Food for Thought | KNKX

Food for Thought

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.

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

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.  

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 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.

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.

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.   

"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.

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.

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..  

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.

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...)  

Nancy leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson has resolved to do things differently in 2019. "I'm gonna try really hard this year to cook ahead. I'm one of those people who loves to to shop every single day and decide what I want on any given day." But recent happy discoveries in her freezer made her realize that sometimes it's fine to just defrost some leftovers. 

Especially if they're leftovers she and husband Mac love.

Cheryl DeGroot

This encore Food for Thought originally broadcast May 3, 2017

Nancy Leson and I love to share cooking and eating tips and tricks, but we don't always see things the same way. Nance says we agree to disagree. I say we each agree to think the other wrong and say so. 

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.

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