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

Food for Thought listener David sent me a recipe for something he calls "Splayed Potatoes," which not only looked good to eat but fun to make. Though I have no doubt that he arrived at his method independently, he was beaten to the spud by Hasselback potatoes, basically the same thing, invented at Sweden's Hasselbacken restaurant.

I sent David's recipe off to Nancy Leson for kitchen testing, results pictured above. From there we were off to the potato races.

Stein's results with Daniel Gritzer's vegetable galette recipe.
Stein / KNKX

This story originally aired June 5, 2019. 

While browsing recipes at the station last week, Daniel Gritzer's savory vegetable galette caught my eye. Leeks, mushrooms, asparagus and cheese open-faced in a flaky pie crust. No need to even stop at the store on my way home. I had asparagus and mushrooms still unwithered in the fridge and two thick wintered-over leeks in the garden.   

Stein / KNKX

Originally aired July 25, 2018.

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.

This week Nancy Leson and I look at some long accepted cooking rules that just don't hold up. My first entry was the prohibition against putting a certain kind of utensil into the dishwasher.

All we need is a cold 'Gansett.
Stein / KNKX

For a real New England style seafood roll, you need a New England style hot dog bun, also called a split-top. As you can see from the picture above, they look like a folded slice of thick bread. Griddle the sides and stuff them with lobster, crab or shrimp. They're great for fried clams too, or even an actual hotdog.

Problem is those buns are thin on the ground around here. I've long thought about getting the special pan and making my own. Then, when DeGroot came home with a big can of crab, I had all the excuse I needed.  A few days later I pulled a batch of perfect New England style buns out of the oven and stuffed them with the canned crab dressed with mayo, lemon juice, minced celery and a dash of Old Bay.

 

They were awful.

Nance and Mac's Korean Jindo, Doug, dining out on his second adoptiversary
Nancy Leson / KNKX

Flame away, but I'm just not a dog person. It's cats for me. They're the superior animal anyway, as our cats would tell you if they could just be bothered.

It's the opposite at Chez Leson, which Nancy and husband Mac share with Doug, a Korean Jindo and Mya-Kai, a Shiba Inu. Nance reports that big bad Doug is terrified of Instant Pots. I am too, but that's for another episode.

 

This week, Nance and I discuss the feeding and relative merits of cats vs. dogs, Mac's morning dog ritual, and my classical music debut with KitchenAid mixer.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

These days when we're all staying home so much, Nancy Leson loves cookbooks that take her away. “I like the ones that make me feel like I'm traveling, even though the farthest I go these days is Bartell's. For me the recipes are secondary almost to everything else, the history, the culture.”

Me, I just want the recipes. But here are some of Nancy's favorite armchair traveling cookbooks.

Stein / KNKX

Nancy Leson thought I might be using all this stay-at-home time to reorder my kitchen. “Are you alphabetizing your spices?”she snarked. I explained that everything in my kitchen is always in place, including the dust bunnies I noticed crouching like gargoyles at the top of my hanging pot rack.

This week we talk about deep cleaning, reorganizing, finally doing those long put-off chores, and how I will use the Earth's revolution to improve the appearance of my cabinet doors.

Stein / KNKX

Sure, you fridged up those leftovers with the best of intentions but days later they still languish.  Then it's weeks and now they're so deteriorated that you can finally toss them with a clear(ish) conscience.  The progression parallels certain aspects of personal relationships but this is not the forum for that.

This week, Nancy Leson and I discuss, with only a little self-congratulation, how much better we've become at using up leftovers now that our supermarket visits are so infrequent.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Dick Stein takes a look back at American radio jazz hosts who helped us discover some of the world’s best jazz talent. Part of our Jazz Appreciation series.

With all the newly motivated home cooking going on these days, it's safe to say there’s more home cooking fails than ever before. If some of your kitchen trials have turned out to be errors, take heart. Even experienced cooks have plenty of stories on recipes gone wrrrrrrrong.

This week Nancy Leson and I play a perversely prideful game of "Can You Top This?" with our own tales of stovetop nosedives.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

This story originally published May 1, 2019. 

I told Nancy Leson that I'm not interested in eating anything that "tastes like chicken" unless it is chicken.  That bird has got to be the most versatile eating there is. 

In this week's episode Nancy and I do a brief rundown, in no particular order, of some of our favorite chicken recipes. Ready? Saddle up, here we go.

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot

When toddler vegetables misbehave, their mothers threaten them with Nancy Leson. She admits "I do a very good job of killing things." So no one was more surprised than her when something she'd planted actually made it through the winter.

That weird, telescoping thing pictured above that Jack's about to climb is what grew out of the root end of our last leek. DeGroot re-planted it about a month ago and we're watchfully waiting to see what he brings back from the top. A self-playing golden harp would be nice, but we'll settle for some leek soup

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Now that we can't just run out to the store every time we need something for the recipe, it's good to know about some common substitutions. In this week's Food for Thought, Nancy Leson and I share a few.

Stein / KNKX

Given today's rampant hoarding of hot dog buns, I thought it only prudent to try making my own. King Arthur Flour's Chicago-style bun recipe, pictured above and linked below, yielded Best of Show results.

While our flour supplies hold out, Nancy Leson and I are using our shelter in place time to bake. We've aired lots of baking shows over the years. Here are some of our favorite recipes from those shows.

Mac / KNKX

Though sit-down service is banned for now, many area eateries are doing what they can to keep staff employed.  In this week's Food for Thought, Nancy Leson tells what they're doing to cope with the times.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson and I are beating the 6-foot social distancing rule by many miles for the CoviDuration by recording via broadcast-quality phone line. I'm alone in our Tacoma studios and she's in her bedroom closet in Edmonds. “The quietest space in the house," she says. "So we won't be interrupted by sirens, doorbells and dog barks."

In this week's Food for Thought, Nancy names the stuff she's trying to keep on hand to stave off culinary boredom and shares a good suggestion from one of our favorite cookbook authors on how to support local farmers and freeze produce at home.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

This story originally aired Jan. 17, 2018.

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

  

This story originally aired March 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. 

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot / KNKX

I wouldn’t say I’ve always hated my broiler. Only when I have to use it. 

Which is why I dread the recipe that ends with "Finish under the broiler."

Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson’s raving about Fuschia Dunlop’s update to her classic cookbook “Land of Plenty.” “I’ve been cooking a lot out of 'Food of Sichuan.'"

Adrian Florez / KNKX

In honor of Black History Month, we are taking a look into the career highlights of African American artists and their contribution to the world of jazz and blues.

Dick Stein tells the story of an impromptu performance critique by piano master Jaki Byard for a hopeless – and hapless – would be clarinetist.

The L&T C DeGroot / KNKX

Even I’m surprised that a mayo maniac like me never bothered to make it myself. But after years of reading how the commercial version was such a pale, pathetic shadow of the homemade, I thought I’d give it a shot.

Especially since the recipe I found claimed it was not only foolproof, but could be made in two minutes.

Mac / KNKX

Some people get the cold shoulder. Nancy Leson got the whole shoulder. A complete right shoulder replacement. Now she has to convalesce. Bad enough she’s not allowed her customary daily half-hour on the speed bag. The real bummer is that, for the next month, she’s forbidden to cook!

I checked in with Ms. Leson to see how she’s holding up during her month in the No Cook Zone.

The L & T Cheryl DeGroot

Nancy Leson asked me how the horseradish got its name.  It's not because of its resemblance to a certain part of a horse.  And it's not because horses like to eat it – the stuff's actually poisonous to them.  The "horse" in horseradish is just an antique adjective describing anything large or strong.  For my taste, the stronger the better.

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.

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