Blenda’s Summer Cole Slaw

“Have some slaw.” I am certain that I heard my mother offer her cole slaw more than a thousand times to someone at the table. She served it with fish, chicken, pork and sandwiches. When we went on a picnic, we often had cole slaw to go with the hot dogs. Hamburgers for supper came with mustard, ketchup, fried potatoes and slaw, and when we ate bratwurst there was slaw on the table in addition to or in place of sauerkraut.

Mom’s cole slaw was a lot like Jerri’s, cabbage dressed with mayonnaise and vinegar (and sour cream in Jerri’s recipe), but there is a separate tradition of cole slaw made with vinegar and oil dressings. Some are sweet, others sour, but they all taste good to me.

A few weeks ago, I encountered an outstanding member of the vinegar and oil slaw family. We were visiting Carl, one of the ministers who married us a half century ago. He also was the husband of Jerri’s best friend at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Carl served as president of Southwestern for several years and moved back to Winfield after his wife, Mary Lou, died.

When he bought a home near the college and remodeled it, he included a beautiful kitchen in the plans. The counters, sink, stove and oven seem to murmur, “Come on, Carl, try us out. We’ll help you make some wonderful foods.” Unfortunately, Carl thus far seems deaf to their invitations.

However, he does have a good taste in restaurants, one of which has now served us two excellent lunches. College Hill Coffee was started by Blenda Hoskinson in 2002 and now occupies a lovely bungalow near the college. As the name suggests, the restaurant offers a wide variety of coffees, espresso and other hot drinks plus cold drinks ranging from iced coffees to chocolate milk and Italian sodas.

But College Hill also makes excellent sandwiches, wraps and salads. When I ordered my sandwich, the young woman at the counter asked me which side I would like with it. As I scanned the list chalked on a slate, Summer Cole Slaw caught my attention. When I asked what it was, she said it was really good cole slaw. I am not sure, but she may have added softly that it was awesome. College Hill is that kind of college gathering place.

Trusting youth, I decided to try it. It is awesome and incidentally goes perfectly with the Grilled Cuban sandwich. As the friend of a regular and well-known customer I decided to ask for the recipe. Blenda reached for a cookbook on a shelf next to the counter, leafed through a few pages and showed me how they made that wonderful slaw. For a few seconds I feared that she was promoting a commercial cookbook until she explained that it was a recipe she included in Tried and True Recipes That Measure Up from College Hill Coffee.

When I asked how she came upon the recipe, she told me that she had begged it from a lady who brought the slaw to a potluck at the First Baptist Church in Augusta, Kansas. I tried to buy a copy of the cookbook, while Blenda tried to give it to me. Finally we compromised: I paid her what the book cost her, so I got a discount and we parted as friends. Jerri and I are both looking forward to visiting Carl and College Hill Coffee again.

If you happen to be passing through Wichita, Kansas, I suggest a side trip to Winfield, which is only forty-two miles distant. If you happen to be on your way to Tulsa or Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Winfield is actually on the way. You’ll see a vibrant college in a prosperous small city, and have a lunch to remember. And if they don’t have Blenda’s Summer Cole Slaw on the menu that day, chances are excellent that they will have an alternative that will be just as awesome.


2 packages cabbage cole slaw mix (from store)
2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 16 oz. package frozen peas
2 T grated onion
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plus 2 T sugar
1 T poppyseed
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cider vinegar


Remove the dry outer layer from the onion, grate two tablespoons and put them into a large mixing bowl. Dump two packages of slaw mix, two cups of unsalted peanuts and a pound package of frozen green peas into a large mixing bowl. Mix everything together.

Make the dressing by whisking together the oil, sugar, poppy seed, mustard, salt and vinegar.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and stir until everything is well blended.

Put the salad into the refrigerator to let the flavors meld for an hour before serving.

