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'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?

When it comes to crushing ice, the Lewis Bag...ummm, crushes it.
Dick Stein / KNKX

I'd never found a good way to make crushed ice at home. Pound the cubes in a dish towel? They fly out and what’s left sticks to the fibers. Put 'em in a Ziploc? It tears. The thrift shop '50s era crank ice grinder was awkward to use, hard to turn and yielded very little product. There had to be a better way.

And there was.

Stein / KNKX

In the dentist's waiting room, searching in vain for the latest Muffler Monthly I struck pay dirt in an old Sunset.  "How to make a two-ingredient all purpose cleaner" with white vinegar and rosemary.

Vinegar and water has been the sole cleaning solution in my kitchen for years but I hadn't thought to add rosemary.  Since we have a rosemary bush the size of a small Christmas tree in the yard I gave the recipe a try. 

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

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.   

C. DeGroot / KNKX

In a recent New Yorker Annals of Gastronomy article, Lauren Collins disagrees with Fresh Air's Terry Gross on the best way to start a conversation. Gross says it's "Tell me about yourself." Collins thinks the best ice breaker is "What time do you eat dinner?"

When I mentioned this to Nancy Leson, she said "Sounds like a Food for Thought to me."  

paella
Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson's husband, Mac, has always been the paella maker of the two. But this time around, Nancy wanted to give it a try. Paella is one of those dishes like gumbo or cassoulet that court controversy. There are probably as many paella recipes as there are people who will passionately decry them as inauthentic.  

So since no recipe will ever please everyone the best bet is always to please yourself.  "You know that thing you do when you look at umpteen different recipes and then just do what you want to do?"

And that's just what she did.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

I love world travel if I don't have to leave Tacoma to do it.  But after hearing from Nancy Leson about DK Market I'm willing to make an exception and journey all the way to exotic Renton. DK is a cavernous, warehouse-style market on Renton's Lind Avenue offering foodstuffs from a dozen cultures around the world.

"Say hello to my little friend."  Doña Yuya at her Polloria Yuya in Puerto Vallarta's Emiliano Zaapata Mercado.
Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson's back from Puerto Vallarta and the wedding of her friends Grant and Martha, which her husband Mac officiated. A lovely time was had by all. But let's get right to the food.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

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.

Nancy Leson

"We've been looking at them and lusting after them for at least a decade."  That's Nancy Leson talking about the Big Green Egg outdoor cooker. She and husband Mac had always been put off by the price – some models cost more than $1,000. And that's not including accessories.

But Mac's friend Alan and Craigslist came to the rescue. Together, they found a reasonably priced, used BGE, which Mac brought home just in time to roast an Easter leg of lamb. 

Was it any good?

Loren Lukens

Like most home pizza bakers I've always lamented the puny 500-degree max on my oven. I've had good enough results using a pre-heated pizza stone, and later even better with my pizza steel, but still I dreamt the impossible 800-degree dream. 

Don't settle for anything less than neon green in a hot dog relish. Dick Stein tells how to make your own in this encore Food for Thought.

Photo: Cheryl DeGroot. Layout & Design: Parker Blohm

The sordid secret eating habits of KNKX staffers revealed in this encore Food for Thought.

"Stein, what do you eat when no one's looking?" Nancy Leson asked. I turned the question back to her and Leson was firm in her preferences. 

"It's gotta be fatty, salty, preferably both," she said.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Who but Nancy Leson could utter the phrase "The dog ate my carrots"?  Was there no homework in the house that day?

Stein / KNKX

One look at Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen recipe for Salted Peanut Tart convinced me that I was in the presence of a large, circular version of my favorite candy bar. 

It was PayDay pie and I would bake it!

Rory O'Brien

As soon as we got our hands on Andrea Nguyen's new "Vietnamese Food Any Day" Nancy Leson and I went right to work. The book focuses on recipes for Viet food using ingredients available at most American supermarkets and Nance and I each cooked off several of them..  

KNKX

Nancy Leson says that adds up to 550-plus Food for Thoughts. Which is a lot more thought than I normally give to anything other than food. On this week’s we talk about just a few of our favorite episodes, recipes and food sites.

Stein / KNKX

Not my own personal pork belly. That seems to be a lost cause.  But I did have pretty good luck celebrating the Year of the Pig last week with the kind that comes from the underside of a hog.

"Stein, it's been a very long time since I've seen you so excited about a recipe," Nancy Leson said. And I was. My usual random food surfing had brought me to a site I'd not seen before. Woks of Life. "Sounds like a soap opera," Nancy cracked.  But it was there I found the recipe for larou, Chinese cured pork belly, that would take me over a week to complete.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

That would be James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Samin Nosrat, coming to Seattle on March 10, and the Netflix documentary made of her bestselling "Salt Fat Acid Heat."

"It's my favorite thing I've ever seen foodwise on television," Nancy Leson told me.  She explained Nosrat started out with an interest in books, just not the kitchen kind.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

With weather conditions too extreme for my usual gyrocopter commute, I was forced to hitch up Yukon King to break trail for the mush into snowbound Fort KNKX. It was a hard slog, but I arrived in time to connect with Nancy Leson, calling in from her Edmonds Fortress of Freeze to trade our snow dining experiences.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

The more colorful the origin story of a recipe, the less likely it is to be true.  But that doesn't make them any less entertaining. One of  Nancy Leson's favorites is the account in James Michener's novel "Chesapeake" of how humans got the idea to eat oysters by watching seagulls drop them onto rocks.  How else would they have known what was in those shells?

From there we moved on to other bits and pieces in this grab-bag edition of Food for Thought.

I recently made Daniel Gritzer's  Swanson's Hungry Man style Salisbury steak recipe from his Serious Eats blog for the second time, and it came out every bit as satisfyingly savory as the first. When I told  Nancy Leson, she told husband Mac, who exclaimed "My all-time favorite TV dinner!" So, Goodwife Leson made it, too, and we compared notes.

Pearl Django live in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

After a quarter century, the mighty engine of rhythm that is Pearl Django is still hittin’ on all five: accordionist and recording engineer David Lange, violinist Michael Gray, guitarists Tim Lerch and Jim Char, and bassist Rick Leppanon.

Dick Stein / KNKX

Nancy Leson returned from her London vacation telling tales of the wonderful hole-in-the-wall Ethiopian restaurant her son Nate had found.  It's been a while since I've had Ethiopian food, so I thought it would be fun to make my own dinner, including own home made injera.

Injera, a sour flatbread/crepe/pancake kind of thing made with teff flour and used to scoop up the food, is central to Ethiopian cuisine. The recipes I found online looked straightforward enough. What could go wrong?

Nancy Leson

(Nancy Leson's in London this week.  We  had hoped to do a "Live from London" show but the Spirit of Technical Difficulties has intervened. We'll catch up with Nance about her London trip, what she had to eat there, and the gift she received from 400 of her closest friends on the airliner, in next week's installment.   Meantime, in response to a suggestion from listener Tab, who thinks Nancy and I are well qualified to discuss fruitcakes...)  

Pages