There’s a big party in our neighborhood tomorrow. An end-of-summer bash! Everyone’s supposed to bring a side dish to share with the masses. I thought that a mass of pepper slaw would be the perfect thing to bring… it’s not mayonnaise-based, it’s easy to eat, people love it, and it’s a Central PA classic. Best of all, I was sure I had all the ingredients in the house, except for the cabbage.
This morning, I loaded the Peezer into the car and off we went to the grocery store, to purchase a head of cabbage and a cartful of things he asked for and I couldn’t say no other Very Important Things (cat food, Oreos, Fleet Fiber Gummies [the kid won't poop without 'em], a new electric toothbrush with a skateboard handle – you know, the essentials in every four-year-old’s life). One head of cabbage was a buck-ninety, and considering that the recipe I use yield enough to feed an entire platoon, I was feeling exceedingly thrifty. Well done, me, I thought as I imagined patting myself on the back.
Once home, I commenced to making the slaw. An account of how it all went down follows. But if you want to jump to the actual recipe itself without the rest of the story (and I hope you don’t because it’s kinda funny but if your time is limited, g’head) – go to my other blog, My Grandmas’ Recipes, where I posted the recipe with noticeably less commentary.
I got out the Cuisinart and all of its parts and put it together. I found my largest mixing bowl. Processed a few baby carrots, one green pepper, and one onion, separately, until each vegetable was finely chopped, and transferred each to the mixing bowl.
Then, I combined 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, and a cup-and-a-half of sugar in a microwave bowl and cooked it, stirring every minute, until the sugar was dissolved. Total cook time was 3 or 4 minutes. I set it aside to cool.
Next, I went back to the food processor. This is really the messy part of this recipe because I can’t seem to do it wihtout getting bits of cabbage everywhere. I removed the outer few leaves of cabbage, then cut the rest of the head into chunks (tossing away the hard part at the base). I completely filled my processor bowl, then began pulsing to make it into a super-fine chop. Only what happened was this -
So I removed the unchopped leaves on the top, then finished processing until it looked like this:
Then I returned the unchopped cabbage to the bowl, chopped ‘em up, and that is how I learned that you can only fill the bowl half-full of cabbage leaves, or else it won’t chop evenly and you will make significantly more work for yourself that way, and if ever there were a good example of the saying, “do as I say, not as I do,” this is it.
Each half-bowl of cabbage was super-finely chopped in 6-8 pulses of my magical wonderful Cuisinart (whose main purpose in life is to make slaw, because otherwise, I just don’t use it that much).
Finally, with all the chopped veggies now scattered all over my kitchen island in the giant mixing bowl, I was ready to add the spices. A teaspoon of salt, a generous teaspoon of mustard seed, and a generous teaspoon of… well, I was sure the celery seed was in here somewhere…. could I be out of it? No, it’s not possible, one little jar lasts forever…
I stood on a chair to get a better view and twirled my spice turntable around three times. I finally found the jar – empty! – rolling around in the back corner of the cupboard, like a lone tumbleweed. Celery seed is a crucial ingredient here. You can’t not have celery seed in this slaw. There is no substitute. It’s probably illegal in Pennsylvania to make pepper slaw without celery seed, it’s that important.
I should’ve known to check for the spices first! Rookie mistake! I got back in the car and drove over to Safeway, even though I swore I would never again return after my last visit, when the young man who rang up my groceries refused to put the bags into my cart, then gave me the evil eye because I wasn’t clearing the bagging area fast enough. Still, at a mile away it’s the closest grocery store, so that’s where I went, and my head exploded in Aisle 4 when I saw that a tiny jar of McCormick’s celery seed was $5.69! For an ounce and a half! And then I was super-mad at myself because I much prefer to buy my spices at the Penzey’s store in Rockville, because they’re soooo much better than the grocery store spices and they’re less expensive and hello? A store full of spices! But I didn’t want to take 40 minutes (and waste the gas) to drive down there and back, so I took the stupid 1.62 ounce glass jar to the Express Checkout and waited impatiently behind two guys with 15 items each, wondering why Safeway doesn’t have some self-checkout lanes but does have automatic change dispensers so that the cashiers, what, don’t have to count coins to make change?? WTF, Safeway? And then I didn’t feel so very thrifty after all because now I was $7.59 into the slaw, not counting the ingredients I already had when I started this odyssey seven hours ago making the slaw.
Fifteen minutes later, I arrived home and went straight to www.penzeys.com and looked up celery seed and discovered that they sell an EIGHT (8!) OUNCE BAG of whole Indian celery seed for $3.89!, which is a lot of celery seed to buy at one time, considering I only use one teaspoon at a time for pepper slaw, but I could keep that giant bag of celery seed in the freezer and refill the stupid little McCormick jar for years to come.
….Anyway. You add a generous teaspoon of celery seed to the bowl o’ veggies and spices (remember the veggies and spices? Probably not because it was like 20 minutes ago) and pour the cooled dressing over it all, then you stir and stir and stir and stir and stir some more to make sure everything is evenly mixed. It will look like this:
Then throw it in the ‘fridge and let it chill for at least a few hours because the flavors will blend, the mustard and celery seed will soften, and it will taste super-good. Heck, leave it in overnight of even for a couple of days. It lasts in the ‘fridge for forever.