Food for Thought

Nancy Leson

Of all the places I haven't been to, Paris is the place I haven't been to the most.  But my Food for Thought co-conspirator Nancy Leson is just back from the City of Light and boy, did she eat.

Caddyshack

Back in February, Nancy and I devoted a Food for Thought to annoying things restaurants do. It seems only fair that we now open the forum to restaurant workers about the annoying things customers do. 

Nancy and I have both worked in restaurants, so we had a few little items with which to scratch the surface of Annoying Customer Behavior.

Nancy leson

Hanging out at Capitol Hill's La Bete Bistro enabled Nancy Leson to learn the closely-guarded secret of slicing multiple olives in one fell swipe using just two yogurt lids and a sharp knife. Continue on, dear reader, if you would like to know...

We just can't figure out how those tulips got into our garlic bed, but there they are, poking their broader leaves up through the straw amongst the thinner but tastier garlic shoots.

Seeing them reminds me of the story in Charles MacKay's 19th century masterpiece, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" about Holland's Tulipmania. It concerns a sailor who returns from years overseas, unaware of the astronomical prices tulips had reached during that insane bubble.  Mistaking a bulb worth thousands for an onion, he eats it.

In this week's Food for Thought, Nancy Leson and I heave big sighs of anticipation over the fresh produce to come — for me, my 45 garlic plants and their scapes, and for her, local fresh asparagus. 

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.

Pages