Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Important note for well meaning people on both the left and the right:

People, please listen to me...

Just because something is "good" or "bad"... or even "really very good and everyone should do it" or "really very bad and no-one should do it"...


...That you then need to get the government to make laws either mandating it, or banning it.


In fact, you should specifically NOT do that.

That is all.

I can't deny the essential rightness of her thinking here...

So... Mel was upset about something, and by her own statements feeling excessively hormonal. We talked about it for a while then she suddenly got up and said "I need chocolate".

She went to the kitchen, I heard various rattling and pounding things, and a few minutes later she walks by with a mixing bowl and a pan.
Chris: Brownies?
Mel: Brownies
Chris: Pecan brownies?
Mel: Pecan brownies
Chris: That would explain the pounding I heard then?
Mel: Yup
Chris: Not that I object, but, why brownies? It's 2pm on a Tuesday...
Mel: I are emotionally distressed, ergo, brownies
Chris: Well... I certainly can't disagree with that
Oh and for all you crispy brownie edge fans (you weird "center brownie" people who don't love the crispity chocolate edges just don't make any kind of sense to me) I HIGHLY recommend picking up an "all edges" brownie pan like this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000MMK448/

Whenever lefties say something stupid about "renewable energy"

... Which is of course fairly frequently, I tell them flat out "no, it won't work".

They then get this look on their faces like I'm just being an obstructionist ass and indignantly shout something like:

"Why not. These guys tell me we could have 20% of our power needs met by renewables RIGHT NOW, if we only had the political will/government subsidies/laws to force everyone to do it etc... etc...  I bet you just hate the environment and love your SUV too much"

Well... it's a pickup truck, and yes, I do love it more than I love YOUR concept of what "the environment" is and/or should be (I LIVE in "the environment" you THINK you are talking about... I chose to move here specifically because of how it REALLY is... which has very little to do with how you THINK it is... but that's another story).


No, that's not why it won't ever work.

"Ok... why not then, mr. pessimist".

Simple... Physics and Math.

...Not politics, not will, not lifestyle changes, not because we love our SUV's too much...

Just Physics and Math:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Calling Meg Whitman...

Yo Bloomie! Hands Off My Boobies!

What is it with all of you nanny-staters trying to molest us? It's not bad enough that last time I flew through an airport I got frisked because the newbie TSA agent didn't know what an underwire looked like (thank you nice TSA lady doing the feeling-up for promising to teach him better). Now you've decided that lactating boobies are also under your obvious domain?

Mayor Bloomberg is pushing hospitals to hide their baby formula behind locked doors so more new mothers will breast-feed.
Starting Sept. 3, the city will keep tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use — the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation.
Under the city Health Department’s voluntary Latch On NYC initiative, 27 of the city’s 40 hospitals have also agreed to give up swag bags sporting formula-company logos, toss out formula-branded tchotchkes like lanyards and mugs, and document a medical reason for every bottle that a newborn receives.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/mayor_knows_breast_WqU1iYRQvwbEkDuvn0vb1H#ixzz227ozu4g6
 What the hell happened to "my body, my choice".

I've intentionally dropped myself out of watching and commenting on this nanny-state bullshit while I deal with bigger matters (*cough* husband with cancer *cough*) but if you bring your stupid-ass, freedom-reducing, gloves-of-blue laws near my boobies I'm going to have to rip you a new one.

You've gone from nanny-staters to state sponsored molesters. Shoulda known that's where you were headed all along.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Commie Fuckwits "infiltrate" Y-12, somehow don't get brains blown out

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/jul/2 ... rity-zone/

OAK RIDGE — Three peace activists — including an 82-year-old nun — infiltrated the highest-security area of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in a predawn protest today, reportedly evading guards and cutting through three or four fences in order to spray-paint messages, hang banners and pour human blood at the site where warhead parts are manufactured and the nation's stockpile of bomb-grade uranium is stored.

