've put it onto my calendar for next year to dream up suitable ways to celebrate such a holiday for myself. How about a quick spruce-up and getting any new helpful cooking appliances I've been needing?! as well as wonderful food from my "hearth" of course...

Back to Cook Something Bold Day! I'm celebrating with these dishes today:
breakfast: A Persian Porridge, which was amazing (recipe below) (served with cappuccino -- it's also National Cappuccino Day!!)
lunch: I'm going to try an eggplant-mint-yogurt dish from a new-to-me cookbook (also using some frozen charred eggplant I never tried -- for some reason this summer and early fall saw no eggplant in my shops)
dinner: I'm going to do a good chicken curry I've been doing since oh 1996 maybe...

PERSIAN PORRIDGE: Relaxing & Appetizing Aromatherapy in a Bowl!
for 2

This is best set up the night before.

Put into a saucepan the night before and store in the refrigerator:
    1 cup barley flakes (I like what I found at )
    1-1/8 cup water
    1 cup milk
    at least 1 tbl honey
    a few cut-up dried apricots
    a couple cut-up dates
    pinch of salt
    about 1 tbl rosewater (the only safe type I've found is at )

In the morning, simmer until done (about 6 minutes).
Top with
    almonds (nice if you have leftover glazed sliced)

Adapted from Rachel Khoo's Muesli & Granola

A No-Sugar Good Fruit Compote

A lot of retro menus call for this sort of dish, and I've been looking for a recipe we like and have figured out a great version!

Unlike most stewed fruit/fruit compote recipes I've seen, this has no added sugar, but it's actually tastier than any I've tried!
 a useful way to use up apples and/or pears that end up not being as tasty as you'd like; easily doubled etc

Mix in pan and simmer until done (about 20 minutes), stirring every 5 minutes:
½ cup water
2 tbl sherry
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
1 apple cut into chunks
1 pear cut into chunks
½ cup dried apricots

Much changed from The Pressured Cook by Lorna Sass

Immunity Soup!

I really like how the flavors layered in this, making for a delicious soup from the first day. I used a variety of DIY and premade ingredients, as you'll see; note that you have to start at least a day before you want to eat it if you're using my idea of cooking your beans yourself – in which case you'll end up with a lovely lot of extra beans to use in other recipes. (Note: If you don't have an electric pressure cooker, just adapt to a big pot.)

Cover with 3" of water in your electric pressure cooker container and leave covered with a plate or lid overnight:
         about 1 pound dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans

The next day, say at lunchtime if you're home (at least an hour or two before you need to start the actual soup), drain the beans.
Cover them in the same container with
         about 1.5" of water
         about 1 tbl olive oil
         a big bunch of fresh sage leaves, torn up if they're big
         a few cloves of garlic, at least some minced, all peeled
         (NO salt yet)
Cook in an electric pressure cooker (in an Instant Pot at High pressure, set for 17 minutes). Turn off after the timer goes off. Let sit until pressure goes down (note that often takes 45 minutes for me with these).
         about 1 tsp salt.
You'll only need 2 cups of the cooked beans, in about 1/3 or ½ cup of their broth, for the soup; put them in the refrigerator if it will be a while until you need them and package up the rest for the fridge and/or freezer for whatever you want to use them for.

About 1 or more hours before you want to eat the soup:
Saute in 2 tbl olive oil in a big soup pot
         12 oz frozen seasoning blend (e.g. onions, celery, sweet peppers; or you may prefer one with carrots instead of sweet peppers; also, you can use up to 16 oz)
Add soonish
         about 10 big garlic cloves, minced
Then add and continue to saute about 5 minutes
         12 to 16 oz cleaned sliced Portabello mushrooms with D (for immunity)
         your 2 cups of cooked chickpeas with about 1/3-1/2 cup broth
         1 lb boneless skinless chicken cut up into medium chunks
Stir in
         2 liters normal Pacific Chicken Stock (including salt)
         a generous amount of dried thyme
         6 bay leaves
         about ¾ tsp chili flakes
Simmer until chicken is done, about 20 minutes (test a big piece with a thermometer for 165).
Meanwhile sort through/clean your kale.

         12 oz curly kale, already cleaned and cut up
Cook until pretty done, about 10 minutes.

Taste. Add salt as needed.

Enjoy right away, with a nice whole grain roll to round off the meal, and freeze leftovers for when you or a loved one needs some extra immunity!

Wishing you and yours a very healthy season!

Very adapted from the same-name recipe in the January-February 2017 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

A Delicious Easy Sardine Salad

for 2

Mix together in a wide shallow bowl:
    about 3 green onions, thickly sliced
    2 big garlic cloves, minced
    about 2 or 3 tbl raisins
    5 or 6 black olives cut in half
    about 1 tbl capers
    soft bread/roll torn up into rather large pieces
    the oil from the below sardines

Place over top (it's ok if they don't come out perfectly)
    sardines that were packed in olive oil for 2 (2 small tins)

Sprinkle with
    about 3 tbl chopped parsley
    black pepper

We made a nice dinner of this plus a green salad plus some seasonal hot vegetables.

I think this would also be good with canned salmon for another easy dinner...

