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Sunday, October 31, 2010

cabbage salad with apples and spiced pecans


written while avoiding eye contact with stacks of photos

Now that the farmers market is over and we’re back to our wintertime bakery routine (baking bread to order through our website), we’re baking much less than we do in the summer. It’s lovely to have this kind of seasonal shift, and I really appreciate the less intense baking schedule before holiday baking begins. But I’m wondering when this extra time in my week translates into more time to do that big project I’d love to sink my teeth into? Namely, working on my photo albums.

I’m not talking about starting up knitting again, or quilting, or a big home improvement project. And the ground is frozen, which means I’m not gardening. But come on—just a few hours to sit down and start sticking those photos in an album, maybe making a few notes about the event or the date. We’re not talking heavy-duty scrapbooking, here. Just photo albums. I’ve chosen the photos, and over the last three years, I’ve even brought my discs down to Keller’s to have them printed. I just picked up my latest batch of pictures last week, certain that I’d finally have time to get going.

But so far, I haven’t made the time to actually get started. Notice I say “made” the time, rather than “had” the time. Because I have had time to do other things. I’ve made nice meals for my family. I’ve worked with Dan on purging and cleaning many drawers, cupboards and shelves that haven’t seen the light of day (not to mention a dust cloth) for months or years. And we even had a little neighborhood Halloween party. In fact, I could be working on those photos right this minute instead of writing this post. (Meredith has a friend over and they are busily making programs and tickets for their ukulele and marimba concert—coming soon to a basement near me.)

Somehow the project just seems so daunting. So many years’ worth of photos. Since we started the bakery, I just haven’t kept up. So right now it seems easier to just write about how I feel intimidated by those stacks of pictures than to actually buckle down and get started. It’s a little bit of a relief when I come up with a cooking project to fill up the couple of spare hours I am suddenly blessed with this afternoon. I’d better just write a blog post while my chickpeas simmer.

I know intellectually that once I get my teeth into the project, I’ll feel excited and realize that it’s going to be fun. I’ve always been like this: until I get started on something, it seems big and scary, and I feel paralyzed. But once I force myself to get started, I realize that it’s feasible, and nothing can stop me. I guess it’s the activation energy that’s lacking right now.

Which, I’ve decided, is fine! I can putter away on my cooking and my blog, enjoy my clean drawers, and maybe tomorrow or next week I’ll have the energy to start work on those photos. Until then, I’m not going to worry about it.

cabbage salad with apples and spiced pecans

This salad is so unexpected and surprising—full of great flavors and textures—crunchy, chewy, sweet, tangy, and savory…  I just love it! The recipe is based on one that Nancy Lampman put in last week’s Glacier Grist, the recipe newsletter that comes in our Glacier Valley Farm CSA boxes of produce. She wrote that the only problem with the salad is that she ends up eating all the spiced pecans before the salad is ready. So… I changed my recipe to make twice as many pecans! Also I made the salad part a little bigger, too, since my sliced cabbage made more than five cups. Nancy said that her recipe was a version of one in Bon Appetit Magazine, January 2007. Thank you, Nancy!

I made all the parts of this salad ahead of time yesterday morning. First I made the pecans, then the dressing. Then I sliced the cabbage in my food processor and put the shreds in a big bowl. Then I sliced the apples in the processor, too, but put them in a separate bowl and tossed them with lemon juice so they wouldn’t brown. Then, later, I just tossed all the pieces together for a lunch salad for myself, and I had lots of leftovers for lunch for today and tomorrow! The apples are still not starting to brown, even today!

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups pecan halves (you can use raw nuts,  or toast them first for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon (scant) cayenne pepper
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt
freshly-ground pepper
2 medium unpeeled apples, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
juice from one lemon
6 – 8 cups cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 cup dried cherries (sweet or tart—whatever you have)

1. In a medium-sized nonstick skillet, melt the brown sugar with the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne; let the mixture bubble for about three minutes, until the mixture is nice and thick and caramelly. Add the nuts and stir until nuts are coated, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to parchment or foil sheet and cool. This makes a light coating on most of the nuts—it’s not a thick one. If you think you’d prefer thicker caramel, double the sauce part.
2. Whisk vinegars and mustard in small bowl. Gradually whisk in the 1/4 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Toss apples with lemon juice in large bowl. Add cabbages and dried cherries; mix. Add dressing and toss. Crumble pecans on top of each serving of salad and season salad with salt and pepper.


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