Tag Archives: chives

Caramelize Onions in the Crockpot

Saving  Sweet Onions

The best ways to keep those giant sweet onions.

  • Caramelize

  • Pickle

  • Dehydrate

  • Caramelize

When there are too many onions, or find a great sale on them, its Caramelized Onion time. Fill a crock pot with sliced onions and allow them to slow cook overnight. When you wake up, you will discover the onions are transformed into a pricey gourmet treat I am too frugal to buy.

I started with several super sweet giant onions from the farmers market. Sweet onions have a short shelf life, so plan to freeze or dehydrate onions you will not use within a month. Super sweets should be refrigerated. Store onions in a cool, dry place. Sweet onions store for a maximum of three months, but storage types may last throughout the winter.

Caramelized onion pie with tomato and thyme. PBH

Once reduced to a pale golden layer of soft, fragrant onions, allow them to cool completely.  Use these sweet, tender onions as a base for soups, vegetable broth, or the best Onion Soup ever made. Caramelized Onions are the base for onion and tomato pie.

When onions are cool, store extra onions in one cup portions in freezer bags or containers. Label and date packages. Later, drop the onions, frozen, into soup, veggie broth, chili, or stew.

Sweet Caramelized Onions are tasty enough to serve as a side dish topping. Just season with a splash of herb vinegar, vegan butter, thyme, salt pepper. Serve over toast, on roasted vegetables or green beans. or layer in a vegetable lasagna.

Slice onions and add to crock pot with 2 tablespoons of vegan butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Make the recipe your own by adding a splash of white wine, cracked pepper, a spring or two of fresh thyme.

Caramelizing onions is a great way to extend the sweet onion season. Whether you are a fan of sweet Texas onions, Walla Walla or the famous Vidalia, give this crock pot recipe a try. It also works with other white or yellow onions, they just aren’t as sweet.

If you have red onions to keep, try making a quick refrigerator pickle recipe. It’s the best thing that ever happened to a grilled or roasted veggie sandwich.

  • Pickle

Red onions become beautiful pink pickles. The cost of a jar of pickled red onions in the local deli sent me home to make my own in minutes for pennies. PBH

Pickled Red Onions‬

1 tablespoon cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ – 2 cups of white vinegar
herb sprigs or peppercorns (optional)

Slice 2 or 3 medium size red onions in 1/4” slices.

In a small sauce pan, add sugar, salt and vinegar. Heat and stir until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Add onion slices. Heat through and cook for 1 minute.

Add a sprig of herbs or a few peppercorns to the bottom of each container or jar.
Pack onions into pint canning jars or a container with tightly covered lid.

Pour vinegar over onions to completely cover the onions. Close the jars or containers and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Keeps up to three weeks in refrigerator.

Suggested herbs: oregano, dill, thyme or  small nasturtium leaves.

  • Dehydrate

Cut onion in half, then slice big sweet onions about 1/4 inch thick. PBH

To Dehydrate Onions

Another method of preserving a lot of onions is to dehydrate them. That intense onion flavor will boost onion flavor in French onion soup, and enliven any veggie burger.

When onions are completely dry, put them in the blender to make onion powder. It is a perfect, space-saving, long-term storage method for onions.

Rich onion soup served in bread bowls or topped with croutons. PBH

It is hard to imagine a civilization without onions.  –   Julia Child

Onion Soup Recipe

  • 4 large sweet onions (about 3 pounds), thinly sliced*
  • 2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 4 -6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (your choice)
  • 1 or two fresh springs of thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • slices of baguette to top soup bowls
  • 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese
  • Fresh chives or  thyme leaves, for garnish

* any combo of mild or hot onions, leeks, shallots to equal 3 pounds

Instructions:

Heat a soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions and stirring often until onions begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. When the wine has evaporated, add garlic, thyme sprigs, salt, pepper and 6 cups of vegetable or mushroom broth (or water). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 40 minutes and then remove thyme springs.

Ladle onion soup into oven-safe bowls. Top with a slice of baguette and spread each slice with 1 tablespoon of shredded vegan cheese. Place in a hot oven or under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes, or until cheese is hot and golden.

