Food For Thought | KNKX

Food For Thought

KNKX's Dick Stein and Nancy Leson share their views on food, cooking and eating.  Sometimes they even agree.

True, I'm no longer young but I am in love (with the Lovely & Talented  Cheryl DeGroot) and I've been meaning to render and eat my own lard for a long time, now. 

I'd been hearing for years about its magical properties for biscuits and pie crusts.  And I've recently been learning of its health benefits.  The stuff's been getting a bad rap for years. But I'd also been warned off the hydrogenated kind in those shelf-stable boxes at the supermarket.

Nope, the only kind to use was from the leaf fat around the hog's kidneys, and an organically raised porker at that.  That stuff's been hard to come by at my local supermarket.  But at last the lard gods have smiled upon me.

Nancy Leson

Sometimes my mind has a mind of its own.  "I know," it thought.  "Let's order pricy, self-indulgent food stuff online."  And so I did.

"Alright, mister," Nancy Leson demanded.  "Who are you and what have you done with Stein?"

I'd succumbed to the dangerous combination of being online and bored, with a few extra end-of-month  bucks.  But now I'm glad I got the stuff.  Well, two thirds glad anyway.

This Is The Way To Satay

Jul 25, 2018
Stein / KNKX

This is not a weeknight recipe.  

Both Nancy Leson's and my emails crossed in the cybersphere.  "Let's make this!"  It was J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's recipe for Balinese Pork Saté and it was pretty complicated.  In fact, three recipes in one: the spice blend for the pork marinade, the sweet soy glaze for grilling, and the hand-pounded (more on that down-blog) peanuts for the sauce.

Stoveless In Tacoma

Jul 18, 2018
Stein / KNKX

It was like when you've left the caps lock on in Word, only it was streaming across the touchscreen on my kitchen range.  Err  loctUrnoff sUrfacebUrneRs  accompanied by frantic beeping.  I expected a dAanger wIll rObinson any moment.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

In this week's FfT, Nancy Leson and I talk about stuff we like in jars and bottles. Nancy hails the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables at farmers markets.  But when it comes to preserves and condiments her favorites are on supermarket shelves.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson's back from  babysitting her eight-week old grand nephew in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. But it wasn't all power tools and free weights for Nancy and neph.  She also found time to food shop and pack down some Carolina BBQ.  First, the shopping.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson's wild romance with the Instant Pot grew too steamy for husband Mac to tolerate.  "Every time you vent that thing it's taking the paint off the ceiling. "  Solution:  Put the pot on the gas stove where the big overhead hood can catch the steam.

What could go wrong?

Stein / KNKX

We'd been thinking about replacing our wobbly, tippy old dining table for years but never cared enough to really go looking.  And then:  "I found it!" the Lovely and Talented Cheryl Degroot announced.  

A nice old solid oak dining table in perfect condition with two extra leaves at Goodwill.  DG rightly prides herself as the queen of thrift store bargain hunters, but this one surpassed even her high standards for low prices. 

Stein / KNKX

On our way to the ferry in Anacortes,  DeGroot and I stopped for breakfast at a place recommended to us the night before – Dad's Diner A-Go-Go.  Co-owner Fletcher McLean greeted us warmly and pointed to the chalkboard menu, saying "Or just tell me what you want and we'll make it happen."

I'm easy, so I ordered eggs over, bacon and biscuits. When I complimented Fletcher on the bacon, I learned that they fennel-rub it before smoking over applewood.  Dad's makes all its own charcuterie including sausages, briskest, smoked hams and pastrami.  They even mix up several varieties of their house-brand "Badassco" hot sauce. 

Then he offered me some country gravy for my biscuit.  How good was it?  

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson and I love to bake our own breads and often enjoy weekend baking projects.  Recently we both picked up the America's Test Kitchen Bread Illustrated book and decided we'd each make a recipe or two from it and report back to you.  

Nancy Leson / KNKX

During  our recent successfully concluded (thank you very much!) spring fund drive, Nancy Leson and I asked listeners for Food for Thought topics.  First one over the e-transom came from Tom who wanted to know if we preferred to roast our chickens whole or spatchcocked.

I said "spatchcocked!"  I love to say that word.  Give it a try and you will, too.  What does spatchcock mean?  Probably not what you think.

The Call Of Cauliflower

Mar 21, 2018
Nancy Leson / KNKX

Looks like cauliflower is the new kale.  For a guy who always loved both, it's annoying to be seen as subscribing to a food trend.  On the other hand, I'm not giving the stuff up just because it got fashionable.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson thought it was just about the coolest thing she ever saw – a knife stand made of closely packed wooden skewers at Ono Poke in Edmonds. A better use than watching them char and crumble over hot coals no matter how long you soak them.  I suggested a superior skewer.

Which sent us off on a few of our favorite kitchen hacks.  You'll find  some here and some in the audio  –including a trick for a crisper shrimp, using  the cardboard in a roll of paper towels to store Ziplocs, the best way to re-heat pizza, and an egg separation hack that has to be seen (in the video below) to be believed.

