You are about to ask: what does this have to do with easy coleslaw? Keep reading and you will hear me wax nearly poetic about seasonal eating. But feel free to scroll beyond my ‘eat-seasonal’ chatter to this redemptive, easy coleslaw recipe (by redemptive I mean: good-bye soggy, room temp., mayo-heavy coleslaw and HELLO to coleslaw w/a hit of vinegar, blue cheese and raisins).
Waxing nearly poetic:
Seasonal food is not obvious like it used to be. Today, I can buy strawberries and apples, citrus and beans any time of the year; I have to dig a bit to find out where food is grown—and when it is harvested. Food does not normally grow year round in one geographical location; in the PNW we enjoy strawberries in late June/early July and asparagus in the spring.
Back in the day, seasonal eating was evident: people went to the market and ate what was ripe, harvested and available then and there. The next month would be different and so on. There are health benefits to eating a variety of foods year round. Admittedly, even as a young adult I didn’t over-think where my food came from. I just bought what I wanted, when I wanted it and ate it.
Somewhere along the way, I turned a corner. I became interested in where my food came from and ‘when’ specific foods were at their peak; my eyes lit up at the notion of vine-ripened and ‘height of the season.’
I have loved getting to know nearby farmers, and to wrap my mind around what grows well locally, seasonally. Growing my own food has been a lesson in and of itself—and the cause for many of my smiles throughout the year. Full disclosure: I am not a purist when it comes to local food systems (guffaw!) and leave waxing poetic to orators more talented than myself. For example, I buy maple syrup from Vermont, wine from Spain and olive oil, avocados and raisins from California.*
Having launched a commitment to seasonal eating means I [try to] eat a variety of foods throughout the year instead of the same foods year-round. It also means: I buy larger quantities of seasonal produce and ‘put them up.’ Preserving and storing takes many forms: preserving can include drying/dehydrating foods, freezing and canning foods. This year I dried Sun Gold tomatoes, cherries, strawberries, apples, pears, blueberries, kale, onion and carrots (once vegetables are dry, I pulverize them and make ‘vegetable stock’ powder).
And I bought dried grapes from the store (raisins). I love knowing the grapes were harvested when ripe, dried in the sun, then stored for year-long enjoyment. Preservation at its best!
In addition to preserving foods, I have been learning about how to store winter squashes, onions, apples, potatoes and yes: even cabbage. Cabbage loves to be pickled, frozen and can be wrapped whole in newspaper in your cool, dry basement (just remove outer leaves when it is time to eat). Filling up my larder gives me content I cannot explain… almost equivalent to the joy of biting into a sun-ripened peach at the height of its goodness.
Perhaps the best part of aiming to eat seasonally is enjoying ‘ripe’ here and now—when fruits and vegetables are fresh, dripping off the vines, just cut and can be eaten raw or simply prepared. And this time of year that includes cabbage. So I plan to buy a bunch, wrap and store most of it, pickle a bit and then start looking up hoards of cabbage recipes.
Burgers anyone? Good. Because then I have reason to make this cabbage salad—and this version includes blue cheese and raisins ['dried grapes']!
Blue Cheese & Raisin Coleslaw
serves 4-6 as a small side.
1 small head green cabbage, sliced super thin
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup finely minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 T whole grain mustard
2 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp celery salt
KS&CP (kosher salt & course pepper) to taste
Combine and stir to blend; season to taste. Nice chilled a bit.
* This is a very special call-out for California Raisins. I am currently a Blog Ambassador for California Raisins, along with a handful of other wonderfully fantastic bloggers. Together we traveled to Fresno to meet raisin ranchers and learned useful facts about drying, storing and growing raisins. Part of our commitment to California Raisins is to experiment in our kitchens, sprinkling raisins into our culinary concoctions. I have made this coleslaw a few times, and recently was enjoying it and had an ‘a-ha’ moment: it needs raisins! It was a perfect add-in.
What are you favorite raisin-studded recipes? Do you have a favorite?