Instead, this icky slaw (isn't slaw a gross-sounding word?) was a side dish served when my mom and I had lunch at a local restaurant or scooped from a cardboard cup included with takeout Kentucky Fried Chicken. There was an odd tang to the dressing and it tasted old. And amazingly, I think my parents must have agreed with me, because they didn't make me eat it, except for one Girl Scout bite once in a blue moon.
When I was fifteen and a half, working my first job as a short order cook at Waltze's Drive-In, I learned why the dressing tasted weird: it came from giant plastic jars, the dressing made years before it was finally mixed with the cabbage.
The first time I had my mom-in-law's coleslaw I was transported. Trudy's coleslaw was fresh tasting and crunchy, with not just cabbage, but chopped bell peppers, carrots, onion, celery, whatever she felt like adding that day. The dressing reminded me of my mom's beloved potato salad and I became a lover of coleslaw, at least Trudy's.
A few years later I received a treasured present: family recipes with stories about each dish, painstakingly transferred to 3 by 5 inch cards in Trude's handwriting. The coleslaw recipe was there. The recipe is not always the same, but evolves depending on what's in the fridge or the pantry.
- 1 cup mayonnaise (up to half of this can be yogurt or sour cream)
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar (start with 1 tablespoon and then taste. Add more if you want)
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoons black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
- (you may substitute 3/4 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning for the salt and celery seed)
- 1-2 tablespoons milk if your dressing seems a little thick
- 4 cups shredded or finely chopped green cabbage (mix in a little red cabbage for color if you want)
- 1 cup shredded or finely chopped mixed veggies (carrot, onion, bell pepper, celery, etc.)
- Optional garnish: sliced green onion tops
1. In a large bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients.
2. Add the cabbage and other veggies to the bowl. If your hands are clean and no one is looking, use them to mix the dressing and the shredded veggies. (Don't feel weird doing this because lately I've noticed chefs using this technique to mix salads.)
3. Garnish with some sliced green onions, if you wish.