I’m in love with all the cruciferous vegetables, but nobody ever talks about cabbage. I once went shopping at the local health-food store, and bought a regular old head of green cabbage. I took it to the check-out counter, and the kid behind the register picked it up, turned it all around, and asked what it was. “Cabbage,” I replied. He took out the little produce code sheet, looked up and down, found the cabbages, and asked me, “What kind?”
How many kinds of round cabbage are there? There are two: Red, and Green. What color was my cabbage? Even a colorblind person can tell the subtle differences between a pale green cabbage and a deep purple cabbage. I know this because I’m married to a colorblind person. Although he cannot tell between a green car and a gray car.
I didn’t laugh at the check-out boy. Nearly every time I go there, someone asks me what I’m purchasing, or at the very least, “What on earth you DO with that block of tofu, that bunch of watercress, or that pristine acorn squash?” (Did you know that watercress grows in the wild in all 50 states? And it’s another cruciferous, delicious, and vitamin-ey vegetable? It’s one of the main ones in V-8)
I buy a lot of cabbage, both red and green. I love it. I love it cooked, I love it raw. I love it in curry, with peanut sauce, braised with onions and raisins, stir-fried with chiles and mustard seeds, sauteed with butter (and bacon, if I have any), mixed into mashed potatoes, added to soups, and maybe most of all, in cole slaw.
Cole, or Kohl is the Germanic word for cabbage, and Slaw comes from Sla, which is the Dutch word for Salad, which is an alteration of Salata, the Italian for “salted.” So to be a salad, it has to be salted. When I went to Rome, we were served piles of lettuce with salt and pepper on them when we ordered salad.
I like to make a big bowl of cole slaw, and have it for lunch every day. Today, I asked Calvin if he would like some. Miraculously, he has decided that he loves cole slaw. His friend, T, was here for lunch, and Cal asked T if he would like some too. T asked what it was. Calvin said, “It’s cabbage with mayonnaise and sugar.” Then he looked at me and asked what else was in it.
“Mustard, salt, and vinegar.” Calvin repeated everything I said, and then informed T that vinegar is “like what you sometimes put on salad.” He’s really fond of balsamic vinaigrette.
I’m glad that I decided to make cole slaw just for me. I never used to make it, because no-one else would eat it. Derek hates it. But after about 2 weeks of having it nearly every day, now one of my sons loves it. I feel successful.
Standard Cole Slaw
1 head cabbage, red or green, shredded
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2-3 T white vinegar
2 T agave syrup or sugar, more or less to taste (I almost always add more)
1 t Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Put the shredded cabbage in a big bowl. Mix all other ingredients in a small bowl, then combine. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, if you have time.
1. add 1 T curry powder.
2. Add 1/2 cup raisins to green cabbage slaw, or 1/2 cup golden raisins to red slaw. Add these just before serving, because they plump over time.
3. Add 1 Cup shredded carrots to green slaw.
4. Add all of the above.
5. Use 2 T plain yogurt and 2 T mayonnaise.
6. Use other shredded cruciferous veggies in place of some or all of the cabbage. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Broccoflower, Daikon Radish, Turnips, Kale, Collards, etc.