Eat Well: Of Cabbages and Kings

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
R & B are ahead of schedule and after seeing Rebecca last weekend, I am pretty sure they are much bigger than cabbages this week. I would even venture to suggest that they are actually the size of (ahem) large watermelons. But as much as I would love to write about watermelons, especially since they have somehow miraculously cured Rebecca’s acid reflux, I don’t want to overlook the often-neglected cabbage. I have recently come to believe that it might be the most important vegetable in our diet.
It was my sister-in-law, Nancy, who shared this epiphany with me last time she was visiting. We were marveling at the fact that her and Larry’s octogenarian parents (Rebecca’s grandparents) seem to have discovered a secret formula for the fountain of youth as they actually seem to get younger with age and could both pass for 70. All of a sudden her eyes got big.
a couple'a eighty-somethings kids road-trippin' in Big Sur

“I know what it is,” she exclaimed. “Cabbage! Raw cabbage!”

“Oh my GOSH…you’re RIGHT,” we all agreed. You see, Betty and Milt Woolf eat, on average, two raw cabbages a week, which I am pretty sure is more than the national average. And they eat it in the form of coleslaw (both traditional mayo based and with a sweet vinaigrette).

We never had coleslaw in my house growing up. I don’t know if this is because it was a regional food back then or because my mother is English. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember ever eating raw cabbage in my childhood. We ate it cooked with corned beef (not a personal favorite) or at our local Mexican restaurant as a warm salad (delicious) but never raw. When I first travelled with Larry to New Jersey to meet his parents in 1976, I watched my future father-in-law as he made “the best coleslaw in the world.” His secret ingredient Marzetti’s Slaw Dressing. It simply made the most delicious coleslaw I had ever eaten. I became so in love with this “recipe” that for years I brought it to pot-lucks and served it as a side dish for summer patio parties, almost embarrassed to share how easy it was to make.

Marzetti’s has gotten really expensive so now my father-in-law makes “Almost Marzetti’s” (recipe below). And to mix it up, he and my mother-in-law now make a vinaigrette coleslaw, too. Both of theses slaws are sweet, so for those of you who want a more savory slaw, try making the dressing with some mayo and sour cream, dill weed, a little dill pickle juice and caraway seeds (recipe care of my friend, Catherine!)

I have many times mentioned in this space how much I love cabbage—stir- fried, chopped in salads, in soups. You can even roast it. I keep a cabbage in the refrigerator and put some into any stir-fry or salad I make. Behold:
I made a salad with oil, vinegar, a little sesame oil and black sesame seeds for an Asian taste, but any salad vinaigrette works well with cabbage, and what is great about cabbage salads is they keep several days. In winter, we eat cabbage soup regularly. You can juice a cabbage with other vegetables for a healthy tonic.

Cabbage is a known anti-oxidant and ancient remedy for all that ails you, so I think my sister-in-law may be onto something. Maybe we should revise Ben Franklin’s adage to “A cabbage a day keeps the doctor away!”
Grandpa Milt (86 years young) still bikes twenty miles a day. EVERY DAY.
Grandma Betty, triplet, & 84-years-young'n (building castles with Fable last summer)

Almost Marzetti’s Coleslaw
2 cups Mayo
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 T yellow mustard
1 cabbage, grated or sliced thinly and chopped
1 grated carrot
celery salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and chill for several hours.

Sweet Vinaigrette Coleslaw

1 cup oil
1 cup vinegar
2 T celery salt
1 T kosher salt
1 ½-2 cups sugar

1. Mix ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over:

3 lbs shredded cabbage
1 diced green pepper
1 red onion, grated

2. Chill.

Roasted Cabbage

1 cabbage
olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon

Quarter cabbage and then slice slice into ½ inch thick slices. Brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast at 375 until brown and caramelized, turning frequently after 10 minutes.
Squeeze lemon juice on the cabbage and sprinkle with lemon zest:


--rock over london | 1:22 AM

Cuuute. I also love cabbage and wonder why it is so overlooked! Deeelish.

Barbara R. | 4:40 AM

Your family is so lovely. Every single one of them. Much love to you!

Swirls of Happy | 8:03 AM

So wonderful in so many ways! Food, family, love...awesome.

Glenda | 9:54 AM

I love cabbage! As a kid we always ate cole slaw. I love it cooked in stir fry. My mom made stuff cabbage with beef! YUM!

How amazingly young are Rebecca's grandparents. Great genes run in the family.

Love this post. Family, love and food! awesome combination!

Here's to many more years to the gparents!!!

Cynthia | 10:35 AM

That just made me tear up. 20 miles a day! Really?! Amazing

Cynthia | 10:37 AM

At our annual St. Patrick's day parade here in the Garden District/Irish Channel area of New Orleans, the floats not only throw green beads. They throw cabbages, potatoes, carrots, and onions. I go out every year with my daughter on my bike and fill my basket with goodies. It's amazing. Free cabbage for a week.

keturah13 | 2:14 PM

I love your family. Could you adopt me? Please?

Erin | 8:46 PM

So. When I got mastitis a couple weeks after having my son, I saw online in the newborn-stage-haze that cabbage would cure it. So I went, bought a cabbage, cooled it in the freezer and stuck it in my bra. INSTANT relief. To this day I'm not sure I was meant to actually WEAR the cabbage...and after reading this post I even more sure I should have eaten it. But it worked! Instant relief. It worked cold, and then because it's own little hot pad, using my body heat to warm up my sore bits. It even helped my nipples heal from ravenous 9 lb. baby attacks. It worked well enough that now that I usually keep a cabbage in the veggie drawer just in case of bee stings, sunburns and the like.

I do remember, however, that I walked around my house thinking, "What SMELLS? Oh my goodness." I'd sniff all the towels in the kitchen and the rug by the front door...unless I realized that my boobs smelled like cabbage. Not so nice.

verdemama | 10:19 PM

Rebecca (and Wendy), your family is amazing! Your grandparents are inspirations. I'm adding more cabbage to my diet, stat.

Rosie | 7:05 AM

Wow, can we have some more secrets as to the unbelievable longevity in your family?! It's pretty impressive. Are any of them vegetarians? x

Alexandra | 2:05 PM

I too cannot get over the 20 miles a day. What an inspiration. Beautiful.

Erin: I am sure you got the instructions right. My mom-in-law is a is a doctor who has given up her Western medicine practice long ago and treats people holistically. She recommends applying cabbage leaves to heal and "pull out" inflammations. I've seen it work beautifully on my man; added bonus, I got to watch him walk around with a big cabbage leaf wrapped around the side of his face. Hehe.

Ellen | 10:59 AM

Wow. Your grandparents are amazing. I've been feeling kind of blah lately; maybe it's time to think about eating more cabbage!

Becky Lynn | 7:17 AM

Oh my, that "almost" dressing over cabbage is delish. I cannot wait till it is really ready for lunch. Thank you so much!