And for those of you who DON'T know what Y-12 is... let's just say as bad as the news reports this is, it isn't even close.

This isn't a matter of people being fired... it's a matter of people never getting out of prison again.

The group they're from, "Plowshares", is a communist front group, has been for... 45 years I think?

I just love this line:

Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration at Y-12, declined to discuss details of the early-morning events at the Oak Ridge, but he acknowledged that the unapproved entry into the plant's inner sanctum — a high-security zone known simply as the Protected Area — is unprecedented.

"There's never been a situation like this before to my knowledge," Wyatt said Saturday afternoon.

If unarmed protesters dressed in dark clothing could reach the plant's core during the cover of dark, it raised questions about the plant's security against more menacing intruders.

"I'm sure we'll learn from this, without question, and use what we learn to improve security," Wyatt said.

Ya fucking think so Skippy?

This is going to come out that it was about the 35 guards being let go, I guarantee it. There is NO way these idiots got where they did without somebody looking the other way... Confirmed by the fact that the geniuses didn't manage to get shot in the process.

HT: Insty

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why do this?

As has so often been asked by bloggers around the web, Og asks "Why do you blog":

Because shit pisses me off 
Because shit amuses me 
Because really gross stupidity needs to be refuted so others don’t make the same mistakes 
Because if I didn’t I’d be even crazier than I already am

Friday, July 27, 2012

Yes, I know formatting is screwed up

Blogger is doing something stupid, not exactly sure what, but the post code that it generated for the last post is all hosed up. I'm going to fix it later.

My world famous Two Pound Meat Sauce, UPDATED

The World Famous Two Pound Meat Sauce


2 pounds extra lean ground beef (80/20 is best for this. 70/30 is a bit fatty)
2 Pounds coarsely chopped stew beef (you may need to add more butter to the sauce with this)
Mix 1 pound of chopped beef, with 1 pound of 70/30 ground beef (for more flavor and texture)

2 pounds of mixed hard Italian cheeses, fine ground (parmagiano, romano, asiago, grana padano etc...)
2 pounds flavorful italian sausage (garlic, basil, and cheese is best, other italian sausage acceptable)

2 pounds fresh seeded, diced, salted (to de-water them a bit) and crushed sauce tomatoes
1 large can (24-32 oz depending on brand) crushed sauce tomatoes (san marzano, roma, etc...)
1 large can tomato puree (sauce tomatoes preferred)

12-24 oz unsweetened tomato paste (depending on thickness, sweetness, and your tomatoes)
1/2 cup olive oil (strongly flavored, but extra virgin isn't necessary unless you want to use it)
8 tblsp of butter
1/2 cup cream


2 large onions diced fine (optional)
2 large peppers diced medium (1/4" or a bit larger - optional)
2 cleaned and trimmed celery stalks, diced fine (optional)
1-2 cup of diced dried mushrooms (shitaki, porcini, something with strong umami. Optional)

Cooking liquid:

2 cups red wine
1 cup strong beef broth (from concentrate is fine)
1 cup louisiana vinegar hot sauce (Franks red-hot, Louisiana hot, Texas Pete etc... to taste)
1/2 cup balsamic, red wine, cider or malt vinegar (balsamic will be sweeter with more umami)
1/2 cup of vodka
1/4 cup soy sauce (natural brewed only)
2 tblsp worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 whole lemon

Fresh Seasoning:

4-8 cloves of garlic (crushed and minced very fine, to taste)
6 tbslp fresh oregano, minced fine (about 1 whole supermarket refrigerator case package, to taste)
6 tblsp fresh basil, minced fine
4 tblsp fresh parsley, minced fine (yes, fresh parsely. It's not a garnish, it's a very nice herb)
2 tblsp fresh rosemary, minced fine

Dried Seasoning:

