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Food for Thought: Iffy kitchen gear we're glad we got after all

Nancy Leson
Nancy's sixth and biggest mortar and pestle.

Sometimes my mind has a mind of its own. Especially when I purchase a kitchen gadget that I know I can't really justify but just...want. Nancy's the same. 

Even so, sometimes going against our better judgment turns out to have been pretty good judgment after all. In this week's Food for Thought we offer our personal examples.

Nancy Leson says "For me it was no question — my large mortar and pestle. I must have five other, smaller mortars and pestles I've used regularly over the years. Now I only use that big one, even if it's just to crush a few peppercorns."

In my case it was a large aluminum potato ricer. And I'm not even that crazy about spuds. What I really wanted it for was making the German dumpling, spaetzle. Spaetzle are made by forcing a thick egg/flour/milk batter through a kind of multiple-hole die. The ricer was perfect for that. I knew I wasn't going to make these dumplings more than a few times a year but I got it anyway, and I'm glad.

Credit Stein / KNKX
My homemade spaetzle and pickled red cabbage,

I prepared the batch above to go with the Caraway Pork Roast from Tom Douglas' "Tom's Big Dinners" but spaetzle goes well with anything you'd normally serve with noodles. Here's a recipe. Nance adds that a ricer also is great for preparing potato gnocchi. And of course it's the tool for making the very best mashed potatoes, too – good to know as Thanksgiving approaches.

Stuff we're going to stick with our better judgment on? For me it's the Instant Pot. I'll get along fine without one, even though Nancy says it's worth it just for making stock. The gizmo we agree that neither of us are never ever getting? Sous Vide gear.

But that's a whole other show.

"Good judgment comes from experience.  And experience comes from bad judgment." – Rita Mae Brown 

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.