Food | KNKX


Stories related to food in Seattle, including Dick Stein and Nancy Leson's weekly commentary Food for Thought.

Food For Thought is produced by KNKX Public Radio. 

Nancy Leson / knkx

"I bet you never thought you'd hear me say I was going to a vegan Thanksgiving dinner."

Nancy Leson was  right.  But if she expected me to tease her about it, she was disappointed.  Thanks to talented and resourceful chefs, vegan cooking is in no way a sacrifice.  Just look at that menu up there.

Nancy Leson

"It is a given," I told Nancy Leson, "that you and I always strive to eat nothing but healthy stuff ..." 

I stopped recording until we'd recovered from our uncontrollable laughter.  When we came back I added, "But now and again we like somethin' FRIED!" 

What are some of our favorite coatings for maximum crispocity?

Cheryl DeGroot

Nancy Leson suggested, "Let's talk about our favorite kitchen tools." After a moment's reflection, I realized that one of mine is small, plastic, and cost 89 cents.  I use it every day for anything from spreading mayo to filling dumplings – which I roll out with another favorite, the homemade pin I made from a section of broomstick. 

You can see both in my right hand in the picture above.  That shiny thing in my other hand is something from my drawer of forgotten gizmos.  More on that later.

Among Nancy's favorites are her  1930s jadeite salt and pepper shakers, also pictured above.  But wait, there's more – with pictures and everything!

Nancy Leson

When I confessed that I was finally ready to mail order cooking and baking supplies, Nancy Leson pretended to be surprised. 

"What?" she gasped.  "You don't sit online all day and order things?"  

I've always avoided shopping cooking ingredients by mail because, just like the electric car I'd love to have, I could never get it to make any economic sense.  The for-instance I gave Nancy was first clear flour, unobtainable in stores around here.  It's traditional in old school New York deli rye.  But at $9 plus shipping for three pounds, I just couldn't bring myself to order it. 

Besides, I've been baking those loaves for many a year using supermarket flours and they come out fine. Still, I've always wondered if maybe they'd be even better if I used the real deal first clear.  And then I had an epiphany: I'm going to be dead for a long time. 

Courtesy of Nancy Leson

After a recent trip back east, Nancy Leson is reassured that sometimes you really can go home again.

The husband known as Mac

To: Nancy Leson

From: Stein

Hey Nance!  How about this for the blog pic?  You in a ratty bathrobe and face cream in a darkened kitchen, standing in the light from the open 'fridge with a wad of salami in your hand.

What woman would agree to be photographed like that?   Nancy Leson; that's who.  What a trouper!  That photo is in reference to the love of late night cold-cuts she expresses in this week's FfT.  "I will just take a piece of smoked ham or salami and eat it just straight."

It all started when I asked her if she found it less fun to cook when she was the only one eating.


Restaurants are definitely louder these days. That's not usually a problem in the joints I frequent where the loudest noises are the screams of the wounded.  But it's been different for Nancy Leson.

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot

People have loved and eaten rice for the past 5,000 years; but these days, many don’t love the idea of cooking it.  Up until recently I thought I knew how.  How wrong I was.

“Forget everything you thought you knew,” I told Nancy Leson.  “I have discovered a method that makes the most perfect rice.”

“Okay, Stein,” she said.  “Share the wealth.”

Food For Thought: Nancy Dreams Of Sushi

Sep 20, 2016

Stein’s not big on sushi, but I eat enough to make up for his lack of interest. Sure, he’ll humor his wife — the lovely and talented Cheryl DeGroot — when she’s got the sushi jones. That’s when they’ll head out to Fujiya in Tacoma where she can go all raw fish and he can eat something fried.

Food For Thought: College Bites

Sep 14, 2016

Nancy here. You know how they say, “It goes so fast” (whoever they are)? They’re right. One minute I’m sending my only child off to kindergarten with a brightly colored lunchbox (as I wrote here), and next thing you know — Poof! — he’s blowing out of town for college.

Archie McPhee

I started this week's episode with a whine/rant about judging cooking competitions.  But all Nancy Leson had to do was say "Archie McPhee" and "cooking contest" in the same sentence and I was sold.

(the lovely and talented) Cheryl DeGroot

One thing the summer's unconscionably hot weather seems to have been good for is my pepper crop.  I've got eight pots going, with poblanos, beaver dam (I just liked the name) fireballs, pepperoncini, cayanetta, and cubanelle and Italian sweet for pepper and scrambled egg or sausage subs.

I'm also growing two shishito plants, similar to the popular Spanish tapas pepper, the Padrón.  I've seen both at farmer's markets lately and they share a characteristic that makes eating them a suspenseful experience.

Nancy Leson

When the mercury rockets past 85 degrees, even I forgo pot roast — which is why I turned to Nancy Leson for some of her favorite hot-weather recipes. Vietnamese salad rolls are one of Nancy's hot weather go-tos. 

"For me, it's a whole dinner in itself and so easy to make," she said. "I buy a soft lettuce like a bibb, fresh herbs – cilantro, basil, mint.  I slice up cucumbers lengthwise and make little bowls full of chopped jalapeno, peanuts"

Nancy Leson

Julia Child introduced Americans to quiche Lorraine in her groundbreaking public TV show "The French Chef" in 1963.   Shortly after that, Bruce Feirstein mocked masculine stereotypes and created an enduring catch phrase with his book "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche."

