Winter Staples: Beans and Slaw


Let me tell you a little bit about winter in Maine. It’s quite chilly. And there can be a lot of snow. (You may have noticed if you live here). Turns out that you can’t grow a whole lot outside in that weather.

Fortunately, you don’t need to. Eliot Coleman, the father of four-season farming in Maine (inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing), has shown us that even unheated hoophouses can supply significant quantities of vegetables throughout the winter. To grow salad mix, you’ll probably need a little heat. But hardier crops? Take that, winter, beaten by a plastic roof.

There are also many vegetables that you can harvest in the fall and store throughout the winter in a root cellar or just a cool spot in your house. I have a large amount of carrots, beets, cabbage, leeks, onions, garlic, turnips, rutabagas, and potatoes either in a box by the door (I figure it’s the coldest spot in my house) or in the fridge. Not too much of your traditional greenery in there (although kale was going strong for a while and I expect to see it again soon) but it turns out that you can still make salads, as well as a number of other vegetable-based delicacies in the winter.

Cole slaw is definitely a type of salad, in case you were wondering.

Throw it in with some beans, maybe a little melted cheese and some spices, and you’ve a meal. This amuses me a little bit because I generally think of beans (baked, I guess) and cole slaw as a Southern dish. Yet here we are, a staple of the Maine winter.

I’ve told you how to make beans before so I won’t get into that.


Winter Slaw
Carrots (1 large one is good for one person)
Beets (1 small one is also good)
1/4-1/2 cabbage, depending on size
A few teaspoons of your favorite vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard
A few (more than the vinegar though) teaspoons olive oil
Salt, pepper, and spices: to go with beans I like cumin, paprika, maybe a little cayenne

Grate the carrots, beets if you are using them, and chop up the cabbage (core, then slice one direction and the other. Cabbage is delightful because you can chop a lot of it in a very short timeframe). In a large bowl, mix together the vinegar and mustard, and salt and pepper. When mustard is more or less dissolved, whisk in the oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. I like slaw dressing to be a little stronger than other salad dressings, especially if it’s going to sit for a little while. Stir in the vegetables and mix well. Let sit for a few minutes before consuming.


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