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Food

Stories related to food in Seattle, including Dick Stein and Nancy Leson's weekly commentary Food for Thought.

Food For Thought is produced by KNKX Public Radio. 

Nancy Leson / KNKX

If "strategies" means running out and buying mass quantities of every kitchen staple in sight at this time of year, that's Nancy Leson's strategy. Nance claims all that stuff pictured above is cheaper this time of year.

In this Thanksgiving week FfT we discuss that, as well as my final decision on vegetable peelers, our hoped-for demise of pumpkin spice everything, the relative virtues of rolled versus flat parchment paper, Wondra versus roux, and how to avoid political topics at holiday dinners. (Hint: It's Seahawks-centric).

Nancy Leson / KNKX

I claim that the number one job of a Thanksgiving roll is to soak up gravy.  "And butter," Nancy Leson added.  

Here are our two favorite roll recipes.  Both have the virtue of being started the night before, giving already harried TG cooks a head start on Turkey Day.  

Stein / KNKX

It's getting to be soup season, and both Nancy Leson and I have our favorites.  In this week's Food for Thought, Nance and I trade favorites from childhood, our go-to's at restaurants, and the homemade must-haves.

Stein's Homemade Paprika

Oct 31, 2018
Stein / KNKX

I've always thought it would be fun, not to mention cool, to make my own paprika from peppers I grew myself.  Call me a kid with a crazy dream, but last weekend that dream came true.

Last spring while leafing through the Territorial Seed Catalogue, I came across their blurb for Alma Peppers.  "Grow your own paprika seasoning!" it gushed. "Alma is one of the best paprika-type peppers for drying and grinding."  I had to try it.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Even if I'm going to cook boneless chicken thighs, I always buy the bone-ins and bone 'em out myself.  They're less expensive that way, and I get to save the bones in the freezer until I have enough to cook up some chicken stock. But up until, now I've never attempted to debone an entire bird.

Surprise: It was way easier to do than I expected and a lot of fun, too. 

Ed Ronco

In eastern Whatcom County, right where Highway 542 turns sharply to the east and toward Mount Baker, you’ll find the North Fork Community Library.

I thought I was getting fancy when I replaced my all-metal 20-year old  Ecko straight-bladed veg peeler with the cushy-handled Oxo.  Then I started hearing about "Y" shaped peelers.  Food writer Daniel Gritzer, among others thinks it's the only way to go.

I decided to get a "Y" job and see how it stacks up against my old reliable.  Sure, I was putting $1.97 on the line for this experiment but felt I owed to Food for Thought listeners to take the risk.

My conclusions?

"Stein, tell me true," Nancy Leson asked.  "Do you think you waste a lot of food?" I'd say I waste less food than the average American.  And 73 percent of us say the same.  You do the math.

Nancy Eats Phoenix

Oct 3, 2018
Nancy Leson / KNKX

When I returned from Phoenix last week — after attending the Association of Food Journalists conference and co-hosting the 2018 AFJ awards ceremony — Stein had just one question.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

When Nancy Leson's husband, Mac, didn't get her a new toaster for their 21st anniversary, she bravely hid her disappointment.  But it all worked out better than okay when he took her to dinner at  their new favorite restaurant. 

I suppose knowing they're the life form most likely to survive a nuclear war is what makes them so bold.

But unlike Don Marquis' correspondent Archy, the cockroach with the soul of a vers libre poet, the bug scuttling across our restaurant table had no literary pretentions. As far as I know, the only thing he ever got down on paper was himself when I squashed him into a paper napkin.

As Archy wold have observed, "Transmigration of souls is a great game if you don't weaken."

Julie Notarianni

The phrase "Back to school" always puts me into a warm and happy frame of mind.  Mainly because I know it won't be me who has to go back to school.  Ever again.  Nancy Leson says "See?  I feel the complete opposite of you."

"So what else is new?" I asked her.  

On Aug. 29, The Lovely and Talented Cheryl DeGroot and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary.  In the U.S. there's no traditional gift for that anniversary.  So I declared the 26th to be the Upgraded Home Appliance Anniversary. 

I got her a toaster.

Why Bother To Cook?

Aug 29, 2018
Stein / KNKX

 Nancy Leson sent me a link to an Op-Ed published in the New York Times recently by Smitten Kitchen food blogger and cookbook author Deb Perelman.  The title: Never Cook at Home: Trust me, I know it's a drag.

Stein / KNKX

Must be all the over-the-top heat we've endured that contributed to my great luck this summer growing Shishito and their cousins, Padron peppers.  Now if I can just find a way to use them all up.  Here are two of my favorites.

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 / KNKX

Nancy Leson has been making various flatbreads for years, first in her oven and then in a dry cast iron skillet. But from now in she'll do it on – not in – a wok.  

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.

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot

Nancy was on jury duty this week and couldn't record.  Here's one of our favorites from yesteryear.

At the conclusion of last week's Food for Thought, I bragged to Nancy Leson that I would create a cheese cracker the size of a Long Playing Record sleeve in my home oven. 

"I'm talkin' about the big Corellian Cheez-Its now" I told her.   Thanks to pastry chef Stella Parks' BraveTart blog I can declare "mission accomplished!"

Before Nancy and I teamed up 12 years ago (!) I did a tw- year series of food features called Jazz Kitchen.  A lot of it was actually useful information, interviews, etc.  Other times I indulged my sillier side with shows about Nuclear Fuel Rod Chicken, The Trouble with Toasters, Aliens in the Fridge, my days delivering liquor to a house of ill fame, and lots more.

For this Independence Day week, I wanted to share a Jazz Kitchen about a July Fourth sing-along with some recent arrivals from Italy during my time as a dishwasher in a Boston restaurant.  

Food memories are no more reliable than any others.  I learned that this week after an email exchange with my sister, Debbie.  Deb's been binge listening to Food for Thought and wrote to chat about a recent one in which I mentioned my childhood experience shopping for live chickens with my mother. 

She thinks I'm imagining it.

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 Mentors A Young Restaurant Critic

Jun 13, 2018
Mac / KNKX

When I told Stein that Teddy Kolios, a high school senior, asked me to be a mentor for his senior project, Stein laughed. “Is he sure that he’s thought that all the way through?

Of course he had. After all, as I reminded Stein, with 20 years of food writing and restaurant criticism (literally) under my belt: I’m a legend in my own mind!

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?

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot / For KNKX

I try to get any piece of aluminum foil,  paper towel or  parchment paper to give its all.  In this Food for Thought, I tell Nancy Leson how many uses I got from one piece of plastic wrap.  I was proud. 

She was disgusted.

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. 

Best Chili Oil Ever

May 9, 2018
Stein / KNKX

I'd never heard of Chili Crisp until recently, but Laoganma (Old Godmother) brand Chili Crisp is a Big Thing.  In fact the Laoganma  brand is the top-selling line of chili oils and sauces in China and is rapidly gaining a large following as the cult condiment de jour here in the states.

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