Nancy Leson

When Nancy Leson told me about the time her young son Nate opened a little stand in front of their house selling vegetables from their backyard, I asked, "So as the tenant sharecropper on your land, did he hand over half the money he made?"  He did not.

Nancy Leson

Africa was never on my bucket list, but after traveling with family and friends to Kenya and Tanzania this month, I hope it’s on yours. There are a million reasons why, and I told Stein only a handful of them (food related, of course!) this week on Food for Thought.

So, what was I doing there?

For years, our friends Emily and Aaron, a young Seattle couple who’ve lived, worked and traveled extensively on the continent, have been carrying on about how they’d love to introduce us to their favorite place on earth — East Africa.

Nancy Leson

The first recipe I tried from "Churrasco: Grilling the Brazilian Way" by chef Evandro Caregnato had nothing to do with grilling.  It was Moqueca De Peixe com Coco  (moh-KE-kah de pay-SHEE com Ko-ko); a seafood stew with coconut milk, peppers and onions.   How good was it?

Nancy leson

Since last week's Food for Thought was all about salt it seemed only right this week to ask Nancy Leson  “Where is the love for plain old black pepper?”  With all the exotic heat available today, black pepper doesn’t get the respect it should.  As Nancy points out, “Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice. Who among us doesn’t have black pepper in the house?”

True dat.  And we’re fortunate that it's so affordable today because once the stuff was rare and expensive enough to be called “black gold.”

Dick Stein / KPLU

Cochinita Pibil, the Yucatan-style roast pork is smoked and slow roasted in banana leaves.  My mistake was trying to smoke it in a gas grill.  After 30 minutes over max heat my little disposable aluminum tray of wood chips was barely scorched, let alone smoking.

N. Leson

"I do like to have a nice summer quaff," says Nancy Leson.  My Food for Thought pard goes on to explain that "At our house, what we drink in the summertime is really different than what we drink in the winter."  

What's that?  Read on, dear reader, if you would know.


Okay, maybe not "profit," exactly; but not all that "hard," either.  Plus, you could save a few bucks.

Recently, KPLU Promo Queen Brenda Goldstein-Young, chatting with me on a non-food related topic, asserted, "I live in hope." 

"Hope!" I scoffed. "The only thing left in Pandora's box after she released all those evils into the world"   I added, "Who but the Greeks could've come up with that one?"   Brenda said, "Yeah, but they sure make great yogurt."  Now so can you.

Nancy Leson; Dick Stein

Nancy Leson was so excited!  "I just came back from Goodwill with the definitive Chinese Cookbook!"   I recognized the title immediately.  I've been using that one since it hit the shelves in the '70s.

Nancy Leson

Recently, DeGroot and I shared a root beer float made with Tacoma's Ice Cream Social vanilla at the Crown Bar, right down the street.  We reflected on how simple and perfect a concoction that is. It got me thinking that some of the very best food preparations are the simplest.

When I mentioned this to Nancy Leson, she was quick to weigh in with some of her favorite simple preparations.

Dick Stein & Nancy Leson

Kitchen queen Nancy Leson claims that size does matter.  She thinks my tried and true sheetpan, pictured above, is (sob)...  inadequate.  Sheetpan snobbery, I calls it.  She'd never even have known had it not been for...

Nancy Leson

It's kind of a grab bag on this week's Food for Thought. 

Among other things, Nancy Leson and I chat about leek scapes.  She loved the store-bought ones she grilled the other day.  I (cough, cough) grow my own, but intend to follow her example very soon.  We also discuss a time-saving tweak to that homemade pastrami recipe seen here a while back. 

And we do some general grousing about how all the used-to-be cheap cuts of meat are now pricier than a slushy in hell. 


Call me quotidian, but one my favorite sandwiches is just a plain old ham and cheese.  I used to prefer thinly sliced ham, but now I want it thick.  That's because my H&C is both hot and cold at the same time.

Nancy Leson

Though its population, at a mere three million or so is relatively small, the language of Wales uses up as much as 80 percent of the world's supply of consonants. The Welsh national symbol is the leek.  Fortunately they’ve left plenty of those for the rest of us.

On this week’s Food for Thought learn how to grow new leeks from old.

Blue Apron

According to Kim Severson's New York Times story, it's a booming business: meal kits, delivered to your door — everything you need to make, say, heirloom potato and kale hash — or blood orange roasted salmon. 

Blue Apron is one of more than 100 companies delivering DIY dinners to the doors of thousands of Americans – neither Nancy Leson nor I among them.

Not only do we not subscribe to Blue Apron or its culinary compatriots, we don't even like the idea.

Shannon Dininny / AP Photo

Editor's note: This segment originally aired April 28, 2010.

Spring has finally arrived here in the Pacific Northwest and the signs are everywhere — flowers are blooming, birds are singing and lawnmowers are buzzing.

But for Dick Stein, it’s the arrival of Yakima asparagus at the local grocery store that proves to be the surest sign that winter is behind us.

Dick Stein / KPLU

Those in the know say that in another ten years tipping in restaurants will be a thing of the past.  Many eateries in the Seattle area have already abolished the practice. 

My Food for Thought co-conspirator, Nancy Leson, tells us that "Tom Douglas' restaurants, Renee Erikson's restaurants, El Gaucho, some of the Daniel's Broiler restaurants" have all gone no-tipping.  "Here in Seattle, Ivar's was one of the first restaurants to go no-tipping," she said.

Abolishing restaurant tipping may seem an extreme idea, but it's just biz as usual in at least 20 other countries.