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chin up

Recipe: ginger peanut asian slaw

Jeremy has been on travel for the last 8 days and so it has been me and Kaweah. It’s been tough – tougher than usual. Jeremy checks in each morning and evening to see how she’s doing, but this hasn’t been a great week for her. As I was loading the washer with her dirty towels and dog bed covers, the tears spilled down my face and I wondered if this would be the last time I washed her doggy things. [The answer is no, because the following morning at 5 am, she unwittingly dropped a few turds on a freshly laundered towel in her sleep… yay.] She made it to May, but I’m not sure she’ll make it past May.

The first of May is the anniversary of my sister’s death. 2014 marks a decade. My brain has been grappling with that measure of time. Ten years. All of the things that happened in the last ten years happened without Kris and that gives me a sick feeling in my gut. I started blogging in 2004 as a way to cope with my heartache, as an attempt to unravel the emotions all wound up inside my chest. She still enters my thoughts daily and on rare occasion, she’ll appear in a dream. For that brief waking moment, it’s like Kris never left.


radiant, like kris

Because of this anniversary and because I know each day that passes brings us closer to saying good-bye to Kaweah, my feelings have been tender of late. That, and my appetite has diminished somewhat… or maybe I’m just tired from all of the 5 am poop surprises. I figure it’s partly because cooking for one is a lot less exciting than cooking for two. That will surely change when Jeremy gets home this week, but one of the recipes I’ve been enjoying this week is a cabbage slaw with an Asian twist. My inspiration came from a particularly busy day a few weeks ago when I picked up a prepared salad at Trader Joe’s – the Asian slaw salad.

for the dressing: sesame oil, chili oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, creamy peanut butter, honey

It was so much better than I expected it to be. Being the huge fan of cabbage that I am, I set about making my own version at home. TJ’s skimps on some of the good stuff like cilantro, celery, and carrot, so I made sure to bump the quantities. And instead of the crispy fried wonton strips in their salad, I used a healthier crunchy substitute: jicama.

grate the ginger and garlic

add rice vinegar

pour some chili oil (more if you like)

whisk it all together

The combination of half cabbage and half lettuce kept the slaw from feeling too heavy (all cabbage) without making it too wimpy (all lettuce). I recommend a sturdy lettuce like romaine so that it doesn’t wilt and get lost in the cabbage. If you really want to get your brassicas on, replace the lettuce with kale. As always, the beauty of any salad is that you can add or omit ingredients as you see fit.

green onions, cilantro, carrots, peanuts, celery, jicama, cabbage, and romaine lettuce

shred the cabbage and lettuce

slice the green onions and the celery

julienne the jicama

Preparation of the ingredients takes little time if you are even moderately proficient with a knife. Once you have everything ready, it’s just a matter of finding a large bowl to mix everything together. While you might think there couldn’t possibly be enough dressing (that’s what I thought), it actually comes out just right. But if you tend to go heavy on dressings in general, you may want to double the dressing recipe.

dressing, carrots, green onions, celery, peanuts, cilantro, jicama, lettuce, cabbage

put it all in a large bowl

toss together

What I love about slaws is that they are satisfying without being too light or too heavy. Sometimes a salad can leave my stomach asking if I actually ate anything. And if the cabbage doesn’t provide enough heft or you want something more substantial, then add some shredded roasted chicken or sliced baked tofu to the slaw. Bright ginger plays off of earthy peanuts for a most delightful and refreshing dish.

healthy, colorful

currently my favorite slaw

Ginger Peanut Asian Slaw
[print recipe]

3 cups cabbage, shredded
3 cups romaine lettuce (or kale), shredded
1 cup carrot, shredded
2 cups jicama, julienned
1/4 cup celery, thinly sliced (about 1 stalk)
1/4 cup green onions, sliced thin (about 2 stalks)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
roasted chicken or baked tofu, sliced (optional)
3/4 cup ginger peanut dressing

ginger peanut dressing
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsps honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
dash chili oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, chopped

Make the dressing: Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Alternatively, you can grate the ginger and garlic and stir everything together with a whisk.