6 tblsp fresh cracked black pepper (or more, to taste)
4 tblsp chili flakes
4 tblsp smoked paprika (hot is fine if you can't find smoked. Either are preferred to sweet)
4 tblsp hot mustard powder (this is not for mustard flavor, it's for pungency and emulsification. to taste)
2 tblsp powdered chilis (to your own taste. I use cayenne, chipotle, serrano, or arbol)
2 tblsp whole fennel seed
2 tblsp ground fennel
2 tblsp ground cumin
1 tblsp celery salt
1 tblsp onion powder
1 tblsp garlic powder
1 tblsp dried oregano
Salt to taste


Prepare your tomatoes, by washing, seeding, chopping, and salting them, then letting them drain. Reserve the tomato water from draining to add to your flavorful cooking liquid. After 20-30 minutes or so, crush the drained tomatoes, then blend or process them into a medium puree with some chunkiness to it (obviously, if you start with canned crushed tomatoes, only the final step is necessary).

Season your ground beef with about 1tblsp each of all the dried seasoning (including all the celery salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried oregano); thoroughly mixing the seasonings in with the meat. Leave your seasoned meat to the side to let the flavors meld (you are almost making a ground beef loose sausage here).

Finely grind, or microplane, your mixed italian hard cheeses, to the texture of cornmeal or finer.

Crush and mince the garlic, and dice the onions, peppers, and celery.

Heat half the oil in a 6-8qt thick bottomed sauce pot (all-clad or equivalent, with cover), large saucier (if reducing the recipe, or if you can find a saucier that large) or dutch oven (heavy enameled cast iron is excellent for this).

I personally tend to use one of my enameled cast iron dutch ovens, as I think they produce the best results with my cooktop.

Add half the butter into the sauce pan, and cook it out to a nutty brown stage (cooking off the water), being careful not to overbrown or burn the butter solids.

While the butter is browning, put the sausage on a rack with a drip pan, and set it to broil in the oven or broiler. You should time the sausage so that it will be lightly broiled (get some char or at least deep color, but do not crisp the skin too much, and be sure to turn the sausages to cook evenly without drying out) by the time your meat is browned. Remember, you will be collecting the drippings for use in the sauce, so you don't want them to burn (you can put a skim of water in your drip pan to avoid burning if necessary)

Add the crushed and minced garlic to the sauce pan, and sautee in the oil and butter, until it's very fragrant and lightly browned. As you should have crushed and minced the garlic very fine (I use the palm of my hand pounding the garlic under the flat of my chefs knife, then mince fine, then crush again), it should half way disintegrate into the oil, with a bunch of small golden brown bits.

Once the garlic is lightly browned add the rosemary whole fennel seed, and half the chili flakes; and toast them in the oil for a few seconds (until they become fragrant).

Add the onions, peppers, celery, and mushrooms if you are using them, and sweat them out in the oil and butter 'til the mushrooms are soft, and the onions and celery are soft and translucent (you can carmelize them for additional sweetness and depth of flavor).

I'm allergic to onions and don't like mushrooms, so I don't bother with them; but they do add depth of flavor and umami.

Slowly crumble the seasoned ground beef into the pot, browning as you go. Depending on your burner, your pot, and your beef, you may need to do this in several small batches. If you do it in small batches, you can reserve them off to the side, then toss them all back into the pot at the end to brown and combine flavors for 2-3 minutes.

You can also brown the beef separately in a large skillet, or cook the beef by spreading it into a 1/2 layer on a sheet pan, and broiling 'til crusty brown on top (be careful not to overcook and dry out the meat), then crumbling it fine.

Once the meat is browned, reserve it off to the side (leaving the drippings in the sauce pan). If you cooked the meat in a separate pan, drain the drippings into the sauce pan.

The sausages should now be done. Slice them into uneven slices from 1/4" to 1/2" thick (this will add textural variation), and add them to the reserved ground beef; draining the sausage drippings back into the sauce pan.

Add the remaining olive oil and butter into the sauce pan with the meat drippings, and cook the butter out to nutty brown as before.

