Rediscovering Coleslaw

Most people with any sense of taste will generally give coleslaw a pass. Sure, it works well to wet the pulled pork sandwich, but generally this mayonnaise-laden side-dish adds color but very little flavor in fast food chains.  Thankfully, Thérèse has never succumbed to the temptation to subject luscious fresh vegetables to a coating of factory-processed mayo.

While Thérèse is not afraid to experiment, her coleslaw recipe has been remarkably consistent over the last twenty years.  The “secret” recipe dates back 50 years+ and is actually an amalgamation of her Grandmother’s “Fred Harvey’s Railroad Slaw” and her own food experiments at VEPCO (“Virginia Electric Power Company”).  The basic difference is that Fred Harvey’s recipe calls for twice as much oil as vinegar.  Thérèse recommends equal portions.  This recipe  which serves 8 and easily lasts up to 5 days if refrigerated.

Variations on Fred Harvey’s Railroad Coleslaw


4 cups of shredded cabbage
2-4 Tbs minced onion
1-2 carrots shredded
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup of oil


  • Toss cabbage, onion and carrots
  • In saucepan, combine other ingredients and bring to a boil.
  • Pour over cabbage mixture and chill 4 to 6 hours.

Sure, it’s simple but far better than the mayo-processed variety.

Sustainable Gardening in San Francisco

With all of the earthquakes, sunamis, fires, and floods happening around the world, I often wondered what I would do if one of them hit here in San Francisco.  After all, we do have some history in this city, and everyone predicts the “big one” is coming.  We have all of the emergency kits ready to go – water, food, flashlights, duct tape, blankets, batteries, radio, pet food, camping equipment, etc., all stored in an accessible location.  But what if it took a long time before power and other services were restored?

I converted my home to solar energy about five years ago, and while it is great and has reduced my energy bill, I am still on the “grid”, so if power goes down around the city, I would not have energy.  My nephew, Thomas May and I recently solved part of this problem by purchasing three extra solar panels, a converter, and storage batteries.  Thomas lives downstairs in the “bachelor pad”, and converted all of his lighting to LED, and he now powers all of his space except for heating with these three panels.  We also purchased some containers to hold recaptured rainwater, and now have tanks which hold about 750 gallons.

Baguette Lady's Backyard

Baguette Lady's Backyard with Solar Panels and Water Tank

We situated the solar panels and a 500 gallon water tank on top of the mini greenhouse, and I think it looks beautiful in the garden.  When you combine this with the urban farm in the back yard, I think we are as ready as possible for whatever Mother Nature may throw at us.

The farm is currently producing lettuce, watercress, lemons, oranges, onions, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, arugula, peas, leeks, asparagus, and many herbs.

Flowers and Vegetables sharing garden space

I always mix in flowers with the vegetables so that it looks beautiful.  Although we do not have the full spectrum of food it will produce in a few more months, it is still impressive for this time of year, and I think we are as prepared as possible for the “big one”.