Bloganuary: Superpowers

What is a superpower you’d love to have?

THIS is the first question in Bloganuary that I’m excited about: I love superhero movies, TV shows, (and though I rarely read them anymore — too busy) comic books. I will tell you at the outset that I have thought about this countless times — and what is it they say, “know thyself”? — if I had a super power I would be a top tier Super Villain.

My power would be Speed, a la Barry or Bart Allen (the Flash) but with Eobard’s sensibilies and cunning.

Eobard Thawn and Barry Allen.

North Korea bothering you? Enter Flashtime (speed so fast time stops) and take out the whole of their army with a sword. Evil CEO got you down? A vibrating hand through the chest will stop that. Say goodbye to Twitter, Facebook, and Google, because I’d run straight through their entire network (and then their creators as well). My version of Flash would only run at top speed so as to be invisible and I would cast myself as the Hand of God come to Earth to pass judgment.

Splat! Splat! Splat! Go most leaders of the governments of the world.

Innocent until proven guilty? Not if I had Speed.

The Flash can also run so fast that he can run through time, so I’d run back in time to the same time and take out multiple targets at the exact same time across the planet.

Barry Allen might be the avatar of Love but I’d be the avatar of Wrath.

Death for a Speedster– I would totally take out Barry Allen if I had speed.

Those of you who have been following my posts in Bloganuary might be surprised. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense — give me Speed, please!

Comic books (and the whole genre of film and TV) are modern myths, our time’s Zeus and Hera, if you will. What are your favorite myths or super hero’s/villains? Tell me in the comments.

Bloganuary: Cause?

What is a cause you’re passionate about and why?

When Dante passed under the famous inscription, before the first circle and before the ferry, he passed through an outer lying circle of those unwanted by either Heaven or Hell: The Uncommitted, the souls and angels who chose no side.

Living in Japan, you rarely see homelessness. The few I’ve seen were either alcoholic or mentally ill. Poverty exists but almost always in the context of having a smart phone in pocket. And I can and should not apply anuy -isms to a culture that is not mine. This all said, there is no cause to fight for and so no passionate cause for me to write about.

I do listen to podcasts — I love politics! — and when I’m mid run or mid set what I hear discussed (created to cause outrage) can stir up in me muh passions, but not really. It’s just a moment. A moment untethered to a cause…

Speaking of Dante, this is Virgil and he in the 9th Circle of Hell — not my photo of the engraving by Gustave Dore

Might I become one of Dante’s souls forever chasing after a banner in the afterlife? As Heaven and Hell are within — and I feel no guilt — I suspect not.

(The Featured Image is of the moat at the Imperial Palace. Millions of Japanese followed the Imperial cause into war. A cautionary tale for what to be passionate about.)

Have you read Dante’s great work? Thoughts on it — or this prompt? Leave them in the comments.

Bloganuary: Life Lessons

What is a life lesson you feel everyone can benefit from learning?

Saturday just ended. Yesterday, I got up at 5am to work on a video for YouTube; had to go to work; talked my friend out of a bad mood; and just finished shooting and laying in the video track for that YouTube video. It’s just past midnight and I’m here at WordPress because I said I would participate in ‘Bloganuary’ for a month. Life Lesson:

Keep your word.

When you say you’re going to do something, you do it. When you make a promise, you honor it. When you have an obligation, you fulfil it. And neither whine nor grimace about it.

Curry Pan. I’m still learning how to take decent food pics, but this is really delicious.

Doing what you believe is right can be hard when you feel like you’re going it alone. Regarding your life lesson, what is it and are you able to abide by it?

Bloganuary: We Shall Overcome!

Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.

Cambodia

In the mid 1990’s I backpacked around South East Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos) for three months. This was back when French archeologists were still excavating and preserving Angkor Wat, before Siem Riep became a tourist boom town and so Phnom Penn hadn’t started to clean itself up for the tourist trade. In the middle of the city was a kind of shelter where I saw real hunger — emaciated mothers holding up children with bloated bellies — and true poverty for the first and only time.

