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

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.

Stein

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. 

Nancy Leson

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."

Stein

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.

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.

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