Steamed Cabbage with Caraway

Growing up in northern Wisconsin, I ate a lot of cabbage. We didn’t grow cabbages, but many people did, and starting in late summer, you could buy as many heads as you wanted from strategically located wheelbarrows at the ends of driveways. Everything was on the honor system. You just picked out a head that looked good to you and put your money in the cigar box.

Jerri and I have been enjoying steamed cabbage since shortly after we set up housekeeping as a newly married couple. This is basically Jerri’s recipe with a little butter added. I like the flavor of butter on vegetables.

This is another recipe that Jerri says is not really a recipe, so think of it as simple instructions for making a tasty side dish to go with those pork chops you are cooking for dinner.


1 small head of green cabbage (4 or 5 inches in diameter or half a larger one)
1 T caraway seeds
1 tsp. butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt


Remove and discard any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage and wash it well. Cut the head into quarters and remove the solid white core from each quarter. If you have a larger head, just cut one half into two quarters. Slice each quarter lengthwise into wedges about an inch thick.

Put the cabbage and water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Sprinkle the caraway seeds and salt over the the cabbage and dot it with butter, cover the pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook for about five minutes until the cabbage is tender but not mushy. Test for doneness with a fork and steam a little longer if necessary.

Remove the pan from the heat, taste and add more salt if you wish.

NOTE: You might want to try a bit of the core before you discard it. It is slightly bitter, but I enjoy the taste and texture. Try the more tender parts from the center of the cabbage.

Hilda Ploof’s Cole Slaw Dressing

At least once a month, we visited the Ploof family in Hayward. Dad and Pete were good friends who fished and hunted together and Mom and Hilda also shared many of the same interests. One of those interests was card games, and the wives made sure that their husbands joined them for a night of serious card play at least a couple times a month.

Their favorite game on those nights was Smear. I have never played the game, but it is said to be related to Pitch, the card game of choice with Jerri’s parents. While our parents played cards, we kids, including Pete and Hilda’s daughter, Maureen, were treated to a movie or a root beer.

In the winter, we would go to a movie at the Park Theater. As I recall, kid’s tickets were a dime to start with, though they gradually increased to a quarter. Dad and Pete would give us money for our tickets and popcorn, and when they were feeling generous, we even got enough extra for some candy to share. The theater was about four blocks from Pete and Hilda’s. That may not sound like very far, but they were long blocks along highway 63, and when the wind was from the north with snow falling, it felt like we were polar explorers.

In the summer, we played Hide-and-Seek and Anti-I-Over outside and then went to the A&W Root Beer stand, which was only a block away. Our parents gave each of us a nickel for a small mug of root beer, and I was made custodian of the jug and money to buy a gallon of root beer to take back to the card players. Of course, we kids got our share from the jug as well, and sometimes we made root beer floats during a recess at the card table.

In one of my mother’s recipe boxes I found Hilda’s recipe for cole slaw dressing. It makes enough dressing for a really large cabbage, but it keeps well. Having a batch of dressing in the refrigerator makes it easy to put a bowl of cole slaw on the table in just a couple of minutes.

We like Jerri’s recipe for cole slaw, which is made with sour cream and mayonnaise, but Hilda’s recipe includes horseradish, which adds a little spice to the dressing. It also has a tiny bit more sugar which makes it slightly sweet. My sister Patsy says that this is one of her favorite cole slaw dressings, and Jerri likes it nearly as well as her own.


1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 T cider vinegar
1 T regular mustard
1 T minced onion
1 T grated horseradish
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. celery seed


Stir all the ingredients together until well mixed and smooth.

To make cole slaw, wash the head of cabbage and discard any damaged outer leaves. With a sharp knife, cut the head in half and then one half into quarters. Remove the core and slice one quarter very thinly. Then cut the slices into pieces that are no more than a half inch long. Do the same with another quarter until you have as much finely chopped cabbage as you need.

Blend dressing with the shredded cabbage to the consistency you want. Store any extra dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

NOTE: You may also peel or scrape a carrot, grate it with a kitchen grater and mix it with the cabbage. We nearly always do this to give some color to the slaw.