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Five Minutes Peace

pickled red onions

Have you ever read the book Five Minutes’ Peace?

The one with the mama elephant who tries to escape her busy household by sneaking off with the newspaper to have a bubble bath? Just as she sinks beneath the bubbles, there are the little elephants, standing beside the bath. One wants to practise reading with her. Another wants to play the recorder. The littlest one wants to give her all the bath toys…. Finally mama elephant abandons the bath for the messy kitchen, where she sits and reads the paper for three minutes and forty-five seconds.

I thought I had graduated from the Five Minutes Peace days. My kids aren’t tap dancing on the table or pouring honey onto the floor anymore. But I still crave five minutes peace, even when they’re at school and I am working in the quiet of my kitchen.

Yesterday the phone rang at 10am. It was baby elephant number two. He had forgotten his trumpet, could I drive it to him, asap? He’s new at this school and the learning curve is steep. I’m a tough-love mother, but I felt for him this time. I got down off the counter where I was photographing sautéed rainbow chard and climbed into the car, apron and all.

Rainbow chard, incidentally, doesn’t wait.

The phone rang again at 11am. It was baby elephant again. He had forgotten his group project. Without it, the whole group would be penalized. I pulled the half-roasted cubes of butternut squash out of the oven, not wanting them to burn; they were also being photographed. I found the project under his desk and climbed into the car.

Roasted butternut squash, incidentally, doesn’t caramelize beautifully when roasted twice.

This morning I looked back over my productivity the day before. Lots started, nothing finished. I needed to tick a box, badly. So I made pickled red onions. They’re gorgeous, photogenic, and take three minutes and forty-five seconds to make.

Quick Pickled Red Onions

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar, honey, agave or maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced
optional –
a few sprigs of thyme, 5 peppercorns, 5 allspice berries, 1 dried chilli, a clove of garlic

Whisk vinegar, sugar and salt together in a small bowl until dissolved. Put onion slices in a jar and cover with vinegar mixture. Add optional ingredients, if you’d like. Cover and let onions sit at room temperature for an hour or so, or place in the fridge and use over the next few weeks. They’ll get pinker as the days progress.

Pickled red onions are delicious on eggs of any kind, in sandwiches, on tacos, burgers, as a garnish over soups or stews, in salads… wherever you need a pop of crunchy pickled pink, in a hurry.