Not my photo, but I have rolls of film from here in my archives. After the war, the people assembled the skulls of 5000 people and made them into several artworks, like this one, a map of Cambodia. The government has since removed the artwork (for the tourist trade) and interred the bones more respectfully in a pagoda. 

Vietnam

In Vietnam I went on one of the many available tours to experience what it would have been like to have lived through the Vietnam war (essentially museums of gruesome ways to die). I visited several places that had on display the corpses of severely deformed people or jars of foetus’s deformed from the chemicals used during the Vietnam war. I accidentally happened upon a corpse in an abandoned cave.

Not my image, but I have them on film. Hundreds of jars of the babies that were NOT born.I met countess people deformed by war or born with deformities

Laos

In Laos I traded being guided through Vientiane by Buddhist monks for teaching orphans English at a local temple in the evenings. The children were super enthusiastic little boys from 3 – 16 being cared for by the monks in the temple, the boys learning how to become monks themselves because, without a family, they had no other options. Their life’s path was firmly set for them. 

Again, not my photo. Mine are still all on film.

On Obstacles

I have overcome no real obstacles. I have had a few inconveniences along the established path from school to work — and now on the way to retirement (though I never want to retire). I have been blessed. I grew up neglected and bullied and I tell you I am blessed. I am fortunate to have been able to see hardship as a tourist — I could leave — and I am grateful that whatever has been in my way on the path to becoming the man I am today, it has been, by comparison, minor.

May we all be able to put what we see as our problems and obstacles into a larger perspective. 

Have you traveled? Did traveling change your relationship to the world? Tell me in the comments.

Bloganuary: Ideal Days

What does your ideal day look like?

(This is an improvement to yesterdays discussion on emojis, don’t ya think?)

One of my earliest memories as a (very) small child is of color: the vivid green of grass that stretches uninterruptedly over low hills and that particular blue of a summer sky on a not too hot summer’s day. I have in mind an image but of no particular place — real, imagined, or on TV I do not know, maybe it’s the stillness and ease in that image that I’m responding to. As an adult, I’ve seen these colors oh so very rarely. My ideal day would be to stay in that place. I’ve done so only twice in recent memory:

The corner of where I live on day one of the first lockdown. Mind you, I live two minutes from a major train station. This is peak time.

The first was during siesta in Seville, Spain. It was midsummer and the thermometers read 48℃ /118℉. The shops were all closed. There were no cars on the road. And I was on a rental bike riding ’round the city. I brought a packed a lunch, stopped at a pocket park and sat under the shade of an olive tree on a long wooden bench and I saw those colors. Thinking on that day now, it’s really an inner feeling that the outside world seems to share, something like a synchronicity more than the colors.

The opposite side of where I live.

The other time was shortly after the first lockdown was announced in Japan. It was March, I believe. I had decided to to take up jogging and on the first day of the lockdown started my run early, maybe about seven and everything was still. Not a single person. Not a single car on the road. Perfect stillness with a crisp blue sky and new green from leaves just starting to bud. The was bliss (all the photos on this page are from my iPhone on that morning).

This is the jogging path near my home. It should be filled with people, this is Tokyo after all!

Reflecting on what I’ve written, my ideal day is a day without people and all the noise of modern life while in the city with all it’s architecture and convenience. I do not get the same feeling hiking, even on the best day.

The other side of the station, again, peak time.

What was the world around you like after the first lockdown? Did you enjoy anything about it? Let me know in the comments.

Bloganuary: Emoji’s

What emoji(s) do you like to use?

I committed to writing a blog post in ‘Bloganuary’ everyday for a month. But some of these prompts…

I only recently started using emoji’s, like maybe two weeks ago (true story). They are not readily available on my computer keyboard without hand acrobatics and changing menus on my smart phone is too troublesome. And finding the right one — it was only yesterday that I figured out there’s a search bar!

Favorite emoji’s?