Assemble the salad: Put the cabbage, lettuce, carrot, jicama, celery, green onions, cilantro, peanuts, chicken or tofu (if using) in a bowl. Top with the ginger peanut dressing. Toss to coat. It might look like there won’t be enough dressing, but there is. Serves 4-6.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

korean barbecue pork lettuce wraps asian chicken sandwich coleslaw pickled chinese cabbage

44 nibbles at “chin up”

  1. Kristin says:

    That looks gorgeous, delicious, and even therapeutic with all of the prep work. I was going to make the crunchy kale salad for a scholar bowl potluck banquet next week, but I think that would be a good time to try this instead! Loss…it seems to get easier in some ways, but you’re right…the longer the loved one is gone, the more time you’ve missed together, more significant events have occurred without them, and you can feel cheated, sad, and all the other emotions all over again. Wishing you some good Kris moments & some poop-free mornings from Kaweah!

  2. Maressa says:

    Thanks for sharing Jen. It is truly amazing what we can persevere through. I cannot imagine loosing a sibling, so sad. Hugs.
    This salad looks delicious, will have to pick up ingredients this weekend!

  3. Chani says:

    What a wonderful dish!! It looks so bright and refreshing, perfect for spring!! Sending you, Jeremy, and Kaweah happy thoughts for the coming month.

  4. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    You are such a strong woman, Jen. Many hugs to you and Jeremy, and I hope that Kaweah can hold on this month.

  5. Twila says:

    My husband just brought home a cabbage yesterday that I was wondering what to do with. This is it! Best to you and Kaweah through this tough time.

  6. Donna says:

    Sending hugs to you. Though we have never met, I have been following your blog for several years and I have truly come to love you and Kaweah. Your words have a way of reaching right into my soul. I wish you all the best during this difficult time.

  7. hungry dog says:

    Big hugs to you and Kaweah. I too was lucky to have a lab that lived to a ripe old age–but those last months were tough, knowing the impending reality. And, I am sorry for your loss of your sister–nothing can repair that. Sending you love.

  8. Mala Kavuluri says:

    Sending much love your way. Loss is always hard and so sorry about your sister.

  9. denise says:

    What a bright, sweet dish to celebrate health and happiness. It’s a fitting tribute, showing how food nourishes and inspires, and isn’t something to just crawl into. We can’t help but carry our loved ones with us, even if sad milestones evoke fresh heartache. And I’m sure it’s that much more raw with Kaweah. We want to do right by our fuzzy (and human) loved ones, even if it means being constantly in that bubble of worry. I get weepy doing Indy’s daily chores, too, wondering how much longer we have. And I cry when I go jogging without her on our path, because I know those days are done for her. My heart is with you, all the way, Jennifer!!

  10. christina says:

    I am long time reader, but I comment very rarely. I am always touched when you write about your sister and Kaweah. Sending you much love, and I hope that Kaweah can hang on long past May. xo.

  11. Lisa says:

    I know it sounds silly, but you, Jeremy and Kaweah are often in my thoughts and prayers these days. xoxoxo

  12. Sarah says:

    It has been 3 months since we lost our dog, and it still hurts. I remember those last bittersweet weeks and days all too well. I’m so sorry. I’ll be thinking of you and Kaweah.

  13. selina says:

    Thinking of you, your sister, Jeremy and Kaweah and sending you big hugs. I can really feel your emotions from reading this post, can’t even imagine how much you are actually going through. Kaweah has the best parents she could possibly have and you can tell that she knows that in her bright shiny eyes. xoxo

  14. cindy c says:

    lots of love, hugs, and support to kaweah and both her puppy parents. and a extras for you on this day of remembrance and loss.

  15. Vicky says:

    Praying that Kaweah will have many more sunny days…. My heart aches for you for the loss of your sister. Lots of hugs and sending hungry-good-appetite vibes to you and Kaweah.

