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

You Want Frites Wit Dat?

Apr 22, 2015

It's Sandwich City.  Nancy says "I'm lookin' at this week's Seattle Weekly's 'The City's Best Sandwiches,' the New York Times had a killer special issue – even Bethany Jean Clement of the Seattle Times was writing about Five Great Chicken sandwiches that aren't Chic-fil-A.  So what do you think about this?" she asked me.

I told her I thought there was no reason why "...any normal human being cannot make a sandwich at home as good as anything you would go to a store and buy."  Ms. Leson disagreed.

Nancy's Dutch Treat

Apr 15, 2015

Nance, husband Mac and son Nate are back from a spring break outing to The Netherlands.  While there she ate herring.  Quite a bit of it.

Pickled herring with onions.  Deep fried herring.  Whole herring (pictured above) which she lowered into her mouth while it screamed for mercy.   Herring Bun (a great pattern for a man's suit). She also learned a new word.


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.

Lemon is a frequent ingredient in the cuisine at both the Stein and Leson households.  Nancy says "It's a rare day when I don't use one or three of them when I'm cooking."   I like lemons, too but my wife (The Lovely and Talented) Cheryl DeGroot believes there's nothing they can't improve.

Nancy Leson

Lucky Nancy.  The other day a friend of her son's showed up at her door bearing a dozen razor clams fresh from Ocean Shores.   That's some massive clammage but Nancy knew what to do with them.

Yes, it's true that I ate three days worth of food in three hours. Wretched excess?  Absolutely.  Would I do it again?  Need you ask?  Besides, I think Nancy ate more. So what were we all doing there?  Well, it's a medium-long story.

Nancy leson

Pork Rinds, Pirogi, Injera, Oh My!

My Food for Thought pard Nancy Leson happily cruises the strip malls of Highway 99 in search of hole-in-the-wall international grocery stores and she thinks you should, too.   "Yes," she says, "And the more interesting, unusual to us, and adventurous the better."

Nancy Leson

I've never been able to make Italian potato Gnocchi (NYOH-kee).  I admitted my secret shame to Nancy Leson in this week's Food for Thought. "I just end up with this soggy, waterlogged mess.  They almost dissolve.  Where am I goin' wrong, here?"  Nancy's answer was a question.


The Andrews Sisters were singing "One Meatball" in my head as I browsed through one of my favorite cooking sites, seriouseats.com. And then my eyes fell upon Daniel Gritzer's eye-opening (and gut-expanding) recipe for Italian-American style meatballs.  Coincidence?  I think not. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

The first time I ever did it was right out in public in front of everyone at the Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar on Queen Anne. My first raw oyster.

Cafe Presse Facebook page

That sneaky Nancy Leson! She tried to get me to name the musician I'd most like to have entertain at a Valentine's dinner for me and DeGroot. Naturally, I refused. If I name someone, then I'm excluding everyone else, I told her.

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Nancy, of course, has no such qualm. 

Nancy Leson

Summer is made endurable by anticipation of the winter to come. How I look forward to those long nights and lovely gray, rainy days! And to eating the pot that was already legal in Washington — pot roast, pot pies, pot au feu.

But Nancy Leson? In deepest, darkest February, she's thinking salad, and some pretty enticing ones, too.

Nancy Leson

It's January, the best time of the year to eat Pacific Northwest oysters. In this encore edition of Food for Thought, Nancy sings an ode to the joys of slurping and answers the question "What goes best with an oyster on the half-shell?" Stein's answer: courage!  

Nancy Leson

My phone rang and it was Nancy Leson: "Hey, Stein, I'm sitting in the exit row of an  Alaska Airlines flight, on my way to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami," she said.

And it wasn't on just any flight. It was the famed "Salmon-30-Salmon", the airliner that looks like a fish. With jet engines.

AP Photo/Cuisinart

All it took was for friend and colleague Nick Morrison to mention that his wife Ceal had brought home an electric griddle for visions of panini to dance in my head. So while wife DeGroot rolled her eyes, I rushed to the store for my own Cuisinart Griddler.

Nancy Leson

They've been saying, "They just don't make'em like they used to" since shortly after the first stone ax was updated.  But when that old saw is applied to the KitchenAid stand mixer, Nancy Leson says it's true.

