Asian Coleslaw Recipe Sketch

 

This is a family recipe in a few ways.  I first got obsessed with this salad a couple of years ago when one of my aunts was making it a lot.  Hers was inspired by two different recipes (neither for Asian coleslaw), which I bothered her until she sent me, I thought it was so good I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I have been making my version of her salad (below) for long enough that it’s established its own pattern in my head of what “Asian Coleslaw” is like.

So, during our craft retreat, another aunt decided to make “Asian Coleslaw” with some veggies left in her fridge.  Great!  I offered to help, and had to laugh as soon as she started putting things in.  Parsley?  Olive oil instead of peanut or sesame?  If you’re putting that, why not add this cauliflower?  No?  As it became more and more clear that our visions differed (and of course her version was also delicious) I realized that here was one of my own lessons coming back to me, of course you can make it with whatever you have and whatever you like!  Please feel free to experiment.

 

Asian Coleslaw

This much will feed four as a side.

Combine in a bowl:

1/2 small cabbage (your favorite kind) shredded

3 medium carrots, grated

1/4 cup chopped cashews (peanuts and or/sesame seeds would also be good)

3 green onions/scallions, chopped fine (optional)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro (and/or parsley or other herbs)

Dressing (I make this in my little food processor):

1 Tablespoon shallot, or 2 cloves of garlic

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger

2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil (you can also use peanut)

Juice of one small lime (or splash of rice vinegar, although I like lime better)

2 – 3 Tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

2 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup

Squirt of hot sauce (or add serrano or another hot chile)

Process the dressing until everything is combined and chopped fine (you could also mince the solid ingredients by hand and combine everything in the bowl).  Pour the dressing over the salad, toss, and you are done!  This also keeps quite well in the fridge for several days.

 

 
I realized as I was thinking about posting this recipe that’s a really a year-round salad.  I tend to think of it almost more for winter, since the ingredients are still readily available, and it provides a little something fresh when almost everything seems warm and stewed.  But, it also makes me think of my cousin (sweating out the Brooklyn summer without AC) and everyone stuck in the Midwest heatwave – a tasty way to get your veggies without ever turning on the oven.  I’m still making it here, even though our monsoon-season weather has been exquisite, so close to perfect that I keep sitting on the (brick) front steps with my laptop to feel the breezes.   I’m telling you, the world’s best weather is in the mountain southwest, once it starts to rain.

One last note, my DIY envelope tutorial was featured on KP’s blog today!  We became friends in person (when we lived in the same country) now I love keeping up with her fun projects and lovely photos (plus she has a recycle project challenge)!

 

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Preserving Watermelon, or what I took on our Trip to Michigan

 

This last month or so was the first time in a long time I got to really settle in at home in the summer.  To me, one thing that settling in means is buying a lot of fresh food, and cooking it up.  Plums just appeared at my farmer’s market a few weeks ago, and my husband loves watermelon.  Plus, I was testing out recipes for raspberry jam, in advance of picking black raspberries as they come into season at my friend’s secret raspberry picking spot.  So, I found myself about to leave town, in the phase known as “eat the fridge,” with a bowlful of plums, 3/4 of a fairly good orange watermelon, part of a jar of jam, etc.

At first this really bummed me out because I cannot stand to waste food, I pride myself on planning so that we’ll eat everything, and it seemed like a bit much to just chow down.

Then I got to thinking, isn’t this the original reason for preserved foods, because you can’t eat everything while it’s fresh?  The plums we’re pretty easy, canned into a delicious compote (more about that later).

 

 

Watermelon, though?  A quick search produced this article on The Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking and this one on Mother Earth News.  I basically followed their advice.  Cutting the watermelon into quarters longways definitely made it easier to slice it thinly, and to take out lots of seeds, although more appeared as it dried.  The flavor of these was actually really good, Bryan likened it to watermelon mixed with butternut squash.  I’m still on the fence about whether it was good enough to do again, mainly because it took forever in my oven, where forever is about 5 hours at 170° F, the lowest setting.  After letting it dry overnight, I had to heat it up again because cooled, it was stuck irrevocably to the broiler pan I used as a drying rack.  By the time it reached the “not tacky” stage recommended in Mother Earth News, it was a struggle to get it off the pan, even warm, without leaving about half behind.  The top photo has the most picturesque shreds.  If you happen to have a dehydrator though, it’s a no-brainer, you should definitely try some watermelon.

 

 

The thing that I’m most happy about this whole escapade though, was instead of seeing all the food we had as something that had to go before we left, I started thinking of it more like an ongoing process, that tied the food to our trip and to our return.  After I started thinking this way, I bought a loaf of bread, used part of it to finish up the jam, took part of it with us, and froze part to eat when we come back.  I’m looking forward to some French toast with plum preserves!

I’ve also been inspired to think about unconventional road food this summer by Kimberley’s series on The Year in Food.  As we sat on the plane, eating fresh bread, carrots & cheese (the last ones left in the fridge, washed and/or sliced and packed to go) and shreds of dried watermelon, I was a happy camper.  Having my own food, especially interesting food, definitely takes away some of the sardine can/cattle drive feeling of flying these days.

As I type this, we are getting ready to head over and set up for the Ann Arbor Art Fair, in 103° weather.  The dried watermelon is all gone, finished up at the last show.  But writing this post and thinking about our food adventures is putting me in a good mood, hopefully one that will last!