Garnish with chives or green onions and serve.

The easiest way to grow alliums* and establish your own onion patch is with a starter pot of chives. Or, plant a clove or two of your kitchen garlic, or order onion starts from a commercial grower. The cheapest way to grow onions is to start them from seed.

*Allium is a genus of monocotyledonous flowering plants that includes hundreds of species, including the cultivated onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek, and chives.

Plant these little onions 1 or 2 inches apart. As they grow, thin the onions throughout the spring untill plants are properly spaced for bulbing. PBH

Grow an onion patch

To Grow

Onions prefer light, sandy, loamy soils, good drainage and full sun. They will grow in other types of soil, including clay. Green onions can be grown in partial shade.

Begin growing onions indoors from seed about six weeks before the last predicted frost date. Sow in flats, then transplant onions to 1″-2″ apart. Harden off onion seedling before transplanting outdoors to prevent sunscald.

I have my best luck growing onions from sets or starts. These baby onion plants are ready to plant. Even though sets are more expensive, they can be directly planted where the onions will grow. Or, plant them closer, thinning and using green onions until the remaining onions are properly spaced.

I buy onions and leek plants from Dixondale Farms. Start with well worked soil before planting. Onions are successful in the garden or in containers.

Spacing depends on the variety of onion. Generally, planting to 3″ – 4″ inches apart for green onions and thinning to at least 5-6 inches apart for bulbing onions. Proper spacing will affect the size of the mature onion.

Harvest onions a week after the tops have start to yellow and fall over

Most home cooks love having a year round supply of onions. They are easy to grow, take up little garden space and the varieties are endless. Onions are a recipe staple used in all cuisines of the world.

Getting Ready For Canning Season

Grow your own herbs

Time to refresh the spice cabinet.

Time to gather all the herbs and spices needed for canning and pickling this summer. I’m planting several herbs, including half a dozen different types of basil. And, I’m putting in an order to Penzeys to refresh the spice cabinet.

Learning about herbs

Add 1 bay leaf. Really? I always believed bay leaves were a lie. A pretentious herb. Maybe because they didn’t make a single bit of difference in any recipe when I was a kid. Pot roast tasted exactly the same whether you a 1 or 2 or 0 to the pot roast.

But the Kroeger tin box the held the little grey bay leaves above the stove had been there for years in the hot, humid kitchen. So now, 50 years later, I refresh my bay leaf supply every year.

Bay Leaves are Bay leaves are also spiciest when dried. But old bay leaves are tasteless. Today I proved to myself that bay leaves (Laurus nobilis)  do have taste and are also a fragrant herb.

Herbal Taste Tests

First, dump those herbs that have been in your cabinets for years. If you can smell nothing or haven’t used that jar of herbs for a couple of years, toss them. Buy a small amount of fresh herbs.

1. Bay Leaf  Tea

Add a few bay leaves to 2 cups of boiling water. Steep 5 minutes.

Do this test with any herb to learn about its unique flavor. Make a cup of tea. That’s it.  A cup of hot water and a tablespoon of herbs. Let it steep 5 minutes, taste the herb flavored water.

I add several leaves to a pint jar of hot water, put a lid on it and wait 5 minutes. There is enough tea for two cups, if you can talk someone into taste testings with you.

2. Herb Rice

Herb scented rice. Add a few bay leaves to the rice cooker at the beginning of the cycle.

Do this test to check how this herbs flavors food. Make a batch of plain white or brown rice. Add 2 or 3 bay leaves (or other herb) and cook the rice with no other seasonings, except an optional small amount of salt.

I use a rice cooker. So, I use a cup of rice and two cups of water, 3 bay leaves. When the rice is cooked, fluff and taste it plain and with a pinch of salt. I get light floral scent and mild earthy hint of flavor in every bite of white rice.

3. Herb Omelet

1 tsp butter, 2 eggs, 1 Tbs chopped chervil, 1 Tbs shredded cheese.

