Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beware of Onion

"No pugs in the kitchen!" I shout, stomping my feet, for the third or fourth time. A favorite pastime of my two dogs is to wait patiently nearby as I chop food, ready to chomp on the fated bits that drop. Since my kitchen has no door (or wall, for that matter) to separate itself from the rest of our tiny New York apartment, I must surrender to the inevitable: no matter how many times I shoo them away, as long as there's food, the pugs will return.

The truth is, I don't mind. One of the many perks of being a dog is the occasional scrap of "people" food falling directly toward you. The problem is, however, that I chop so many onions.

Everyone knows that chopping onions makes you cry. Also fairly common knowledge is the reason behind the tears: the chemical irritants that onions contain, which give it a nice flavor, but also burn your sensitive eyes. So why bother to write about onions? Lately onions have been a root cause of some misery for me, and not just a few tears. Here are a few warnings about this very frequently-used ingredient:
  • Do not let your dogs or cats eat onions or anything with onion - it will make them extremely sick!
  • Although they are neighbors at the grocery store, onions and potatoes should not be stored with each other in the pantry at home. The onions will cause the potatoes to quickly sprout.
  • Fingers are easily sliced while chopping slippery onions. Be sure you have a firm grip on the root, not the skin. Make sure the onion is flat on the surface, and not rolling around, when you cut. A good technique is to first chop off the pointy stem top, then cut the onion in half from top to bottom, so you have half-a-root per half-onion section as your anchor. This will hold the onion layers together. Peel off the skin, then laying each half flat, hold the root with one hand, and make several slices lengthwise, going away from (and not through) the root. Then slice the other direction.

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