Kiddie Food Memories

Mar 7, 2018

In this week’s Food for Thought, Nancy Leson and I dredged up our earliest memories of food.  Nancy recalls wolfing an entire stick of butter.  I tell how years later I learned what my grandmother’s “special” soup was really made of.

All that plus shopping for live chickens, Nancy’s lima bean phobia, wax flakes in the milk and collapsing straws in this week’s Early Food Memories show. 

Stein / KNKX

A recent Annals of Gastronomy column by Sadie Stein (no relation) in the New Yorker made the case against today's fashionable open kitchens.  Both Nancy Leson and I were in complete agreement. When we're cooking we vant...to be...alone.

KNKX

"Stein, were you a hippie?" Nancy asked.  Well, I had the hair then (sigh) but no interest in the food.

Which led us straight into a discussion of '70s longhair cuisine.  Jonathan Kauffman's new book Hippie Food is a fascinating history of how the counterculture back then changed the way we eat today.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

She’s at it again.  Nancy Leson swears you can have good-to-go pizza crust in just one hour.  Of course I think she’s delusional but I’m too diplomatic to say it.

Oh, wait – no I’m not.

Stein / KNKX

I took a few days off from the station and ran wild in the kitchen last week.   I made pizza, steamed ribs, roast duck, duck soup, bagels, rye bread, an ill-fated lambstrami, and a glorious batch of supercrisp oven baked wings. Recipes and a notes below.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Stein, I am devastated,"

The cause of  Nancy Leson's massive mope?  The Maldon Sea Salt factory closed?  Oysters actually do know what's happening to them?  Or did she discover the true content of the bestseller To Serve Man?  

Nope.  What it was, was... well, let's let Nancy tell it.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Stein, some women spend money on shoes and jewelry.  I buy pots."  And Nancy Leson has the cookware to prove it.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

All I had to do was tell Nancy Leson I'd made a pot of gumbo, and right away she's saying her husband Mac's is better.  Even though...Even Though... she's never even tasted mine.  Come to think of it, I've never tasted Mac's, either. 

There's a gumbo throw down brewing but it'll probably have to wait til next year.  And of course it's really all just a matter of personal taste. I  doubt that in the history of the world any two people ever made gumbo in exactly the same way.

Besides, this Food for Thought is really about making changes to recipes.  And Nancy and Mac did make an interesting switch in their gumbo recipe.

L. Luthor / KNKX

KNKX South Sound reporter Will James said the nicest thing about Food for Thought to me recently.  I tell Nancy Leson all about it in this week's segment which also includes...

Nancy Leson

  (This segment originally aired July 6, 2016)

Nancy Leson loves the taste of Maldon sea salt.  I claim that what she loves is the texture.  She says "Some salts taste saltier than others."  I maintain that all salt tastes about the same, "It's all sodium chloride," differing only in texture.   What's more, all salt is sea salt.  Even the stuff they mine on land was originally in a bygone sea.

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot / KNKX

Don't look for sous vide cookers, wi-fi enabled digital electronic smokers, or enchanted knives forged by the dwarves of Middle Earth on this list.  For holiday gift-giving Nancy Leson and I recommend these inexpensive items any cook will be thrilled to get. 

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Depending on your pan and the amount you're cooking, it'll take you at least 40 minutes to an hour to get onions to deliver up that golden brown sweetness.  Yet many recipes claim it can be done in five or ten minutes.

Who ya gonna believe, eaters?  The recipe writers or your lyin' eyes?

Nancy Leson / KNKX

I like lentils and I love the spicy red lentil soup recipe Nancy Leson recently sent me.  Adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends, this recipe is fast and easy to make, and perfect for rainy weeknight dinners, too.

For a more time-consuming, weekend lentil dish, do try the lamb shanks and lentils recipe from another Kaspar – Kaspar Donier.  You'll find both recipes below.  As of publication we still have not received recipes from Kaspar Hauser or Casper the Friendly Ghost but remain hopeful.

Duck Thanksgiving!

Nov 22, 2017
Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Do you have anything new to say about Thanksgiving dinner?" I asked Nancy Leson.

"No, I don't,"   she admitted.  Me neither,  So I suggested we talk turkey about our favorite waterfowl, instead.  

Nancy Leson / KNKX

There are any number of overused, hackneyed and just flat out annoying words at large in current food writing.  My personal worst would have to be the infuriatingly infantile "veggie."  Nancy Leson shares my loathing for another "-ie," the pointless and demeaning "foodie."  But she doesn't stop there.

Stein / KNKX

"I am a believer!" I told Nancy Leson,  "In the single most useful kitchen tool I've encountered in years. "

Tweezers. 

"I have those, Stein," Nancy said.  "What's the big deal?" 

The big deal is that these tweezers are big – and amazingly versatile. 

Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Good service starts the minute you walk in the door," Nancy Leson says. "There's a certain sense of welcome.  If you have it right away, even if people are busy, that's great service."

I agree.  A simple acknowledgment of my presence is plenty for me.  No one likes to feel invisible.  Even if  the person behind the podium is busy taking a reservation on the phone, a smile,  eye contact and a silently mouthed "Just a second" make me feel welcomed.

Nancy has firm ideas on what else makes for great restaurant service – and its opposite.

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