On the off chance anyone missed this, we just moved from New York City to Raleigh, North Carolina.
We have moved in with Rich’s nonagenarian parents (one should use such words once in a while!) to help them, which produces its own complications – we’re all pretty crowded, and we need to fit our lives into theirs.
I only brought a few of my own kitchen things – some pans I particularly like using, some props I find especially useful for the blog – so now of course am well into finding out which things I really should have brought but didn’t, and which I brought but really didn’t need to. Ah, well, we know that will happen…
But this kitchen is at least three times larger than my old one! And I set up a table as my desk in the corner, and have made my own space… And, at least as important, I am starting to fill the freezer with my own Convenient Foods.
I had bought a five pound pack of beef cut for stew. Yesterday was a snow day (I thought it was supposed to be warmer here? It’s been bitterly cold) so I stayed in and browned it all, then froze it in portions to use later (And of course made Pressure Cooker Beef Stew last night, which was a hit!) And a few days earlier, I’d sauteed an entire pan full of onions.
And I realized I’d mentioned doing that way back in the very beginning – but it’s such a useful trick, I should remind you all about it! I try to have at least some sauteed onion in my freezer all the time, because if I’m in a hurry, or not feeling well, I can start a recipe a good ten to fifteen minutes along! It’s even better for slow cookers – between the onion and the beef, I don’t need to use another pan to start a meal! I can just drop them into the slow cooker, add the rest of the ingredients, and turn it on. (Doesn’t that make the morning look easier?)
I had a second inspiration this time – I’d bought a bag of onions, come home, and discovered a bag of onions in the refrigerator. (I never refrigerated them, so hadn’t noticed it…) So it made sense to get some into the freezer, and I cooked about six large onions at once! More often, though, I do it in small amounts… I’m sauteing an onion anyhow, so I cook two. Or I have one that is much too large for the recipe (especially when I was cooking for just two of us) so I put half into my handy freezer bag. This way I keep up with no real effort.
In case you haven’t tried it, I find this the easiest way to dice onions. Peel it, cut it in half, then slice from the top down (leaving the end attached.) Then cut across, and it all falls into neat small pieces. Do this while you heat your pan over medium heat, and then add a little oil to the pan (I typically use olive oil for this.)
Put the diced onion in the pan, and stir to coat with oil. Then just let it cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden. You can, of course, go further and really brown them – or you can lower the heat, give it a good long time, and really caramelize them… For general use, though, I just cook until golden as a baseline. I can always give them a few more minutes when I want to use them!
When they are the color I want, I turn the heat off and let them cool. Then I package them in a quart zip freezer bag, flattening it to freeze. That way I can easily break off the amount I want to use at a time.
And that’s it! Hardly a recipe, really, more a method… (though I will write it up.) But I seriously suggest that you try it – you’ll be amazed how often you reach for that little bag of flavor, once you are used to it!
And meanwhile… I need to start setting this kitchen up with the convenient foods and seasonings I use. Rich’s mother, Barbara, has not cooked for a while and his dad, Don, has been (very reasonably) keeping everything simple… but I want herbs and spices, I want to make my roux cubes, I want to add more interest to our meals! So come and watch me figure out ways to do that, while still keeping it relatively easy.
- 6 large onions
- 1 T olive oil
- Peel and dice onions.
- Heat a large heavy pan over medium heat, add oil, and swirl to coat the pan.
- Add onions, stir to coat with oil. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Once cool, package in a plastic freezer bag. Flatten and push air out, so the onion freezes as a thin sheet, and you can easily break off the amount you want at any time.