Food for Thought

Nancy Leson

I love homemade food stuffs — things I might otherwise have to buy at a restaurant or a grocery store. But it’s never occurred to me to make my own crackers. Until now. 

The way my co-conspirator Nancy Leson tells it, "it's the easiest thing in the world.”

“For people like us who like to make homemade bread, pie crust, crackers are really, really easy,” she says.

Nancy asked Seattle chef Bruce Naftaly of the late Le Gourmand to share his recipe for his famous handmade crackers, which he makes with homegrown poppy seeds.  

Marisa McClellan / Flickr

I freely admit that up to now, I hadn't really been sure what the stuff was or even how to say it. Let's get that out of the way right now: It's pronounced “kremm fresh.” So what is it? Think sour cream, only not so sour and, for my money, way better-tasting. 

“Crème fraîche is really a cultured cream, just like sour cream,” says Nancy Leson. “And you can put it on anything, from sweets to savories. You can put it on fruit, you can put it on dumplings.”

Nancy Leson

My whole life I've been soaking dried beans overnight for use in the next day's soup or stew. At this late date, I've learned I've been wasting my time. 

Nancy Leson

I'm an open-minded, non-judgmental kind of guy (disregard that snickering from my wife), but I draw the line at fruit in meatloaf. Nancy Leson doesn't, as she made brazenly clear in her Seattle Times story last weekend.

Amazingly, Nancy sees nothing shameful about including raisins, apples and curry powder in meatloaf mix, and then topping the whole mess with chutney. 

“Don’t knock if you haven't tried it, buddy,” she said. “The raisins and the apple are what make this meatloaf so delicious to me.”

Nancy Leson

Given the blustery weather we're enjoying this week, why not some molasses-laden Anadama bread to provide the interior insulation we need? What's more, it turns out that I've been wrong, wrong, wrong all these years about the stuff.

The first time I watched hand-pulled noodles being made, I could hardly believe what I was seeing.  

The chef took a lump of dough, stretched, twisted, tossed and swung and lo — there were noodles.

Here. See for yourself.

Dick Stein

Back when Caddys had tail fins, my favorite dish was equally piscine: Gorton's Codfish Cakes. Mom mixed this whitish paste with mashed potatoes, shaped it into patties and fried them like little fishburgers. 

But I didn't want my codfish cakes in patties. I wanted what the photo on the side of the Gorton's can described  as "serving suggestion," which was the patty shaped into the form of a stylized fish. It even had a slice of pimento-stuffed olive for a fish eye. 

KPLU is excited to announce our first listener trip of the year, which you won't want to miss:A Taste of San Francisco”—a jazz, food and art lover’s trip to the City by the Bay (and home of Rice-a-Roni), March 20-23, 2014—with special guest, KPLU's Food for Thought commentator Nancy Leson.  The trip features Wynton Marsalis in concert at the new, state-of-the-art SFJAZZ Center, culinary tours, and a visit to the renowned de Young Museum

Nancy Leson

Nancy and her colleagues at the Seattle Times must have had a ball testing the 14 holiday recipes they got from Seattle chefs. If Times photographer Ken Lambert's beautiful shots hadn't already made me psychotically hungr, the names of the dishes alone would have blasted my appetite into low earth orbit.

Dick Stein

OK, I admit it. I'm not big on throwing dinner parties. But Nancy Leson sure is, and in this week's Food for Thought adventure, she tells all about her last one. I must admit I'm envious. But at least I got those swell bandages.   

Here's a recipe for just one of the enticing dishes she served.

Heather W. / Yelp.com

So how long would you be willing to stand on line for a table at a popular restaurant? Ten minutes? A half hour? Longer? Not KPLU’s Dick Stein, as he tells Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson on today’s Food for Thought.

Thanks to all who contributed an amazing 481 haiku to the contest. There were so many clever and inventive entries that Nancy and I are gladder than ever that we didn’t have to judge. But you did.

Here are the top three:

Cold Food, Hot Contest

Aug 7, 2013
Stein

With hot weather comes cold food. In this episode of Food for Thought, Nancy Leson offers a cold soup made with grapes, cream cheese and cucumbers among other things. I talk about those pickles up there. But wait—there's more! Be very excited because you're just...

This is an encore episode of Food for Thought.

I blame my mother. 

