I Do Humbly Repent

I wrote this blog post once before, on my phone, waiting for Neil in his office. The cell signal is terrible in his office, and everybody there is way too smart to give me the wifi password, and so when I went to hit “publish,” the whole blog post disappeared. OR it was divine intervention, stopping me from admitting I was wrong, and my dad was right. It went something like this.

I’ve already told you about cranoccoli, but allow me to tell you again.

About ten years ago, my parents sold the house where I spent my childhood. My sister and I came home to help them sort through decades of memories there, and I was naturally charged with sorting through the recipes and cookbooks. The shelves ranged from sentimental treasures from churches and restaurants, to cherished family recipes hand-written on index cards (or in my grandma’s case, probably on the back of an envelope), to the 1980s version of Pinterest, those little magazine-like cookbooks sold at the grocery store checkout lane, with titles like: “30 Ways To Use Your Crockpot!” or “New and Interesting Chicken Breast Recipes!”

One recipe stuck out, because my dad had kept multiple copies of it. Cran-occoli. It should be noted that I grew up in the “Gateway to Cranberry Country,” or a region in Wisconsin where a lot of cranberries are grown. And so, there’s a cran-do attitude about everything. Cranberry festivals, cranberry glass, cranberry soda … you get the idea. I thought this was another one of those recipes, but I’ve discovered since then that this recipe is found outside the little county where I spent my youth.


You’ll see my hometown is also known for the “Grand National Tractor Pull,” a random turkey, and “Where the I Divides.” The “I” stands for the interstate highway. I’m from the armpit of the interstate. I don’t know why there are grapes on the border.

Anyway, the recipe sounded disgusting: raw broccoli, red onion, mayonnaise, and craisins (dried, sweetened cranberries). I knew the recipe had to be my dad’s, because 1) mayonnaise, and 2) my mom doesn’t keep a dozen copies of anything.

“What in the fresh hell is this?” I asked him. He likes it when his daughters use profanity, because it reminds him that we’re his, as if the broad shoulders and round faces don’t give us away.

“It’s good!” he replied. This is a man who enjoys pickled herring before bed, so “good” is a relative term.

“But why so many copies?” I asked.

“It’s in case I lose one.”

“But they’re all here together.”

“So what’s your point? Get back to work.”

I turned to my sister. “Doesn’t this look disgusting?”

“Um, well, I think I’ve had it, and it’s actually pretty good.” This from a woman who’s never admitted to me that she likes raw broccoli in any form. I still didn’t believe her. Traitor.

And then, years later, I bought the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook on the day it was published. You all know how much I love the Smitten Kitchen. I love her work as much as – and maybe more than – Ina’s. And there it was – her broccoli slaw recipe, IN THE COOKBOOK no less, not just in some throwaway blog post. I’ve skipped over it dozens of times in the past few years, never really wanting to admit that this weird deli-case concoction could actually be worth eating.

But this week, my dad’s influence showed up again when I bought a 3-lb. bag of raw broccoli florets at Costco. (I call it aspirational shopping.)

And so, I made the Broccoli Slaw Formerly Known as Cranoccoli, and it was delicious. As much as this pains me, I will admit it: I was wrong. Dad, you were right. (This time.)


I can’t link to the recipe online because I think Deb Perelman (of the smitten kitchen) pulled her cookbook recipes off of her blog when the book was published. I think you should go buy the cookbook anyway, because it’s that good, but if you just want a recipe for the broccoli slaw, you can probably find it elsewhere on the Internet.

Or, ask my dad for it. He’ll mail you a copy.

PS – thank you all for your messages of care and concern after the Houston floods. We are, gratefully, safe and dry. The kids and I had a second day off of school and work, when I organized another room but didn’t do much in the kitchen. (Clean desk = really happy mom.) But those couple of chill-out days really helped me get back into the kitchen, and I really  needed that. I just wish my time off hadn’t come at the expense of so many affected by the Houston floods, who are still recovering. We are now enjoying a sunny, dry weekend in Houston, and we hope it stays that way long enough for the city to dry out and recover.



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