Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions ~ A Tribute to Becky

I don’t remember when it started. I think it just always was. Right from the very first second.

To quote a line from Jerry Maguire – she had me at hello.

A little background. When the Food Network made their heart wrenching decision to close the chat forums (which they never moderated), I thought it a good idea to open a chat board dedicated to the Barefoot Contessa – Ina Garten. It mostly was a good idea. I have made some wonderful friends there. I have also grown a very thick skin there.

I met Becky there. From the very beginning, Becky approached me and asked to help out. There was something gracious about her, something significant, something unwavering. She and I became instant friends. It was so easy. Our children are about the same age. We both love to cook. Love Fiesta. Love the occasional lovely cocktail. We are both innately curious.

Becky and I were also insomniacs. We would meet on AOL in the wee hours of the morning and talk for hours on end.

We talked about food, our husbands, food, dishes, food, people on the various boards, food, how to solve problems on them, and we talked about our children – ENDLESSLY. We laughed at them, we laughed with them, we cried for them and over them, we prayed for them, screamed about them, vented frustrations and absolutely adored each other’s children. I watched Abbey and Tori grow up into beautiful young women and she watched Tommy grown into the wonderful young man he is.

When Becky first found out about her illness, we discussed it. Her not getting better was not an option. We joked about the nuts and berries holistic approach she was taking at the beginning.

She was so brave – well, 90% of the time. Every once in a while she would break down – mostly by email – and say she was frightened or frustrated. When she started chemo and spending a lot of time at Vandy, I knit a blanket for her. It was pink and purple and very warm. The note I enclosed said that it was a hug. Whenever she used it, she wasn’t alone. I was there holding her hand and hugging her.

We were fortunate enough to meet in person. And she was as lovely and gracious in person as she always was online. FOr those of you who have dealt with crazies in the cyberworld, someone who was exactly the same in person as online is a rare thing.

I will never forget the morning I received Becky’s last email. I sat there staring at the screen – STUNNED. I answered her back immediately. I hope she was able to read it. I told her I loved her. I told her to be brave. I told her how much I appreciated her friendship. I told her dying was not an option – a mantra we had repeated incessantly from her initial diagnosis.

Sadly, less than 24 hours later she was gone – and I was, and still am, devastated by this loss.

I wanted – selfishly – the chance to tell her how much her friendship meant to me. We could talk on the phone, or online, or in email, or not for weeks on end and just naturally pick up where we were previously. She was trusting and honest, she was loyal beyond words (a very rare quality in people). She was always there to listen, to lend a hand, to brainstorm. I would have walked away and deleted Contessa’s Kitchen LONG ago had it not been for Becky and her optimism and faith that things would be okay.

One morning we were chatting about recipes. The recipe called for caramelized onions. My nemesis. Carmelized onions. Never made them – not ever once – without having to start them over. There were always burned parts. They were never evenly colored. Never achieved that golden color or deep flavor. Becky had said that she had read someplace that you could caramelize onions in a slow cooker. Off she went finding recipes to accomplish this, sending them to me as she found them. We both tried them, the outcome fabulous, and neither of us ever went without caramelized onions again!

As I have said previously – I will not mourn Becky’s death. I refuse. I will instead celebrate her life, our friendship, and raise a glass and toast her – Rebecca Louise Shauberger Turner, here is to you. You have touched my life and I am better for having known you and lucky to have you as my friend!

There really isn’t a recipe to this. Slow cookers come in all sizes and each manufacturer heats differently.

I have a KitchenAid 7 quart slow cooker. If I fill the slow cooker the onions take between 6 to 8 hours on high with the top off. The cover being off is what makes them brown. Some people’s slow cookers do a better job of this on medium or low. I tried that the first time and absolutely NOTHING was happening. You have to watch it and see if the onions are softening and gauge it that way.

So. Onions. Lots and lots of onions. I prefer using Vidalia onions.

Slice ’em up. Plunk them into the slow cooker. A few pats of butter. A glug or 2 of olive oil. A pinch or 2 of salt. On high. Walk away.

I usually do this on a day I am going to be home the entire time. They need to be stirred and the top IS off – and those of you who know me already know I love my slow cooker but live in fear of it. The onions start to break down.

And stir. And wait. And stir. And wait.

And when they are browned and a complete shadow of their former selves, I add a bit of balsamic vinegar.

When they are brown and soft to your liking, let them cool.

Although I freeze most of my onions – in one cup portions so I can easily take 1/2 or a 1/4 or th entire thing depending on the recipe – I keep some out for sandwiches. The one above is toasted sourdough, roast beef, cheddar cheese and the onions. Yum!

So, back to the purpose – I will miss you, Miss Becky, and will always have an emptiness in my heart. Abbey and Tori, your Mom thought you 2 were the greatest things since sliced bread. She thought you both were so amazing. There is and always will be a special space in my heart and home for the 2 of you.

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48 Responses

  1. Oh, Annie, your post made me cry. Such a beautiful tribute…I will celebrate her life with you! That’s the way she would want it. xoxo

  2. your post was the perfect way to remember Becky…thanks for sharing..Cathy

  3. Beautifully written. At first I was ecstatic to see “Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions” – I’ve been experimenting this summer with roasting vegetables in my slow cooker as well. Then I read about your sweet friend Becky. Lucky are those of us who have shared such a friendship. She lives on in your heart … and your cooking.

