Joelle's Shredded Cabbage, Ham, and Walnut Salad...aka French Cole Slaw

First of all, a little about our hosts...
If you don't let yourself be taken by the French force that is Joelle, you'll have to resign yourself to a dull and unfulfilling existence atop the wildflower-rampant hill that is her home. The woman is a powerhouseuntameable hair (think my mom's hair on steroids), piercing hazel-blue eyes, and strong, tanned hands that warn you that however beautiful she may be, delicate she is not. She's the type of woman who'll casually mention that she will eat a certain friend's dog if he doesn't stop calling during the early hours of the morning.
Joelle, facemask, and electric grass trimmer
I can foresee aligning myself with the mischievous grin of hers. Not only because she is the model of what a fun and strong and carefree French woman should be, but also, the woman can cook. It's not the type of skill that is honed simply through the years of raising three children (which she has done). No, it's the skill that is found innate within a lucky few. She doesn't need to taste her creations as she goes along--she simply knows. I call it the ability to taste food in one's mind, and when you find someone who can do this, you better come hungry.
A sampling of our first dinner from Joelle...
Above, we have some of Joelle's creations, and I want to point out the style of pork chop you see. They referred to it as a British cut, wherein the top layer of fat on the pork chop is left on, thus braising the chop while cooking and eliminating the constant worry toward having a too-tough pork chop. Ask your butcher if he can give you the same.

Now, if you will, imagine England in the late 1700s,: a time of London "high society," riding from city to city with a horse and carriage, real dukes and get the picture. And then imagine riding up to your country home and seeing the head gardener of that extravagant estate strolling among the hyacinth, tending to a climbing rose as it reaches up the mansion walls, giving you a curt but friendly nod as he moves through, unwaveringly focused on ensuring that everything--every seed, tree, bloom, and vine--looks perfect in the garden he has created and over which he now presides. And thus you can imagine stout and proper  London-born Julius, Joelle's husband. 
wwoof dordogne
Lunchtime with Julius & Joelle
Julius is the type of man who could watch you do a backflip while swallowing a sword and juggling monkeys and maybe, if you're lucky, he'll feign a glint of surprise. It's just that old country British mode de vie that seems to have been transported through the centuries into his blood. But don't be fooled, he wouldn't be married to the wildcat that is Joelle if he wasn't hiding a soft spot for good fun and humor. A landscaping artist by trade, John and I have much to learn from he and Joelle's gardening know-how.

In closing, I'll mention a wonderful salad Joelle made for lunch one day. I suppose you can think of it as a sort of rendition of cole slaw, expect this is French and exciting. Shredded Cabbage, Ham, and Walnut Salad

  • Half-head of large cabbage (thinly julienned by hand or use food processor)
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts or hazlenuts
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 shallots, halved pole-to-pole and cut into thin half-moons
  • About one pound 1/2-inch-thick, high-quality ham, cubed (you'll probably need to get this cut at a deli to avoid the thin-sliced stuff--I suggest Eden Farms or Snake River Farms Kurobuta if you can find it). 
  • EVOO
  • Balsamic & red wine vinegar

  • Directions
    Mix everything together and dress with EVOO and a splash of balsamic and red wine vinegar. Keep in mind that the cabbage will exude water and this will add to the dressing after you let it sit for a while. Add salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste. Let sit for at least two hours to soften the cabbage a bit. Add more EVOO and vinegar to taste. Yup, it's that easy.

    Chow down.

    Feel free to leave out the ham and throw this on some fish as an excellent crunchy topping.

    The Savings: The cheap price and far-reaches of cabbage is practically absurd. Feeding a crowd costs next to nothing with this recipe since half a head of cabbage only sets you back about one dollar. Nuts are the most expensive item, but they're a minor role in this salad. The cheapest items: cabbage, ham, and raisins, pack the majority of flavor!

    Up next: some misadventures with Julius & Joelle :)


    1. I love the idea of grated garlic, olive oil, and herbs as a condiment. I'm running with that on any grilled meat this summer. Are the market veggies organic?

    2. I probably could have eaten it as a soup. It was intended for the roasted veggies, but I, of course, doused the entire plate in it. So good just for bread, too.
      Some of the market veggies are organic, but you have to look for the sign or talk to them about their practices. The thing about France is that you don't have to worry quite as much as you do in America since their system of growing vegetables is naturally much more local and less scary when it comes to pesticides. In their minds, for example, growing corn for anything other than a bit of animal seed is other-worldly--they don't even know what corn syrup is! It's beautiful, you never have to double check labels here (mostly).

    3. I loveeeee microwave dinners!




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