Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ole Fashion German/Mennonite Slaw

Ole Fashion German/Mennonite Slaw
Dorcas Annette Walker

The hot sultry days of summertime reminds me of childhood summers spent at religious camps without the benefit of air conditioning that we consider a necessity today. The three services a day attended in a large wooden tabernacle often with sawdust on the floor, except for a few camps that featured children services in the afternoon, were more often spent in sleeping and resting from the rigorous games and hikes spent with the other kids in between services than in listening to long sermons. Being raised in church we were an expert authority on what preachers were the most interesting (those who told stories) or were just plain boring, short or long winded (those who tried to preach through the entire Bible in one sermon), and what preachers could hold one’s attention (not just in volume, but in antics- our favorites were those who jumped around a lot, marched up and down in the congregation waving their arms, throwing things in the air, standing up on stuff, or banging on the piano while preaching). Back then everyone attended religious camps no matter what denomination and my father was an expert at discovering camps. I even remember attending a black camp meeting where we were the only white folk. Little did I realize then what a rich cultural experience I was being exposed to. But the main ingredient that made us kids judge what was a good camp was the food. It was at a small mountain camp that I had my first taste of Ole Fashion German/Mennonite Slaw also known as “freezer slaw”.

Celery seeds are very small (about 1/16 of an inch), light brown, and have been used in medicine to treat colds, flu, water retention, poor digestion, arthritis, liver, spleen ailments and for funerals since the time of the Greeks and Romans. Records show that the Chinese were familiar with the plant by 5 BC and woven garland of wild celery have been found in early Egyptian tombs. Celery was considered a holy plant in the classical period of Greece worn by winners similar to the use of bay leaves today at Olympic Games. It wasn’t until the 19th century that celery seed or “smallage” as the ancients called it first appeared in pickling recipes. Celery seed has a slightly bitter aromatic flavor used mainly in soups, salad dressings and pickling.

My Ole Fashion German/Mennonite Slaw has a crunchy pickle taste with a hint of celery. You can include green pepper, onion, or add chopped tomatoes after the slaw has cooled. The Ole Fashion German/Mennonite Slaw is a great way to use up cabbage and will last for several weeks in the refrigerator or store frozen in the freezer year round. This “freezer slaw” is delicious eaten with pork roast, barbeque sandwiches, or hot dogs. Preparation time for my Ole Fashion German/Mennonite Slaw is around twenty minutes and this recipe yields around five to six cups of slaw.

Ole Fashion German/Mennonite Slaw

1 medium-sized head of cabbage
1 tsp salt
1 c vinegar (brown or white)
1½ c sugar
½ c water
1 tsp celery seed

Grate the cabbage into a large bowl and mix in the salt. Let sit while bringing the vinegar, sugar, water, and celery seed to a rolling boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Pour over the cabbage immediately, seal, and let cool. Refrigerate and completely chill before serving!

Weekly tip: Store dried herbs and spices in plastic, glass, or tin containers in a cool, dry, dark place avoiding being close to humid sources such as dishwashers, sinks, coffee makers, microwaves, stoves, or in the refrigerator. If stored properly dried herbs and ground spices will retain their flavor for up to a year; whole spices for 3 to 5 years!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

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