  4. This is just so beautiful. The not mourning part is so hard. I keep thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll just ask Becky’. I’m not a foodie, but one of her dish sisters and tablecloth Divas, and I just miss her so much! What a blessing she is in so many lives! Rebecca

  5. So sorry for your loss, but so happy you found a friend. I remember the drama on the boards, which is why I walked away from them. Perhaps had I found Becky I would have stayed. No matter. YOU did, and I am very sure that you meant as much to her, and enriched her life, as much as she did yours.
    Sending a big hug
    Heather

  6. What a lovely post and tribute. Your friendship with Becky is inspiring.

  7. Okay, I didn’t even know Becky but from what you write about her, so beautifully, I feel I have met her. I have tears running down my cheeks. Does everyone know what a softie you are and what a HUGE heart you have. Your tribute to Becky was amazing, I am so proud to call you my friend, luv you ❤

  8. Thanks so much for sharing! It was lovely.

  9. Bought tears to my eyes and it wasn’t the onions…….this recipe may work here as i’ve always had difficulty caramelizing onions.

  10. Beautiful!

  11. I am tearing up and have goose bumps. My heart aches for her daughters because as a mom that is my biggest fear…my kids being without me. I am glad you two got to know each other and share your lives. Real women are great at opening up our hearts to each other. I am so sorry for your loss and for the unfairness of life. I truly don’t understand things like this.

  12. Lovely sentiments of a lovely lady that SO many came to know through the various boards! How can one not reminisce about Becky and have your heart filled with beautiful moments and friendship!
    Thank you for sharing, Annie!

  13. What a sweet post and a fantastic recipe.

  14. Annie, absolutely lovely and moving tribute to Becky. Thank you for organizing the tribute on facebook ~ such a wonderful memorial, very nicely done. ~m.

  15. What a wonderful tribute to your friend. I have never though to caramelize onions in the slow cooker. Brilliant!

  16. Annie, many thanks for this wonderful tribute to our Becky,

    Francie Newcomb

  17. I did not think I would make it here today…but on a borrowed computer and far from home I finally made it . I could not post my post as I do not have a computer for a while…I am raising my glass to Becky…today is her birthday…
    Annie this is such a beautiful post…I am sitting here crying…
    Thanks so much for organizing this tribute to Becky. She is greatly missed…and always will be…
    L~xoxo

  18. What a beautiful tribute to your friend! Very special!
    Have a happy day.
    🙂 Mandy

  19. Annie, what a moving and touching tribute to our Becky. Thank you for organizing this tribute, and, thank you for not giving up on our CK board. Hugs from me to you. Ana Maria

  20. What a beautiful post and tribute to Becky. Bless you for this recipe as well. I have 20 pounds of onions that need to be cooked this week. I am going to fill all of my crockpots tomorrow! Thank you!!

  21. […] bloggy friend Andrea wrote a beautiful tribute post and posted a caramelized onion recipe for friend she recently […]

  22. Oh I am so sad to read about Becky. It’s always amazing to see how someone we meet and communicate with only through email can affect us in a profound way. Becky obviously was a terrific person and it comes through in your tribute to her. How lucky you both were to have found each other. BTW, the caramelized onions look darn delicious too.

  23. Let me reverse something here – I’m glad I found your blog! What a beautiful tribute to a friendship formed online, and taken away so suddenly. Becky sounds like a wonderful person, and I’m so sorry for your loss. So rare to find a friend like that. I hope your blanket was wrapped around her the moment she moved on.

    That said, I would love to try using a crockpot to caramelize onions. I don’t like having to stand at the stove for long periods of time! Love caramelizing them, so this is a keeper. Oh, btw, in a lasagna verde post from ’09, I made caramelized onions talk. I was on pain meds after knee surgery lol.

  24. such a beautiful tribute Sorry for your loss Im sure Becky is up there watching over you

  25. What a touching and beautiful post about your friend. Thanks for letting us know her a little, through you.

    =)

  26. I am so sorry for your loss! She sounds like an amazing lady?

  27. I’m glad you have fond memories of a good friend, and think of her often. Sorry for your loss. {:-Deb

  28. What a lovely tribute, in so many ways.

  29. Andrea, I was on my way here this morning to tell you that I tried the onions and LOVED them. You saw my post already though. 🙂 Thank you again for such an awesome tip!

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet friend. Thank you again for sharing it.

  30. So touching! Great tribute. I will try the recipe.

  31. What a great tribute! And — I must try that recipe. 🙂

    Greetings from Germany,
    Birgit

    PS: See my T post here! 🙂

  32. What a lovely post. I loved reading it.
    Wonderful recipe too. We can never have enough caramelized onions. I love to put them in everything!

  33. Wow…very touching post! I’m really glad that you choose to celebrate her life and pay tribute to the wonderful friendship you had. The onions look great!

  34. What a sweet tribute to your beautiful friend. I love the idea of having caramelized onions in the freezer. Such a great way to make them.

  35. What a beautiful, beautiful post.

    Your love and friendship transcends the terrible loss you’ve endured. Your friend sounds like an amazing person…and I suspect she found a kindred spirit in you.

    I will make these onions in honor of your friendship.

    And I will send you a prayer of peace and healing along with this comment.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    It was so touching.

  36. What an absolutely lovely tribute to your dear friend. I am sitting at my desk trying not to cry. So here is to Becky and to you and to your true friendship.

  37. such a wonderful heart felt post. I have tears in my eyes. Your friend must have been so special.

  38. […] and jalapenos on Saturday.   I made more Jalapeno Relish and Candied Jalapenos.  I also made Slow-Cooker Caramelized Onions via Andrea- From the Bookshelf-’s recipe. 15 small jars of jalapeno-ey […]

  39. Your entire blog,“Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions ~ A Tribute to Becky | From the Bookshelf” was indeed worthy of writing a comment here!
    Just simply wanted to say u really did a terrific job. I appreciate it -Lillian

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