The Parsimonious Onion Greets Winter

A while back I wrote about how stubbornness need not be viewed negatively. While cooking down onions last night, the word parsimony came to mind, one of those words I have rarely heard anyone say but know from reading. In the beginning, parsimony was not tarred with the connotation of stinginess, of miserliness. It simply meant frugality or thrift and was derived from the Latin parcere, to be sparing, to refrain from or to economize. Cheap and easy to store for weeks on end, onions are a parsimonious vegetable. Just one can add a basic layer of flavor to any vegetable dish. Whenever I sauté vegetables, I inevitably start by sautéing onions for 10-15 minutes before the main actor makes an appearance. A couple of months ago, we bought a big 10 kilo / 22 pound sack of onions for a mere 4 euros. My original plan was to make a lot of onion jam, but that didn’t happen. Instead, we have had a constant supply that will peter out in a couple of weeks, coinciding well with our departure for the holidays.

Last winter I discovered a recipe in The Moosewood Cookbook where onions play a starring role in a sauce paired with pasta. A modified version graced our table for dinner last night. Cooked buckwheat groats, which are very warming on a cold evening, replaced the pasta, and we used up most of the rest of an open bottle of white wine “bought” using frequent flyer miles. The handful of arugula was thrown in for free at our local greengrocer’s – it pays to be a regular customer. And TC gathered the walnuts himself this fall. A thrifty yet very filling meal.

Onion Sauce with Buckwheat

4-6 medium sized onions, sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup / 125 ml white wine

One bunch of greens (here arugula), chopped

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Cooked buckwheat groats (125 grams before boiling)

Sauté the onions in olive oil on medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Add salt, lower heat, and sauté as long as you like but at least 15 minutes. Add white wine, turn heat back to medium-high and sauté another 15 minutes. Add greens and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in walnuts and buckwheat. Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are.

My needle case knit from part of a skein of yarn dyed in onion skins is finally done. It was a good challenge – not the knitting but the finishing, which demanded that I learned how to properly sew in a zipper, first backstitching and then basting. This tutorial was very helpful. Perhaps there is hope for me yet as a seamstress. Adding the zipper is one small baby step toward being able to sew. Matching the needle case well, the candles are TC’s masterpiece. He bought a candle mold and used the beeswax stubs of last year’s Advent candles to fashion new ones that will outlast than the Christmas season.

Though there is a lot to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving rings a bit hollow because I am not able to spend it with my family, which for me is what Thanksgiving is about. I am thankful, however, that I will be able to spend Christmas with them. And there is something important to celebrate today: the promise of winter, the shift from the gold and orange autumnal palette to the grey and white sheen that covered the land and sky this morning as the first snow of the season arrived.

Take pleasure in observing the colors around you and spending time with people whose company you enjoy!