Last weekend we drove down to Santa Barbara to visit Peter’s family, who are seriously, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. When we first started dating I used to think there was no way that he could be so normal and well-adjusted. That is, until I met his family. If I grew up around such warm, friendly, laid-back folks I might be a bit better adjusted, too!
Peter mentioned a couple weeks before that he wanted to cook a meal for his family. He also mentioned in a separate conversation that he wanted to try his hand at making pulled pork, but wasn’t sure when we’d have enough people around to make such a big meal for. It didn’t take us long to piece the two together.
We used Homesick Texan’s recipe, for the pork, the sauce and the buns, but the coleslaw that we made was all mine. A mash-up of a few favorite recipes that I tweaked and twisted until I found a combination I liked. All in all, it was super easy, if slightly time-consuming. His family was incredibly appreciative, even before we finished cooking, thanking us again and again for taking the time out to cook for them. When we all sat down to dinner, the unanimous consensus was that everything came out beautifully. It was Peter’s sister-in-law that paid us the biggest compliment though, when she asked for the recipe for the coleslaw, not once, but twice during the course of our meal. When someone likes something that you made so much that they want to go home and make it themselves, you know it was good.
Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to enjoy this praise as much as I should have. Instead I was thinking what a perfect opportunity for a blog post! I mean, if I’m going to type up the recipe anyway...except that I didn’t take pictures. I guess I could take them now, but everything’s half-eaten, plus I don’t even have my SLR and they’ll come out badly and I’ll probably make everyone at the table uncomfortable if I’m snapping away trying to get a good shot....
Eventually, I just grabbed my point and shoot from my purse and took a couple quick and discreet shots so as not to bother anyone. And then I thought some more. About whether or not I could edit the photos to look better, about whether or not I should just do a post even though the pictures weren’t the greatest, about where I want to draw the line when it comes to picture quality. What I came up with is this:
I’m a writer first and foremost. I always have been. The fact that I want to have a food blog with pretty pictures on it has given me an opportunity to learn more about photography - and I really like it! - but it’s secondary to the fact that I want to share a genuine account of my food experiences, the moments that meant something to me. Unfortunately, there’s not always a photo opportunity that coincides with those moments. As rewarding as it is when a photo comes out well, and as much as I enjoy sharing that, I’m not a pro. This is a learning experience for me and pretending I’ve already got it down pat isn’t going to fool anyone.
So, I’ve made an executive decision to share what resonates with me, whether or not that includes a perfect photo. I’d rather be sincere about my strengths and weaknesses than limit one by limiting the other. Plus, if you decide to make this coleslaw, I guarantee you it will come out perfect, even if the photos didn’t.
I use the Cook’s Illustrated technique for making coleslaw, where you draw all the extra water from veggies by salting and allowing them to drain in a colander before mixing with the dressing. This time I constructed the dressing around a base of all greek yogurt. The pork we served it with was very rich, and I wanted something cool and creamy and not-too-heavy to offset that with. If I were serving it with a leaner meal, say grilled fish for example, I might use half-mayo instead of all yogurt. Feel free to adjust to your particular taste.
- 1 head cabbage (red or green both work equally well)
- 2 large carrots
- 1 bell pepper (again, any color will work fine)
- 1 small onion
- 3 tbsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. sugar
- 2 cups yogurt, mayonnaise or a combination of both
- ½ cup of dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. whole mustard seeds
- ½ cup chopped parsley
Quarter the cabbage, remove the core and slice diagonally into the thinnest strips you can manage. Repeat with the bell pepper and the onion. Put all vegetables into a large bowl. Grate the carrots using a box grater and add to the vegetables in the bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and sugar and toss to combine until the vegetables start to release water. Place in colander over a bowl or in the sink and allow to drain for at least one hour and up to three.
Make the dressing in a large bowl, combining yogurt or mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and mustard seeds.
When vegetables are done draining place on top of a large kitchen towel. Roll the vegetables up inside of the towel like a burrito and twist the ends of the towel in opposite directions to extract moisture from the veg, as if your wringing out a washcloth.
When you’ve extracted as much moisture as you can, add the veg to the bowl with the dressing. Sprinkle with parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.