Monday, January 11, 2010

Historic Recipe: Hot Cabbag Slaw (and a Plea from the Rational Living Household)

Friends, we knew there would be times during our year of living on WWII rations that we would be discouraged, discontent and otherwise dissatisfied with the situation in which we had put ourselves. Little did we know such a circumstance would arise so quickly within the year.

Lemme 'splain.

Remember how one of the limitations we're working with is that the only fresh produce purchased must be seasonal? That means for the months of January through March the only fresh produce items allowed are cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, turnips and winter squash.

Now, the majority of the household has a fondness for green leafy things and as such we've been eating far more cabbage than the average modern American family. Cabbage salad, coleslaw, Asian cabbage salad, cabbage vinaigrette and so on. One of the recipes we tried was the "Hot Cabbage Slaw" recipe in Joanne Lamb Hayes' Grandma's Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the Way We Cooked.

1 small head (1.25 lb) green cabbage
1 large red bell pepper (stems, seeds and ribs discarded)
1 cup water
2 TB bacon fat or vegetable shortening
2 TB all-purpose flour
2 TB lemon juice
1.5 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

*I substituted 1 large carrot in place of the unseasonable bell pepper

[Warning: the following pictures contain images of over-cooked, slimy vegetable products. Children and the squeamish may want to look away.]

  • Rinse and shred cabbage. Thinly slice pepper (carrot) lengthwise.
  • Combine cabbage, pepper, and water in a heavy 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook 10 minutes
  • Pour into a colander and drain very well, reserving 1 cup liquid. If necessary, add water to liquid to make 1 cup.
  • In same saucepan, melt bacon fat; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in 1 cup reserved vegetable liquid, the lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • Stir reserved cabbage and pepper (carrots) into thickened sauce and return to a boil. Cook, stirring, until vegetables reach desired tenderness, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir.

I believe the culinary term is...ewww. Sadly, this recipe did not work for us; it was a combination of slimy cabbage, bacon flavor and lemon that no one found palatable. The children wouldn't touch it, The Man of the House and I ate our allotted serving and then I'm afraid, my friends, that the remainder ended up in the refrigerator and, after a week, went to visit trash mountain. So sad. One of our goals is to not waste food this year. So sad.

And it also makes me feel very thankful that this type of meal is a choice - not a necessity.

And this brings me to the plea: please oh please oh please oh please oh please if you have any fabulous, ration-friendly recipes for cabbage, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, turnips and winter squash can you please post them? They would make the Rational Living household happy and renew our faith in seasonal eating.

From the bottom of my stomach,
Rational Mama


  1. Something that I think is yummy is slice the cabbage into thin strips. You can add garlic/onion/other veggies if you wish (we have tons of onions stored up from fall). Toss with melted fat or oil of choice (I use olive oil but a little melted bacon fat would work great too). Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a little salt and bake at 400 degrees until crispy. I don't have an exact recipe and usually bake it with whatever meat we're having. You could also make sauerkraut, which I love :) Other than that, soup, salads, slaws, ect... I just wish I could get my kids to even consider eating cabbage, lol!

  2. I'm going to make it my quest this week to search through our recipes and see what we have that fits the bill!

    I'm so sorry your cabbage didn't turn out. :(

  3. wow, i had a lot of reading to catch up on. you've been one busy gal!!! when i read the words you used to describe that bacony-lemon cabbage i think i threw up a little in my mouth. not the most pleasing flavor combo i've heard. but at least you all gave it a try! btw, happy birthday!!! i hope you had fun at your dinner out tonight :) where did you choose to spend it?

  4. Sounds like you need a Woolton Pie for your seasonal vegetables (it uses any root veg you've got): is one.

    Less fat and tastier pastry from my blog:

    For your cabbage, if you've got potatoes available, a bubble and squeak served with gravy might do:

  5. Thanks all for the wonderful ideas (crispy-baked cabbage...who would have thought?). Keep 'em coming! We'll definitely keep trying your suggestions and hopefully there will be several that make all four members of the Rational Living household happy (Eowyn is still a little reserved about cabbage).

    For my birthday dinner out we went to the local Indian restaurant. In the end it was a very ration-friendly meal (even though we don't track points when eating out), since we had extra blue/green points for the week to "pay" for any frozen vegetables and nearly everyone ate a vegetarian meal. And we had enough left over that I have Indian food for lunch today! Squeel!

  6. Building on what you said to me a few days ago, having enough left over points for treats or company is pleasurable in and of itself! And then having leftovers from that meal... it just makes food all the more enjoyable, doesn't it?

  7. Great healthy recipe! Thanks for sharing it. I would like to make it with meal.