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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

02.25.2002

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the clueless 
cook's HANDBOOK: ONION CONUNDRUMS 

Maybe this has happened to you. You, the clueless but determined cook, head to your friendly neighborhood supermarket in search of an ordinary onion for that really simple recipe you got from Mom. Easy sneezy, you figure, even for a novice cook. You wander towards the produce department, secure in the belief that you know exactly what youíre looking for. Fifteen minutes later, youíre staring dazed at a mountain of onion-shaped bulbs, trying to figure out if you need the yellow or the white or the red. Or maybe the sweet. So much for easy.

And when it comes to some of the more exotic species of the onion-flavored ilk, things can get really confusing. The myriad onion varieties can be bewildering enough, but toss in the possibility of scallions, green onions, shallots, or leeks into the mix, and itís enough to send the novice cook running for take-out Ė anything to avoid having to figure out whatís what, and whether you need it. Ah, the many members of the onion family. Whatís the deal?

onion basics
red, yellow, white, sweet -- what's the difference ? tell me

how do you chop an onion? tell me

what's the difference between scallions + green onions? tell me

what are shallots? tell me

what are leeks? tell me
.

. Trial-and-error has its place in the learning process of cooking,  but letís face it, we could all save ourselves a lot of time Ė and the waste that comes from having to toss those inedible accidents in the garbage Ė if weíd just ask when we donít know something. Your know-it-all big sister will probably laugh at you if you call her up in a panic because you don't know how to boil water, since hey, thatís what siblings are for. But Iím here to assure you that itís far sillier to avoid cooking altogether just because you feel like youíre too old to admit you donít already know how.

Still, I know youíve got that pesky pride. So here's your source for answers to those really stupid food questions that youíd never take the risk of embarrassing yourself to ask out loud.

Got a stupid food question? Don't be shy ... ask

or check out the clueless cooks archives!

o
check out these related articles
the myth of the bad cook | cooking without cookbooks |
technically speaking 

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