While the butter is cooking out, prepare your flavorful liquid as above (adding the reserved tomato water if you drained fresh tomatoes).

You'll note, most of these liquids are fermented (wine, vodka, louisiana hot sauce, vinegar, worcestershire), which is a HUGE umami booster, and is important to the flavor characteristics of the sauce. Also, the alcohol in the vodka and wine are important to releasing additional flavor from the seasonings and the tomatoes.

This liquid should be strongly acidic, sweet, fruity, peppery, salty, and beefy all at the same time... Essentially it's a combination of big umami boosters, alcohol, and acid to cut through the sweetness of the tomato paste, and the fattiness of the meat, cheese, butter, and oil.

When the butter is finished cooking out, add 12oz (or 18oz if you have a smaller can of crushed or pureed tomatoes) of tomato paste to the sauce pan, and brown the tomato paste in the butter and oil, stirring constantly to avoid burning.

Yes, you want to brown the tomato paste. This builds even more umami, and converts some of the sugary sweetness of the tomato paste, to a richer, more complex carmel like sweetness, with some bitter and nutty notes.

Just before the tomato paste goes from "browned" to "oops I think I screwed it up", add about 1/4 of your cooking liquid, and thoroughly deglaze the sauce pan, making sure to scrape the fond off the bottom and sides. Then add your reserved meat (and whatever drippings may remain with it) back into the pan, stirring vigorously to thoroughly coat the meat with the thick liquid.

Continue cooking this out until the meat takes on almost a glaze, then add another 1/4 of the cooking liquid.

Turn the heat back up to a medium high flame or burner, and add 2/3-3/4 the tomato puree; reserving 1/4-1/3 for later.

Stir in half the fresh the herbs and half the remaining dried seasonings and let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occaisonally to let the flavors incorporate. You are reserving the remaining fresh herbs and seasonings to add 20 minutes before serving.

Turn the heat down to a very low simmer, and slowly stir in about half the cheese, thoroughly mixing as you go. If the sauce is too hot the cheese will clump up and could stick and burn to the sides and bottom of the pot. Simmer out for about 20 minutes.

At this point you have to judge the thickness of the sauce. Depending on the cheese, sausage, meat, and tomatoes you are using, the sauce could be too thick, too thin, or just about right. Remember, you are going to simmering this sauce for about another hour to two hours, and you want to make the major thickness adjustments now so the flavors will remain consistent.

If the sauce is too thick, add a half cup of your cooking liquid and a cup of your tomato puree, and judge again. If the sauce is too thin, add in another can of tomato paste, and more cheese (or just one or the other for flavor balance).

Leave on a very low simmer for at least another hour stirring occaisonally. We don't want the sauce to thicken too much here, we are mostly trying to render the meat and incorporate the flavors thoroughly. Be careful not to let the cheese burn to the bottom or sides of the pot.

The longer this cooks, the deeper and beefier the flavor will be. The shorter, the brighter and sweeter it will be with stronger tomato flavor.

When done, the ground beef should be disintegrated down to very small pieces, and the sausage should be completely saturated with the sauce. Adjust thickness as necessary throughout, using your cooking liquid, tomato puree, and cheese.

If the sauce is too sweet (which it can be depending on the tomatoes used, and if you included onions), you can add more butter, pepper, chili flakes, and cooking liquid. Not sweet enough, add more tomato paste, or puree. Too salty (it shouldn't be, if you used decent cheeses they aren't very salty, and the only salt we've added is to the seasoned beef, and from the salty components of the cooking liquid) you can add more cream.

During the simmer, the fats will tend to separate and rise to the top. If the sauce is too thin, or too fatty (it shouldnt be if you used good beef, sausage, and cheese), you can skim this oil off, but I usually jsut stir it back in whenever theres enough to bother with.

20 minutes or so before serving, add the remaining cream, and most of the remaining fresh herbs; which will allow them just enough time to bloom and meld a bit. Reserve a small amount for flavorful garnish on the plate.

