Panic had set in at a reader’s house last week when she realized that in a move from one house to another, she’d lost her mother’s recipe book.
A family reunion was coming up and she needed to make a coleslaw she’d made many times before. Like many of us, she just couldn’t recall the exact ingredients and measurements. The unique thing about the slaw, she said, was that it could be made ahead and frozen.
I found a recipe from Taste of Home and read it to her over the phone. Sounded like the right one, she said. Several days later she called again, to tell me she found her mother’s book — and that the recipes were nearly identical. I did a little fist pump.
The recipe is very much like classic slaw recipes, but the advantage is it can keep up to three months in the freezer.
Stand-out fruit salad
Fruit salad has always been a hodgepodge endeavor in my household. I throw together in a bowl whatever fruit looks fresh and tasty and won’t turn brown in a day or two (think bananas).
But at a recent luncheon I was served a fruit salad that went way beyond the norm and I wasn’t exactly sure what made it so much better. I asked the hostess and she said she mixed a sugar syrup with the fresh fruit. It was made with lemon and vanilla. It made such a difference I got the recipe and included it here.
It’s a bit more labor-intensive than tossing fruit in a bowl, so when I make it, it will be for a special occasion.
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2 medium heads cabbage, shredded (about 16 cups)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups cider vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 medium sweet red peppers, chopped
2 medium carrots, shredded
Place cabbage in a very large bowl; toss with salt. Let stand 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine sugar, water, vinegar, celery seed and mustard seed. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; cool slightly.
Drain excess liquid from cabbage, if necessary. Add red peppers and carrots to cabbage. Add dressing; toss to coat. Cool completely. Transfer to freezer containers. Freeze, covered, up to 3 months. (Editor’s note: I would use portion-size freezer storage bags and make sure to take out as much air as possible.)
To serve, thaw coleslaw overnight in refrigerator. Stir before serving.
Yield: 18 servings; 3/4 cup each with 126 calories, trace fat, 0 cholesterol, 287 mg sodium, 30 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams protein.
Taste of Home April/May 2
Rosy Fruit Salad with Lemon-Vanilla Bean Syrup
2 to 3 medium lemons, washed and dried
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup very thinly sliced rhubarb (from 1 large stalk)
2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
2 medium peaches, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 generous cup raspberries
Fresh mint, toasted coconut flakes, whipped cream, optional garnishes
Make the syrup: Use a vegetable peeler to peel the zest from 1 of the lemons. Juice the lemons until you have 1/4 cup of juice; set aside.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife. Use the tip of the knife to scrape the vanilla bean seeds from the pod. Add the seeds, pod, lemon zest, sugar, and water to a small saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the reserved lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature, then remove the lemon zest and vanilla bean pod.
Store the syrup in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to use.
Make the fruit salad: Place the rhubarb in a large bowl, add 3 tablespoons of the lemon-vanilla bean syrup, and stir to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Add the cherries, peaches, and strawberries and toss gently to combine, adding more syrup if desired. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the raspberries over the top. Serve immediately with additional syrup and whipped cream or additional toppings on the side, if desired.
Serves 6 to 8, with a bit of leftover syrup to try in cocktails, or mixed with sparkling water for a non-alcoholic drink.
Storage: The syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. The fruit salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, but the fruit will be mushy after a few days — especially if it's been mixed with syrup.
Make ahead: Make the syrup up to a few weeks in advance and store in the refrigerator.