Monday, September 13, 2010

Coleslaw Nostalgia

Last week, I went to the grocery with one thing in mind: I wanted to make carrot ginger dressing for a salad. But as I was walking around the grocery store, I started thinking: "So if I'm going to get this bag of carrots and red cabbage (I love red cabbage, I would eat with a little bit of balsamic and French dressing any day!), why don't I make cole slaw too?" And so I was going to make cole slaw, but not just any cole slaw. Let me explain:

When I was little, my parents and I would go to this little restaurant called "The Iron Horse". It had this train station feel and was kind of quirky. See, instead of serving bread before the meal, they would come around with pickles and cole slaw. I loved eating them together so much that, these days, I'd rather not have pickles without cole slaw or vice versa (especially if it's creamy cole slaw!)

Fast forward a couple years (roughly 10-13 years old). My parents and I were visiting my grandma and step-grandfather in Arizona. My step grandfather Ben likes to cook and bake a great deal, and at this point in my life he was well known for his "cakes" and ruggelahs. The dough always tasted of a hint of cinnamon, a dash of lemon and very little sugar. They were filled with a dried fruit mixture that I would mistake for chocolate (if only for the color, not necessarily the flavor). This time when we were visiting, I was obsessed with his homemade cole slaw. I asked my grandma what he put in his cole slaw, but Ben didn't have recipes for what he prepared, he would just go based on what he was trying to make and how it tasted. She did, however, tell me some of the things she knew he put in his coleslaw, so I could try to reproduce it at home: tarragon vinegar, a very little bit of mayonnaise (Ben's cole slaw was not heavy- it contained just the slightest bit of creaminess), salt and pepper, and maybe a little bit of lemon? These were my guides and after I came back home from my trip, I tried to reproduce his cole slaw. I remember making cole slaw a couple times, but I felt that I could never get it right, so pretty much stopped trying and that was that.

 Flash forward ten or so more years and here I am again, making some cole slaw. Luckily, I had this baby to help me out with the shredding:

Six or Seven cups of shredded cabbage, red cabbage and 2 carrots later and I'm ready to make the sauce!

1/3 cup rice vinegar (though I would recommend tarragon if you can get your hands on it!)
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
pepper to taste
2 small pinches of salt- makes it!

My little bowl of cole slaw

When I first tasted this, I was so sure it tasted just like Ben's cole slaw. Right now, I'm not so sure, but I do think this was the closest I came to reproducing it. If nothing else, it brought back wonderful memories of my family while we were celebrating the Jewish New Year.


  1. I love coleslaw too! What a perfect use for my new food processor. I haven't tried the shredding blade yet! I love food & family stories, they make something so simple like coleslaw into something so meaningful.

  2. Your recipe may need just a tiny bit of sugar,remember this may be the secret ingredient that is often not revealed...and so used by many who prepare food.

  3. Sarah- I was so happy when you said you got a new food processor too! This was definitely puts the processor to good use- it shaved off so much cutting time. Have fun testing out your's!

    Anon- you're right, I will try a pinch of cugar next time, thanks!