Serve over ziti, rigatoni, or another pasta that stands up well to a thick and chunky sauce. Use the remaining cheese dusted over the top.

This sauce is thick and meaty enough to use as a sandwich filler all on it's own, or with meatballs or additional sausage. It also makes a great hot pocket using pastry dough or pie crust, and a sandwhich toaster.

You can thin it out a bit with more tomato puree, then puree it thoroughly and use it as the worlds most flavorful pizza sauce (or just as it is, for stromboli). It's also good with cannelloni, manicotti, various shells, in lasagna or baked ziti; and it's great for stuffing peppers, tomatoes, or eggplant (which I HATE, but that's another story).

Oh, and for those of you who have an italian cooking background, this is basically a sauce calabrese on steroids.

Here's the link to the updated recipe post: World Famous Two Pound Meat Sauce

And to the rest of the Recipes for REAL Men

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Yeah, that's not fun...

This is what happens when you attempt to sit down on a shop stool that isn't actually there, and end up sitting on a random power tool (thankfully not running at the time) instead.

And in detail:

So what happened, I backed up, bumped the stool over without realizing it, then a minute or two later, I went to sit back down on the rather high shop stool, and ended up falling back over onto the aluminum fence of my portable sliding compound miter saw.

Not fun at all.

And that little present is after just a couple hours after. The real fun is the next day... or two days later, when it turns green.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Never a good way to say this sort of thing... but there's a bright side

So... I've been waiting for confirmation of something for about a week and a half, and in the meantime trying to figure out how to write about this.

I couldn't figure out any good way; and I got the written confirmation of things today.

My cancer has become worse... WAY worse actually.

The original "official" measurement of the tumor (the first estimate was somewhat larger, but they revised the estimate downward after my second ultrasound) was 48mm X 72mm x 88mm, for a volume of 304.12 milliliters (1.9"x2.84"x3.47" for 18.73 cubic inches). As of now, it's confirmed to be actively malignant, and has grown to 67mm X 80mm X 99mm for a volume of 530.64 milliliters (2.64" x 3.15" x 3.89" for 32.38 cubic inches). So, about 1.75x growth... almost doubling in volume.

That's... really not good.

The original deflection of my airway was about half an inch... now it's about an inch and a half.

That is also, really not good.


There is good news in this.

The first and most important good news, is that there appears to be no lymphocytic involvement at this point. The tumor is still encapsulated. It is growing, but the cancer doesn't appear to be spreading.

The second piece of good news is that although it is deflecting my airway significantly, it isn't actually growing into or perforating my airway or any of the surrounding tissues (though it is compressing them, causing some damage).

The final piece of good news is the really important one...

Because of this rapid and agressive growth, my care team has decided that I can no longer wait any further for surgery (though it took finding a new surgeon to do it, as my original surgeon still wanted me to lose more weight).

My surgery is scheduled and confirmed for August 13th.

So, in three and a half weeks, I go under the knife, to get this goddamned thing out of me.

So, like I said... there's some good news in all of this.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

According to this it's 127...

The number of "countries" I've visited, that is...

visited 127 states (56.4%)
Create your own visited map of The World or Like this? try: Cambrium

Thought I kinda cheated, because some of these were one country when I visited, and are now five or six countries... and a lot of them have different names than they did at the time etc...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A little tip for everyone with corporate voicemail

Here's a piece of entirely unsolicited, but very well informed, information security advice.

If you have a corporate voicemail system, go and change your voicemail passwords, today, to the most secure password the system will allow (that you can remember easily enough); then delete any voicemails you have with private information on them.

Oh and don't make your vmail passwd or pin the same as any other passwd or pin. Really, do NOT do that.

Then do it again at least every week for the next... oh, call it six weeks... maybe two months... And check and delete your voicemails every few hours, or at least once a day.

Trust me on this one.

