Thursday, 10 October 2013

It's about onions . . . yes, really . . .

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We have a little closet which lays off the kitchen at the bottom of our stairs.  There is a door into it right in the kitchen.  That is where we keep all of our cleaning implements.  The electric and gas meter are there and that is where we store all of our beverages, snacks and potatoes and onions.   Its dark and its cool, and its just the perfect place.

Yesterday I could smell something funky and I thought to myself, an onion has gone off, and I was right, there buried beneath the pile of onions was one that had begun to go bad, thereby risking the whole bin of onions.  One bad apple, or in this case onion, does spoil the whole bunch!

My grandfather used to braid his onions together and hang them from the rafters in the shed.   I can remember looking up and seeing them hanging above our heads like great bulbous charm bracelets, the smell earthy and oniony.   I, myself, when we grew a large vegetable garden, stored them hung up in old tights.  To each his own.

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(Source Martha Stewart)

I could not have a kitchen without onions in it.   They are a staple necessity.  I like the large plump ones for making stuffings or for stuffing!   Have you ever eaten a stuffed onion?   If not, you have missed a real treat.   I don't stuff mine with meat . . . instead choosing to stuff mine with the innards of the onion, some mushrooms, cheese, bread crumbs and herbs.   They are a real treat and I don't require anything else to eat with mine, although I know some people only serve these as accompaniements to roasted dinners.   Martha Stewart has a particularly good recipe which you can get to by clicking on the link below the above photograph.

I use onions for all sorts . . . soups, stews, salads, bakes . . . there is really no good substitute for an onion.  Varying in shape and size from flattish and brown to bulbous and white I do believe that they are probably the most common cookery ingredient the world round, with a history that goes back years and years, in all probability as old as time itself.  Traces of them have even been found in Bronze Age settlements . . .  there were probably onions in the Garden of Eden . . .

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I read the other day with great interest how the Egyptians spent the equivalent of two million dollars on onions during the years that the Great Pyramid was being built.  There were countless workers/slaves of course and the pyramid took 20 years to build.  That's a lot of onions, but I doubt they had them roasted or fried or cooked at all . . . they probably ate them raw with black bread, which sounds oddly delicious to me.

The ancient Romans thought that onions gave them strength and ate them for breakfast with honey, which may sound a bt wierd, but when I make my glazed onions with ketchup, I always add honey to the sauce, basting them until they are rich and sweet and amber deliciously tasty.

Not only good for eating, however . . . in the sixteeth century, onion juice was dropped into the ear as a remedy for deafness and in the eyes to clear the vision.  (Can you imagine what that felt like!)  I do know that it is said that if you put a cut onion in the sick room it supposedly absorbs all of the sickness.  I tried that last year.  It didn't work, but maybe I did it too late.  I know an old Ukrainian workman who told me once when he was working on my house and I had a terrible cold that raw onion sandwiches would help to prevent a cold.

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I believe it was the Spanish who exported onions to the new world, but I strongly suspect that there was already a North American variety in place and being used by the native Americans when the Spanish arrived!

When I hold a round and firm onion in my hand, I marvel at it's intricacy . . . with it delicate papery skin, layering the outside . . . and the faintly tinged concentric rings, pale pink or ivory on the insides, layer upon layer, leading down to it's sweet heart.  Nature's beautiful gift to mankind.  Love them or loathe them, I . . . for one  . . . would not be without them.

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I am not sure how it happened, but somehow I have turned my computer screen on its side this morning.  It's really weird.  In any case I am having great difficulty working on it.  I'll have to try to get Todd to figure it out when he gets up!   I suspect I struck a key by accident and it all went topsy turvy.  Hoping he can fix it!

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

The greatest kindness is often shown
in letting things go.
None of us is perfect,
but we can all be perfect friends
and perfect partners
by allowing those that we love
to be imperfect.
~Neale Donald Walsch  


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Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . a simple Apple Crostata. 

Have a great Thursday!

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