We’re in the home stretch of the recap of the big dinner party. That means it’s time to cover the side dish—Creamy Peanut Slaw—and the dessert—Chocolate Fudge Pops before closing this chapter of Embarrassing Culinary Lessons Learned.

Creamy Peanut Slaw

“Stop serving the same old soggy sadness,” urges Creamy Peanut Slaw’s recipe, “and try this slawsome side dish.” I like a peanuty, tangy, mayo-free slaw, so I was completely game, although why I thought it would be a good side dish for tortilla soup I’m not sure.

I decided to quadruple the recipe for my 14 guests plus me and Jon. That seemed about right since the recipe “makes enough for 4 as a side dish” and I had four times that planning to belly up to the table. How I moved from that simple math to leaving Gelsons 24 hours later with a bulging 45-pound bag of 6 cabbages—three green and three purple—will be one of life’s little mysteries, I guess.

Anyhow. I prepped my vat of slaw the night before by first assembling the peanut dressing. That involved mixing 12 tablespoons of peanut butter, 8 tablespoons of warm water, 12 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 8 tablespoons of lime juice, 4 tablespoons of minced ginger, 6 teaspoons of Sriracha and 2 teaspoons tamari into a bubbling brew. At some point, Jon pointed out that, rather than counting to 12 tablespoons for all these different liquids, I could simply pour ¾ cup but I was In Too Deep at that point. I had a rhythm, and there was no stopping the careful, whispered measuring, the mid-point panic that I’d double-counted, followed by the visual assessment of the puddle in the bowl—Is that what 4 tablespoons of lime juice looks like? Or is it closer to 5?

Step 2—the Slaw—begins with thinly slicing 12 cups’ worth of both purple and green cabbage. I awkwardly grab-rolled four of the cabbages from the fridge’s lowest shelf, which was at that point dedicated to storing nothing but cabbage, and peeled one each with reckless, wasteful abandon. Like an exacting gourmet chef, I decided I’d use nothing but the innermost pristine layers, since, lo and behold, I apparently had cabbage to spare. Even with this frivolous approach, it took only one of each cabbage to fill the recipe’s quota. In fact, I think you could probably get six cups of thinly sliced goodness from a single cabbage without even sharpening your knife.

“What am I going to do with four cabbages?” I yelled down the hall, as I dumped four-carrots worth of shreddlings from the pre-shredded carrot bag into the mighty salad bowl. Jon didn’t bother answering.

To finish, I chopped 1-1/3 cups green onions and scraped the pungent little bands on to the top of the veggie mountain. Then, I sealed up the veggies, poured the dressing into a jar, and stuck everything into the fridge for the night; I’d mix it all the evening of the party.

The results: Holy squirrel, this was a lot of Creamy Peanut Slaw.

It tasted good—lots of crunch, and snapping green freshness—but I think pouring all of the dressing, as instructed, over the veggies was a bit too much. I liked the dressing, too, although it could’ve used even more tamari and Sriracha. The students ate a fair amount of the stuff and some even stirred it inexplicably into their soup. Still, I had buckets left—and four whole cabbages waiting for another one of my brilliant cooking ideas.

Chocolate Fudge Pops

Don’t make these with firm tofu.

The recipe calls for “firm silken tofu” and I couldn’t find it at the store, so I just grabbed whatever tofu and figured I’d make it work. WRONG. Yes, there’s almond milk and semisweet chocolate chips in the filling, but that was clearly not enough to obliterate the sin of poor shopping choices. I heated the milk, melted the chips in a double boiler, and then carefully blended everything with the tofu before pouring the filling into little red cups and plunking a popsicle stick in the middle as they started to firm up in the freezer. And it didn’t matter.

The results: The pops were chocolate-y, yes, but overwhelmingly grainy and unpleasant. And really, really vegan in that disappointing way desserts without dairy often turn out.


And at dessert-time! That most important part of the meal.

I solemnly swear I’ll never do the tofu switcheroo again.