There's a very good chance you'll be receiving an email telling you to do this from your corporate voicemail manager in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What exactly is "underarmed"?

Caleb asks the only semi-satirical question:
"So, the question is whether or not you’re underarmed with a revolver. So, for example, the Kahr PM9 holds 6+1 with the standard magazine, giving me two rounds over a Ruger LCR in .38 Special."
I suppose it depends on what your definition of "underarmed" is for a given situation.

My pocket gun is a S&W 340pd, in which I carry full house .357. I also carry a useful knife, and at least one, and usually two reloads for the revolver (5 rounds in a dump pouch on my belt, and another 5 in a speed strip in my pocket; or sometimes 10 rounds in speedstrips) depending on what I'm wearing.

Frankly… if I get into a situation where 5 rounds of .357 in the gun, and another 10 in speed strips (which is still smaller and easier to carry than one spare mag) is “underarmed” well…

  1. I have made a SERIOUS tactical error
  2. I’m in a LOT more trouble than I have any business being in (middle of a gang war? Kidnapped by MS13?)
  3. Nothing short of a shotgun or defensive carbine are going to be helpful anyway

Friday, July 06, 2012

Trimming the fat?

Just thought I'd post a graphic illustration of how much weight I've lost over the past year and a half:

That piece, is what I just cut off my belt.

When I bought this belt, I wore it on the last or second to last hole, giving it about 5.5" of tail. I just cut 10.5" off the belt, and I'm wearing it on the fifth hole back, now giving it 6.5" of tail (and I sometimes wear it an inch, or even two inches tighter, depending on how fat I may be that day). I've been punching extra holes in it from last summer, but I hadn't bothered cutting the extra off until now.

So... That's about 11.5" off my waist on a fat day, and 13.5" off my waist on a skinny day.

Not bad really.

'Course I'm still only half way to where I want to be (back to between a 38 and a 42), but it's progress.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Many are aware of...

... the "old" proverb "do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle, and quick to anger".

Some few also know the vairant thereof "do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good ketchup".

Apparently, someone at DHS forgot the engineers corollary to this proverb:

"Do not irritate an engineer, for smiting you will amuse them, and make a good story over beer"

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Recipes for REAL men - Basic Cooking Secrets, Volume 2, "What to do About Onions?"

Onions... the bane of my culinary existence.

As I have mentioned in these pages frequently, I unfortunately have a food sensitivity to the allium family, the most important member of which are the many varieties of onions.

It's not an allergy, it's a food sensitivity. It doesn't cause my throat to swell up or my skin to break out in hives etc... It just causes me... rather extreme... intestinal irritation and disturbance.

This is especially hard for me, since my favorite cuisines are Italian, Levantine/Middle-eastern Mediterranean (Lebanese, Armenian, Israeli, Turkish, Greek, Persian, north African, all related but different) south/central American (particularly the many varieties of Mexican), south asian (the many types of indian, pakistani etc...) and east asian (various chinese, japanese, vietnamese, and thai); all of which are VERY onion (and other allium), heavy.

I can take garlic (though too much unless it's stewed out or roasted is a problem), but shallots, leeks, or onions cause my Ulcerative Colitis to flare up (even when roasted, though I can usually take them in a soup or stew, so long as there aren't too many, and they're fully cooked out).

When you have an allium problem you just learn to ask about everything, and order carefully at restaurants.

Onions are the worlds biggest culinary cheat. They're a way to add flavor, quickly, and cheaply; and most chefs use them constantly. Even in dishes that have no "onions" whatsoever, anyone who was trained in french cuisine (and that includes almost every culinary school trained chef in the U.S.) uses finely minced shallots as a basis for building flavor in sauces, braising, stews, soups etc...

It's not a total loss. As I said, I can eat a little onion, if it's stewed out, or otherwise long cooked in a way that dilutes the compounds that cause the irritation (and shallots are more mild than onions). Also, the process by which onion powder is made removes a lot of the irritating factors for me, so a little bit of onion powder is OK (too much though, same problem).