Nancy Leson

Making your own vinegar is not complicated, thank goodness, but it does require a  good starter. Seattle Times food writer, Nancy Leson, tells KPLU's Erin Hennessey how she makes her own red wine vinegar and why it's so special.

Nancy Leson

It's not the three cookbooks pictured above, though Nancy really loves them and recommends them swooningly and from a great height.  Nope, this is an enjoyable DIY project.  Click "Listen" and all will be revealed.  Now let's talk about saffron,

Nancy Leson

Sure,  I love to play the philistine in my encounters with Nancy Leson on Food for Thought but it's time to reveal that I have been Velveeta-free for almost four years.   One more year and I get my pin. 

Meantime, I've been enjoying some of the wonderful locally made stuff and so has Nancy.   We had a lot of fun on this one.  Hear all about it with a click on the audio gizmo under the
Read More" teaser.

thearchnemisis.com

You go nuts all day long with the cooking and the cleaning and the worrying and the will  this or won't that and did I remember to and does the house look and will they even show up  and what was I thinking when I decided to do this they could have had their lousy corn flake stuffed pork chops and gone the hell home by now... and waitasecond is that cat-box I smell? 

Or you could be like my Food for Thought pal,  Seattle Times food writer  Nancy Leson.

Clean as you cook

Nov 14, 2012
Nancy Leson

Pro chefs have their kitchen grunts to handle the cleanup but we home cooks have to do it ourselves.  And the way to do it is as you go.  I think the clean-up is as much a part of the cooking process as the mixing and chopping, the slaughtering of the ox, all that kind of stuff.

holytaco.com

Every good home cook has had the dream of opening his or her own restaurant.  But we've also heard the dire warning: "90% of restaurants fail in the first year of operation."   It isn't true.

Stein / The Corporation for Refrigerated Saxophones

In this week's culinary adventure Nancy Leson and I chat about our canning projects.  Balsamic jams for her and preserved lemons for me.   Preserved lemons give a powerful jolt of flavor. 

Wikipedia

Yes, there actually was a Granny Smith.  That's her right above.  But she was not (gasp) an American.

Stein / Set design by C. Degroot

Nancy Leson is back in the saddle again. After months spent in lady-of-leisure mode (I can just hear her outraged snort) Nance is back  doing a weekly column for The Times. In this week's FfT she talks about her new job and about a Pink Door recipe for squid she gave her own twist to.

Stein

This week's Food for Thought is part two of our chat with Andrea Nguyen, author of the terrific new cookbook Asian Tofu, hence the dreadful pun above. Nancy and I usually get a fair number of comments to our Food for Thoughts post. But last week's Part One brought this response.  So it's time to walk on the wild side.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

I blame the hippies. If it weren't for concoctions like Tofu Chili Surprise and other abominations maybe so many Americans wouldn't turn up their noses at tofu. I've always believed that the only legitimate context for the stuff is in Asian cooking.  

In Andrea Nguyen's terrific new cookbook, Asian Tofu, that's right where she puts it. Full disclosure:

zazzle.com

Definitely the BP in my case but I'm a confirmed Luddite, anyway.   I can be accused of malfeasance right at home by my wife.  I don't need to go to the supermarket to hear it from a snooty machine.

Nancy Leson

Of course there will be no feast to find unless you put one in.  The feast my Food for Thought pard Nancy Leson likes to store is her Sri Lankan Beef Curry.  The picture above shows the results, and it looks pretty good to me.  Why don't we all give it a try?  Here's  the recipe.

Freeclipart.com

Even for some of our favorite activities the first time is not necessarily the best time.  Restaurants are no exception.  Especially when you stop to think about how much there is to go wrong.

It's a bacon renaissance. The stuff's in everything from milkshakes to chocolate to bourbon whiskey. Just Google "new uses for bacon" and you'll see. There are innumerable sites devoted to all things bacon. Including one called Mr. Bacon Pants, a concept with some intriguing possibilities. 

And now in the interest of full disclosure, I confess:

Nate McCarthy / Wereteens of Edmonds

Nancy's pretty let down about this. Not so much that she can't bring her own but that she won't get to watch the dogs others bring.  In Seattle dogs are allowed at some farmers markets and banned at others.  

Here's a list: Farmers markets in Washington make their own rules.

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