My favorite spring mornings begin on the deck or patio. Make the coffee and an omelet. Maybe through a slice of bread in the toaster. Dine outdoors with the humming birds and bees buzzing about. Songbirds sing and your plan for the day becomes clear.

Herb omelets are one of the delights of spring breakfasts on the patio.

A great way to educate yourself to the unique flavors of a fresh spring herb is in an omelet.

2 eggs

a buttered skillet with 1 teaspoon of butter.

1 Tbs fresh chopped chervil (or chives, cilanto, parsley*.)

1 Tbs shredded Swiss cheese ( or American or mozzarella, optional.)

The first herbs to pop up in the spring are some of the most delicately flavored herbs of all. A simple 2 egg omelet with a sprinkling of a teaspoon or two of fresh chopped herbs. Maybe add a tablespoon of mild shredded cheese, salt, pepper.

Herb omelet or scrambled eggs with chopped fresh herbs, it’s your choice. Try this method with just one herb per omelet to learn about the flavor of each herb.

I’m not going to get into how to make an omelet or scramble eggs. My mission is growing and enjoying herbs. An omelet made with fresh spring herbs is flavorful enough that you don’t need a lot of filling ingredients.

With more experience, experiment with herb combinations. My favorites are Fine Herbes: chives, tarragon, and parsley. Or any combination of these herbs.

This breakfast tastes even better served on the patio with a big cup of hot, black French roast coffee.

My favorite herb omelet is chervil and Swiss. A couple of slices of buttered and salted baguette with radish slices complete the perfect spring meal.

1 large Bay Leaf = 1/2 teaspoon broken = 1/4 teaspoon crushed

Substitute one fresh leaf for every two dried leaves.

More

Discover the flavor of  herbs with herb vinegar.

I show case single herbs in my herb vinegars. Save the flavor of delicate spring herbs by making herb vinegar while herbs are at their peak.

If you don’t think herbs have much to offer, it could be because you tasteless herbs are old. Buy a small starter plant and try some fresh herb leaves in your recipes this season. I don’t think there would be any point to raising tomatoes if  I didn’t also grow basil.

* Seed Sources

Renee’s Garden – Annual herbs are grown from seed. Chervil, cilanto, parsley and dill. Plus, chives, parsley calendula and nasturtiums.

Bay Leaves

The plant’s Roman name, Laurus nobilis, comes from the word laudare, to praise, and a crown of bay leaves has been a sign of  honor, as in the Olympic Crown of Bay Leaves.

 

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Homemade Buttermilk Dressing (ranch dressing)

I am a herb gardener. Herbs are thriving in this summer heat. Since fresh tastes best.

This is my version of Ranch Dressing.

Homemade Buttermilk Dressing (ranch dressing) with fresh herbs

Use fresh herbs when you have them. Substitute Penzeys Fox Point seasoning for onions and garlic.

1 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt (low or fat-free may be used)

1 cup buttermilk (low-fat is ok)

juice of ½ lemon

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

salt & freshly ground black pepperto taste

Combine yogurt and lemon in a pint Mason jar. Add garlic,chives, parsley and, dill. Pour in half the butter milk. Whisk or shake all ingredients are well blended. (Or I use an emersion blender.)

Continue adding up to ½ cup of buttermilk until dressing is the desired consistency. (I use 1 whole cup of buttermilk.)

Makes 1 pint. Keeps for a week in the fridge. Always shake before using.

Note the expiration date on the buttermilk and let that date be your expiration for this Ranch Dressing. Always shake before using.

If you use fat free yogurt instead of mayo, the dressing is still creamy and now low fat salad dressing. Try it. I prefer it with yogurt because you can not tell the difference.

Mix ingredients in a bowl or jar.

Use these dried herbs in winter or to make a gift mixes.

Dry Ranch Mix

1/2 cup instant minced onion
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder

2 cups dry parsley flakes
2 tablespoons dry dill weed

Measure first five ingredients, minced onion, onion salt, garlic salt, onion powder and garlic powder, into a blender or food processor and blend until combined. Stir in parsley and dill. Store and keep mix dry. A Mason jar or freezer bag work well. Label and include instructions for dressing or dip. Label it. You think you will remember, but you won’t.

