Dick Stein

Midday Jazz Host

Dick Stein has been with KPLU since January, 1992. His duties include hosting the morning jazz show and co-hosting and producing the Food for Thought feature with the Seattle Times’ Nancy Leson. He was writer and director of the three Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen. Previous occupations include the USAF, radio call-in show host, country, classical and top-40 DJ, chimney sweep, window washer and advertising copywriter.

His most memorable KPLU moment: Peeling Alien life form from Erin Hennessey’s face after it leapt at her from the biohazard refrigerator he picked up cheap for the station at an FDA garage sale. Dick is married to nationally noted metalsmith, jewelry designer and cowgirl “Calamity” Cheryl DeGroot.

Ways to Connect

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.

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.

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot

Nancy Leson brought me a bag of Nash's Organic triticale flour, "grown and milled on their farm," she told me "on the Olympic Peninsula."

Triticale was a word from the past, I told her.  As far as I knew, it was just 25th Century alien chow as in Star Trek's "The Trouble With Tribbles" episode.   Non-Trekkie Nancy drew a blank on that one.

As I told Nancy Leson in this week's Food for Thought outing, "It's all just too sweet and slimy." 

I've been unhappy with the supermarket selection of hot dog relish for some time now.  But I do like that neon green Chicago-style stuff.  I never see it for sale in actual stores around here so I was driven to the web. 

"$14.95 for a jar of relish? Are you [expletive deleted] KIDDING me?"  I enquired mildly.  I knew I could make the stuff myself for a lot less than that.  After all, how hard could it be?

Not hard at all, actually.

istockphoto.com

Editor's note: This segment originally aired April 8, 2015.

I never liked fruit.  Wouldn't even eat fruit baby food.  Nancy Leson always hated calves liver.  We both reviled asparagus.  That was because we'd only had the canned kind, never fresh.  Paraphrasing Mark Twain I told Nancy the difference between fresh and canned asparagus was the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.

David Owens Hastings

"Food for Thought" has been pretty carnivorous lately, so I suggested to Nancy Leson that we talk tubers in this week's installment.  Turns out that the queen of spuds had just acquired a recipe for a baked potato dense enough to produce its own event horizon.

She got it from designer and fine artist David Owens Hastings, a student at the Chicken Pot Pie cooking class she taught recently at PCC.  Here's the roast chicken and bacon twice baked potatoes dinner he designed.  And yes, there is a vegetarian version.

Nancy "Cumin-a my house" Leson

Just a few Food for Thoughts ago in our Restaurant Round-up, Nancy Leson mentioned the cumin-chili ribs at Seattle's Stateside Restaurant.  They sounded so good that for a brief, madcap moment, I actually considered making the schlep north from the City of Destiny. 

But then, in a flash of ribbitty serendipity, I didn't have to.

Nancy "Hawkeye" Leson

I first heard the term "condimentia" from Nancy Leson in this week's  "Food for Thought."   Nancy meant it as having to do with condiments.  Just for fun, I checked and it turns out it has a few other meanings. 

Condimentia is defined by the Urban Dictionary as "A medical condition in which the elderly lose their sense of taste and overstock their condiments to enhance every food item they prepare."  Condimentia is also the title of the comedy short about "... a sane and loving husband and father until his craving for condiments got out of control, and eventually landed him in prison."

N. Leson

When Nancy Leson told me the kind of seeds she'd sprinkled on the challah she baked, I immediately dropped a dime on her to the Bread Police.  Wounded she asked, "Was that really necessary, Stein?" But the simple fact is she left me no choice. 

Fennel seeds on challah, indeed!  Everyone knows the only legit topping is poppy seeds.  But fennel? And orange juice?  And orange zest.  Hmmm...actually sounds kind of good...

David French via Creative Commons / Flickr

This week's "Food for Thought" opens with audio from a vintage Kitchen of the Future short ("Plastics in all their colorful, functional, and beautiful versatility!").  When I asked Nancy Leson if her microwave oven "rises from the counter" a la the clip she told me "No, it sits right on the counter as a shelf for clutter."

Nance says she mainly uses her microwave for pre-heating her coffee cup, popping popcorn, and as a place to hide pies.  But when she thought a little more about it she came up with several other ways to employ the magic of the magnetron.

N. Leson

In this week's "Food for Thought," Nancy Leson and I share a couple of recipes we love for shatteringly crisp chicken skin and neither calls for a deep fry.

Nancy leson

Gluttonous minds must think alike.  I just discovered that independently and on the same day Nancy Leson and I had both jonse'd for Eggplant Parmigiana – or as she describes it "a big fat, fabulous layer cake of  eggplant, cheese, and homemade tomato sauce."  

Nancy leson

Nancy Leson says it's "My new favorite cookbook.  I just got my hands on it a couple of weeks ago and I can't stop cooking out of it."  Nance adds that she'll be making some of its recipes for the rest of her life. 

That's such a strong recommendation that I'm considering actually shelling out my own money for a copy of  "Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking."   The Pink Lentil Soup with Lamb Meatballs alone looks  worth the price of admission.

