Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some Tips about Onions

Given that I have not bothered to write up a recipe for a good while, I'm going to 'pepper' my blog with some random tips, as in the previous entry about cleaning a stove without the use of chemicals. 

So we shall talk about chopping onions, fast and efficiently.  If you weep uncontrollably at the thought of chopping onions, you can borrow my little trick of keeping some swim goggles handy in the kitchen.  No -- not a snorkel goggle-- I mean those sleek things that folks like Matt Biondi or Michael Phelps would wear. It might look a little ridiculous to wear swim goggles, but hey... better than having your mascara run all over your face.

Now, I realize that most people with rudimentary knife skills can probably figure out how to chop an onion.  I mean, you just chop it, right?   However, if you want to really increase your efficiency, I figured out a way to speed things up and control the size of your diced onion cubes with a little more calculation involved.

So first, trim the top and bottom off the onion so it has a flat side on each end.  This also helps you pull the skin off more easily, rather than that ever so frustrating process of pulling apart layer after layer of papery-thin stuff.  When you have cut the top and bottom, cut your onion in half from top to bottom.  ("Navel to navel" if that makes more sense.)

Secondly, flip half of the onion on it's cut side, and begin making slices across the length, parallel to the top and bottom cuts. As far as the width of each slice, that just depends on how big you want your chunks to be at the end.


When the slices have all been made, gather them back into the original 'shape' of the onion-half, and if you're very adept, you can either set it back up on it's side, or leave it along the large cut side that you made in the first photo. For the purpose of illustrating how I am chopping this onion, I'm setting it up on it's side again so the camera can capture more of the process.

Now, carefully *because cut onions tend to be slippery* chop your  onion slices top to bottom, using a counter-clockwise cut working your way in reverse, starting at the positions of 2 o'clock, 1 o'clock, 12 o'clock etc, until you've reached 10 o'clock.

In this manner, you're working with the concentric circles of the onion rings, and cutting across them perpendicularly, yielding diced onions.  It is quick and easy!  (PS. You can use this same technique to dice just about any round vegetable.) 

Lastly, I also wanted to share with you a fantastic tip for getting onion and garlic smells out of your hands.  You see, since onion smell comes from oils, washing with hot soapy water will just open up your skin's pores, and makes the smell stick even more.  The first suggestion is to actually use very cold water, which will help the oils bead up and wick away from your hands.  The second suggestion is to use something made of stainless steel to rub against your skin.  You can purchase  the Stainless steel "Rub-Away-Bar" or just use a large stainless steel spoon, and use the convex side of it against each hand like a bar of soap. 

And that's my tip of the day.  Stay tuned for some actual recipes, soon. I promise.


  1. You leave the best comments! You make me laugh! And yes, goggles work. I used to always wear goggles when cutting onions. Then I lost them. I need to get a new pair.

  2. Keeping your onions in the fridge will also help with not crying. And you can just rub your fingers on the inside of your stainless steel sink if you don't have a spoon handy - less dishes! ;)

  3. I think I have heard of the fridge-storage trick to reduce the tears, but I always forget to try it with my whole onions. I'll go stick some of my onions in the fridge right now!

    However, another thing that I neglected to mention above in my post is that storage of the half of the onion that is left over is best done in aluminum foil. Not sure why exactly but whenever I store an onion half in cling-wrap it gets mushy and slimy really fast, but if I store it in aluminum foil, it will stay fresh and crisp for days in the fridge.