Due to summer traveling schedules and life in general, my sister and I have primarily kept in contact the last few months via some rather untraditional sources: email, facebook, twitter, texting. Basically, we haven’t actually spoken to each other save for a few short, quick conversations that were broken up by a lost cell signal. The bane of all technology – the lost signal. Say what you will about the influx of impersonal communication methods these days – and I will agree with you by the way – but it works. I was up to speed on what was going on with her, and she with me despite working completely different hours in separate parts of the country. Perhaps not the best, but we do what we can.
During one of the short conversations we did manage to squeeze in, we tossed about ideas for what to do with a cabbage she’d grown in her garden. I know – titillating, right? She decided a slaw was in the cards. Something raw, fresh and crunchy that would do her beloved cabbage proud. Then the big question that determines it all: mayonnaise or vinegar? Should a slaw be slicked with mayo, nice and creamy? Or should it be tart with vinegar, almost slightly sweet pickled? Then all the sub-questions such as what’s in it? Just cabbage or onion, carrot and other stuff too? Mustard seeds or not? Is it finely shredded or roughly chopped? And do peanuts and Asian fish sauce have any business in a good ‘ol American slaw recipe? These questions can be cause for great debate with many folks and I suspect it can induce the same sort of deep opinions that I’ve discovered cobbler can invoke among certain people. Important stuff.
Personally, I’m not a mayo kind of gal so I tend to prefer a tart-sweet cole slaw with a vinegar base. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll certainly eat a creamy slaw but given the choice, I’ll pick a tart one every time. Over the years, I’ve perfected a pretty good one that I really like. It’s great with just about everything, especially pulled pork and I like to pile it on top of my sandwiches where the sweet-tart aspects cut through and enhance the richness of the pork. Wow, that sounds really good right now. Note to self: make some pulled pork pronto.
I can’t remember what my sister ended up doing – an Asian type slaw I believe – but I promptly made some of this for myself anyway. It’s actually better if it sits for a few days so plan accordingly and it will be fantastic for all those Labor Day BBQ’s and celebrations I’m certain you have coming up. And while you’re at it, make some of the beer mustard I posted earlier this summer. Delicious!
Feel free to adapt the recipe to what you like or have on hand too. Don’t have celery seeds? Leave them out. Want a little extra color? Throw some carrots in there. Prefer cider vinegar? Substitute. The only thing I would caution against is using red cabbage unless you really are going for a bright pink slaw in which case, god bless you and your tiara.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: TWO HEADS UP. This is easy, delicious and can be made ahead. Really now, what else do you need? Plus if you don’t use a food processor, there’s a lot of chopping involved which is a great distracter (but pay attention to your fingers. Emergency Rooms and missing digits can cause unwanted stress.)
VINEGAR-Y COLE SLAW
¾ cup white vinegar
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small cabbage (about 2 ½ pounds)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
- In a large bowl combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and salt. Stir until the sugar is dissolved (or mostly dissolved if you have zero patience like me.)
- Peel the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut into quarters. Cut the core out and slice the cabbage as thinly as possible. You can use the food processor with the shredding blade too, if you wish.
- Peel, half and thinly slice the onion.
- Now you need to combine the cabbage, onion and vinegar mixture. I like to divide the vinegar mixture between two heavy-duty Ziploc bags and divide the cabbage and onions between the two bags. Seal tightly then give the bags a good shake to evenly combine. You can do this in a big bowl as well.
- Let the mixture sit, refrigerated, for at least one day but it’s better around day 3. Be sure to give a stir (or flip the bags) once in while.
- The slaw will keep for a good week or so and gets better the longer it sits, however, around day 5 or 6 it will lose a lot of it’s crunch. Still good though.