Onion-ology

Yellow onions, also known as Spanish onions, keep the longest and have the mildest flavor. Red onions keep less long, and are crunchier and sweeter, with a coarser texture. White onions have thin, papery skin, and don't keep quite as long as yellow ones.

Red onions are great in salads, because their color, taste and texture are all fantastic raw. They're good cooked, too, and caramelize beautifully, but their color isn't quite so vibrant once they've been cooked. Yellow onions are the workhorse of onions, the onion's onion. Use them when the onion isn't the star of the show, but you still want some onion flavor.

White onions are wonderful raw. They have a clean, sharp, sweet bite that is good for tacos.

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Wanted: Taste of the South

Piggly Wiggly Carolina is trying to root out the best home cooks in the South with a recipe contest, Taste of the South.

The company launched the contest last week in all 115 of its stores in South Carolina, southeastern Georgia and North Carolina.

The contest culminates with the final round Dec. 6 in Charleston.

Matt Lee and Ted Lee, nationally recognized food and travel writers and authors of "The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook," will choose the grand-prize winner.

Original recipes may be submitted until Oct. 21 in three categories: appetizers, salads and side dishes; main dishes; and desserts.

Contest rules and entry forms may be obtained from any participating Piggly Wiggly store or online at thepig.net.

The prize package includes a set of All-Clad cookware valued at $1,600.

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Just-right fries

Q: I have problems with homemade french fries being flimsy and not crispy when I prepare them in my deep fryer.

A: When you're frying anything, the oil temperature is critical. If the oil is too hot, the fries will burn on the outside before cooking through on the inside; if it's too cold, they'll absorb too much oil and get soggy, not crispy.

To get that fluffy-on-the-inside-crispy-on-the-outside texture in your fries, you have a couple of options. First, you could cut the fries extra-thin (like shoestring fries), so there's less inside to worry about. Or, if you have your heart set on thicker fries, the best way to cook them is Belgian-style: meaning twice-fried. First fry them at a lower temperature (about 325 degrees ) to cook the insides; then fry them at a higher temperature (about 375 degrees ) to crisp up the outsides.