Monday, 30 April 2012

Coleslaw and Cantinas...What a Combo!

My first attempt at homemade coleslaw


My regular readers already know that I love to grocery shop.  This was not always the case...I can remember Mom dragging me to Miracle Food Mart at Glencairn and Bathurst for the weekly shop, and just hating how she would meander through the aisles at record ... what's the opposite of "speed"?!?  Well, you get the idea!  Torontonian's will appreciate the video link below of a Miracle Food Mart commercial featuring none other than the King of Kensington himself, Al Waxman.




It's funny, because now I am the one who meanders the aisles, checking out new and interesting items stocked on the shelves, thinking up new recipes to prepare for my family, and just enjoying my "alone time". 


I pride myself on being organized...it's the only way to work and run a household and not have things consistently fall apart!  If you open our pantry doors, you will find a clip for each of the kids' schools or activities, along with a family calendar and THE LIST!  I have tried to get my family to write down every new item they open, or finish, on THE LIST, and for the most part I have succeeded.  This way, I can keep a stocked cantina (cold cellar) and not run out of essentials.  Nothing frustrates me more than discovering I have run out of something that a recipe calls for, especially because those discoveries usually happen when I am smack dab in the middle of preparing the recipe and have not one extra moment to run out to the store.


THE LIST


I am a stockpiler - not a hoarder - there is a big difference!  Like my mother, and maternal grandfather before me, I lay in supplies.  My grandfather grew up on the beautiful prairies, which could be unforgiving in the winter.  He also grew up almost 100 years ago, when there were no 24-hour Sobey's to run out to.  He lived through the depression, and learned to stretch a dollar - or a nickel - as did my 3 other grandparents.  And I have learned from them all.  But this story is about the cold cellar addiction...something that has been passed down through the generations on Mom's side, which has reached me.  I love emptying my groceries into the cantina, watching as my laid in supplies grow, and the shelves fill up.


A young Zaida Bernie with his trademark cigar


I can remember going down to Zaida Bernie's cold cellar closet, which was always locked (?!? - maybe one of my uncles can explain that one to me) and helping him bring up items from Bubbie Lou's "list".  There were shelves going up to the ceiling, and they were full of different delicacies mixed in with store-bought items.  I can remember the cases of Fresca and tins of Spaghettios (remember, I did not grow up Italian!!).  There were bags of Old Dutch chips, and lots of jars of pickles - pickled tomatoes and pickled cucumbers.  Bubbie Lou would preserve foods in the late summer and they would last all winter.




Mom did the same thing in Toronto, and we had a cold cellar filled with all of her stockpiled canned items as well as her preserves and wine.  But that is for another post - to be unveiled some time later this summer.


So now the "stockpiling syndrome" has passed down to me, and our cantina is filled with tins of sauce, veggies, and soups; with bags of pasta, onions, potatoes and potato chips; with cereals, coffees, teas, pops (soda), spices and baking supplies, with jars of homemade sugo, bottles of maple syrup and salsa.  Too many items to keep listing but, again, you get the idea!  


Spring is here, warm weather is around the corner, I have been blogging for almost 10 months, and I have become comfortable cooking Mom's recipes and writing about them.   What does all this mean?  It means it is time to start preparing traditional preserved items to stock the shelves of our cantina.  


I have recently tried making 2 dishes I would traditionally buy at the grocery store - potato salad and coleslaw.  Mama Bruni makes the most incredible potato salad (you'll have to keep coming back for that in-the-near-future post) and I have started trying to make it at home too.  


Lena's mom, Mamitchka, makes the most delicious pickled mushrooms, peppers and coleslaw...today's recipe represents my first attempt at making the coleslaw for our kids - it was a success...hurray!!  In fact, the only other time I tried making coleslaw was in Mrs. Hoschander's Grade 7 Home Economics class!


Earlier this month we hosted the first Passover Seder at our house.  Mamitchka brought her one-of-a-kind, out-of-this-world coleslaw, and peppers.  The kids adore her coleslaw, and squealed with delight when they saw me pouring it into serving dishes.  And then it hit me, I have a Cuisinart, I could make this!  So I asked Mamitchka for the recipe, and once Passover was done, I set out to make my own coleslaw.  I put cabbage on THE LIST, and the following week, I was ready to try my hand at homemade coleslaw.



I removed the outer leaves of the head of cabbage, and cut it into manageable wedges that would fit into my Cuisinart feeding tube.  I then ceremoniously brought down the accessories box, and took out the shredder disc.  Let me explain...I tend to injure myself on blades - Mom had to take me and a young Sara to Emergency Rooms at least twice to stitch or "glue" deep slices on my hand or finger.  Carlo and the girls had to do the same 2 years ago, and just the other night, Sara had to run upstairs for polysporin and band aids after I sliced a deep cut into my thumb while cutting onions for the Chicken Paprikash.  Later that evening, during dinner, when Carlo heard of the latest injury, he asked if we needed to go for a stitch - as matter-of-factly as you might ask to pass the sugar!  Oy, am I ever predictable!


But I digress!  I carefully loaded the shredder disc into the Cuisinart, and started to shred the cabbage. I was intimidated, for the simple fact that I had never shredded anything before, but was pleasantly surprised to discover just how easy it was!  Then I shredded the red pepper, and it was time to change the blade.  I poured my cabbage and pepper combo into a big Tupperware, and changed to a grater disc.  I grated the carrots and added them to the mix.  Then I prepared the marinade on the stove top.  I added equal parts of canola oil and (white) vinegar, some sugar, salt and pepper.  I brought the whole mixture to a boil, then removed it from the heat and let it cool a little before pouring it over the cabbage, carrot and onion mixture and tossing.  It refrigerated for an hour and was ready for testing. Yumm!  


Wow, one head of cabbage sure goes a long way...I have taken a jar to the office for Dad and I to nibble with our lunch, and a still have 2 more here at home!  Next time, I think I will try a combination of red and green cabbage for a more colourful slaw!  The timing is perfect, with Spring in the air, and BBQ season upon us, it is time for knuckers (jumbo hot dogs) on the barb-ee and coleslaw and potato salad on the side!


Until next time, I wish you a wonderful day filled with family, fun, friends and fantastic food.  B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!


Mamitchka's Coleslaw

Ingredients:
  • 1 head cabbage (shredded)
  • 2 carrots (grated)
  • 1 red pepper (sliced)
  • ½C canola oil
  • ½C white vinegar
  • ¼C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste 

Method:
Remove the first layer of outer leaves of the cabbage.  Cut the cabbage into wedges, remove and throw out the core, shredding the cabbage.  Cut red pepper into quarters and feed into shredder.  Grate carrots.  Combine all the above vegetables in a large bowl or Tupperware.  

Prepare marinade by combining remaining ingredients in medium sauce pan, stirring occasionally.  Bring mixture to a boil, and then remove from heat.  Cool slightly, and pour over cabbage/carrot/pepper mixture.  Toss, and refrigerate.