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Warming to my theme

These are onion flowers. Not something you want to see.

Oh, they’re attractive enough, but it’s a bad sign. Veg that goes to flower stops doing what you want it to do — in this case, make a big, fat onion — and concentrates on making seeds.

Onions are usually biennial — it takes two years to go from seed to seed. Year one, they make a stalk and an onion, then they hibernate for the Winter. Year two, they wake up and make flowers.

But sometimes, when conditions are right, they think one season is two. This year, we had a hot spell, then a cold spell, then a hot spell. Some of our onions were all, like, “woohoo! It’s 2013!” and started to flower (or “bolt” as Mister Fancypants Horticulture-talking Dude would say).

I know, right? Onions are so stupid.

Once they’ve flowered, they’re still edible, but they’re puny. And weirdly firm. And they won’t keep like the others. I’m thinking of throwing them whole into vegetable soup, for a sort of Onion Surprise effect.

Good weekend, alliumophiles!


Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: August 10, 2012, 10:42 pm

Stupid onions. Do as you’re told, or I’ll chop you into bits & eat you.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 10, 2012, 10:46 pm

Vegetable soup, OK, but why bother with the other vegetables? Why not just go for onion soup? Or, in the alternative–caramelize in accordance with AliceH’s prescription (not neglecting the use of bacon fat, which is pretty seriously non-canonical for onion soup, eh?), parcel, package, and freeze. . .you then have the starters for any number of dishes. Although, um, Uncle Badger may not partake. But, you know, he could have steak-and-kidney the same evening you have something-that-involves-caramelized-onions.

Sigh. Which probably already happens. Nevermind.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 10, 2012, 10:53 pm

We have separate dinners on Tuesday night, because I get up early on Wednesday for coffee with the neighbor ladies. (The last fragment of my thirteen-year-old self just crawled into the corner, whimpering, and opened a vein with a rusty folding razor).

On those nights, kidneys sometimes make an appearance in his dinner.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: August 10, 2012, 11:18 pm

Thanks for the edumacation…it’ll come in handy to avoid having to line up at the soup kitchens one day soon.

Have a nice weekend! 🙂

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 10, 2012, 11:34 pm

Oh, Sweas, RIP to the 13 year old (although I’m inclined to think she was rushed to the ER, bandaged up, and restored to society after a good talking to on the subject of accepting the changes inevitable with adulthood; but, just now, I’m not dealing well with the idea of death, y’know? So possibly I’m being overly Pollyannaish.)

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 10, 2012, 11:52 pm

Mmmmm Kidneys!

I really grossed-out Her Stoatlness the other week. The ‘mixed grill’ came with LIVER!

You want to know how vile onions are? A week after I clawed them up out of the bed, the earth still smelled of onion.

Joking aside, it is a testament to plant chemistry, that onions can extract so much sulphur and process it into…. oh, I dunno… whatever it is that onion lovers love.

Me? I’ll stick to animal parts. Snurfle.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: August 11, 2012, 12:45 am

Has The Great and Powerful Weasel considered pickling these flowered onions?

Comment from Armybrat
Time: August 11, 2012, 1:30 am

Ok uncle B. I’m married to a chef and am a pretty damn good cook myself and the only damn thing livers are good for is pâtés and terrines. Kidneys? Nothing….absolutely nothing!

Comment from PatAZ
Time: August 11, 2012, 1:47 am

Liver is a dirty word.

Comment from EZnSF
Time: August 11, 2012, 2:18 am

Liver and Onions! Yum

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 11, 2012, 2:32 am

Weasel – You’re amazing. You’re the only blogger I have ever heard of who could take a leek and get 20 comments, and take another leek and get 10 more…

Oh, and amazing how the subject of good leeks always leads to a discussion of kidneys, isn’t it?

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 11, 2012, 3:09 am

Stoatie – have your sensibilities been assaulted with authentic Haggis yet?

Comment from Redd
Time: August 11, 2012, 3:36 am

I like River Cottage, tho not the butchering parts. Unfortunately, the doofus went veghead.

Comment from Redd
Time: August 11, 2012, 3:38 am

On River Cottage, they have mushrooms twice the size of bowling balls. You scoop them out, fill them with cheesy stuff, and bake them.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 11, 2012, 10:11 am

I have seen haggis. That’s about as far as I’m going. Ditto blood pudding.