Nate McCarthy

Pastrami topped the list of our favorite recipes for 2015.  Who knew a regular person could make great pastrami at home?  And who would ever have expected a recipe for that iconic Jewish deli favorite to come by way of a Taiwanese=Canadian living in Beijing?  Well, it can — and it did. 

Nancy Leson

After decades of, well,  fruitless requests from her husband Mac, Nancy Leson has finally baked him a homemade cake.  And this one has plenty of fruit.

Nancy Leson / KPLU

I started cooking at an early age, with the goal of learning to make at home all the things we could then get only at restaurants.  This I did by reading cookbooks and through sometimes disastrous experimentation. 

I think I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and blind alley excursions just by taking a few classes. 

Nancy Leson

Between the maddening traffic up and back from Tacoma and the crushing crowds,  I’d started to wonder last summer if a trip to Pike Place Market was worth the aggravation.  Nancy Leson showed me in just two words why right now is such a great time to go — no tourists.

Someone related to Nancy

Nancy Leson calls me J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's fanboy.  I admit it;  I love this guy!  He's so, so... scientific.  In this week's Food For Thought, Nance and I enthuse over Kenji's new cookbook, plus three more. 

Dick Stein, Nancy Leson / KPLU

At first I took it personally when Nancy Leson told me she had a new use for old vegetables.  Then she explained it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with making a tasty vegetable stock.   Meat-centric old me asked, "Really?  It actually had some flavor?"

"It did after I got done with it." she bragged.

Nancy leson

Who could possibly get all huffy about steak knives?  Nancy Leson's sister Sherry, that's who. 

When Nance told me how honked off Sherry was about them, I had to call her in Philadelphia for confirmation.  Sherry turned out to be a woman of strong—though strange—convictions.

"I say, if you present me with a steak that cannot be cut with a butter knife, do not give it to me.  I don't even own a steak knife,” she said. 

N. Leson

Nancy and I start off this week's Food For Thought wondering where all the kids were on Halloween. La Leson thinks they were all at the mall getting sugared up by wily merchants. All I know is that DeGroot and I are now stuck with five pounds of Necco wafers that aren't going to eat themselves. 

But wait, there’s more.

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.

I've seen lots of pastrami recipes over the years, but they’ve all had the same hitch:  long, temperature-controlled smoking.  I don't have the equipment, skill or patience for that. 

David Nogueras / KPLU

When I asked Nancy Leson about her favorite food websites she surprised me with "Y'know, Stein, I'm not a big food website person."  Say what?!? 

This from the social media queen who has teased me for years because I don't have a smartphone, Facebook, a Twitter account, or any of the countless web-based enablers of 21st century self-obsession - the woman who, if you clicked on her name, we see now has her own website!

Stein

“Hey, Stein?” Nancy asked.  "You had a birthday this past week.  Did the lovely and talented Cheryl DeGroot bake you a birthday cake?"

After explaining what a fraught and reckless project that would be, I admitted that I had made my own birthday cake.  It was not round, had no layers or candles, but it was gooo-ood!

I'd been browsing around on the blog, the Smitten Kitchen and saw Deb Perelman’s recipe for Cannoli Pound Cake.

Nancy Leson

Nancy was puce with envy when I told her about my new digital cooking thermometer.

“A Thermapen?" she gasped.  She'd been lusting after one for years.

“Nope,” I told her. I bought a cheap knock-off.

Nancy leson

Nancy says her Aunt Joan's voice, "could stop a clock."  I've heard Aunt Joan's voice and I am confident that it could stop a runaway train.  Don't believe me?  Check out the video Nancy shot of a kaffeeklatsch even louder than said train.

Fun With Tomatoes

Sep 23, 2015
N. Leson

This week I bragged to Nancy Leson, "I have done something I have never done before and that I thought I never would do.  It all goes back to a trip to the hardware store."  

Nancy, with only the slightest of eye-rolls asked, "So what'd you do now, Stein?" She probably wasn't expecting tomatoes.

Makayla Tolmie

For many, "fast and easy" are the most important criteria in recipes.  Lengthy and difficult are deal breakers.  Nancy's cooking-phobic friend wails "Who would waste that much time when ten minutes later it's gonna be gone?" 

Well, me, actually.

I'm always browsing around for something that looks to be a fun day or more in the kitchen..  But when I do, I want a result for all that effort that's better than just okay.

Recently, both Nancy and I spent multiple hours on complex cooking projects that turned out fine.  They were good.  But not all that good for the amount of work we put in.  Especially when we think of the fast easy stuff we've made that actually turned out better results. 

Same Day Pickles!

Sep 9, 2015
Nancy Leson

Not all pickles take weeks of slow fermentation in a dark, cool cellar.  Lots can be made and enjoyed within hours.  In this week's Food for Thought Nancy Leson tells of two she recently put up and enjoyed that evening. 

One's from right around here in Renee Erickson's A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus, the other from Japan in Preserving the Japanese Way by Nancy Singleton Hachisu

I'm definitely making both.  And now, so can you.

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