Well, because I write so many comments on YouTube this little guy is, maybe, my favorite. 🤤You get it by typing 美味しそう (and as I just found out “delicious” brings it up, too).

I’m really unclear what these various smiling emojis represent, only that I do feel a tonal difference I can’t justify. ☺️😄😁😊😀😃

I really have no idea what what this guy means. 😅 I kinda think he’s breaking a sweat and the description reads “grinning face with sweat” as if smiling makes you sweat? Like the peach 🍑I don’t really get it — and on this topic, it took me way too long to figure out 🍆. And how do you use 🍆 in a sentence? Is it the adjective, subject or predicate? I really don’t know.

On YouTube people leave sentences composed only of emojis and I’ve no idea if it’s a complement or an insult. Google Translate is no help and if Google can’t translate it, does it really have a meaning (philosophical question for you). BTW, if I don’t have my glasses on, any effort one takes in adding emojis is just wasted: I just see blobs of color.

So emojis 🤷‍♂️.

None of the images on this page are mine.

What’s a better prompt than this or one that you would have rather seen? Tell me in the comments.

Bloganuary: Boldly Go!

What does it mean to live boldly?

This question is meaningless. There is no such thing as ‘living boldly’. The idea that one can is coded into the algorithms that drive Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: It presupposes that a series of composed and curated snapshots is real life. It is not. And so this question is meaningless.

If you want to live a good-life, then find the qualities that you want to be defined by and strive towards being that person.

Change your perspective — look UP.

Do you agree or disagree with me — you’re safe, I only bite on weekends — let me know in the comments.

Bloganuary: Gratitude

What are you grateful for today?

I use the OmniFocus planner on my computer and iPhone and everyday, without fail, I am reminded to do the following three things:

Gratitude is important to me. I grew up with nothing and now I might shoot around Tokyo with 20,000USD’s worth of equipment in my backpack and an iPhone in my pocket. Plus I live in the safest, cleanest place in the (so called) developed world — as a guest, a fact I’m very aware of, and grateful for.

Not too far from where I live, the Dior building on Aoyama Street.

Today is Adults Day in Japan, a national holiday, so I had the day off. The weather was a veritable balmy 8 degrees (C) today, but I chose to stay in to work on my YouTube channel and reddit’s Photoclass 2020.

Because of the Christmas/New Year holidays, I needed to stay away from my channel to stay centered in the real world with my family and friends, yet when I went back this morning, I had hundreds of messages from my subscribes asking where I was and wishing me a good year.

Thumbnail from my latest video, Tofu Teriyaki.

My apartment is clean, my mind is quiet, and though I’m avoiding doing yoga (which I really need to do because I’m tight) I have had a wonderfully peaceful day. I was even able to listen to my new favorite artist, Fuji Kaze, while I worked.

I am very lucky and I know it. I make it point to wake up and think of all the reasons I have to be thankful, then I run over all the problems that might arise so I am prepared, then I think on people to inspire me — and then I get up. So I am very grateful that today’s topic was very easy for me. 😄

Going through the gates is good for luck.

Post a link to you blog page so I can visit to see what you’re grateful for. You can also just tell me here. Also, do you have any ‘morning rituals’? What are they? Tell me in the comments.

Photoclass 2022: 10 of 10’s

Assignment one: Go to a random place with no photographic potential and come away with ten decent shots.

If you’re interested in following along, the assignment is here.

The spot is about 10 minutes from my home. I walked along the river. My favorite is the first photo. I like the way the two trees seem to be reaching out to one another.

Looking at it now, I think I should have balanced to two sides more.
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 4
Photo 5
Photo 6
Photo 7
Photo 8
Photo 9
Photo 10

Leave your comments and criticisms here. And if you belong to the photo challenge/class, let me know. 😄

Bloganuary: Assumptions

What do people mistakingly assume about you?

I’m a 6’4″ (192cm) American man living in Japan, my whole blog could be about this! 😆

I love the record breaking rollercoasters at FujiQ, like DoDonPa, Takabisha, and Fuji Yama, but take me to Tokyo Disneyland and I’m headed straight for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (Space Mountain can wait).