I was inspired to make this by some of the ingredients listed for Sardine Gratin in Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow's Essential Mediterranean.

Super Tasty Coconuty Stovetop Toasty Muesli

In a large skillet, toast the following until beginning to turn golden (check the next lists in case you need to toast other items now; also don't toast any of these yet that you buy already toasted; these are what I usually buy raw/untoasted and prefer well toasted):
    ½ cup "big" coconut flakes
    ¼ cup whole wheat flour
    ½ cup pecans
    ¼ cup sesame seeds

Add the following and continue to toast until to your liking:
    4 cups old-fashioned oats
    1 tbl olive oil
    1 tbl honey
    ½ cup pumpkin seeds
Turn off heat and stir in, then let cool and then store:
    ½ cup wheat germ
    ½ cup powdered milk
    a bit of salt if nothing above was already salted

Much adapted from Athlon's Slow Cooker Fall Baking's Honey-Coconut Granola. I'm actually using this "book" more in hot weather, when I don't want to turn on a big oven, and the recipes are fine for that -- but this particular recipe I found more to my liking (and needs, since the original called for a lot of honey) on the stovetop.

A Delicious Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Dinner

Start cooking, preferably in a rice cooker,
    farro (easiest if 10-minute/parboiled type)

At some point, make an arugula salad topped with your favorite mustardy vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper); make about 3 tbl extra of the vinaigrette. Even better if you add chiffonade of radicchio to the salad.

(If you don't have toasted walnuts, do that in the below skillet and set aside.)

Saute in a large skillet with 1/2 tbl butter and 1-1/2 tbl olive oil,
for a few minutes,
    ½ a medium mild onion.
Add and saute, covered, until liquid is coming out
    a package cleaned sliced baby bella mushrooms.
Push the mushrooms to one side. Place on top of them
    about 3 dried figs, chopped, or even better if fresh
Add and cook, covered, until registers 165 F on a thermometer
    up to 1 lb chicken tenders (thin, cut, boneless, skinless for 4)
    salt and pepper (don't oversalt; you'll be adding salty cheeses)
    a splash of water
Add and cover and keep on low heat for up to a couple minutes
    1 oz blue cheese, crumbled
    3 oz feta cheese, chopped
Uncover, top with your extra vinaigrette.
Turn off heat and top with
    a small handful chopped toasted walnuts if you have them

Serve the salad as the side. Place the other vegetables and the jus over the farro, and the chicken there too or on the side, as you wish.

Very changed from the Salad of Fig-Stuffed Chicken with Blue Cheese in Anne Willan's 1995 In & Out of the Kitchen in Fifteen Minutes or Less, a wonderful source!

Time in the kitchen

How true what Jeremy Rock Smith points out in the current Maranda Pleasant's Origin magazine in his article "The Yoga of Cooking":
If you can make a meal in 20 minutes, but it takes you 3 hours to clean up, that doesn't count as time-saving...
I was also interested in what the fantastic Alice Hart says in her wonderful The New Vegetarian (which is, in case you were wondering, an entirely new book, not a repeat of her also-wonderful Vegetarian), that very few people can really really plan a week's or more worth of marvelous meals very well. In other words, if you have the time, it's certainly not bad just to relax and plan and source fewer meals at a time! I had to do that in Manhattan, because I couldn't carry home a zillion bags from the shop, even though it was just downstairs. Besides, it was so easy to stop into the wonderful shop, which was not only next to my apartment building but to my subway and bus stops, and of course I got fresher produce in the house that way.

Mr. Smith in the same article also speaks of how it's wise to adjust the way you eat to how you're feeling, which of course can vary day to day -- another reason not to plan and source all at once, unless of course you want or need to do so....

By the way, Ms. Pleasant's magazines have the most beautiful food photography and kindest writers! who stand up so strongly for what is right. Here's the one I mention above: .

and some that show off the food even more, :

and :

One-Stage Cookery, c1960

Featuring a margarine they claimed mixed nicely....I'm only seeing it mentioned in UK sites. Some sample recipes can be found at the nice site of .

A Fabulous Summer Tomato Vegetarian Main Dish

This was my first meal ever mostly from my own garden! It was so easy and so delicious!

enough for 1 to 2 people; easily doubled

Do to your own taste of course...

Place in glass bowl and toss
    about 3 plum tomatoes cut into wedges and/or cherry tomatoes
    1 large garlic clove, minced
    4 mint branches' leaves, chopped if large
    4 branches of parsley, chopped with their non-thick stems
    a small handful of baby mesclun
    about ½ cup or bit more of black beans cooked
    generous olive oil
    big pinch chipotle chili flakes
    generous black pepper
You can set it aside for a while at this point if you need to.
When ready to serve, stir through
    a big handful shelled pistachios, roasted and salted.
Taste; add salt if required (my pistachios were quite salty already).
Top with
    a generous scoop of creamy ricotta cheese.
Serve with a favorite bread.

Super adapted from Burrata with Cherry Tomatoes and Minty Pistachio Pesto in the July-August 2017 issue of JAMIE magazine. They recommend pistachio oil instead – I'm sure that would be amazing! I so highly recommend this magazine to perk up your cooking and meals!