But mostly, I just have to avoid ordering any dish with alliums in it, carefully ask about ingredients, and not cook with them on my own.

In fact, at least in part, I learned how to cook to compensate for my onion problem; and so I learned how to get that same flavor building effect that chefs cheat out with onions, through other means.

And I'm by no means alone. Onions are one of the most common food sensitivities or allergens... or just plain dislikes... out there. Accordingly, LOTS of folks are looking for ways around onions, without producing bland, lifeless, flavorless, boring food.

We are in the middle of prepping new content (and particularly photos) for the expanded and revised version of the cookbook, and we realized, I needed to include my tips and tricks for building flavor without using onions.

So, here they are, a few tricks, to help compensate for a lack of onions:
  • I use garlic, whenever appropriate
  • I use a little more salt than I otherwise would
  • I use a little more black pepper than I otherwise would
  • I use chicken or beef broth instead of water (always add flavor with every ingredient)
  • I use vinegar, hot sauce (particularly Franks Red Hot, which we buy by the gallon), A1, or worcestershire sauce (or a combination) in almost everything
  • I use a lot of lemon, lime, and orange juice
  • I use a lot of hard aged cheeses; particularly parmagiano regiano and romano
  • I use a lot of salted/brined cheeses like feta
  • I use pickled peppers, and even pickle brine sometimes (pureed pickled peppers build HUGE flavor without having chunks of peppers in the food)
  • I use a lot of chilis, of varying degrees of heat
  • I use tomato paste, which I thoroughly brown in the pan, then deglaze with flavorful liquid
  • I use hot mustard powder a lot (which replaces the pungency of onions nicely. Note, NOT prepared mustard, which is "too mustardy")
  • I use tamarind paste a lot, for the pungent sweet, sour, and nutty notes it gives, and the umami factor
  • I use harisa a fair bit, for the pungent, sweet, sour, and firey notes it gives
  • I use fennel a lot (both seed, and bulb. Bulb replaces the crunch of onions, while seed enhances "bite")
  • I use cumin a lot, for the smoky earthy flavor, and pungent aroma
  • I use smoked things, and "chilied" things like chipotles, chile oil, smoked roasted garlic, smoked salt etc... for that extra "bite, sweetness, and pungency of smoke
Several cuisines have a fundamental basis for almost every dish, that consists of aromatic herbs and roots: French food has mirepoix (onions, celery, and carrots), Cajun has "Trinity" (onions, bell peppers, celery), Latin and Caribbean has sofrito (onion, garlic, and tomato; or onion, garlic, and peppers; depending on the country).

As it happens, I love all three cuisines... which presents a problem for me.

So, I've developed my own workarounds.

For mirepoix, I add fennel and garlic. For trinity and sofrito, I add garlic and pickled hot peppers. For all of them, I put a little vinegar in the dish, and usually a bit of tomato paste (use the tubes not the cans, so you can use just a bit), for the sweet fruity acidity.

Onions are an easy way to add a strong, pungent, savory flavor base; but actually don't have a lot of distinctive flavor themselves in a finished cooked dish. The idea is to replace that pungency, that acidity etc... Get the nose open, the sinuses working, activate the sweet, sour, and savory taste sensations all at once.

You might also note, most of these substitutions are big umami builders. That's really what you're looking to do. Boost the umami, boost the pungency, boost the acidity, boost the mouthfeel.

Let me tell you. If you use garlic, a bit of worcestershire, a bit of franks red hot, tomato paste, hot mustard, and hard cheese in a meat sauce or red sauce, you will never notice the onions aren't there.

In fact, people who don't know any better, are always asking me things like "how did you get the onions to dissolve like that". When I tell them that there aren't any onions in the dish, they sometimes don't even believe me.

Now... if I could just find a way to make my wife her favorite... French onion soup... without onions...