It’s not that I’m a kid at heart (I’m really not). I have my likes and they don’t often fit the tone and tenor of my voice (you can check out my Gravitar photo in the upper right hand corner to see get an idea of what I mean).

Go your own way.

Yesterday I saw Spiderman and loved it — my face still hurts from smiling so much during the movie — but not a one of my friends is interested in a “child’s” movie, so who do I chat up on Instagram? My best friends 17 year old daughter. 😆That might be sad but it is definitely true.

While I very much enjoy talking politics, visiting museums, and playing sports I live in a place where having a cooking YouTube Channel raises a few eyebrows. Men can and do cook here (in Japan) but…

Teriyaki Tofu over rice: Teriyaki Tofu Donburi, click the picture to see the video.

So people mistakingly assume my likes and interests based on my physical appearance. It is what it is and I’m neither mad nor annoyed by it.

Have you seen the new Spiderman? Tell me in the comments!

My other favorite movie this past year was Malignant — it was just a joy to watch! I saw it three times in the theater, and had a blast each time. Make me happy and tell me you loved it. 😁

Bloganuary: On Writing

What do you like about your writing?

Of all the topics, I like this least, which is strange as I can tell you clearly what I like about my photography and videography. I have to accept that I do not like my writing because I recognize that its quality has sharply declined.

I’ve lived in Japan for more than 20. I’ve also lived in France and India, which is to say that I’ve been outside the English speaking world longer that I’ve been a part of it. That fact, combined with the simple mindedness in social media communications means what was once my strongest attribute is now my weakest. I had honestly not thought about that reality until thinking on this topic.

My reading of good books and poetry — in English — is also in an inverse relationship with all the social media I consume, so my exposure to clear and concise expression is limited.

What do I like about my writing at present? Not much. About my Japanese writing, I love that I can write kanji (the complex Chinese characters). It makes traveling in China and communicating with Chinese people (outside of Western counties) possible — and fun. It also has deepened my understanding of Japanese.

Can you speak — and write — in a foreign language? Which ones? If not, what would you most like to learn? Let me know in the comments.

#bloganuary

Bloganuary: Laughter

What makes you laugh?

This is a tough question because I always laugh. Not one hour ago I slipped and fell on the ice at the station — Thud! 6’4″ me on my back in the snow — and I laughed. Loudly. The passing Japanese people just glanced and walked on. But what’s a man to do? Falling is a silly thing to be embarrassed about. I could imagine what I looked like, so laughing was natural. Funny how everyone walking by looked so serious.

I can choose to enjoy most anything. This is to say that laughter is a choice, at least for me:

As I’m moving through life with my mind super focused on the task at hand and I make a mistake, I can feel the choice: get angry, don’t react, laugh. I laugh (most times).

So I have to approach this question in a different way, as what makes me laugh is my disposition: My reactions are a choice and I (mostly) choose to be stress free and at ease.

An actor in Kyushu.We all play a part. Know the character you’re playing. 😉

Tell me in the comments, do you think you have control over your emotions or do you think your emotions have their own mind? I’m genuinely curious how other people deal with bad situations.

#bloganuary

Bloganuary: Heros

Who is someone that inspires you and why?

This is the easiest of all the prompts, Ernestine Shepherd, the 85 year old female body builder.

Ernestine started weightlifting at 56 and began to compete a few years later. Being a reformed gym bunny, I know how hard she physically and mentally had to train to get to where she was and is. The majority of people did not believe in her when she began — They actively discouraged her because of her age! — but she had the mental fortitude, paid no attention, and achieved besting people a quarter her age.

What she has done with her body is no small feet, even for a young person (much less and 80 year old), but she goes on: Ernestine has also become a published author and a personal trainer, showing us all that age is not an excuse.

I admire Ernestine’s dedication, commitment, fortitude, and outlook. I follow her on Instagram and her posts always get my butt to the gym. When I think I’m too old or too tired, I remember Ernestine. Long live the queen!

