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Many years ago, when we were tourists in the Bluegrass State rather than residents, we’d stopped for lunch in a café in western Kentucky. They served a coleslaw that was not only delicious, it was made without mayonaise.

I remember thinking, then, how great it would be for picnics, family gatherings, and backyard cookouts, because, without mayo, it would be safer to have sitting around. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to ask for the recipe.

When we moved here I remembered that coleslaw, and began a search for it. I found numerous versions of mayo-less slaw, both in recipe collections and from old-timers. My adoptive granny in Slade, for instance, give me her family recipe that went back at least three generations. And she was in her 80s at the time.

Unfortunately, all of the recipes I’d found used a lot of sugar, and were far too sweet for my taste. They weren’t like the one we’d sampled all those many years before.

Finally, my friend Roger tracked down a version that is as close to no never mind as to make no difference. The recipe came from somebody he knew who had gotten it from the Coach House Restaurant, in Muhlenberg, Kentucky. From that I’m guessing that various versions of this slaw were popular in western Kentucky, but relatively unknown elsewhere.

A note on variations of the theme. The recipe calls for regular green cabbage. I’ve made it that way. But I’ve also used other cabbages. Most recently, for instance, I used red cabbage as the base, with a couple of handfuls of Napa thrown in for a color break. In the past I’ve taken the basic recipe and added a couple of shredded turnips. And so on.

So there’s lots of room for experimenting.

Coach House Coleslaw

1 small or half medium cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1 green or red pepper, shredded
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup sugar
½ cup salad oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp celery seed

Combine sugar, vinegar, oil, salt, mustard and celery seed in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer until sugar dissolves. Let cool.

Combine veggies. Pour dressing over them. Let chill in fridge, stirring occasionally, for at least two hours or up to overnight.