If you are new to Spence’s Girl you may not be aware of my love of cooking. I come by it naturally as I’m from a family of wonderful cooks and grew up learning first by watching, then participating. One of my family mentors was my Grandpa Fox who retired in his 40’s and became passionate about cooking, taking over nearly 100% of their meals from shopping to preparation. I cherish those memories. I’ve been feeling nostalgic for recipes I grew up with lately and I hope you’ll want to try this one, my Grandpa’s cole slaw recipe. It’s light and refreshing on these dog days of summer and a change-up from the usual creamy cole slaw.
SUPER COLE SLAW
serves 12 Weight Watchers Smart Points 3
For the dressing:
1/2 t coarse ground black pepper
1 t dry mustard
2 t celery seed
4 T sugar
2 t salt
6 T salad oil
2/3 c vinegar
Mix well, pour over:
5-7 c chopped cabbage
2 T chopped red pepper (or pimento)
1/4 c chopped green pepper
1/4 c grated onion
While you could make this and serve it the same day, it is increasingly better with 24 hours (or longer) to marinate. And it’s a great dish for a potluck as it travels well. Enjoy!
Two of my passions are travel and food. I’m always intrigued by the cuisine of the country or region I’m visiting and love to discover those spots that the locals frequent.
Spence discovered Costa Rica twenty years ago. Retired, he decided to escape Michigan, spending winters there instead. Still working, I’d take two weeks of vacation to visit him. That first year, he’d gotten the lay of the land and sought out a local haunt and a dish we’d never heard of….ceviche. Knowing me as well as he does, he didn’t need to run it by me – I love all food. Knowing him as well as I do, I trusted I was in for a treat.
From the house he’d rented in a little barrio near Quepos, we walked a mile into town. Inside a small, congested bus station, we wound our way through the locals and vendor stands until Spence motioned me towards the tiny Ceviche stand where we deftly snagged two of the five stools.
“Dos Ceviche con Camarones, por favor” Spence expertly articulated to the woman behind the counter. I perused the short menu on the wall, still unaware what ceviche was but with my limited Spanish, knew shrimp were involved while other varieties featured fish, calamari or octopus.
As we waited, the husband handed us tiny napkins, forks and a couple of 8 packs of saltine crackers, setting a bottle of hot sauce between us. The ceviche arrived, in an oval, pyrex-type vessel, vibrant and appealing. Served very cold, it was not only refreshing but incredibly delicious – the tang of citrus, the crunch of the veggies, the sweetness of the tender shrimp. I was over the moon. Spence simply smiled, having anticipated my enthusiastic reaction.
In the years that followed, we made many trips to this area and specifically to that bus station. Having sampled ceviche in countless places, all with more ambiance (and higher prices), I can say without question, none were better than what we found at the bus station.
After much research, here is my recipe which tastes as close to my memory of that Ceviche.
serves 8-12 Weight Watchers Smart Points 1 point per 1 cup serving
1 lb fresh, uncooked shrimp
1 c lime juice
1 c medium red onion – finely diced
2 c medium tomatoes-diced
1 jalapeño pepper – seeded and finely diced
1/2 c green bell pepper -diced
2-3 T chopped cilantro (more or less to taste)
3 T fresh orange juice
1 t salt
Peel and clean the shrimp, removing the tails. Chop the raw shrimp into small pieces. Add the finely minced jalapeño, remove the seeds and ribs if you wish to keep the heat in check.
Add the green pepper and red onion next.
Juice your limes and pour over these ingredients.
Now add the tomatoes, orange juice, cilantro and salt. Stir and refrigerate for four hours (stirring periodically to insure that the citrus “cooks” the shrimp evenly.
Serve and enjoy!
Chef’s Notes: You can substitute the shrimp with grouper or sea bass, just cut it into uniform small pieces. Substitute a sweet white onion for the red. I’ve seen recipes that add cucumber and/or celery diced as well as avocado and if fresh tomatoes are in season, you could add more. While I’ve served this as an appetizer to guests, Spence and I find it a refreshing, chilled entree on a hot night.
I LOVE FIVE BEAN SALAD. So great to take to a potluck or picnic (no mayo), it’s a favorite of ours to have as our salad or veggie side with any number of meals year round. It makes a lot and only gets better each subsequent day. It keeps for up to two weeks in the fridge but never lasts that long! I use my mom’s recipe but tweak it in my own way to give it a bit more pizazz!
Five Bean Salad, my way
serves 15 Weight Watchers Smart Points 7
1 can garbanzo beans (or chickpeas as they’re also known)
1 can great northern or navy beans
1 can cut green beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can wax beans
2 large shallots finely minced or red onion finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4-5 finely chopped peppadew peppers (these come in a jar) or substitute 1 tablespoon chopped pimento
1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeños (first removing ribs and seeds) or green pepper if you can’t take the heat.
Drain and rinse beans and put into a large serving bowl. Add the shallots, peppadew peppers and jalapeño, stir taking care not to break the beans.
3/4 c red wine or champagne vinegar
3/4 c vegetable oil (canola or olive oil)
1/2 c sugar
1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Mix this together well – making sure that the sugar has “melted” into the marinade. Pour over the beans and stir together. Refrigerate. Stir every 30-60 minutes to further distribute the marinade. This is best made at least 8 hours prior to serving.