Harajuku Branch of my gym. 😁

Be sure to tell me who inspires you and if you’re participating in Bloganuary, post a link to your blog post in the comments below so I can check it out! Thank you.

#bloganuary

Bloganuary: Learning

What is something you wish you knew how to do?

Piano. Play the piano.

I am not musical. I did not grow up longing to play an instrument. And to be honest, I don’t have a particular fondness for piano music — I do sometimes covet the ability though.

On new year’s eve in Japan the national past time is to watch a musical show called Kohaku. Japan’s top musical artists are separated by sex — the women are team Red and the men team White (a call back to The Tale of Genji) — and they alternate extravagant performances in a variety of musical styles to win (now chosen by the audience at home through votes made on our remotes).

This year they introduced the pianist/singer/songwriter Fuji Kaze. He’s from a remote village in the north and as a child he wanted to learn piano. He took lessons once a week and filled in the gaps with YouTube videos. When he was in 6th grade, his parents let him start his own channel and by 22 he had a nation wide hit, Nan Nan (see below). Now, an established pianist, he’s started working with major artists in Japan.

You can still watch his older videos on his channel — and I have been, he is extremely charming and earnest. What I want to stress is he is self-made. He didn’t just wish, he did.

Fuji Kaze does sing in English — he taught himself English — and has a very nice cover of Close To You (which you can find on Apple Music). Here is a Japanese song with some English mixed it, I especially like the way he sings this lyric.

“My heart is saying I’m not caring no more
Somebody slap my ass and let me go
I used to dance but I ‘m losing my beat
And now I lost my feet
Somebody bring back to me
That love and just let me be”

Tokuninai, Fuji Kaze

Watching Fuji perform on New Year’s eve made me wish I could express myself through music — It made me, once again, wish I could play the piano! — but more importantly, he reminds me that we have the ability to learn anything we want, whenever we want.

Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

During the new year, people go to temples and shrines to pray for a good year. They write their wishes and goals on these wooden plaques and hang them in the shrine/temple.

(The topmost photo in in downtown Yokohama)

#bloganuary

Bloganuary: Toys

What was your favorite toy as a child?

I don’t remember.

I grew up dirt poor, so (library) books and later TV were how I entertained myself.

I do recall my father coming home one Christmas. He, that is we, had no money but there was pressure to produce “toys” for “the boy”. He came home and tossed a hastily wrapped box on the floor opposite the tree.

I knew he was ashamed.

On cue, I tore into the wrapping with as much excitement and gratitude as I could to make him feel good. I only recall a jump rope in that box, the kind from a dollar store, and I doubt I ever used it. What I do remember is even at a young age I understood consideration.

Perhaps a better question would be: What’s my favorite quality that I gained from toys? To that, gratitude and consideration.

Not too long ago, a piece of fruit was a treat and a toy, a rare gift to treasure.

(The photo above is of an maneki neko, a cat that welcomes people or fortune. It is the size of my pinky nail. Toy or decoration, look closely and appreciate it.)

#bloganuary #daily-prompt

Bloganuary: Comfort Zones

Write about the last time you left your comfort zone.

Maybe I’m overthinking, but to me “comfort zone” and risks are linked and so I’m coming to a realization that I’m in a bubble of my own making.

Due to the pandemic, I lost my main job in April and chose to learn some new skills to go into something different. I don’t think of it as discomfort, rather a different way of living for now — I’m aware it’s just a step towards something different — so I’m not out of my comfort zone.

I started a YouTube channel — and spent a lot of money on equipment. While I was uncomfortable spending, is it really out of my comfort zone? I’m not in debt. I have the money. I see the long-term benefits. And I’m enjoying my purchases. I don’t see myself as having stepped out of my comfort zone.

Mentally stepping backwards in time, I can’t recall doing anything that makes me uncomfortable. If someone asks me to do something I disagree with or don’t want to do, I don’t — I have no problem saying no — so where is this comfort zone?

