Life List: Caramelized Onions

Look who’s blogging again! I don’t even recognize myself. I’m glad for the inspiration, it’s nice to have some things to say.

So, caramelizing onions. While I feel a little silly having it as one of my life list goals, it’s a really good idea to have things that are easy to do and check off once in a while. Not everything needs to be hang-gliding while playing the accordion version of Bach’s Eleventy-teenth Symphony. Also, while I like eating, cooking is not always my favourite, unless I have lots of time. And lately, I have not felt like I have had a lot of time, so doing much of anything that is outside my usual habits (and successfully!) is for me, worth acknowledging.

What I didn’t know, was that this fancy-sounding thing (caramelizing sounds to me like this major undertaking, maybe it doesn’t to you) is actually very, very easy. So easy in fact, that I decided to try it maybe half an hour before I did it and it was totally fine. Cooking shows I have watched have hinted at this, but I didn’t really believe them. I consulted Smitten Kitchen for advice on how to do it and then it was just a matter of patience.

The trick (for other novice cooks like me) is the low temperature and long cooking time. I didn’t think, when I first put the onions on at low-medium heat, that they were going to cook properly. “The butter doesn’t even bubble,” I thought, “How is this going to do anything but a very mild saute?” But I was trying this, and people said it worked, so I put the timer on to check in 10 minutes and got the rest of my dinner cooking. I then sat at the table reading the comics and the horoscope and doing the cryptoquip like any good little nerd does on a Saturday night when they need to sit on their hands and not check the frying pan every thirty seconds. I checked the pan when the timer went off, and lo, they were soft and a little bit brown. I set the timer for another 10 minutes and went away again. When it went off, they were even more brown and starting to smell really good. Huh. They were done in another 20 minutes, along with the rest of my dinner, and while they weren’t quite the uniform brown that one sees on cooking shows, they were good and toasty yummy enough for me! Had I known, I would have done this long ago. So much easier than trying to get the same effect on a higher heat. The only things I would do differently next time would be to remember the salt and pepper right away, in case that makes a difference to the browning (have you found it does?), and I would use more onion, because there almost wasn’t enough to make it to the last bite!

So yes, a small thing. Probably laughable to some out there, but I’m happy with it and now I can work away on my other goals!

(Not the hang-gliding though, I’ll leave that up to someone else.)

Edited to add: I just saw that my friend, M, has created a “40 before I’m 40” list and it looks great! Hers is actually organized and not just random thoughts strewn everywhere like mine. If you like this kind of thing, you should check it out!

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