Speaking Our Language

by Mara @ What's For Dinner? on June 15, 2010

in family, family recipe, simple recipe

While at my mom’s the other day watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup (!!!!!!), we were reminiscing about healthy recipes I enjoyed as a kid. She reminded me of a few that you’ll be seeing in days to come, but one really stuck in my mind because it was not only easy, but I vividly remember it being one of the few things I liked that contained raw cabbage. I loved it cooked, but raw? Notsomuch…except this ONE.

So my mom and I went on and on, talking recipes, going over things that were from my childhood that, lo and behold, were really super healthy, and I went back to this one. I love talking recipes with my mom. Usually, the conversations go something like this:

“So, mom, I want to make that cabbage salad we were just talking about.”

“Ok, so, its a head of cabbage, you know, cut up into shreds (cue “shred” hand motion) and put that in a bowl.”


“Then take one vidalia onion and cut it really thin (cue “thin onion slice” hand motion, similar to “shred” hand motion). Put that on the cabbage.”


“Slice up a few pieces of roasted red pepper and add that to the cabbage and onion. (Cue “piling ingredients on top of each other” motion)”

“Ok, so cabbage, onion, roasted red pepper…what else? (Cue “piling ingredients hand motion”)”

“Ok, then you’re going to add salt and pepper to that, and then take two cans of that Italian tuna packed in olive oil and drain off most of the olive oil and add that to the cabbage mixture (more “piling ingredients” motion).

“Ok, can I use normal tuna and olive oil?”

“Sure, but the Italian tuna has a really great flavor, but that’ll work, sure.”

“Ok, what else?”

“Then, add red wine vinegar (cue “shaking a bottle” motion) and taste it, and add more salt and pepper if you need to.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it!”

And this is why I cook the way I do. No real measurements, more of a process or a procedure, and also why I tend to have a really hard time following a recipe… so I made this lovely cabbage salad and it was bright, beautiful and a whopping 4 meals for me and a couple friends!



Now, the recipe in language you all will understand as opposed to “Mara and Mom-ese”

Tuna Cabbage Salad


* 1 head green cabbage, rinsed and cut into shreds

* 2-3 pieces roasted red pepper (jarred or fresh) sliced

* 1 vidalia onion (or other sweet onion) cut in half and sliced thinly

* 2 cans Italian tuna packed in olive oil OR 2 cans white tuna in water, drained

*1/4 c. red wine vinegar

* Salt and pepper to taste


Place the shredded cabbage, onion, and roasted red pepper in a large bowl. Drain all but a little bit of the oil off of the Italian tuna and add it to the veggies. (If using regular tuna in water, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil at this point too.) Top with the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and stir very well. Serve immediately for a very crunchy salad, or chill for up to 2 days for a slightly softer one.


Now, more of what you’ve been waiting for: The Camper Quote Of The Day! “Mara! I just really scared that bug over there!” “Oh yeah? How’d you do that?” “I said boo!”

This was a close one though, because a slightly older camper did say “Hey! There are two dragonflies mating over there!”

It was a fun day today, though exhausting… I don’t think I’ll be up much longer!

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary June 15, 2010 at 9:48 PM

Loving this post (and recipe) Mara!! I think you’re Mom is adorable :D Love all the *hand motions* … I can almost picture it. Vlog? ;)
Mary @ What’s Cookin’ with Mary´s last blog post ..Roasted Tomato Salsa


Wei-Wei June 15, 2010 at 10:36 PM

My mom is not a fan of precise measuring in cooking. I think our conversations about so called “recipes” are always like this. I love your description of it, though :)



Jackie (Peaces of Earth) June 16, 2010 at 1:38 AM

haha I totally just visualized that whole conversation! That’s exactly how I cook, measuring is overrated. :)


Marianne June 16, 2010 at 3:40 AM

Pffft, Blackhawks. Why must you bring them up?

Salad looks good though :)
Marianne´s last blog post ..Shopping & Refuelling


MizFit June 16, 2010 at 5:24 AM

first the tattooage and now this :)


mom June 16, 2010 at 7:22 AM

yes, i know. I talk with my hands… i,m a visual person!!! love you… and it is a great salad


Mara @ What's For Dinner? June 16, 2010 at 9:49 AM

I love it!!! Its totally how I remember what to do while cooking :)


Biz June 16, 2010 at 10:21 AM

I am not a huge fan of raw cabbage either – but it looks delicious! Love the camp quotes!


Quix June 16, 2010 at 10:34 AM

That is exactly how I cook too. :) I also have a hard time following recipes and generally just dab and splash and pour and eyeball. It almost always turns out just fine… except baking. Baking is a science, not an art, hehe.


Autumn June 16, 2010 at 10:41 AM

This looks like a great summertime meal! I love the description of the conversation with your mom…too cute!
Autumn´s last blog post ..A love/hate relationship…


Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly June 16, 2010 at 11:15 AM

What a fun twist on tuna salad…thanks Mara!


Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) June 16, 2010 at 12:34 PM

I love talking about recipes this way too. I am too ADD to follow a recipe down exactly.
Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat)´s last blog post ..Viva Las Vegas: First stop Baker, Ca


Kristina June 16, 2010 at 2:45 PM

this is COMPLETELY my cooking language! I was doing this today, explaining something to my mom… hand gestures and all… On The Phone. yep, the only one to see my hand motions was Basil, the dachshund. :)

That salad looks delicious…
Kristina´s last blog post ..mini quiche


Mary (A Merry Life) June 16, 2010 at 5:44 PM

I cook that way too! I don’t like measuring and doing things precisely. So I love the way you and your mom cook! :)
Mary (A Merry Life)´s last blog post ..Spinach in my Eggs!


shelly June 16, 2010 at 5:56 PM

My husband will love your cabbage salad recipe. Thanks!


Christina June 18, 2010 at 3:36 PM

The convo w/ your mom cracks me up b/c it’s identical to me and my mom. I totally understand it and I never measure anything either.
Christina´s last blog post ..Friday Firsts – On the Horizon


Andrea (Off Her Cork) June 22, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Oh wow that sounds like a really great summertime dish! Cool and refreshing! I cannot find Italian tuna anywhere. I look every time I go to the store too!


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