Friday, May 15, 2009

Trudy's 'Paradise Park' Coleslaw

"The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up" - Mark Twain

I have a neighbor who has become one of my closest friends. Her name is Trudy and she's 40 years older than me. I met her about 5 years ago while taking an afternoon walk in our neighborhood. She was taking out her recycling bins and I could see she needed some help. I helped her with that, and she also asked me to get her mail. On the top of her pile of mail, I could see what was obviously a greeting card. She mentioned that the following day was her birthday (she was turning 82), and she also invited me in for a cup of tea. I needed to pick up my kids from school, and told her I'd love to come by another day.
I couldn't get her out of my mind, and the following day I brought her some flowers from my garden and we sat and talked for awhile. Since then, we've shared many cups of tea and lots of conversation. I obviously love to cook and often bring her food when we have extra. And many times I've made a dish 'just for her', but there was never any commitment. I started this thinking I was helping a neighbor, but I've gotten as much out the the relationship as she has.
For the past few months Trudy has been ill and going back and forth from the hospital to a nursing home, but she's looking forward to coming home next week. I want to help her, but because I work full time (3rd shift) and have a busy family, I'm afraid to make a commitment that I won't be able to fulfill. I just came back from visiting her and she's in the process of making arrangements for home health care, and for someone to help with grocery shopping and meal preparation. While driving home, the idea came to me about having 1 (or maybe 2) nights a week for my family to plan on preparing and having dinner with Trudy. Again, I want so much to help, but not to over-extend myself; I need to strike a healthy balance. And the wonderful person that she is, she understands this. The plan is for her to come home next Wednesday; we'll just have to take it from there.
Anyway, one day, while sitting with her, she showed me her (very) old cookbook. The cover was torn, pages were tattered and recipes had been hand written on almost every page; recipes she hadn't made in many years. I told her to pick out any recipe from the book for me to try. This was the recipe she chose. She said it reminded her of vacationing in 'Paradise Park' in Florida, and the picnics her and her husband (who passed over 10 years ago) would have with friends. I think I'll make a batch of this to have waiting for her in her fridge for when she comes home next week.

1 head cabbage, shredded
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup oil

Combine vegetables in a very large bowl.
In a saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, celery seed, and oil.
Bring to a gentle boil.
Boil for 5 minutes.
Pour hot mixture over vegetables and stir.
Let stand and cool.
Keep in refrigerator.
It will stay fresh and crisp for at least a month, if it lasts that long!

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