Looking Stymied

As part of my goals for this year I wanted to expand my culinary repertoire. To that end I attempted a side dish/accompaniment namely onion jam. The recipe looked easy. Sparky and I had gone to a restaurant (one of those trendy places that seem promising but fold after 6 -12 months) and they served onion jam with their burgers. Sparky liked it so I thought I’d give it a try. The recipes were all mostly the same with a few slight differences. I chose this one from the multitude on the internet that had over 500 reviews with a 5 star rating:

Caramelized Onion Jam
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion chopped (1/4 inch dice)
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c + 2 T. white balsamic vinegar
1 sprig parsley, 1 sprig rosemary, 1 bay leaf tied together
salt

Heat the olive oil until shimmering and then add the onion. Cook over med-high heat stirring occasionally until caramelized (about 15 min). Turn the heat to low and toss in the herb bundle and heat until fragrant stirring a few times until it is fragrant. Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and cook without stirring until the sugar melts (about 5 min). Increase the heat to high and cook without stirring until an amber-brown caramel forms (about 6 min). Stir in the vinegar and simmer over low heat stirring a few times until the jam is thick (about 5 min). Remove the herb bundle. Add salt to taste. Can store in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

This was a labor of love since I can’t stand the smell of vinegar and Balsamic vinegar is its own special kind of pungent. I really tried. But in the end it was a complete disaster. It was so bad that I didn’t take any photos. Well, not photos of the food. I followed this recipe to the letter. Sparky sampled it and declared it inedible. I make sure any internet recipe has lots of positive reviews but this time the internet failed me. I’m still trying to get the sauce pan cleaned and I may end up purchasing a new one!

52 thoughts on “Looking Stymied

    1. It looked good on line and had so many positive review… Anyway I’m usually able to salvage things if they don’t work out perfectly but this was a no go!

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      1. that reminds me of my egg cooker (purchased as I love hard-boiled eggs and can’t do in microwave) – it stops always with 18/ of surface burnt and as it must NOT get immersed, involved a lot of dry scrubbing until it came to me yesterday: right when switched off, I unplug, fill with water and add a splash of cleaning vinegar (i.e. the cheapest sort) – by the time the liquid has cooled, any discolouration can just be wiped off.

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  1. It looks like it should work…but you never know. I mostly get “meh” when I try new things, but the keepers are worth the trial and error. (K)

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      1. I like to try new things, even if they don’t always get five stars. Sometimes you just have to tweak the recipes, but you have to make them once to know how to do it. Or part of it works, and you can adapt that.

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    1. As soon as I was able to get the majority of the stuff out I let it sit with a baking soda paste on it. That lifted the big chunks but it was soft scrub and steel wool (with that valuable addition of elbow grease) that saved it!

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        1. I had a lone pad of the steel wool lurking in the back of the cleaning bin – I haven’t bought SOS pads in sooooo long. And it did work well. Now that I’ve used up all of them I’ll have to buy another box – will probably last the rest of my life!

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    1. I usually pitch recipes that are too unstable to give me reliable results… They make a great french onion soup in the can and heating it in the microwave with a thick slice of cheese on top makes it delicious!

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  2. You get points for making the effort! Expanding your culinary repertoire is a great goal. My two daughters still at home are the experimenters in our household, and I wish I had more desire to be like them.

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    1. Stephanie, my mother was not one to experiment. I kind of discovered the joy of trying new recipes when I was first living on my own. I always considered my mother’s proclivity for “doctoring” food as being experimental but it wasn’t – it just meant adding Mrs. Dash to everything. Anyway I am an adventurous cook and I’m willing to try almost anything once…

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    1. Thanks David! I was so disappointed. I had high hopes. I’m not going to try again. I’m moving on for June’s new dish. I’ll try something that doesn’t involve onions or Balsamic vinegar!

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    1. Yeah, I’m a NO for both the vinegar and the onions so this was all for Sparky. I did use the baking soda to loosen the burnt on stuff and Soft Scrub and a steel wool pad to make it look nearly back to normal. It took some effort (and I’m glad I had lots of latex gloves)!!

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  3. I’ve had my fair share of cooking disasters. I wouldn’t give up on trying new things though. I recently made a rice pudding–something I’ve never actually wanted to have before since my one-time taste of it, the rice was undercooked and the dish was bland as all get out. But, I got this recipe from an Indian chef. I had to mangle my way through odd ingredients and metric conversions. It turned out fabulous. It was probably not worth all the time/effort/cost, except to give me a new experience and feeling of accomplishment. It is hard when a dedicated effort fails, but, from the sound of it, it wasn’t you. Something about the recipe was missing or poorly worded. The internet is both a great source of new and fascinating dishes, but equally full of bad recipes and awful disasters that require a massive cleanup with no reward!

    Now, I’ve got to go cook some butter chicken. I’ve made this recipe about 10 times and I love each and every time I have it. Except for the clean up. Worst recipe ever for that! Good luck with your next adventure in eating.

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    1. Thanks Kiri! I’m not giving up but there will be no onion jam in Sparky’s future. He does adore a good rice pudding and I have a recipe that is quick, easy and oh so delicious! The secret ingredient is cardamom… If you want I’ll message it to you! I’d trade for your Butter Chicken recipe – as I love butter chicken!

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    1. This was the first time I had ever considered tossing a pan!! In the end it all worked out and the pot was salvaged (but not the onion jam). I’m looking for a recipe for June – I’m hoping for inspiration. Any suggestions?

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        1. My friend (whose grandmother was from Italy) makes a dish where she salts the sliced egg plant, drains off the excess liquid, then breads the slices and fries them. Then serves them with various dipping sauces. They are pretty tasty!

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  4. I use baking soda a lot to reclaim a pan. the new copper stuff daughter bought doesn’t clean well. it also scratches so glad I never to a mixer to it.

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    1. Copper heats really evenly but it is a softer metal so it tends to scratch and dent easier… The baking soda helped but this one was so bad I was really worried!

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        1. I had one copper pan but after I got married it was sold at a garage sale. We used Sparky’s cook ware and about 10 years ago I bought a Kitchen Aid set. Now my Kitchen Aid set is everything I need or want! Seems silly but a great set of cookware can make cooking so much easier!

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  5. yes Muri, lots of points for effort. Maybe Sparky should give it a go? I am not really able to comment on cooking skills; so this is a short in the dark – I would let the onions simmer to condense/close to caramelise without vinegar and sugar and only add those 2 ingredients at the end? as for the praise online – you never know – perhaps no one wanted to admit defeat. Good luck with your next recipe!

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    1. Hehe! He has no interest in preparing actual meals – he makes his salads (chopped everything and dry as sawdust) and his coffee/tea. All else (with the exception of really awful chili soup) is not in his wheelhouse so to speak. He leaves the cooking to me and I’m happy to do it. If it were up to him we’d be eating spaghetti noodles every other day and the in between would be waffles!

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