I remember one Thanksgiving some TV channel ran an all day marathon of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Which really should’ve been called Gross Things Foreigners Eat. I watched them make blood pudding.

Egad. Almost ruined my lunch.

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 11, 2012, 11:27 am

Same thing happened here last year … weird

Comment from JeffS
Time: August 11, 2012, 4:59 pm

Ditto blood pudding.

Try blood sausage sometimes. Or don’t. I had some served to me in a Bundeswehr messhall. UGH!

Comment from Redd
Time: August 11, 2012, 5:10 pm

The thinking is that if you are going to butcher an animal for food, why waste any part of it. Blood has to be iron rich. Frankly, I’m more turned off by some big old cow’s tongue. They are huge.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 11, 2012, 7:41 pm

Hm. While in theory I agree with “why waste any part of it,” truth is that, for most of us, we have no control whatsoever over the waste of parts from animals we use for food. That’s not a criticism or snark, in any way–just an observation. But, see, it leads me to the further observation that there are plenty of parts of any animal-used-for-food that we personally don’t use for any purpose, even though we eat parts of that animal for food. And I remember all those elementary school lessons about how the Indians used every part of the animal; which may have been literally true, but I am inclined to believe was only figuratively true. Fact is, whether you do it consciously or not, when an animal is killed and you eat part of it, all of it is returned to the earth and recycled in some form.

Which is to say: Long live bacon, steaks, pork chops and white-meat-chicken.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: August 11, 2012, 9:07 pm

I’ve actually been told that organ meat is great as dog food. I’m thinking about going to a couple of local processors to get some and see if the fuzz posse likes it…

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: August 11, 2012, 11:19 pm

Dang Stoaty, I go away for a while and when I finally get a chance to check in what do I see? Obama in a tutu, bolting onions, cock rock, and Ric Locke passing into the great unknown.

My brain is reeling from the many ricocheting images.

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 11, 2012, 11:45 pm

Sweasel slaughters fat lambs on Youtube?

Comment from Redd
Time: August 11, 2012, 11:53 pm

I’m watching The Hanging Gale where they partially bleed a young cow and mix the blood with milk and drink it so they don’t starve to death. Damn Michael Kitchen!

Comment from Braze
Time: August 12, 2012, 2:39 am

We always leave one of our onions to bloom each year: the butterflies like it.

And onions are a basic Mitchell food group.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: August 12, 2012, 3:04 am

@scubafreak- a significant amount of food animal parts are used to feed domesticated animals. The flesh of fur bearing animals also finds it way to the feed of domesticated animals. Ever wonder what that “animal protien” listed in your dogs food was? Some of it was the flesh of the minks from the fur coats I wear. Waste not, want not. I get a fabulous winter coat, fido or Morris gets meat.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 12, 2012, 4:47 am

The night ’twas dark and gloomy
As it broached the midnight hour
And I pled my troth to my true love
Who clutched an onion flower

True love boiled through my blood
Rare as that onion flower
Both are usually nipped in the bud
By some farmer or father dour

As I gently helped her shed her dress
She still held that onion flower
‘Twas then I noticed that her breath
Was rather onion sour.

And that moment I’ll ponder till my death
For I faced an awful quandry
Should I make sweet love to a girl whose breath
Smelled worse than dirty laundry?

Some would say “Hell yes, you silly sot”
Making love tis not all about the kiss
There are sweeter wetter spots
In a naked willing miss

But the answer I shall never find
For as she grasped that long thin leek
Her father snuck up from behind
And kicked me into the middle of next week

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 12, 2012, 12:19 pm

Mink farmers and TSEs …. lovely time had by all!

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 12, 2012, 3:11 pm

Mmm, I love offal. Haggis is awesome. My father and I would occasionally share one with mashed potatoes and swede. Now he’s gone I doubt my mother would let one in the house. Black pudding, fried for breakfast is delicious. Has to be Scotch black pudding, though, not the Lancashire muck with the big lumps of fat in it. Steak and kidney pie is the food of the gods. The gravy is so rich and meaty. Yum. If liver is done right (which mainly means not overcooked) it is great. Now I am hungry. I have 12 oz. of primary muscle meat (fillet steak) for dinner but that’s a bit unadventurous.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: August 12, 2012, 5:10 pm

David, are you my son-in-law? Because he says the same things about those foods. I can’t wait to get him in this country and feed him some real food.

