Dick Stein | KNKX

Dick Stein

Midday Jazz Host

Dick Stein has been with KNKX since January, 1992. His duties include hosting the morning jazz show and co-hosting and producing the Food for Thought feature with the Seattle Times’ Nancy Leson. He was writer and director of the three Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen. Previous occupations include the USAF, radio call-in show host, country, classical and top-40 DJ, chimney sweep, window washer and advertising copywriter.

His most memorable KNKX moment: Peeling Alien life form from Erin Hennessey’s face after it leapt at her from the biohazard refrigerator he picked up cheap for the station at an FDA garage sale. Dick is married to nationally noted metalsmith, jewelry designer and cowgirl “Calamity” Cheryl DeGroot.

Ways to Connect

Nancy Leson / KNKX

I didn’t want to do this topic.

When Nancy Leson suggested we talk about making fresh pasta I scoffed “Nahhh. Nobody wants to make fresh pasta, and even if you do want some you can just buy it at the store.”

Her reply, in the form of a link to a YouTube video convinced me to make some fresh pasta myself.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

 

Nancy Leson and I both love sausages of all kinds.  We keep them on hand for quickie weeknight meals and for some recipes better suited to a weekend cooking project.

We agree that it's better to buy sausage in links than loose. If you need the sausage loose, you can always have the fun of squeezing it out of the casing like meat toothpaste.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

The buzzards circling over the restaurant gave me pause, but we went in anyway. I figured we were all in search of the same thing, namely dead meat, so I looked at them as a kind of endorsement. Like seeing a line of semis parked outside.

In a moment of hubris, I ordered a Wretched Excess burger. You know the kind: six inches high and packed with extras. A burger that if you tried to pick up and eat the usual way would dislocate your jaw.  "DeGroot," I told my wife. "I've gotta Aunt Pat this thing."

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot

At the end of this encore segment I brag to Nancy about my intention to bake a giant Cheez-it -- and made good!  Here's a link to the story about a Cheez-It the size of an LP cover.

A man and woman meet in a bar and get along perfectly — same sense of humor, same favorite authors and movies, food, music; they're a perfect match.  Naturally, they wind up at her place that very night.  There on the living room floor he sees a dead horse.

"My God," he exclaims. "A dead horse!"

"Well," she shrugs, "I never said I was neat."

Nancy Leson

"All the chefs think they know how to season your meal," complains Nancy Leson about the disappearance of salt and pepper shakers from restaurant tabletops. 

That's never bothered me.  Mainly because I think the chefs do know how to season my meal.  But for those who want it saltier, Nance has the solution: Bring your own.   

That and other restaurant-going tips and tricks, dos and don'ts in this week's Food for Thought.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

My holiday gift list is limited to just one. Every year I present the Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot with the same fabulous 110-piece socket set (American and metric!) in its handsome presentation case. I love the way she completely hides her excitement when she unwraps it. She’ll return it the next day, but I know it’s only so she can have the fun of getting another next year.

Here are some gift suggestions from Nance and me for the cooks on your list who already have socket sets.

OK, I could have taken more trouble crimping the crust.
The L&T Cheryl DeGroot / KNKX

When someone asks me "Do you like a challenge, Dick?" I start looking around for the exits. So what was I thinking when I tried to make Stella Parks' "Impossible" pecan pie pie – a baking project even its creator warns against attempting. The recipe was originally in the draft for her BraveTart pastry cookbook, but the editors thought it too difficult for inclusion.

Parks famously refuses to publish the recipe. She doesn't want to deal with the desperate questions and moans of anguish from those who foolishly try it. If you want her Impossible Pecan Pie recipe, you have to ask her for it and she'll send it but you're on your your own. 

I did, she did, and I was.  

Nancy's great results with Stevens' bean and sausage gratin.
Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson recently got to interview one of our favorite cookbook authors, Molly Stevens at Seattle's The Book Larder.  Our copies of her previous books, "All About Braising" and "All About Roasting" are splattered with grease and gravy stains.  Can there be higher praise for any cookbook?

In this week's Food for Thought, Nance and I talk about the recipes we've made from Molly's new book and some of the great tips she offers – including the best way to crack an egg. Hint: Not on the edge of a bowl.

Stein / KNKX

This story originally aired Nov. 10, 2018.

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.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

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 / 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.  

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot / KNKX

It was the Big Uh-Oh. An inch of lemon poppy seed sludge was left in the bottom of the KitchenAid mixer bowl when I poured out my cake batter. Could the gap between the bottom of the paddle and the bottom of the bowl be out of adjustment? 

It was easy to find out and all it took was one thin dime.

Nancy and Julia Collin Davison inspect wine inside DeLaurenti Food & Wine at Pike Place Market.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Julia Collin Davison needed to get a feel for Northwest food resources. And who better to give the host of PBS's popular America's Test Kitchen the tour than our own Nancy Leson.

Stein / KNKX

In this week's installment of Food for Thought, Nancy Leson and I explore the delights of dunking with not a donut or basketball in sight. Instead, we break out the dunkage on cookies, whiskey, sandwiches, saltines and soup.

Stein / KNKX

"The nicest thing happened last Thursday," I told Nancy Leson. It was Broadway Farmers Market day, happening right outside the door of our new Tacoma studios.

And what a nice surprise a market shopper gave to me that morning.

