Let me say a few words about The Son, who is 10 years old. He has always surprised us with his wide-ranging, quirky and sophisticated tastes. He is funny and smart, and he looks the part in his lab coat which he asked for when he was six and which he continues to wear to all sorts of places, including the moor for a 4-mile walk.
He can be loving and generous, and he is the one child we can count on to give us pieces of his candy when he has some.
He can read a 300-page book in a day, and he would probably like nothing better than to do that, although he has started to take an interest in improving his physique (push-ups on the patio at 8:30 a.m. is a new development).
He has always had a good relationship with food. He has always loved fish of any kind, especially crab (“I don’t like land food as much as I like seafood,” he told me). Even so, meat has never bothered him the way it does his chewing-averse sister. He has always eagerly consumed vegetables (except for mashed potato, which he loathes with a passion) and he has been known to lustily go for seconds and thirds of salad. Red peppers cut into strips are a highlight of his day; he very carefully and grudgingly portions them out between himself and his sisters. But one of his true favourites, the one that makes him rub his belly and tuck in with gusto, is cabbage. Yes, cabbage.
The Author and I have been a little concerned about The Son lately. We think he may be going through a stagnant period of growth. His twin, The Poppet, has for the first time overtaken him in height. He has also retreated to what I secretly think of as “sullen boy phase,” responding negatively to anything and everything that crosses his path. (I cannot emphasise enough how trying this is.) And all of a sudden, his preference for food for has dwindled to a few specific items (mostly cereal of any kind and milk), and he glares at his dinner before he has even tried it.
You can see why we’re worried. I’m trying to be placid and patient and wait for his development to catch up with whatever it is that he’s going through, but it’s a frustrating time, to be sure.
This morning, just before the promised rainstorms drifted in for the duration, The Author took the Twins to school and commented on what a beautiful day it was. “Look at the light!” he told them. “It’s thick! A morning like this, you feel that anything could happen.”
From the back seat, The Son piped up:
The sun is shining,
The day is hot,
But even, cool breezes
Fill my heart.
And then he chirped, “That about sums it up!”
Oh thank heavens, there’s hope for us all.
Cabbage and Carrot Salad
Serves 5 hearty eaters
This is one of my favourite things to make for a few reasons: it only needs 6 basic ingredients (not including salt and pepper); it’s low fat; and it’s incredibly easy to make (especially if you have a food processor). Oh, and did I mention how good it is? And the fact that The Son (the new pre-teen “sullen boy” son) loves it?
I have been making a lot of salads without oil lately, but not for any particular reason. In fact, I didn’t even realise I was doing it until my friend Voirrey mentioned it. In addition to making batch after batch of sourdough bread for the college, Voirrey makes a lot of kimchi – jars and jars of it – and if you are looking to ferment something or have any questions about the process, she is your go-to woman. I suppose because of this, Voirrey noticed that this recipe is essentially a recipe for kimchi, but without the lengthy fermenting time.
Despite the short time to make it, this salad is packed with flavour from the few ingredients that are in there; the pungency of the garlic (one clove goes a long way – our entire house smelled like garlic for two hours when I made this earlier); the acidity and brightness of the lemon; the peppery earthiness of the cabbage; the sweetness of the carrots; the freshness of the parsley; and last but not least, the, er, saltiness of the salt.
Although I love the freshness of this in the winter (cabbage seems to be seasonless!), it’s a great addition to a barbecue; it cuts the fat of good pulled pork, sticky ribs or a burger with a clean and elegant ease.
- 300g (1/2-3/4 lb) white or red cabbage, sliced very thinly
- 1/2 red onion, sliced very thinly
- 300g (1/2-3/4 lb) carrots, julienned
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 clove garlic, puréed
- 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
The most important part of this recipe is to get the vegetables super thin. If you have a mandolin, now is the time to use it. If you have a food processor, crank it up. If you have a good sharp knife and want to show off (or improve) your knife skills, go at it.
Once the cabbage, carrots and onion are sliced, mix with the lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. I think the best way to do this is with my hands, but feel free to use a spoon!
Leave the salad to macerate for a half hour or more so the flavours can mingle and the vegetables can get soft.
Just before serving, taste for seasoning, then mix in the parsley. If serving to a ‘tween, add a dash of patience.