May 23, 2003 at 10:22 a.m.

Onions, onions are the topic for this week

Onions, onions are the topic for this week
Onions, onions are the topic for this week

What veggie is it that is in the lily family that you can serve raw, fried, sauteed, boiled or caramelized and has just 60 calories, 14 carbs, and .02 grams fat in one cup, chopped?

Do you remember the little ditty from a few years back that went something like this: “Onions, onions, m-m-m...” Indeed we are talking about the onion today.

It has been a source of joy and despair for the gourmet cook or for any cook for that matter.

Someone has said that the proof of good cooks is how they season the food they’re preparing, and this might almost be taken to mean whether or not they are skilled in the use of onions. When I worked in Homecaring and Hospice, I cooked for most of my clients and was amazed at how many would say–– “Don’t use too many onions, Alice.” I hope that when I reach the “vintage age” of my life I’ll still be able to eat lots of onions. And yes, I do understand that with age comes the medical fact that one cannot eat all those foods we used to eat and be comfortable in our bodies. So, if you’re of the lesser than “vintage age” (I’m thinking somewhere between 90 and 100), eat onions! Just be sure to carry some breath mints if you’re out with a group of people.

There are onions that some people eat out of hand like an apple as they are so sweet. These would be the Vidalia, Walla Walla, Sweet Imperial and Texas Sweet. I like onions, but not quite that much.

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We will fix foods with onions. Use this recipe soon as the Vidalia will soon be out of season. Company coming? Be sure they like onions for this recipe.

STUFFED VIDALIA ONIONS

4 large Vidalia onions, peeled (or use any large sweet onion if the Vidalia is not available)

1-10 oz. pkg. frozen green peas (or 1-1/4 c.)

1-4 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained (or use 4 oz. fresh, sliced)

1/4 t. crush thyme leaves

pepper to taste

2 T. butter or margarine

1/4 c. hot water

1/2 t. instant bullion granules (or use 1/4 c. prepared beef broth)

Slice tops off onions, about 1/2 inch. (Vidalias are sort of a flat onion so don’t take too much off.) Chop and freeze ends and insides for later use. Hollow out center of each onion, leaving 1/4-inch thick shell. Put shells in 8x8 inch baking dish. Combine peas, mushrooms, thyme and pepper. Fill each onion with one-fourth of veggie mixture. Dot each with 1/2 T. butter; set aside.

Mix water and bouillon and pour over onions. Cover dish with plastic wrap and microwave on high 7-10 minutes. (Poke 2-3 holes in plastic to vent steam.) Rotate onions halfway through cooking time if you don’t have a turntable in your micro. Baste with cooking liquid.

Let stand three minutes, covered, before serving. Serves 4.

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An onion casserole to bring to potluck gathering? They’ll love it.

CHEESY BAKED ONIONS

4 medium sweet onions or Bermuda onions, sliced about 1/2-inch thick and separated into rings

1/4 c. margarine

1/4 c. flour

1/2 t. salt

2 c. milk

1-1/3 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

Put onions in greased (sprayed or buttered) 9x13 baking dish.

In a small pan over low heat, melt margarine; stir in flour and salt until smooth. Gradually add milk; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring with wire whisk. Cook and stir for two minutes, take off heat and stir in cheese until melted. Pour over onions. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until onions are tender and cheese is lightly browned. Serves 8.

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Memorial Day weekend is near and many of us will be grilling our meal for the day, us included. You get a double-dose of onions in this hamburger recipe.

HAMBURGER STEAKS WITH ROASTED ONIONS

1 lb. lean ground beef shaped into four patties, about 1/2-inch thick

2 T. steak sauce (your favorite)

1-1 oz. envelope onion soup mix (from 2 oz. pkg.)

2 large Bermuda onions, peeled, cut in half, then thinly sliced and separated (about 6 c.)

2 T. packed brown sugar

1 T. balsamic vinegar (can use cider vinegar)

Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat.

Spray two 18x12 inch sheets of heavy-duty foil with cooking spray (or butter). Brush patties with steak sauce; sprinkle with half of dry soup mix. Put half the onions on center of each piece of foil; sprinkle with rest of soup mix, sugar and vinegar. Fold foil over onions so edges meet. Seal edges by making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again. Allow space on sides for circulation and expansion. Cover and grill packets and patties 4-6 inches from medium heat, 10-15 minutes, turning patties and rotating packets half a turn, once or twice, until patties are no longer pink in center and juice of beef is clear. Serve patties on grilled bun, piling onions on top. Serves 4.

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A fun note: I planted onion bulbs in my long flower box on the south side of the house in early April and I have been harvesting fresh green onions for eating “out of hand” at the table. What a treat!

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Thought for the day: Remember what Memorial Day is really about. It is about honoring the men and women who gave their lives for us, that we might have a free nation. Fly the flag and prayerfully thank those who fought in the wars, especially so this year, and be thankful that we are safe with our families and friends.


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