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.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson and I love to bake our own breads and often enjoy weekend baking projects.  Recently we both picked up the America's Test Kitchen Bread Illustrated book and decided we'd each make a recipe or two from it and report back to you.  

Nancy Leson / KNKX

During  our recent successfully concluded (thank you very much!) spring fund drive, Nancy Leson and I asked listeners for Food for Thought topics.  First one over the e-transom came from Tom who wanted to know if we preferred to roast our chickens whole or spatchcocked.

I said "spatchcocked!"  I love to say that word.  Give it a try and you will, too.  What does spatchcock mean?  Probably not what you think.

The Call Of Cauliflower

Mar 21, 2018
Nancy Leson / KNKX

Looks like cauliflower is the new kale.  For a guy who always loved both, it's annoying to be seen as subscribing to a food trend.  On the other hand, I'm not giving the stuff up just because it got fashionable.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson thought it was just about the coolest thing she ever saw – a knife stand made of closely packed wooden skewers at Ono Poke in Edmonds. A better use than watching them char and crumble over hot coals no matter how long you soak them.  I suggested a superior skewer.

Which sent us off on a few of our favorite kitchen hacks.  You'll find  some here and some in the audio  –including a trick for a crisper shrimp, using  the cardboard in a roll of paper towels to store Ziplocs, the best way to re-heat pizza, and an egg separation hack that has to be seen (in the video below) to be believed.

Kiddie Food Memories

Mar 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. 

Stein / KNKX

A recent Annals of Gastronomy column by Sadie Stein (no relation) in the New Yorker made the case against today's fashionable open kitchens.  Both Nancy Leson and I were in complete agreement. When we're cooking we vant...to be...alone.

KNKX

"Stein, were you a hippie?" Nancy asked.  Well, I had the hair then (sigh) but no interest in the food.

Which led us straight into a discussion of '70s longhair cuisine.  Jonathan Kauffman's new book Hippie Food is a fascinating history of how the counterculture back then changed the way we eat today.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

She’s at it again.  Nancy Leson swears you can have good-to-go pizza crust in just one hour.  Of course I think she’s delusional but I’m too diplomatic to say it.

Oh, wait – no I’m not.

Stein / KNKX

I took a few days off from the station and ran wild in the kitchen last week.   I made pizza, steamed ribs, roast duck, duck soup, bagels, rye bread, an ill-fated lambstrami, and a glorious batch of supercrisp oven baked wings. Recipes and a notes below.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Stein, I am devastated,"

The cause of  Nancy Leson's massive mope?  The Maldon Sea Salt factory closed?  Oysters actually do know what's happening to them?  Or did she discover the true content of the bestseller To Serve Man?  

Nope.  What it was, was... well, let's let Nancy tell it.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

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

Nancy Leson / KNKX

All I had to do was tell Nancy Leson I'd made a pot of gumbo, and right away she's saying her husband Mac's is better.  Even though...Even Though... she's never even tasted mine.  Come to think of it, I've never tasted Mac's, either. 

There's a gumbo throw down brewing but it'll probably have to wait til next year.  And of course it's really all just a matter of personal taste. I  doubt that in the history of the world any two people ever made gumbo in exactly the same way.

Besides, this Food for Thought is really about making changes to recipes.  And Nancy and Mac did make an interesting switch in their gumbo recipe.

L. Luthor / KNKX

KNKX South Sound reporter Will James said the nicest thing about Food for Thought to me recently.  I tell Nancy Leson all about it in this week's segment which also includes...

Nancy Leson

  (This segment originally aired July 6, 2016)

Nancy Leson loves the taste of Maldon sea salt.  I claim that what she loves is the texture.  She says "Some salts taste saltier than others."  I maintain that all salt tastes about the same, "It's all sodium chloride," differing only in texture.   What's more, all salt is sea salt.  Even the stuff they mine on land was originally in a bygone sea.

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot / KNKX

Don't look for sous vide cookers, wi-fi enabled digital electronic smokers, or enchanted knives forged by the dwarves of Middle Earth on this list.  For holiday gift-giving Nancy Leson and I recommend these inexpensive items any cook will be thrilled to get. 

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Depending on your pan and the amount you're cooking, it'll take you at least 40 minutes to an hour to get onions to deliver up that golden brown sweetness.  Yet many recipes claim it can be done in five or ten minutes.

Who ya gonna believe, eaters?  The recipe writers or your lyin' eyes?

Nancy Leson / KNKX

I like lentils and I love the spicy red lentil soup recipe Nancy Leson recently sent me.  Adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends, this recipe is fast and easy to make, and perfect for rainy weeknight dinners, too.

For a more time-consuming, weekend lentil dish, do try the lamb shanks and lentils recipe from another Kaspar – Kaspar Donier.  You'll find both recipes below.  As of publication we still have not received recipes from Kaspar Hauser or Casper the Friendly Ghost but remain hopeful.

Duck Thanksgiving!

Nov 22, 2017
Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Do you have anything new to say about Thanksgiving dinner?" I asked Nancy Leson.

"No, I don't,"   she admitted.  Me neither,  So I suggested we talk turkey about our favorite waterfowl, instead.  

Nancy Leson / KNKX

There are any number of overused, hackneyed and just flat out annoying words at large in current food writing.  My personal worst would have to be the infuriatingly infantile "veggie."  Nancy Leson shares my loathing for another "-ie," the pointless and demeaning "foodie."  But she doesn't stop there.

Stein / KNKX

"I am a believer!" I told Nancy Leson,  "In the single most useful kitchen tool I've encountered in years. "

Tweezers. 

"I have those, Stein," Nancy said.  "What's the big deal?" 

The big deal is that these tweezers are big – and amazingly versatile. 

Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Good service starts the minute you walk in the door," Nancy Leson says. "There's a certain sense of welcome.  If you have it right away, even if people are busy, that's great service."

I agree.  A simple acknowledgment of my presence is plenty for me.  No one likes to feel invisible.  Even if  the person behind the podium is busy taking a reservation on the phone, a smile,  eye contact and a silently mouthed "Just a second" make me feel welcomed.

Nancy has firm ideas on what else makes for great restaurant service – and its opposite.

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 / KNKX

As I told Nancy Leson in this week's chat, "I just don't have the kind of kitchen where everything is put away nice and neat."  Nance keeps her kitchen, though shinier than mine, the same way.

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot / KNKX

Alarm bells went off in my head when my wife, the Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot asked, "What is all that smoke floating under the ceiling?"  How could that be?  The kitchen exhaust fan was going full blast.

I noticed that the door on the overhead cabinet housing the fan was slightly ajar.  I turned off the fan and closed it.  When I re-started the fan the door popped open again. 

Uh-oh.

Dick Stein / KNKX

The good news? We harvested 60+ lbs. of Roma tomatoes this year.  Bad news?  I'd have to puree them in my little food mill as I did last year. It's a nice enough tool but just not up to processing that kind of volume.  The plates clog up and have to be removed and cleaned, then re-installed.  It just takes forever.

But this time around I found something robust enough for heavy tomato lifting.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Last week I received a text from Nancy Leson containing the lobster shot above and "Live @ $4.50/lb.  Eat yer heart out."  The surge of envy that coursed through me was powerful enough to make me drop my can of Beanie-Weenies. 

What kind of madcap optimist attempts homemade pastrami?  Well, uh — me.

When I told Nancy Leson about the breakthrough recipe I found at Mandy Lee's utterly swell Lady And Pups blog, she had to try it too.