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.

Jerri’s Green Pea Salad

Lady Plumberton and her husband were on a voyage to the United States when she suffered an attack of nausea. Accordingly, she visited the ship’s physician who suggested that it was probably a mild attack of seasickness and gave her some tablets to soothe her stomach.

As she was leaving, she mentioned that she was rarely ill and suffered only from an allergy to green peas. It had been discovered when she was only a child, she told him, and she had often wished that God had given her a different allergy, since she loved the appearance and fragrance of lightly steamed peas.

The doctor, who had only a few years earlier finished medical school, told her that recent studies had confirmed that people sometimes outgrew such childhood allergies. Tests had been developed to detect allergic reactions safely, and he could test whether she was still allergic to peas in his office in less than half an hour.

She agreed and he called the chief cook who sent a steward with a small bowl of freshly steamed peas to the doctor’s office. Thirty minutes later, the doctor announced that the skin prick test showed no allergic reaction. Since the test sometimes missed a mild allergy, he suggested that she begin slowly with only a very small serving of green peas if she were so inclined.

After lunch she explained to the head waiter that she would appreciate having a small dish of steamed green peas with her dinner. He informed the chief cook who added the vegetable to Lady Plumberton’s dinner.

As usual the Plumberton’s were seated at the captain’s table. When all the diners were seated and the plates served, he rose from his chair to offer the evening’s toast. Instead of the usual toast honoring the leaders of Great Britain and the United States, he raised his glass of champagne and said, “Let us drink tonight to Lady Plumberton, who with the professional help of our ship’s doctor, is tonight taking her first pea in over fifty years.”

As the glasses were raised, a grizzled retired navy officer shouted, “Good God! Man the lifeboats! Women and children first!”

Only Lady Plumberton left the dining room. She retired to her cabin and developed a strong aversion to old men in navy uniforms.

Many green pea salad recipes call for using frozen or lightly steamed fresh green peas instead of canned peas. Perhaps this is because a lot of people have developed an aversion to canned peas. When I was a kid, we grew a lot of peas, picked a lot of peas, Mom canned a lot of peas and we all ate a lot of canned peas. I still really like them, especially in this delicious pea salad.

Jerri can’t remember when she first made this salad. My guess is that it was shortly after we were married and living in Charlottesville, Virginia. There was a Safeway store nearby that always had canned peas at low prices.


1 can green peas (about 2 cups)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1/4 cup minced onion
1/3 cup mayonnaise


Drain the peas and put them in a mixing bowl. Boil the eggs for five minutes, turn off the heat and allow them to finish cooking in the hot water for eight or nine minutes. Then cool them in cold water and remove the shells. Chop the eggs to the same size dice as the peas.

While the eggs are cooking, clean the celery and chop it and the cheese into the same size dice as the eggs. Mince the onion. Put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and stir them gently but thoroughly. Allow the salad to rest for five minutes, then stir again and taste.

Add a bit more mayonnaise if necessary or even a little salt.

NOTES: Jerri prefers fresh or frozen green peas cooked until barely tender except in her green pea salad where she loves the taste of canned peas. Even if you also prefer fresh or frozen peas, you really need to try this salad.

You can substitute finely chopped sweet or bread and butter pickles for the pickle relish.