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Last week, I took Mommaw’s radio for the blind back to the public library. The conversation I had with the library volunteer went something like this:

Me: Hi, I need to return this radio for the blind. It was my grandmother’s. She passed away a few months ago.

Volunteer: Oh, OK. Did she check it out before or after?

Me: Before or after she died?

Volunteer: Yes.

Me: Definitely before … But if you notice any Jackie Collins books missing, you should call me.

When Mommaw started going blind, we tried audiobooks so she could stay current with her “trash” (her word, not mine), but the dirty parts didn’t seem near as dirty with someone else reading them, so she gave them up. In my version of Heaven, Mommaw’s finally getting to read “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

We shared a love of the trashy, and that extended to food, which is why I’m sharing this Chinese Salad. It’s a cabbage slaw loaded with crunchy toasted ramen noodles, sliced almonds and sesame seeds, so every bite is different. The dressing is a simple combination of oil, sugar, vinegar and salt that you can shake up in a jar with the seasoning pack that comes with the ramen. However, if using the ramen packet is against your religion, feel free to just add some toasted sesame oil or lime juice for a little extra kick. No biggie.

I love this slaw, because it’s great the first day, but the next day, those ramen noodles start to soften, and you’ve got a whole new texture going. Plus, it’s delicious with pork, chicken, beef or fried catfish. You could even put a few spoonfuls in a flour tortilla and roll it up with some leftover chicken, shrimp or Asian short ribs for a killer Asian-style wrap.

It’s not the prettiest slaw, but it is addictive, so mix it up and take it to your next picnic or potluck. And don’t forget to pack a trashy novel. Life’s too short to miss the dirty parts.

Chinese Salad

If you’re morally opposed to using the ramen seasoning packet in the salad dressing, it’s no biggie. Just leave it out, and add a little toasted sesame oil or lime juice to the dressing for extra flavor.

Slightly adapted from Paula Deen (“Paula’s Home Cooking” via Food Network)

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 head Napa or bok choy cabbage
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles with seasoning pack
  • 1 (6-ounce) package sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar or Splenda
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Crumble the raw noodles into a broiler pan. Add the almonds and sesame seeds, and broil for 2 minutes. (Be careful not to scorch the sesame seeds.) Set aside.
  3. Tear the cabbage, and place in a large salad bowl. Add the green onions.
  4. For the Dressing: In a jar with a tight lid, combine the oil, sugar, vinegar, and salt with the contents of the seasoning pack. Cover the jar, and shake well to blend the dressing.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad, add the toasted ingredients, and toss to combine.