Nana Recipe Wednesday–Pearl Singleton’s Slaw

by Sarah on July 13, 2011

This isn’t technically a Nana recipe, because she got it from her mother-in-law.  But then again, how many of Nana’s recipes are really Nana’s recipes, if you know what I mean?  Do you know what I mean?

Do I know what I mean?

Anyway, this was supposedly the only good dish that Boppa’s mother made.  I think the rest of her repertoire included tough, gray meat and overcooked, mushy vegetables.  Hey!  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if that’s what you’re into (read:  Midwesterners).

Boppa’s mother’s name was Pearl, which I find charming.  I don’t know if anyone actually found Pearl very charming, since Boppa sure didn’t talk about her much.  I know that she was a single mother after her husband died young and that they were very poor.  I also know that they lived in a tiny backwards town called White Hall in Illinois, where coincidentally, people of color were not allowed in after dark.  I’m happy to report that Boppa got the hell out of dodge to go to medical school in Chicago and never looked back.

Anyway, this is the “official” recipe for the Singleton Family Slaw.  Does your family have an “official” slaw?  To be honest, everyone has tweaked the original recipe a little bit, and I like my dad’s version best.  But this one is good too.  Just don’t pay too much attention to my photos because I recommend you do NOT use purple cabbage, it turns a funny color when it sits too long.  And this coleslaw just plain tastes BETTER when it sits around for a while.

Try it out, I’ll even let you tweak the recipe if you want.

Nana Recipe Wednesday–Pearl Singleton’s Slaw


  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded as thin as you can make it
  • 1/2 head celery, sliced thin on the bias
  • 1 green pepper, sliced thin into 2" strips
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts (reserve until serving)
  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp celery seed


  • Place cabbage in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and cover with cold water. Let stand for 2 hours. Drain off ALL water (spin in a salad spinner if you can) and combine with peppers and celery. Set aside.
  • Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and boil for five minutes. Let cool. Pour over salad. Refrigerate. Before serving, toss with chopped peanuts. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Grandmother Singleton and Nana say: "Improves with age".

Related posts:

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: