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Day 19/11/2012

Hacking Onion Slicing with Post-Its, Sunglasses & a Little Design Thinking



I decided to make myself a lentil and chard ragout for lunch today (no judgment please, my hibernation season is in full swing). Within about 30 seconds of cutting the red onion that the recipe called for, my eyes were burning and tearing up. I grabbed a pair of sunglasses and resumed my chopping but, sadly, the sunglasses were no help. Within another 5 seconds my eyes were shut tight, tears pouring from them as I continued chopping with my eyes closed. Thankfully, it did not take too long for me to realize that this was a recipe for disaster, so I stepped away from my onion and dug into the three months of implementing design thinking into my everyday to see how I might resolve this challenge.


It quickly became apparent that what I really needed were goggles, which I did not have. The onion fumes were pouring into my eyes from below and although I tried holding my face completely parallel to the cutting board, I had no way of keeping the stinging out. I decided to rethink my sunglasses by adding a Post-It note, cut in half and folded widthwise, to each of the lenses. I placed the sticky part of the Post-it on the inside of the sunglasses and voila…* I looked ridiculous with my inverted parasol-like eye gear (dare I say, armor), but it worked and I managed to stop crying and got the upper hand on that onion without losing a finger.



Lentil & Chard Ragout Recipe from Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution by Kris Carr and Chef Chad Sarno



1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup finely diced shallots or red onions
6 roasted garlic cloves or 3 raw cloves, minced
1 ½ cups beluga lentils
½ cup cooking sherry wine or marsala wine
3 cups vegetable stock, low sodium if available
4 cups well-cleaned and coarsely chopped chard
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 ½ tablespoons of nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
3 tablespoons lemon zest
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons minced thyme
½ tablespoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons butter

In a large saucepan on medium heat, add the oil, shallot, and garlic. Cook until shallots and garlic are translucent and golden.

Add lentils and sherry to deglaze the pan.

Add the vegetable stock and cover. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are fork tender.

Add chard, peas, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, parsley, thyme, and salt, and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes on low heat

Finish with cracked pepper and 2 tablespoons of butter. Fold the mixture well to melt the butter, and serve.

Know of any good tricks for chopping onions without turning into an instant blubbering raccoon-like creature? Let me know.

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