30 June 2012

A rare post about cooking

The last time I posted about cooking was on March the 4th. Probably due for one of those then...

Mike came in with a handful of young onions and a sheepish expression on his face this afternoon.
"The weeds were growing underneath the onions," he explained. "So the onions came up, too."

I'd already planned a potato salad for supper, using new potatoes sourced from the farmers' market, the last of the peas I'd gathered from the greenhouse and some chicken thighs. Now I had to factor in these five smallish onions, too, Sometimes my life feels like an episode of Ready, Steady, Cook!

Something crispy seemed appropriate and I began hunting for something like the fried onion side dishes you get in restaurants. After extensive internet research (I read at least two recipes), I settled on following Ree Drummond's Onion Strings on her Pioneer Woman blog. Mostly because her style of writing made me laugh.
In the process of doing the recipe I learnt two things: 1) that you can make buttermilk by mixing white vinegar into regular milk and 2) that deep frying isn't as scary as I thought it was.

Deep frying just isn't something I do very often and I think there are several reasons for this. For one thing, there's the safety issue - it seems to me that I was bombarded with messages about how dangerous it is to have big pans of boiling fat around as I was growing up. Mostly from TV public safety broadcasts, but also from direct experience.

One scary moment happened during a visit from Father Christmas: every year a float came down our road with The Man Himself on it, fairy lights, sweets handed out to onlooking children and so on. It was a big treat. We went outside to see it one year and Mum had forgotten that she'd left the chip pan on. It caught fire and a brave (and, it has to be said, rather stupid) passer-by went into the house and carried the blazing pan outside into the front garden, leaving the kitchen slightly blackened but nothing worse than that.

I have a feeling that moving a burning pan full of fat was one of the things that the public information films advised against...

Then there was the neighbour in the same road who had once spilt hot fat onto her legs and was badly burned and scarred. Mum was first on the scene and it was fairly traumatic for her, too.

And alongside all those negative influences I also worry about how wasteful deep frying is, in terms of the amount of fat used. I suppose I should add health concerns to my list, but I don't think that's a big factor when it comes to my reluctance-to-fry.

Anyway, I digress. I used my mandolin to get the onion slices as thin as possible (with such small onions it's hard to cut them finely with a knife). I used sunflower oil rather than canola for the deep frying, as that's what I happened to have handy. They ended up looking like this:

They tasted great: crispy, savoury, altogether delicious and a good accompaniment to the potato/pea/chicken salad, which was dressed with the juices from cooking the chicken pieces, some Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Maybe it's not the healthiest meal I've ever made. But it was certainly local!

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