onions and life

Shades of gray punctuated with bursts of color.  Onions and life.  Onions have a bite when eaten raw.   But, they can be transformed into a sweet pile of beautiful color, as can life.

I was in the kitchen hoping to be inspired for the evening’s dinner while unloading the dishwasher.  The unloading of the dishwasher was not inspiring me.  So, I tried Food Network.

Having read about relishes the prior evening, I wanted to do something different with vegetables.  On TV, Alex Guarnaschelli was making onion jam.  I love onions. I usually have a big pile of onions in our kitchen.  I’ve never made onion jam.  She piled the jam on cornbread after it was done.  I’ve eaten my fair share of cornbread lately and can’t seem to get enough.  I was sold.  I had an idea.

But, let me first get back to life.

Life can also be raw.  It can be shades of gray.  Lest the one reader (me) who reads this blog is scared off…I don’t mean to be a downer.  I think it is a good thing to steep oneself in the realities of life.  It is grounding.  If we run away from the reality of life, our problems or issues will either be ignored or pushed into our subconscious.  If pushed into our subconscious, they will manifest at some point, possibly in other ways.  If the issue is ignored, it will most likely arise with more teeth than it originally had.

An onion, when cooked slowly over low heat,  seems to be almost coaxed into another form.  We can do the same with ourselves.  Gently coax yourself into noticing your feelings.  Feel them.  Acknowledge them.  Move on.  If you believe something just isn’t “right ” about those feelings, examine them.  Ask yourself why you feel a certain way.  Bump it off a spouse or a trusted friend.

This pile of onions becomes…

Let me give you an example of something that does not seem quite “right” in my life.  I am struggling under the weight of my parents divorce. Why, one might ask, are you, Kelly, struggling under the weight of it?  It is not your divorce.  And, you’d have every right to ask me why.  Do I detect a whiff of codependence in the otherwise onion and vinegar smelling air?  Maybe. But, I wasn’t sure.

While I was pondering how it was I could be so affected by my parents divorce, I was reading a psychology related book.  The bibliography listed a book titled, Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie.  My interest was piqued.  I bought it.  I read it.  I am working through some of the exercises given in the book that I feel are relevant to me.

Dealing with a personal issue does not mean we will not see the bursts of color in life.  If fact, I believe, if we deal with the uglier issues in life, each of us will be better suited, better equipped, to experience the moments of real joy, those bursts of color. Why?  Our mind becomes less clouded and cluttered when we step up to the plate and meet something head on.  Our subsconscious begins to clear out…if only just a bit. It loosens its stronghold on us.  We grow stronger.  We may become less likely to react and more likely to act in healthier ways.  We peel back some of the proverbial onion layers.

Enough about life, back to the jam.  Alex used large red onions, red wine, honey and red wine vinegar.  I had sweet yellow onions in the cupboard.  I decided to use those in place of red onions.  I was not in the mood to write down or look up the recipe.   So, I remembered the basic components and went from there.

The onions are sliced thinly.  Piled into a skillet with a little canola oil and cooked with a big pinch of salt until they become translucent.  Later red wine is added, and then a mixture of honey and red wine vinegar is incorporated.  Sound good?  It is. The end result is a gorgeous mash of sweet, flavored onions.  Onion jam.

Onion Jam 

adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli 

Cook’s Note:  Use the recipe below as a general guideline.  Cook to your taste. I changed the ratio of vinegar to honey.  As shown below, I decreased the amount of red wine vinegar.  Alex used 1/2 c. each of honey and vinegar.  This makes quite a bit of jam.  The recipe is easily halved.    

1/4 c. canola oil

4 large red or sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 c. red wine

1/2 c. honey

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

1.  In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the onions give up their liquid, about 7 – 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to slowly cook the onions another 10 minutes or so.

2.  Once they begin to look translucent, add the red wine. Cook until the wine reduces almost completely.  Leave on low heat.  Prepare the vinegar and honey.

3.  In a separate small pan, heat the honey until it begins to bubble.  Add the red wine vinegar.  Simmer on low heat for 2 – 3 minutes.

4.  Pour the honey mixture over the onions.  Stir to incorporate.  Adjust seasonings. Continue to cook over low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the consistency of the mixture becomes jam-like, about 5 minutes.