Since the first of the year I’ve been dealing with some diet related health issues. As a result I’ve had to change the way I eat, and this summer the family’s gotten pulled along in my wake. The last few weeks especially, I’ve cooked almost every night. Let’s be clear here—I haven’t microwaved, or heated food from bags, I’ve cooked. Lots of prep work, lots of dirty pans, like-my-mom-did-it cooking.
I’m not knocking microwave, or easy to prepare cooking, really; it just wasn’t meeting my needs. Cooking like this is a big deal for me, because I don’t really enjoy it. Most of the time food is just fuel, and the time spent in the kitchen is time I could be doing something I enjoy. I’m making an effort though, and so far it hasn’t been too been bad..
I had the house to myself this afternoon, so I decided to make some icebox slaw and give it a chance to mellow. The house was quiet, the kitchen wasn’t hot and steamy, and I didn’t need to rush to chop my veggies. As I placed the first bit of chopped cabbage into the bowl I realized that my mind had stilled and my breathing and heart rate had slowed. I had inadvertently put myself in a meditative state.
I began to consider one of the bigger plot problems I’ve been dealing with in my current writing project. I wasn’t really looking for a solution, just going through the situation a step at a time, and from each character’s viewpoint. By the time I was ready to put the slaw in the refrigerator I had worked out the problem and blocked the scene.
Normally when I have a writing problem I sit down in a quiet room with my laptop and fight my way through it; this is the first time I’ve worked on something while I was in the kitchen. I don’t know if I’ll be able to duplicate the results, but if I can, my family will be seeing a lot more coleslaw!
½ head of cabbage
¼ large red onion
1 medium carrot
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Coarse chop the cabbage by hand. The simple repetitive motion is what induces calm. Put the cabbage in a large mixing bowl, preferably glass or ceramic, but definitely NOT aluminum. Chop the onion and carrot in similar fashion. (I use a vegetable peeler to shred the carrot, and then chop the shreds to a manageable size.) Stir the layers together by hand.
Combine the sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small saucepan; Again, no aluminum, please! Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove mixture from heat and pour over the cabbage. Mix gently. Refrigerate for at least thirty minutes before serving.
*This slaw is WAY better made hours ahead of time. It’s one of those things that you can make at your leisure, or when you need to mull over a problem, and have on hand for any meal. I have no idea how long it will keep in the refrigerator—it never lasts longer than 12 hours at our house.
**It’s even better to place the cabbage mix in a wide mouth canning jar before pouring the vinegar over it, but I realize that not everyone has those on hand.