NOTE: I followed Blenda’s recipe exactly. After I made it, I realized that a restaurant might want a bit more slaw than a family. If you are making the slaw for a group of eight or fewer, I recommend cutting the recipe in half.

Cottage Cheese Salads

Growing up in Wisconsin, I learned to appreciate good cheese before I started school. Grandpa Hopp introduced me to Beer Käse and Limburger and my mother served us Cheddar, Swiss, Brick, Butterkäse and cottage cheese varieties. My father did not like cheese, but he ate a little under protest and finally came to enjoy pizza even if it was made with cheese.

Cottage cheese was a regular element of meals at our home. Depending on how she planned to use it, Mom bought either small or large curd cottage cheese. Much of it was dry cottage cheese that she used to make lasagna, macaroni and cheese, frostings and various kinds of desserts.

She bought creamed cottage cheese or added milk to the dry version when she wanted to make cottage cheese salads. Jerri makes a number of the salads I remember from my childhood, and I still like them, When I told Jerri I planned to post the recipes for some of her cottage cheese salads, she told me that everyone already knew how to make them.

She is probably right, so I will not argue the matter, but just in case there are a few people who don’t, here are some salad ideas that we like. The recipes are short and simple, but the salads are tasty, nutritious and inexpensive, three good reasons to start serving some of them.

Cottage cheese and chive salad consists of only two ingredients: For two servings, put a generous cup of small curd cottage cheese in a small mixing bowl. Wash and chop two tablespoons of chives medium fine, about a quarter inch dice. Stir the chives into the cottage cheese and serve.?
Cottage cheese and tomato salad also consists of only two ingredients: Wash and slice tomatoes or simply use grape tomatoes. Arrange the slices on salad plates and top them with cottage cheese or put cherry tomatoes on top of the cheese. Make as many plates as you need.

A third version combines these first two salads: Top the tomato slices with cottage cheese and chive salad or put grape tomatoes on top of the cheese and chives. This is an especially good combination for an unlimited number of diners.

Cottage cheese also goes well with fruit. The simplest and one of our favorites consists of crushed pineapple stirred into cottage cheese on a bed of lettuce. Jerri eyeballs the quantities but says that you should aim for about a three or four to one ratio. For two generous servings of this salad, start with a cup of cottage cheese and a quarter cup of pineapple stirred in a small mixing bowl. Taste the mixture and add more pineapple if you think it needs it.

When the peach man showed up at the house, Mom always bought two or three pecks of peaches. We ate some fresh and she always made at least one fresh peach pie, but she canned most of them. Canned peaches for dessert were a regular menu item, but she also made peach and cottage cheese salads.

Put lettuce leaves on salad plates. Place canned peach halves on the lettuce and top each half with two or three tablespoons of cottage cheese. When she didn’t have any lettuce, Mom omitted that ingredient. This does not significantly affect the taste, but peach halves do tend to slide around on bare plates.

Fresh wild raspberries crushed and sugared and spooned over cottage cheese make a low calorie dessert that you could put on a bed of lettuce and call a salad.

I hate to admit it, but my mother also made various jello salads that included layers of cottage cheese. You can find recipes for salads like this elsewhere. I have a very short list of foods common in the United States that I do not like. Topping the list is any kind of jello salad. Sorry about that.

I have eaten jello salads in the distant past, and cottage cheese does, as I recall, improve them, but if you are looking for a salad that is cool, refreshing, low in calories and attractive, try a simple cottage cheese salad.

NOTES: If you have a friend with a chive plant, you can start your own very simply by transplanting a piece of that plant to your garden. Water the transplant every couple of days, but don’t drown it. Soon you will have your own source of a versatile herb that requires almost no care. Chives even survive the long winters of northern Wisconsin. By late spring you will have new shoots that are tender and especially delicious.

A little more complicated than these simple salads is Dorothy’s Cottage Cheese Salad. It’s made with cottage cheese, mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs and sweet pickles. If you shut your eyes, you might think that you’re eating potato salad.