I had 3 Aunts on my Mother's side. They were all good cooks. My Aunty Nancy was the least good cook. But in her defense, it is hard to cook with a cigarette in your mouth, the smoke wafting into your scrunched up eye. Another problem, was the inch long finger of ash, threatening to fall into the pot of whatever CAN she had just emptied into a pot to warm up. Her last problem was the difficulty stirring the pot,because her stirring hand was usually wrapped around a cold bottle of beer!
My Aunty Mary was the next best cook. I remember HUGE family meals at her place. Perogies, cabbage rolls, mushrooms in gravy, roast pork. Aunty Mary had a bad heart, a bad back, and an ulcer. I remember her swigging whipping cream out of the carton, in hopes of soothing her stomach full of acid. She also never slept. She loved to read, late into the night, so when I visited, I always remember her getting up for snacks. One of our favorites was a thick roast beef sandwich, on rye bread, slathered with yellow mustard, and sour dill pickle slices. Looking back, it's a miracle, I never got an ulcer!
Aunty Ann was the best cook. My mom used to say that she never used a recipe. When they lived on the farm, as girls, Ann would spend all day in the kitchen, rather than working outside, on the farm. I remember eating all kinds of meals at Aunty Ann's. I don't remember when she showed me how to make this coleslaw...but I have made it for more than 20 years now...and this last batch,that I made day before yesterday, was absolutely KILLER!! I'll try to give you the recipe...but it's really more of a method. The thing you have to remember, The most important thing...is that you have to mix it with your HANDS. You have to squeeze it and scrunch it with your hands. The dressing can't sit on top. You have to work it in. You know you have mixed enough, when it looks like you have less cabbage than you started with. You also can't use too much garlic and onion. If you are the kind of person who worries about having smelly garlic breath...this is NOT the recipe for you. The P-Man insisted on taking some to work with him today. I really feel sorry for anyone he has a conversation with, AFTER lunch! I made this coleslaw 2 days ago, and it is in my fridge, in a bowl wrapped with plastic wrap. As I was unloading my dishwasher this morning, I could smell it, THROUGH THE FRIDGE DOOR!! You will Thank me...as I Thank Aunty Ann, every time I make it.
Aunty Ann's Kick-Ass Coleslaw
Finely shredded white and purple cabbage (I just used white...but it needs to be
3 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1 large onion, coarsely grated (in the Spring and Summer I use a bunch of green onions finely sliced)
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
white sugar, to taste (a generous sprinkle over the top, at least a 1/4 cup)
salt-kosher, at least a good handful (it helps break down the cabbage)
cider vinegar- a good splash ( at least a 1/2 cup)
canola oil- at least 1 cup ( the oil should be neutral- olive oil is WAY too strong)
Take off your rings, and wash your hands well...get under your nails! put all the vegetables into a VERY LARGE BOWL. Add the ingredients in order, and start mixing with your hands. This should take at least 3 to 5 minutes. You should have NO LIQUID at the bottom of the bowl. If you do, drain the liquid into a smaller bowl, and mix vegetables for another minute. Now you have to taste it. Take a nice big forkful, and chew it well. It should be BALANCED. You should taste sweet and sour, and salty. Nothing should be overpowering. If it is, start adding the other ingredients, mixing and tasting, until it tastes good to you. Leave it out for another 1/2 hour or so, and then taste it again. If it's good now...cover it, and place it in the fridge, and don't eat it again until tomorrow. This coleslaw is meant to be eaten at room temperature. So if you are having it at supper, take it out at least an hour before you are ready to eat, and mix it again,(just use a big spoon) and taste it before serving. This recipe makes a huge bowl, and after a couple of days, there will be juice at the bottom of the bowl. Don't worry about that...feel free to mix it in...it will just add flavour!