Deb Buchanan

Nancy Leson was suffering from cake envy. For husband Mac's birthday, she'd gone to all the trouble of baking a big deal birthday cake for him  But at the party, "a cake that came out of a box" stole the glory from her "multi-layered, gorge-a-mondo" job.   

"Stein, are you much of a cake baker?" she asked me.

Not really, but my kid sister Debbie Buchanan used to bake fancy cakes for a living. So we got her on the line from Annapolis to answer Nancy's questions.

daisy.r / Flickr

During the years she was the Seattle Times restaurant critic, Nancy Leson was often told she had the perfect job. Go out to eat every night on the boss's dime — that ain't workin'. 

But it wasn't all honey for nothin' and tips for free. As Nancy asked me back then: "How'd you like to go back to a restaurant you didn't like? Twice? After all, any restaurant can have a bad night. And that's what you have to do if you're going to give a fair review."

Workld Spice Merchants

Seems that both Nancy Leson and I are into heavy metal for gift giving this time around.  

"There's one piece of equipment that I adore, and that's my Lodge 15-inch, pre-seasoned cast iron skillet," Nance says.

She loves it because, well, it turns out that size does matter after all.

Dick Stein

From now on, my my pizza stone is demoted to trivet duty. I've been reading about pizza "steels" for a while now, and last week, in a moment of wild abandon, actually shelled out $42 for a 15"x15"x1/4" plate of carbon steel. 

Nancy Leson came home from a week of media blackout, reactivated all her many electronic devices, "and all I hear about is buying stuff!" she wailed.  

That was my cue to brag of my immunity to all retail blandishments. 

"But," she replied, "I saw something that was a great idea if you were going to buy somebody something."

Dick Stein

As we all know, the real reason for the Thanksgiving Feast is to ready the components of the post-TG turkey sandwich (PTGTS).  Like just about everyone, I have strong feelings as to what constitutes its most perfect manifestation.

Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson always hosts huge gatherings for Thanksgiving. How huge? Huge enough to require two  birds, each the size of a turkey-shaped dirigible. 

One way she keeps the cooking-day rush to a minimum is to make what she can in advance, especially her favorite cranberry sauce, which keeps so well she can make it six months ahead of time. I was shocked — simply shocked.

"Nancy Leson," I gasped, "I cannot believe that you are talking on an NPR affiliate about a cranberry sauce recipe that is not Susan Stamberg's."

Nancy Leson

Among my favorite cooking sites is Diana Kuan's "Appetite for China." It was there that I discovered that Coca-Cola chicken wings is an actual Chinese dish. 

Kuan says she's never seen it in an English language Chinese cookbook or menu, but that it does appear from time to time in Chinese cookbooks and TV cooking shows.

alisdair / Flickr

The editor of Food & Wine magazine owns up: "I am going to be honest: I am not a great cook." 

Early in the book "Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen," author Dana Cowin acknowledges that she's "messed up literally every type of food." 

But there's no cooking conundrum that can't be made at least a little more manageable, especially with the help of top chefs such as Mario Batali,  Jacques Pepin, Alice Waters and Thomas Keller, who wrote the introduction. 

Brenda Goldstein

I can't even remember exactly where or when I bought the monster steamer pictured above, but it's been at least 30 years. I've given it plenty of use over the decades but it's always been way more steamer than I needed. 

Finally, after a few not so gentle nudges from DeGroot (she should talk about clutter!), I figured I'd fob it off on Leson in exchange for her more practical-sized utensil. But nooooooo...

Nancy Leson

Both Nance and I have been traveling these past weeks. I traveled across Canada by train, and Nancy went to Spain and France with the KPLU Travel Club. While there, she and her fellow eaters tried their hands at the iconic Valencia dish, paella.

Nancy Leson

Editor's Note: This is a rerun of a vintage Food for Thought post.

Nancy Leson and I love the XO sauce, the incredibly flavorful Chinese condiment, but we don't love the price. Besides, it's always more fun to make your own. And there's no shortage of recipes.

What say you? In Nancy Leson's case, "1,500 to 2,000" was too many cookbooks — so many that she could hardly get into her office any more.  So she called in her good friend Judy Amster, she said, "and we had an intervention." 

Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson now knows more about apples, thanks to her friend Bill Davis, who really knows his apples. Which is way more than I knew, never having bitten into one in my whole life. But even fruitophobic me learned plenty of interesting stuff this week, including the best kind to grow in the Pacific Northwest.