I think my life is incredibly blessed and maybe I need to take a risk that makes me feel fear. Then again, maybe my mindset is just flexible and there is no ‘comfort zone’ for me to step out of. Thoughts?

Woman exiting in Ginza, Tokyo.

What does ‘stepping out of your comfort zone’ mean to you? Let me know in the comments below, I’m genuinely interested.

(I took the photo at the Narita Shrine. For many, being different is stepping out of their comfort zone and this little Kanon is totally loving nonconformity.)

#bloganuary

Bloganuary: Road Trips

What is a Road Trip You Would Like to Take?

‘Road Trip’ has a distinctly American vibe to it, or is that just me?

I picture open stretches of unpopulated country, a large car, and a family passing through it. I don’t see a Portuguese family in an SUV driving from Lisboa to Milan, or a Chinese family driving from Xian to Beijing. I can picture Chevy Chase in a station wagon going across Europe though (a reference to an old movie).

Living in Japan for as long as I have — I can no longer drive, and trust me, you don’t want me to — traveling by train feels right and, outside Japan, feels like nostalgia which might be why I’ve long wanted to take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Dalian (China), through Mongolia to Moscow (Russia) with a stop over in Kazakistan. Depending on how you pace yourself, the trip usually takes between seven and fourteen days, or up to a fortnight for you Commonwealth folk.

The various routes you can take on the Trans-Siberian Network.
Siberian Railroad -- not my image
Wide open spaces for most of the journey.
Inside a train car on the trans-siberian railroad -- not my image
Classic furnishings, not a modern interpretation of the past.

I’d like to know what that phrase “Road Trip” means to you, dear reader. Does if feel archaic? What kind of spaces do you imagine passing through and with mode of transportation?

#bloganuary

(Note: I did not take either of these two photos.)

‘Photoclass 2022’, a reddit class

Assignment one: A picture you like and a picture of a car

To better get a handle on how to use the blog, I’ve added a new category for a photoclass I’m taking over on Reddit — if you’re interested in photography, you might enjoy it, look for photoclass_2022. The pics are supposed to be criticized, so feel free to write what could be improved and what you like.

At the Nissan headquarters showroom.
Shinjuku: Infrared camera

Bloganuary: Teen Self

What would you tell your teenage self?

First off, I was very angsty as a teen, so even if I could go back in time to have a heart to heart, that me wouldn’t be having any advice from a middle-aged man. 😄

Picture it: pale young me sits next to pale but colorfully dressed older me and tells him straight up, “buy Apple stock. When you get money — and you will — buy Apple stock. Buy, buy, buy”. That kind advice is just strange enough to make younger me pay attention. Assuming he’s going to remember and trust the great boon I gave him I’m hoping the real advice comes rushing back:

“One day you’re going to meet a man named ###. You’ll meet him at work. Punch him in the face straight away. Trust me, you will not his drama.”

#bloganuary, #daily-prompt

Remember, no matter how well you’ve planned, you’re headed toward a surprise.

2022, a New Year, a new blog

I had a blog way, way back in 2014 that I kept going for a couple of years when a squirrel caught my attention and it was game over. I used the pandemic to reinvent myself. I’ve changed jobs, tried some new hats on, and started a YouTube channel. This blog will eventually be a companion to my YouTube channel.

I’m going to use the month of “Bloguary” to re-learn how to use WordPress and hopefully by February I’ll be ready to combine my blog and channel. Be patient with me. I have a feeling this is going to be a bumpy ride.

