How to chop onions without crying

    Once-a-month cooking makes sense. Ever heard of it? You spend several hours in the kitchen cooking in bulk and after clean-up, there are meals in the fridge and freezer ready for the month ahead. Others find once-a-week cooking more doable, finding a few hours on a Sunday rather than most of a day.
    I knew some gals who made it a group effort. More hands to chop, cook and stir made for time efficiency while providing welcomed conversation. They had more time for family and activities the rest of the month.
    The process allows home-cooked meals when you wouldn’t otherwise have time.
    Although I don’t plan a month in advance, I have found it gratifying those times I’ve prepped ahead. When making lasagna, meatballs or chicken and noodles, make extra for the freezer. Since we’re no longer feeding a family, the containers can be even smaller for more meals.
    There was a bag of onions on sale awhile back and it triggered a step to chop and cook them in bulk. I could spread the cooked batch out on a pan to freeze, then break off in chunks to store in the freezer. Onions could be added to any food without having to chop and saute.
    And so it began. I set out eight onions and barely got into the chopping mode when my eyes were watering profusely. The burning sensation increased but an attempt to dab my eyes with a damp cloth or tissue didn’t do much.
    Finally reaching the point that I couldn’t keep my eyes open, I stepped into a modern-day life and asked Siri how to avoid crying when cutting an onion. It’s incredible how quickly answers pop up!
    There was some mention of wives’ tales with the hint that none of the suggestions really helped.
    One was to freeze the onion, but I was ready for chopping now. Another was to soak the onion in ice water, to put the cut side down to keep the juice fumes away from the eyes. Another actually made me laugh. Let a piece of bread hang from your mouth.
    Wives’ tales or not, I found myself making an ice-water bath for the next few onions. Once they were plenty cold, I made a slice and put the cut side down as I prepared to chop again. Out came the bread. It took some trials on how to let the bread hang without biting it.
    So here we go. No tears. Something worked. Which one? Well maybe it was a combination so I continued with those three tips. Ice, cut side down, bread.
    The roasting onions smelled great. I had added celery and garlic to part of it. As is typical, they shrunk as they cooked down, creating juices and an aroma which found their way out the oven vents.
    It was cold out but my hubby suddenly opened both the front and back doors. He wondered what was up because his eyes were burning.
    Well have a piece of bread, Dear. But don’t eat it. Just let it hang out of your mouth.
    Bahahahah! I still haven’t figured out if the onions were excessively strong or if it was sheer quantity that made for such a potent experience.
     Who would have thought that buying a bag of onions could turn into a story?
    In the meantime, the prepared onion treasure continues to come in handy. Add the already-browned hamburger, a batch of cooked locally-grown beans, some tomatoes and spices. Chili is simmering in no time. Pre-prepping does make a difference.
    No crying today.

LORI PANKONIN is co-publisher of Johnson Publications newspapers in Imperial, Wauneta and Grant, and part-owner of the Holyoke Enterprise in Holyoke, Colo. E-mail: lori@jpipapers.com

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