My most disturbing revelation about English food? Burgers aren’t burgers, they’re meatloaf sandwiches. Here, a burger is a patty of ground beef and only ground beef. There they mix it up with onions and bread crumbs and God knows what else and put it on a bun and call it a burger. It’s NOT a burger. Fine if you like that sort of thing, but it’s not a burger, Scottish beef notwithstanding.

And this: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4292529910817&set=a.4292523550658.2184265.1213596565&type=3&theater

You’d never see that here. Fish is meant to be battered and deep fried and eaten with ketchup, the best of which I found at a pub in Towton, where they did not, sadly enough, have Diet Coke.

Comment from Kilroy182
Time: August 12, 2012, 5:10 pm


Comment from Becca
Time: August 12, 2012, 7:15 pm

Haggis ain’t got a thing on good ol’ Southern-style souse! As a kid, I would swear I could see the occasional snout in the sandwich Mom made me.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 12, 2012, 7:45 pm

My great grandfather (also a Southerner)liked to eat brains and eggs for breakfast. I never had the nerve to inquire about what animal the brains came from. . .

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 12, 2012, 8:02 pm

At the ‘educational’ establishment attended by the young badger, lunches were served on a ‘per table’ basis, where a dish of…. something.. was deposited and you were expected to fight over it, like young tigers. Or badgers, which is worse.

Which would have been fine but for the filth they dished-up.

Occasionally the earthenware offering dish would contain hearts. Yes, hearts. One per victim, floating in a sea of semi-congealed gravy, with little globules of fat bobbing on the surface like a flotilla of cholesterol dinghies.

Rarely did a scrap ensue when it was heart day. There are some things even badgers won’t eat.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 12, 2012, 10:15 pm

UB, at prep school the food was so bad the parents complained and they switched caterers. The original mob occasionally used to dish up some sort of brown meat gruel. Whoever picked the most vertebrae out of their portion was the winner. At public school, on the other hand, food was surprisingly good (and very plentiful.) I’ve only eaten heart once or twice. I like it. Nice firm texture, not too gamey.

Nina, I don’t know where in the UK you got a burger made like that. It sounds gruesome. Most pubs do a pretty serviceable burger these days. As far as chains go, GBK is top notch.

Comment from Redd
Time: August 12, 2012, 10:45 pm

The best of both worlds:

Slice off the tops of onions & scoop out the insides.
Chop liver and mushrooms and sautee with the onion guts.
Add spices and bread crumbs.
Fill onions with this mixture, place cap back on, & pop in the oven for about an hour.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 12, 2012, 10:51 pm

DG – yes, I agree, burgers here have improved muchly. Stoatie and I have taken to lunching at a small place near us where the gaffer only uses good quality steak in his burgers and the difference is remarkable. The only problem is he doesn’t cook them over charcoal.

The nastiest thing we’ve encountered locally (Kent being sheep country) is when some bastard sells you a lamb (huh!) burger when you were expecting beef. Neither mustelid cares for lamb.

Then again at a few fetes we’ve been to this summer, the burgers have come from boxes marked ‘economy burgers’, no doubt from the ghastly Booker wholesale mob. I suspect that’s what Nina has been sampling. Stomach pumps are advised.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 12, 2012, 11:22 pm

Nina, you can get some very good food here (including quite acceptable burgers) and some…not very good food here.

The fish we buy is awesome. They literally sail the boat up to the back door and unload the day’s catch. The area is famous for plaice and scallops.

But fish pie is not really my thing.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 13, 2012, 1:16 am

Hearts. Yeah. When I was about 9 years old my mother served the family veal hearts cooked with apricots for dinner. We were not allowed to refuse to eat food that was served to us–and we had no control over the portions. I sat at that table until 10:00 p.m, but I did finally choke down the whole, entire, serving.

Two results:
My mother never served hearts again. Ever.
I will not eat any dish combining meat and fruit.

