"My onion skins are missing!" I cried. "Why? Where? What did you do with them?"
The questions were directed at the only suspect in the case: My wife, Kristin. She sat at her drawing table and calmly admitted that after dicing the last onion in the bag for the previous evening’s slow cooker, she’d tossed the mesh sack of dried husks into the trash can without a second thought.
"John, it was an onion bag filled with nothing but skins," she said as I began pawing my way through the kitchen waste can. "Can you please not be hysterical about this? I’m sure there will be plenty of onion skins in your future."
"You’re funny," I said. "But you don’t understand. I’ve been saving them for over a month for something special. Didn’t it seem like an inordinate amount of skins for a single bag of onions?"
Kristin continued about her work, unrepentant and unapologetic. That’s when I played the "Art" card.
"I would have thought that as an artist you would have recognized the creative value in an entire bag full of beautiful brown onion skins."
"Can you stop, please?" she growled, tossing her pencil aside. "I’ll help you find your stupid skins then."
I’m not sure if anyone else grew up in a household where onion skins held special value, but my mom used to work magic by adding them to the boiling pot while making hard-boiled eggs. The shells would emerge from the water in a beautiful, uniform shade of deep brown that never ceased to blow my young, science-crazy mind.
I had carried this tradition along to a certain degree, but when my mother-in-law gifted us one of those programmable pressure cookers for Christmas a few years ago it changed everything. Since the new gadget cooks with steam rather than immersing the eggs in boiling water, I surmised I could scrunch up onion skins over the top of the eggs and end up with some interesting patterns. (This should fully confirm the idea that I’ve never fully grown up.) The results have been spectacular.
My friend Magnus received his own Instant Pot this past Christmas and has since taken to surprising his wife and kids with new and interesting concoctions. Now, in one of the stranger twists of middle-aged male life, I find myself sharing recipes and helpful kitchen tips with one of my former beer drinking buddies. The egg thing is just so cool, I figured I’d make a full-blown preparation demo, complete with photos and step-by-step instructions to assure that Magnus and other Instant Pot men could experience stunning success on their first attempt at pressure cooker egg art.
Even though my wife’s thoughtless disposal of the most important ingredient (other than the eggs themselves) threatened to crush my whole creative vibe, my creative impulse would not be so easily defeated. The skins were eventually located and rescued — still fully enclosed in their mesh onion bag. Consequently, I was able to complete my demonstration and create my weird art, passing along Mom’s old magic with a newfangled twist. Magnus’ wife and kids will think he’s Harry Houdini!
(Find my "Artful Instant Pot Eggs" recipe on Facebook or write to John Lorson, Send Help, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627. Be sure to check out Facebook for time-lapse film clips of Kristin’s artwork and other fun stuff at JohnLorsonSendHelp)