  16. kellypea says:

    Sending you hugs first, and then more for your sweet Kaweah. It is amazing to think of the passing of 10 years and all that fits into that time. Thanks for this salad — the flavor combo is one of my favorites, but I haven’t tried it with jicama so will have to. Here’s to only good days in May for for you.

  17. Stephane in AK says:

    I read your posts each year and am deeply touched by your love for your sister. And it’s always been clear that Kaweah is an important part of your family. I shall keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

  18. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    Hoping this virtual hug will help you keep your chin up. ()

  19. Rosi says:

    Jen, wishing you peace and courage at what is surely a very challenging time for you.
    My heart is breaking for you.

  20. Tegan says:

    When I saw this today, I knew it needed to be made tonight. And it is DELICIOUS. This is one of the best peanut sauces I’ve ever had. Made it with the sesame tofu recipe and it is a delicious use-real-butter-filled night!

  21. Susan says:

    Thing of you, Jen.
    You have given Kaweah an incredible life.

  22. Susanne says:

    I’ve lost a sister as well, and know the heartache you feel every May.
    Hang in there, kiddo. Every day we have with the ones we love, be they animal or human, is a gift. And the days near the end are the sweetest and most difficult to bear.

    Sending you all good thoughts…

  23. Linda says:

    The slaw looks amazing! Sweet Kaweah. Every day is a treasure, isn’t it. Hugs to you all.

    xo Linda

  24. Pey-Lih says:

    Wow! It’s been a year already…I think you posted a beautiful pink flower to celebrate the memory of your sister last May. The fact you still see her in a dream is like being touched by angel. The salad looks great! Now that is something to bring to a summer gathering with friends and neighbors. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I will make it after classes are done.

  25. Melanie Evans says:

    My heart hurts for you both in the loss of your sister and anticipating what’s to come with Kaweah. It just sucks and I’m so sorry. I wish there was something that I could do to help ease the pain. Know that I care. Hugs.

  26. Lauren says:

    I just lost a sweet lovebird of 14 years 3 weeks ago. I’ve I too have experienced great loss of health and pain, and sometimes the little moments, a peice of art a creative dish, a words if encouragement is what we need to fill those voids. I’ve loved your blog for years, your honestly, your creativity and know that your blog started for personal therapeutic reasons have touched many people in ways you’ll never know.

  27. Kitty Nikolai says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your sister, as well as your sweet labby baby. I also lost my sister, she was only 40 with two children. It’s been 19 years and still difficult… she was my best friend. I also lost my beautiful labby within 6 mos. of losing her, he had lymphoma at 2 1/2 and we had to have him put to sleep and at the same time our other lab began having epileptic siezures which required meds the rest of his life. Life can be so unfair, but please know how much joy you are bringing to others with your wonderful blog/recipes/photography. I love everything you share, thank you so much! The remembrance of your sister is lovely.

    I have wanted a recipe for this salad forever!! I have had the TJ’s and liked it, can’t wait to try yours!

    All my best to you,

  28. Holly says:

    Jen, you have an incredible talent of being able to replicate and even surpass the dishes that inspire you. I can’t wait to try this slaw, and I will tomorrow because I have everything in it (except the jicama). You and Kaweah are in my prayers. Tonight, I hope to dream of you and Jeremy skiing with Kaweah happily running behind.

  29. Cristina says:

    I am sorry May is not a good month for you…just hang in there, things WILL get better. I will be thinking about you and Kaweah and I am sure Kris will be watching over both of you too.

  30. Bette says:

    It’s been 35 years since my brother died and I still think of him every day. Some losses stay with us for our entire lives and change us forever. I think that is a good thing.

    Beautiful freesias — radiant, as you wrote.

    Slaw looks fabulous, can’t wait to make it.

  31. JulieT says:

    Thank you for this post. Any recipes that call for a cup of tears? There is an empty seat at my table as well, I keep hoping that I honor that absence. Know that you do for your loved one.