Nancy and new Seattle supermarket friends Suzanne, Glen and 4-year-old August.
Nancy Leson / KNKX

Just back from Philly, Nancy Leson says that easterners are more likely to chat up people they don't know,  especially in restaurants and in supermarkets. "Strangers just come up to you and talk.  Or I come up to strangers and talk. About anything. About what you're ordering, how to make it."

Nance says this happens all the time back east but not so much in Seattle. Does she think this is the much bemoaned Seattle Freeze?

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot

"What was I thinking?"  The question's not just for past relationships. In this week's Food for Thought, Nancy Leson and I share tales of some of the questionable gizmos we've bought over the years.

Nancy Leson

I'm a guy who appreciates the virtues, however imaginary, of the quick fix.  And what could be more emblematic of the QF than duct tape?  Surely there's something analogous in cooking.  When I asked Nancy Leson what she thought that might be, she posed the question on her Facebook page. 

Nancy Leson

Back by popular demand:  Nancy's favorite easiest pasta sauce from 2016

There's nothing I like better than spending a whole day or two working a complicated recipe.  I'm a little nuts that way.  But just as games with the simplest rules often have the most depth, sometimes the simplest recipes yield the the most flavor.

Nancy Leson's candidate comes from cookbook author Marcella Hazan.  Nance says it's "reputedly the world's simplest, most delicious sauce.  I really could not get over the complexity of flavor out of just three ingredients."

Nancy Leson and Dick Stein enjoy a tasty Philly cheesesteak at the Broadway farmers market.
Geoffrey Redick / KNKX

“It’s so much like the days of yore, when the marketplace was a place for people to meet and greet.”

That’s how food commentator Nancy Leson described Tacoma’s Broadway farmers market, after she’d spent a couple hours there with KNKX’s Dick Stein on a recent Thursday morning. It’s one of four around the city.

This segment originally aired June 21, 2017.  

"My kid finally got a real, paying job," Nancy Leson announced.  Young Nate's now a B.C. barista.  Which led us to reminisce about our first food service jobs.  Nancy's was at the Chalfonte, a venerable Cape May, N.J. hotel. 

My first food service job nearly earned me a deep-fried head.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

As a guy who excludes fruit from his diet, I have no business pointing a finger at anyone else's food phobias. But I will, anyway. 

How can my wife, the Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot, a generally omnivorous woman, hate grits? And she'll have nothing to do with Pisum sativum, either, no matter how I beg her to give peas a chance. 

Nancy Leson's husband Mac won't eat the cheeses she finds so pleasing. This week, Nance and I commiserate on our spouses' food phobias and offer recipes for stuff that they won't eat, but you might love.

Stein / KNKX

Those colorful bean seeds I traded our cow for worked only too well. No vine to the sky, but plenty of green beans here on the ground. So many that we're having trouble keeping up. One day the thought came to me: Green bean spaghetti. Could there be a recipe for such a thing?

In .47 seconds I discovered 14,100,000 of them.  

Nancy Leson / KNKX

I told Nancy Leson about the years of flops I'd had with a certain complicated, hard to follow and very chancy lemon meringue pie recipe. Then one day in the supermarket, I saw a better way on the back of a can of Eagle sweetened condensed milk: a recipe both simple, sensible and foolproof. Now I'll never make LMP any other way.

This week Nancy and I talk about the wealth of good recipes available right on the box, can or bottle.  And by the way...

Nancy's Lillet with soda and cukeslice
Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson says her favorite thirst quencher is (in Philly-ese) "werter." Mine's just plain, unflavored seltzer.  Except on special occasions. Like when I make a pastrami. Then, nothing will do but the officially sanctioned pairing for deli-style pastrami, corned beef or pickled tongue sandwiches.

Apricot jam from Leson's miracle tree.
Nancy Leson / KNKX

 

 

Nancy Leson's apricot tree, a Puget Gold she's had for 21 years, only puts out fruit about every five years. This was one of those years, and a bumper crop it was.  With all those apricots the only thing to do was make apricot jam. There was just one problem.
 

"Over the years," she says, “the one thing I have failed at is jam-making.”

 

Not anymore.

Stein / KNKX

If you know gardeners, sooner or later one of them will present you with a zucchini the size of a baby seal. When that happens, don't wonder if there's room in the hall closet. Make zucchini "crab" cakes. I told Nancy Leson about this years ago and she still hasn't made them. But you should.

But first, "lettuce" praise famous gems.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Hey Nance," I asked. "Do you ever go to the library any more — the regular brick and mortar library?" She sure does. "My Edmonds library has the biggest selection of cookbooks you can imagine." How big? "Bigger than my own personal collection."

I've seen Nancy Leson's collection and can tell you that's a lot of cookbooks.

Stein / KNKX

Nancy Leson says she's not the kind to clip coupons from the paper, "But I swear by that thing called the Chinook Book." I was surprised to learn that you have to buy these coupon books, but Nancy says "You have to pay money to save money." 

All very well, but if those two-for-one pork chops you stocked up on are consigned to freezer limbo, never to be seen again, you've spent money to waste money. My totebag system of freezer filing prevents that and many of the other thousand natural shocks that frozen flesh is heir to.

Mac / KNKX

As I suggested to Nancy,  "Today I thought we'd talk about stuff that's really good for things you never thought to use them for." For instance?

Squeegees.  Sure, they're great for windows and windshields. But you know what else?

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