“Remember to Replace the Onion”

In most other households, that would be a rather odd note. Which onion? A decorative item that got broken? An edible onion?

At RedQuarters, where most non-bread recipes seem to begin with “First sauté an onion,” it means that someone sauteed the onion and more need to be purchased. Somehow, we always end up with one onion that lingers down in the corner of the “mixed containers mostly Tupperware but not entirely” drawer. Which is where everyone stores onions, right?

I once asked DadRed why everything started with olive oil, a pan, and an onion. “Because that buys time to decide on the meat and what else goes with it.”

Not entirely true, but valid for about 60% of the time. Unless I’m cooking. I prefer dried, minced onion because I react strongly to strong onions, which are about the only kind available around here. There are sweet onions, strong white onions, weaponized yellow onions, and red onions that come in protective shielding and probably ought to have a hazmat label on them.

(If I’m every dining with you, and something comes with red onions despite my begging to have them omitted, you can have mine. Please. Pretty please.)

Thus the note. And you know what will happen. Three or more onions appear in the drawer, because each member of the family gets one onion (or perhaps two) on the way home from work or errands. Usually white onions. The yellow onions have been of such variable quality that RedQuarters tends to stick with the known evil.

It’s a good thing that “first, sauté an onion” happens so often. Occasionally I will caramelize an onion. I’m the only one who cooks fancy stuff most of the time, so caramelizing is my job. That and I’m patient enough to stand there watching, watching, watching, stirring, stirring, stirring . . . for a while. It’s a bit like making a real risotto, except you can’t read while you do onions. Yes, while in grad school I read while making risotto. I never read while browning butter or making a roux. Those change too quickly from raw to “dang it. A charcoal suspension.”

So, I need to replace an onion. Perhaps two. But certainly one.


15 thoughts on ““Remember to Replace the Onion”

  1. Onions in the Midwest suck, too.
    They’re small, they’re aggressively strong, and somehow they still don’t keep well.

    Not that it matters much at the moment. The middle child is in an attention seeking phase marked by:
    1 talking about how much she *loves* eating raw onions.
    2 eating raw onions.
    3 breathing on people.
    4 complaining of stomachache.
    So small is good, and medium to long term storage isn’t an issue.

    • I was going to ask if you have the plum-sized onions or the softball-sized varieties. I don’t do much cooking myself, nowadays.

  2. Please don’t segue into “cloves? They meant *bulb* of garlic.” This is about step 4.

    • We go by “dollop” for garlic. A tablespoon or so of minced garlic from the big pre-chopped container, since we tend to cook by taste and “that looks about right” for a lot of things.

  3. “Non bread recipes”? I have a dill bread recipe that uses dried onion.. Delicious!

  4. Hmm. Our red onions are the mildest except for Vidalias and Walla Wallas. I know Walla Wallas do not keep, I think Vidalias don’t keep either. (I am suspecting strength of onion and storage are related? Should ask the onion farmer I know . . . he hasn’t complained about harvest so I think Idaho onion havest is within norms. Rephrase: he hasn’t complained about amount or quality of harvest. His machinery did a thing requireing repair overnight by electric light and his back hurts and he’s not twenty anymore . . .)
    Mildest onions are most expensive, strongest onions (yellow) are cheapest.

  5. Hear in the Northeast we generally see three types of onion, Red (bermuda) which are pretty intense, Yellow are usually moderate and white which tend to be mildest. “Vidalia’s” are seen from time to time, but unclear how many of them are actually from Georgia 🙂 . Growing up with primarily New Englandified English/Irish cooking almost NO onion or garlic is used many think it to strong a flavor. Having married an Italian/Swede descended wife almost EVERYTHING starts with sauteing an onion (or two) and several cloves of garlic from the Italian side. I quickly got used to that and suspect If I were to try to return to the cooking of my mother and grandmothers I would find it bland indeed. Few things smell as nice as an onion sauteing in butter.

  6. I admit to being amused/bemused by the hazmat red onions – down here it’s the white ones that need to be treated with respect and the red are mostly sweeter, milder, and are frequently used finely sliced as a component in chutneys, relishes, fresh salads and slaws. We don’t seem to get the yellow variety very much.

    • It has something to do with the soil they grow in, or so I’ve been told. Strength and sharpness seem to be regional, so some white onions are not all that bad, and others send me fleeing the kitchen, blinded. Red onions always “get” me, or at least the ones available in the local stores do. Likewise the ones that appear, raw, on food. Slices of red onions are usually served on hamburgers or chicken sandwiches, and occasionally with “sweet” bar-b-que. (That is considered rank heresy by some. B-B-Q is a religion, not just a food.)

  7. Fascinating.
    On my onion scale red are the mildest (too mild), yellow the everyday cooking onion, and white the most pungent.
    The local Chines take-out place uses white onions, and they can really bite back.

  8. Um… the onion? Do you grocery shop every day?
    *looks on in the confusion of a two-person household that buys 10-lb sacks of yellow onions.*

    • We don’t use enough to justify a large sack of white onions, and I can’t make space for a large sack. Every time I do, the space gets refilled when my back is turned. It’s uncanny . . .

  9. Yep, whites, yellows, reds… The occasional Videlia when they come in. And we are in Texas, so we get the same order down here.

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