by Joey Howard
My stepfather believed in a lot of things, but paying taxes was not one of them. He was retired from the Army, and he had his checks sent to PO boxes far away from our house so the government couldn’t track him down. We moved from state to state, running from the law and living waaaay off the grid.
For a while, we lived in a half-finished house in the middle of freaking nowhere in Montana, 35 miles from the nearest paved road. Once, when I was eight, the truck broke down and our parents had to walk over 100 miles into town to pick up the check. Mom took the two youngest kids with her and left the other four of us to fend for ourselves. They were gone three weeks.
We didn’t have a lot of food in the house, and after four days it was gone. We were able to catch a few fish from the tiny creek that ran through the property, but by the end of the first week it was completely fished out. My oldest brother took his 30-06 and tried to hunt, but there was no game anywhere around us, so he gave up. Then things got bad.
During the second week, we didn’t eat anything. I had blood sugar problems as a kid, so I started to get lethargic. It was like a dream where everything seemed hazy and nothing made sense. I would wake up at random times, look around, and then go back to sleep.
The Best Onion Ever!
Part way through the third week, we found a Vidalia onion in the cellar. I don’t remember which of us found it, but we were so excited that all four of us gathered around and ate the whole thing raw. It tasted so sweet and delicious!
I moved out when I was 16 and have lived on my own ever since, but I’ll never forget the experiences I had as a kid. My crazy childhood taught me how to rely on myself and get through hardships. It taught me to be patient and generous with other people because you never know what their life has been like.
It also made me appreciate food, especially when it’s cooked! And if it happens to be Guinness-Battered Onion Rings, that's the best!
Guinness-Battered Onion Rings
makes 4 servings
(adapted from seriouseats.com)
- canola oil, for frying
- ½ Tbsp hot paprika
- 2 large onions
- 1 (14.9 oz) can Guinness beer
- 1 cup corn starch
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- kosher salt
- Fill medium pot with oil 6 inches deep. Heat over medium high to 350°F.
- While oil is heating, line a baking sheet with paper towels for finished onion rings to drain.
- Trim ends from onions, peel, and cut into 1-inch-thick rings. Gently separate rings, discarding innermost rings and broken pieces.
- Dredge onion rings by coating them in corn starch and then gently shaking off the excess.
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and hot paprika. In a small bowl, whisk together beer, mustard, and honey. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring well to combine. Batter should have the consistency of a thick pancake batter.
- Dip onion rings into batter one at a time, coating thoroughly. Shake off excess batter and carefully lower into hot oil. Cook small batches until dark golden brown on each side, 2-3 minutes, turning once. Remove with a wire strainer and place on prepared baking sheet. (If you place the baking sheet in a warm oven, you can keep the fried onions warm as you finish your other batches.) Sprinkle lightly with salt while hot.
- Continue frying remaining onions in small batches. Once they’re all fried, serve immediately. Allow oil to cool completely before straining and storing.