My Papa loved to camp and my Grandma loved my Papa. So, they camped a lot. Long trips, short trips or sometimes just a Sunday drive in the RV. During the summer weekends you could find them just a few minutes down the road camping by the lake. My parents would drive my sister and I over for a day and spend to night and make the drive back with them home. The best was when all the cousins came. There were four of us. We would spend the day swimming in the lake, attempting to fish or riding our bikes around the campground.


Lunch and dinner was very casual almost a grazing of what seemed to be endless choices of crackers and peanut butter or ham and cheese fold over sandwiches. Side dishes might include carrots and celery dipped in ranch dressing or potato chips. Oh, yes and there was always cantaloupe, my Grandma’s favorite. Cut up in manageable chunks for little hands, sealed tight in a Tupperware container.

As soon as lunch and the 30-minute wait period was over, we rushed back to the lake to play hours of our childhood away. Most people wish they could go back to those days, but I’m glad to have the memories just as they are.

One of my Grandparent's last camping trips together.

One of my Grandparent’s last camping trips together.


Napa Cabbage

I would never compare my maternal grandmother to a traditional southern cook. You know, the “granny” type. She didn’t make biscuits from scratch, fry chicken in a cast iron skillet or snap green beans on the front porch. She had her arsenal of recipes in her back pocket and if she found one that worked well, she held on to it as long as we would let her.  There was the shepherd’s pie phase, the spaghetti phase (that one lasted my mother’s whole childhood) and the water chestnuts in the green beans phase (not a favorite of many). But the phase that was my favorite was the year that Grandma came home from her annual three month Florida vacation with the Napa Cabbage Salad recipe.

My Grandparents went to Florida every year in the winter for a three-month stay. They packed up the camper, tied everything down and began their trek down from Tennessee. The joke was that all they did down there was eat, sleep and tell lies about their grandchildren. I’m sure all their friends at the campground just thought all four of us were intelligent angels. And who’s to say she wasn’t right. Most years Grandma would come back with a recipe she had learned from one of her friends. Crab dip and mixed bean salad to name a few. But the year of Napa Cabbage, now that was the best.

Every summer I get the taste for this crunchy salad. I hope you enjoy the texture that is quite different from a traditional lettuce and not as hard to chew as a plain cabbage. The cabbage has the perfect little vessels to carry the light vinaigrette to your mouth. The “crunch” as Grandma called it, is good on just about anything so don’t give making a double batch a second thought. I’ve been known to top my ice cream with this stuff or just eat it by the spoonful.

I was just a kid when I first tasted this wrinkly lettuce and every time I make this salad, I’m brought back to that tiny dining room at my Grandma’s house. Grabbing the hand next to me, saying the blessing and sharing the table with a party of ten.

ImageWhat you’ll need…

For the Salad

  • 1 head of Napa Cabbage
  • 5 green onions


  • 1 package of Ramen Noodles – It doesn’t matter what flavor because you will toss the flavor packet
  • 2 ½ oz. of almonds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil
  • 2 Tbls. butter


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbls. sugar
  • 3 Tbls. soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar

Chop the cabbage and onions. Cover and chill.

Melt the butter into the oil and add the crushed Ramen Noodles. Sauté till brown. Add the nuts and seeds till brown.

Mix the dressing ingredients

Serve the dressing, crunch and salad mixture separately so that each person can build their salad to their liking. If your family is like ours, the crunch will be the first thing to go.