Include these instructions on the gift tag:

Buttermilk Dressing

1 cup plain yogurt (or mayonnaise)

1 cup of buttermilk

juice of ½ lemon

2 Tablespoons Dry Ranch Mix

Combine 2 Tablespoons dry mix, one cup plain Greek yogurt, lemon and one cup buttermilk. Allow flavors to blend for at least an hour in the fridge before using.

The original recipe called for mayo instead of yogurt but I pinky swear you will not be able to tell the difference.

If you make ranch chicken, ranch dip, ranch potatoes, ranch flavored oyster crackers or, ranch burgers, substitute this recipe for the packaged recipe with too much salt, msg, and other unpronounceable ingredients.

Sliced tomato with buttermilk dressing.

This is how to share with the Ranch Dressing store bought bottled users:

At “pass the ranch.”  give him your homemade version.

There is no need to  discuss that half the calories are missing, most of the salt and fat are gone. AFTER he says he likes it Then you can tell him.

Bluecheese crumbles and chopped basil.  photo PBH.

 

 

Homemade Buttermilk Dressing with blue cheese and basil.

Start with 1/4 cup blue cheese and 1 tablespoon of basil. Taste, adjust cheese and herbs.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day May 2010

chive and sage blooms

Most herb flowers are small and unremarkable, but I look forward to these lavender colored chive and sage blooms every spring. They are edible, but I prefer to gather a kitchen bouquet so I can enjoy the flowers even longer.

Kitchen bouquets make herb leaves close and easy to use for cooking.

Flowers in the kitchen

Chive flowers will turn this white wine vinegar pink

More lavendar colored flowers

clematis “President” is a homeless plant I have yet to move to a permanent home. It has faithfully lived in this plastic pot for over a year.

( It takes just a little imagination to view the next blooms which are in my camera but not in my possession right now.)

Strawberries

Roses

Astillbe

Daylilies

Columbine

Carol, garden blogger at May Dreams Gardens started the Bloom Day tradition Garden bloggers Bloom Day May 2010.

New! Chinese Chives Are the devil in disguise

Really, these are garlic chives.

Here is what Renee has to say about Chinese chives:
“One of my favorite fresh herbs, Chinese chives, combines the flavor of garlic and the sweet oniony taste of chives in a perfect marriage. The 10 to 12 inch long, strappy flat leaves are scrumptious whenever you want a hint of garlic flavor without the fuss! Use fresh as they lose their savor when cooked. I snip them into ½ inch pieces to sprinkle over fresh salads or on top of most steamed vegetables or a plate of juicy sliced tomatoes. They are wonderful in potato or pasta salads, with scrambled eggs, or even deep fried to finish a rice dish. When your plants begin to bloom with pretty white flowers – break up and sprinkle the individual florets over salads for an ornamental and edible flower garnish.”

And I agree. They are everything Renee says. But there is more:

This is my story: After a lecture on herbs, the speaker said she had free samples of garlic chives for everyone. She had enough clumps to give to each of the 30 young and foolish beginning herb gardeners. She dug up these 30 fist fulls of garlic chives and wrapped them in plain newspaper to keep from getting our cars messy, she said. As I look back on this herbal exchange, I now believe the newspaper was meant to cover up the garlic chives. Sort of like the infamous plain brown wrapper. That way neighbors could not see what we were bringing into the neighborhoods. There would be no screaming or shouting or alerting the homeowners association plant police. And it also provided a cover up so no one would know she was herb trafficking in garlic chives.

To say that garlic chives are invasive, is an underestimate and should be punishable by law when people do not offer full dislosur. The plain truth is Chinese Chives are out to take over the world, one herb garden at a time.

In fact, this is how I started out on the herb speaker’s bureau. I volunteer to speak to herb gardener wannabes. After the lecture, I pass out free samples of Chinese Chives to all the attendees and their friends and families too.

Renee’s Garden

http://twitter.com/reneesgarden

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