Food

Stories related to food in Seattle, including Dick Stein and Nancy Leson's weekly commentary Food for Thought.

Got milk? Ancient European farmers who made cheese thousands of years ago certainly had it. But at that time, they lacked a genetic mutation that would have allowed them to digest raw milk's dominant sugar, lactose, after childhood.

Today, however, 35 percent of the global population — mostly people with European ancestry — can digest lactose in adulthood without a hitch.

Get hot for the holidays

Dec 26, 2012

"Every hair on Dave Matschina's head was drenched in sweat.  It crept into his eyes and dripped off his nose."   So begins Twincities.com  tale of a feast of hot wings made made with the fearsome Naga Bhut Jolokia or Indian Ghost Pepper -- a chili that makes the formerly top dog habenero taste like a slug of Milk of Magnesia. 

This week, our colleagues over at the Shots blog have been talking a lot about malaria. And, here at The Salt, that got us thinking about one thing: gin and tonics.

As you probably know, tonic is simply carbonated water mixed with quinine, a bitter compound that just happens to cure a malaria infection, albeit not so well.

Want to eat sustainably? Then eat bugs.

That's the word from the Dutch, who are doing their best to make a scientific case for the environmental benefits of insect proteins. Reduce greenhouse gases? Check. Produce more edible protein while using less land than more traditional livestock? Check.

Sake nomi, Seattle

I knew going in that I knew next to nothing about sake. As it turned out I didn't even know that much.

The world isn't going to end next Friday, but Dec. 21, 2012, has come to be known as the Mayan apocalypse because that's when the Mayan calendar ends. As scientists have told us repeatedly, the end of the calendar year was actually a time for celebration and renewal — the equivalent of an ancient New Year's Eve. So breweries around the country have decided to celebrate with — what else? — beer.

That buzz from your morning cup of joe waning? How about a quick boost from caffeinated mints, gum, Perky Jerky or, from the makers of Cracker Jack, coffee-flavored Cracker Jack'd snacks?

It's not just coffee and tea and soda anymore. "There's a proliferation of foods; all kinds of things are now being caffeinated," says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

A photographer's mini food fascination

Dec 16, 2012

Small stuff is having a big moment. There's skateboarding for your fingers, cupcake-size lasagna, and now we've discovered photography featuring food as a backdrop for miniature life.

The 12th day of the 12th month of 2012 is not a day of deliverance but of delivery for devout American fans of Westvleteren 12, brewed by the reclusive Belgian monks at St. Sixtus Abbey.

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,

Chefs at some of the most cutting edge restaurants in the country are incorporating vegetables into their desserts in ways that, at first glance, might not seem very dessert-y.

On Sunday, Weekend All Things Considered aired an interview with Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman. He talked about the $94,000 that a buyer recently paid at auction for one bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 55 Year Old whisky.

If you happen to be a techie with weight loss goals, you've likely noticed the explosion in calorie-counting and exercise-tracking apps available on smartphones.

Seattle hip hop artist DJ Sabzi has a new project celebrating a Northwest favorite: The Vietnamese noodle soup called pho. In his song (see video below), he makes sure we know how to pronounce this special soup, telling us that "it don't rhyme with yo!"

Nancy Leson

As you might imagine my Food for Thought co-conspirator Seattle Times Food writer Nancy Leson collects lots of stuff to do with food.  Menus, old recipe cards, handwritten notes, the works. 

When she mentioned to me that she had recipes from "King's Queen Bea" I admit I had no idea who that was.  But I should have.

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.

A Thanksgiving menu that goes back to the roots

Nov 21, 2012

Everyone knows the schoolhouse version of the first Thanksgiving story: New England pilgrims came together with Native Americans to share a meal after the harvest. The original menu was something of a joint venture, but over the years, a lot of the traditional dishes have lost their native.

For those who want to create a feast that celebrates the flavors that Native Americans brought to the table, Chef Richard Hetzler has an entire menu of options from his award-winning cookbook, The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook.

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.

When it comes to tallying our liquid calories, we're not always so accurate. Does that tiny 5-ounce serving of wine really count as a glass of wine? (The answer is yes.)

So as the season of celebrations heats up, and holiday cheer is delivered in the form of bubbly, beer or booze, just how many calories are we consuming from alcohol on a random Tuesday night?

Almost as much as we get from soda, apparently — an average of about 100 calories a day. That may not sound like a lot, but it can add up.

Think Mom's same old Thanksgiving mashed potatoes are boring? Jejune? Predictable?

Debbie Lee's are anything but. And they all started with a happy accident.

Lee is the owner and operator of the Los Angeles-based Korean-American restaurant Ahn Joo, and the author of Seoultown Kitchen: Korean Pub Grub To Share With Family And Friends. While Korean by heritage, Lee didn't grow up eating traditional Korean foods.

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.

Wild turkeys and buffalo have more in common than you might guess. Both were important as food for Native Americans and European settlers. And both were nearly obliterated.

There were a couple of reasons for the turkey's decline. In the early years of the U.S., there was no regulation, so people could shoot as many turkeys as they liked. And their forest habitat was cut down for farmland and heating fuel. Without trees, turkeys have nowhere to roost. So they began to disappear.

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.

Simplyrecipes.com

For years I assumed that the word caramel came from the name of the first celebrity chef, Marie-Antoine Careme, A.K.A the King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings. 

But no, it's just a corruption of the medieval Latin for sugar cane, cannamellis. Though I love them dearly I've never attempted to make my own caramels. But I know someone who has ...

Northwest wild mushrooms are in short supply this year. That’s had a big impact on the region’s lucrative mushroom hunting industry. It’s also changed what’s on fall restaurant menus in the Northwest and across the nation.

At Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle this autumn customers are often coming home to their families without the coveted mushroom Primo Pizza. The Northwest’s bleak mushroom crop means sometimes the stores cut back on the number of pies, or don’t have them at all.

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. 

The Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that it received five reports in the past past three years suggesting that people died after drinking caffeinated energy drinks.

But the agency also cautions that these reports do not add up to proof that the beverages actually caused those deaths. These reports — called adverse event reports — are considered unconfirmed allegations, and the FDA doesn't usually release them.

docpop / Flickr

If you tend to ignore the calorie listings on menus, you’re not alone. The extra info at King County restaurants is proving of limited value in the fight against obesity. On the other hand, some restaurant chains are toning down the message to super-size it.

Chain restaurants in King County – that’s mostly fast-food chains, plus some coffee shops such as Starbucks – are something of a test case. Along with New York City, they were the first in the country to be required to post a calorie-count for each item on their menus.

The practice of imparting the flavor of something heavy into a lighter liquid is centuries old. Ancient Indian healers did it with botanicals; early Christian monks did it with bitters. But the process is getting new attention as part of the craze to put all things food into all things drink.

Mile high birthday bash

Oct 17, 2012
Kurt Oakley / Morning Glory Balloon Tours

In this week's Food for Thought Nancy Leson and I talk about favorite venues for birthday bashes.  My birthday was double-10 day, October 10th -- a birthday I share with both Thelonious Monk and Dorothy Lamour, who once told me "There ain't room enough in this sarong for the two of us."

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