The Onion Sandwich — Caramelized Onions

(recipe follows)onion sandwich_055

People who comment or send me mail tell me I can improve my blog by talking more about my life. From their advice I have been adding bits and bytes. A part of my life story I never speak about is poverty: I grew up poor. After my parents divorced my mother and I were so poor we couldn’t afford a vacuum. My mother borrowed one every couple of months from her half-brother’s wife. (To clean the carpet we used the back side of tape.)onion sandwich_058

We were poorer than most because my mother was unable to work — why is another story — and so we depended on welfare, food stamps, and kindness.

onion sandwich_054

Sometime in the 80’s the government started cutting the welfare and food stamp programs. I was used to not having much. Our furniture came from hand me downs, our TV a tiny, portable black and white. I only ever had a couple of pairs of pants and a few shirts. This was the baseline for my day to day — but I didn’t know how good I had been living until those cuts came into effect. One example should make my meaning clear.onion sandwich_053

I came home from school one day to my mother eating an onion sandwich: Two slices of day old bread, a slice of raw onion, French’s mustard. We had nothing else. I recall she smiled, said it was delicious and wished she had know — which sounded plausible through her souther drawl, but the sadness in her eyes gave up the lie.
onion sandwich_052

I broke out of what I hear called a The Cycle of Poverty. I am aware that a lot of my choices are a reaction to having been poor. I have 37 pairs of shoes because I grew up having just one, poorly fit and used to the last — but I don’t waste money and never borrow.
onion sandwich_051

Although I rarely talk about it, I own up to where I came from. I know from experience that you can chose how to remember what’s passed. To a degree you can reshape a memory — or honor it to let it go. So I took the pungent onion and made it sweet; I crafted my own mustard to make it mine; I bought the very best bread and made an Onion Sandwich.

(note: this is also used in Savory Pie)

Caramelized Onions

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

onion sandwich_045

 

tier one (you must use)

  • At least 2 pounds of brown onions sliced thin (I fill my 12 liter/quart stock pot which reduce to about 2 cups)
  • Up to 2 tablespoons of butter (you really don’t much, the water in the onions will prevent them from sticking for most of the cooking)

tier three (optional)

  • Up to 1 tablespoon sugar (near the very end to help caramelize the onions or further sweeten them, taste before adding sugar)
  • Up to 1/4 cup strong beef stock near the very end of cooking (to loosen the brown bits at the end of cooking)
  • Up to 1/4 cup water (to loosen the brown bits at the end of cooking)

Method: Put your butter or oil in a large pot. Peel your onions, remove the root end and cut in half lengthwise and slice thin. Add them to the pot with the butter. When you’ve finished all your onions put the pot on the stove and turn it on medium to melt the butter. Don’t stir the pot until it’s heated up, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the pot and make a decision:

If you’re going to be in the kitchen and want the dish to finish quickly turn the heat up to high and stir every five minutes or so. They’ll finish in about an hour, depending on the volume. If you want to relax, turn the heat to low and come back and stir the pot ever 20 to 30 minutes. Depending on the volume and heat, this method will take a minimum of three hours. 

Your onions will go through three distinct phases:

  1. Individual slices slowly becoming a mush with a lot of liquid, almost like a soup. This phase is the longest and requires the least amount of attention.
  2. They will start sticking to the pot. Here you have stir more often, but there’s still a lot of liquid. At this point you’ll notice the start of a color change from translucent to light brown.
  3.  Finally they will brown during which you need to constantly move the onions in the the pot, scraping the brown bits off as much as you can. Those brown bits are flavor.

The temptation is to remove the onions when they start to stick. Don’t. Reduce the heat if you wan to but bring them to a dark brown. When they are near dark brown, this is where you would add sugar. When you can no longer scrap the bits off the bottom and sides of the pan then they are done. Remove them from the pan. You can also remove all but a tablespoon or two and add either 1/4 cup of water or strong beef stock to loosen the remaining brown bits of flavor at the bottom of the pan. I keep these separate from the caramelized onions to flavor other dishes.

You can see an example of caramelizing vegetables here.

onion sandwich_060

caramelized onions
3 kilos (8 pounds) reduced to about 2 cups caramelized onions. Notice the brown bits, at this point I can no longer scrape them off, so the onions are finished. At this point I add water or broth to get those bits of flavor stuck all over the pan — don’t waste all that flavor!

 

homemade mustard with canned green tomatoes and broccoli in custard in a pastry shell
homemade mustard with canned green tomatoes served with my onion sandwich

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