Friday, March 25, 2011

Living off the land

I'm not doing a very good job of convincing my neighbors I'm not crazy.

Does anyone else have a bunch of wild onions growing in their yard? My yard is absolutely covered in them. And I think it's awesome. Apparently, most people don't share my enthusiasm.

I actually discovered these when I was out on a walk with some of my co-workers. One of the girls dug a couple of them out of the ground to show me. And I tried them. Because that's the obvious thing to do when you find random wild vegetables growing along the side of a busy road.

I guess I thought it was pretty cool that there was actually an edible plant available outside of the grocery store. I know, I'm easily amused. After my discovery, I went home and realized that these things are growing like crazy in my front yard. In every one's front yard actually. Maybe it's a Southern thing? I don't remember any of these growing in my yard when I lived in Virginia.

See all the tall, green tufts? Yup, those are wild onions. And the purple tufts are weeds (we mowed recently, I promise! Thank goodness we're not part of a homeowner's association...) I immediately looked up "wild onions" on Google, and apparently these bad boys are a big problem in Tennessee. Most people consider them to be a nuisance because of how much they grow and how hard they are to get rid of. Me, I look at them and think "garnish".

Recently, I took my daughter outside to play for awhile while I gathered some of the onions. I gave her a box of sidewalk chalk to play with and then I set out on a mission. I attacked the ground with my shovel, removing one small bulb at a time. I was Bear Grylls. I was living off the land, providing for my family, assuring our well-being. I was becoming one with Mother Nature, one wild onion at a time. And then I heard the voice of my neighbor who I had just met a few weeks ago.

Although we've lived in our current neighborhood for 2 years now, we know only 2 sets of neighbors. Well, 3 if you count the little boy across the street who comes over periodically to ask for food. We know our next-door-neighbor because he complains when our leaves fall in his yard and when we left a pile of sticks too close to his house. Apparently sticks attract spiders? News to me, but his wife is deathly afraid of spiders, and our pile of unassuming sticks were an infestation waiting to happen.

The other neighbors (the ones witnessing me digging in my front yard) we know are a couple houses down. We met them a few weeks ago when we were off work because of a snow storm. After talking to he and his wife twice, we were pretty psyched to have met 2 really nice, seemingly normal people outside of work who were our age and who had kids too. As fate would have had it though, they pulled up in their car just in time to see me on my hands and knees, feverishly hacking away at the lawn. It also didn't help my case when my daughter came barrelling at me, her entire face covered in every color of sidewalk chalk.

After my attempts to convince the neighbors that I actually am, in fact, a perfectly lucid human being, I gathered my bushel of wild onions and took my chalk-covered child inside. Then came the fun stuff. And by fun, I mean incredibly time consuming. I washed and cut each of the little stalks of wild onion that I found. It was a labor of love...and it took me over an hour.

Most of the stalks had tiny onion bulbs, but I did have a few that were the size of my pinky. Now, what to do with 1/2 cup of wild onion bulbs? I risked my sanity to retrieve them from the front yard, but now I have no clue what to do with all of them. After doing a little research, apparently Native Americans ate these all the time with eggs. But I feel like I could fancy them up some.

So I ask you, what in the world can I make with wild onions? I'm sure there has to be others of you out there who have tried wild onions before. Maybe you make some fancy quiche with them? A roast perhaps? I need to know. My sanity depends on it.


  1. I don't know what you'd do with them - use them like any other onion maybe? But we do have them in Virginia. I was just telling Peter about them lol.

  2. When we lived in Hampton, there was an empty lot on our street with TONS of wild onions growing in it. We used to pull them up for fun. We may have even used them when playing Indians outside.

    Don't judge. We were in elementary school. ;)

  3. We have those growing out in the field behind our house too. But my husband doesn't trust them. The grounds aren't kept very well around here. Let us know how they taste!

  4. Those would be great in a homemade chicken potpie! I have a good recipe if you want it. Love, your other mother

  5. Well, I hope you find out what to do with these - I live in Tennessee too and these things are seriously EVERYWHERE! I would definitely use them if I knew what to do with them and knew they were safe - keep me posted!

  6. I'm sure you're long done with these but I just found your blog and read this... so, my suggestion would be to caramelize them and make french onion soup with them. or make a caramelized onion spread for some french bread.
    What did you end up using them for?

    1. oooh that sounds great! we mix french onion soup with hamburger meat and makes them sooo good.. would be an added yummy if it was all made yourself!

  7. I can't believe that I just paid 4.00 for a tiny bushel of these at the grocery store only to find the mother load.. And I mean mother load of these in my front yard. i love fresh chopped onion but always have half an onion left over when i use the big ones from the store and feel like it goes to waste most of the time... I make spicy chicken tacos with these.. they are just the right size and bite for taco toppers. I take canned chicken, diced jalapenos,diced green chilies and drain them then either put on low heat and simmer for a while or put in my "dip" crock pot and simmer until it isn't "runny". then i prepare shred lettuce, dice up cherry tomatoes,and grate "Chihuahua Cheese" get sour cream out, and clean and chop my tiny onions :) then i get the shells ready and OMG! my family loves these darn tacos! so i guess in short i use these little bad boys for things that use onion when you dont need a whole big onion.


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