  32. jill says:

    Those freesia are just lovely, as I am sure your sister was. TPH and I were just talking about her the other day…and you and Jeremy and Kaweah. She is remembered, even if we didn’t know her. I find that dealing with a loss doesn’t get easier, just more tolerable. Thinking of you….xo

  33. Marcy says:

    I do think it is time to let go. You really need to do what is best for her. You know there is a lovely lonely little puppy out there crying and begging you to come and get them. Hugs and Blessings.

  34. Cyndi says:

    Sorry this is such a tough time. I lost my dad & my pup last year. It sucks. Hugs to you all.

  35. swan says:

    so many have written before me, and i can’t say anything else.


    p.s. there are some times (or months) that can really work you, right? may is your month; mine is december…

  36. bethini says:

    I can only offer my strongest and most heartfelt sympathy for these days with Kaweah. You have given her a life full of joy and dignity and delight, and I know you will continue to do so until the last days. We will all miss her. Warmest thoughts.

  37. Kate says:

    I love slaw. I’m allergic to peanuts so I make something similar to this using almond butter or tahini. Thanks for the inspiration. Also, thank you for sharing your loving thoughts. The gap left by family is never filled, but memory is a powerful and beautiful and real thing to cherish.

  38. pete says:

    Jen – First, let me say how much I’ve enjoyed your wonderful website. I’ve tried many of your recipes and they have all been terrific.

    Now… If I may… I know how wrenching it is to go through the end of life struggle with our beloved puppies. I’ve had to deal with the loss of my dear girly black lab Shelby, and my sweet yellow, Winnie. I loved them both so much. So much. If it is any comfort, just know that when the time comes, you will know it is, indeed, time. And, you’ll realize that amazingly, Kaweah will know as well.

    The memories will last forever.

  39. rebecca samson says:

    Thinking of you and your beautiful Kaweah!

  40. Diana says:

    Many hugs to you and Kaweah.

  41. Kim says:

    Thank you for the lunchtime inspiration that this slaw shall become. I am just about to head to the grocery store for the ingredients, too!

    It has been 9 months since I bade farewell to my sweet old poodle, Ella. I remember the last weeks of her life being such a gift and mixed bag of pain and and cherishing out time together. Loving them, and letting them go (and you will know when it is time) is a contract we make with the Universe.

    You and Kaweah are in my thoughts and prayers right now.

  42. Louise says:

    Sending warm thoughts, hugs and love to all of you

  43. jan says:

    Jen, this slaw looks so de-lish! I can’t wait to make it. I left a note of reply somewhere else for you but in case you don’t find it, you have touched my heart with your writing and I wish you peace and comfort in these difficult days with Kaweah.
    Hugs to you and Kaweah.

  44. jenyu says:

    You all are so kind and supportive. Thank you, thank you so much for the virtual hugs and thoughts on both Kris and Kaweah. Kaweah has entered a stable period now, so things have settled down and she is back to some of her old shenanigans :) xoxo

    denise – I think of you and Indy often. My hope is that she follows a path of healing and recovery and gives you more years to love <3 xoxo

    Sarah - I am so sorry about your fur baby xo

    Tegan - so glad you like the salad! I could graze on it all day :)

    Susanne - xxoo

    Lauren - what beautiful words. Thank you for the reminder.

    Kitty - my heart goes out to you, dear. Thank you for your words xo

    Bette - hugs to you. It makes me sad that we have this in common. xo

    JulieT - xo

    jill - so true, my friend. Much love to you both.

    Marcy - really now... Kaweah is not some thing like a bicycle to be thrown away when we tire of her or when she gets old so that we can replace her with a newer model. That's not the kind of promise I made to her when we took her into our family.

    Cyndi - xo

    swan - you are correct. Here's a hug for December xo

    pete - thank you for your advice. Believe it or not, it's incredibly comforting and I am grateful to read it. Thank you xoxo

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