Food For Thought | KNKX

Food For Thought

KNKX's Dick Stein and Nancy Leson share their views on food, cooking and eating.  Sometimes they even agree.

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?

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.

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 / KNKX

When I travel with my family — as I did this month to London — we dine out a lot, but never make restaurant reservations ahead of our trip. Instead, we try our best to act like the locals: making ourselves at home in our (rented) apartment, checking out casual neighborhood joints, and honing in on the ones that suit our tastes.

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...)  

La Cornue

With the gift-giving  deadline closing in, Nancy Leson and I offer our suggestions for the cooks on your list.  I thought it would be a goof to start with some of the most exorbitantly priced items around. But don't worry, we've got lots of ideas for normal budgets, too.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

I have shed blood in the performance of my Food for Thought duties.  After foolishly attempting to use a mandoline cutter without its safety pusher, I whacked a quarter-inch divot from my finger. And this right after I'd mopped the Food for Thought test kitchen floor. As I told food commentator Nancy Leson, "It looked like there'd been a sword fight in there."

Ironically, this carnage happened  in  pursuit of vegetarian lasagna.

Nancy Leson

In this episode, Nancy Leson explains the difference between broth and stock. I share some of my stock (or is it broth?) tips, and brag to her that — two weeks after the event — DeGroot and I finally managed to use up all the Thanksgiving leftovers.

Thrillist

Kevin Alexander's Thrillist article naming Portland's Stanich's the best burger in America seemed a blessing.   Then the food tourist mob decended.  Long lines.  Five hour waits. Until Steve Stanich, the second generation owner, shut the place down.

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).

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. 

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.  

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

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.

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 / 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.

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