It recently dawned on me, when listening to my mother prattle about her childhood, that she was allowed to refuse to eat the brains and eggs. I’m still pissed off about that.

Comment from Becca
Time: August 13, 2012, 3:00 am

Can’t Hark, my grandma would fix us scrambled eggs and pig brains.

I’ve heard some people using squirrel brains, although a warning was issued in Kentucky several years back that consuming them could result in a variant of mad cow.

Comment from Birds, Beez & Fhit, LLP
Time: August 13, 2012, 4:11 am


This sparkling wine is all but empty.
Too late for trains and no taxis.
I know the feeling.
Seems all too contrived.
There was no master plan but the fact is:
You must stay with me and learn the secret language of birds.
A tentative dawn about to be breaking
On a rousseau garden with monkeys in hiding.
The truth of the matter, yet to be spoken
In words on which everything, everything’s riding.
Now stay with me and learn the secret language of birds.
Circled by swallows
In a world for the weary.
Courted by warblers; wicked and eloquent trilling.
Lie in the stillness, window cracked open.
Extended moments, hours for the taking.
Careless hair on the pillow, a bold brushstroke.
Painted verse with a chorus in waiting.
Stay with me and learn the secret language of birds.

Comment from Birds, Beez & Fhit, LLP
Time: August 13, 2012, 4:14 am


I have often wondered what would happen if we sent a single long range B-52 air asset
to spray the gannet-guano covered Britisher outcroppings with American Bourbon.

Comment from Birds, Beez & Fhit, LLP
Time: August 13, 2012, 4:14 am

That and 2nd Amendment hardware. Metric asstonnes thereof.
It will get somewhat sporty. I would love to be wrong about it, me oulde beane.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: August 13, 2012, 6:29 am

Becca: Well, pig brains sounds likely; I have to confess, however, that the entire topic makes me. . .phobic. Yeah. Good point–if I’m all that phobic, I shouldn’t even be posting in this thread to being with. ‘K. But there’s /degreees/ of phobic, y’know? I can talk about the really disgusting stuff my forbears ate. . .an entirely different discourse from what I might personally be willing to ingest. Mm?

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 13, 2012, 9:05 am

I went and slaughtered a Winter Duck … from the local Botanical Gardens the other day.
All the young children have been feeding them over the winter, so they were suitably fattened!

Tad greasy, lots of fat, but surprising tender when cooked in own juices mixed with garlic, onion, orange peel and a hint of cinnamon.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 13, 2012, 12:16 pm

Brains and eggs, eh?

I’ll take no more lectures on the supposed horrors of British food from the other side of the pond, in that case 😉

Comment from LesterIII
Time: August 13, 2012, 8:33 pm

Let me assure you, at least in the US, EVERY FRIGGIN SCRAP of an animal slaughtered gets used. It may not be consumed directly as food, but it is used. The Rendering industry processes it ALL, and I’ll remind everyone that they don’t give a cow a giant bovine enema before slaughter. Lips to tail, it all goes to the rendering plant. Out comes tallow, oils, bonemeal, and hides which beget soap, cosmetics, lubricants, handbags, and components for products for every aspect of culture and industry. I have been in ‘specialty’ facilities that only process cattle eyeballs. Have you ever looked into a 12ft x 20ft x 10ft vat that looked back at you? Nietzsche and vitreous humor shouldn’t be in the same damn nightmare.

Comment from Pupster
Time: August 13, 2012, 8:39 pm

I want to party with LesterIII.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 13, 2012, 9:13 pm

I have to admit, I like the cut of that man’s jib.

Comment from Oh Hell
Time: August 14, 2012, 1:12 am

Kidneys are good for one thing and that is processing urine.

Comment from ed royce
Time: August 27, 2012, 6:30 am

Meh. My childhood food horrors usually were oriented around the inevitable plate of grossly overcooked liver so tough it took my mother’s chef knife to cut it.

Except for spring.

Because in spring the bracken fern started to sprout and that is a delicacy to Koreans. My mother forced me to go along and help harvest these things during black fly season in New Hampshire. And then they’d get boiled up into a soup.

The most disgusting smelly mess you’ve ever imagined. To this day I cannot stand either liver or that fern soup.

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