Food

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

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."

Josh Kenzer / Flickr

Peanut allergies have been rising dramatically – enough so that many elementary classrooms have banned peanuts. About four times as many children have peanut allergies today as 20 years ago.

The severe form of peanut allergies can be deadly, which is why thousands of people must carry around an adrenaline shot (called an epinephrine pen, or "epi-pen").

Now, allergy doctors are debating whether they should offer an experimental allergy treatment. It was a topic this past weekend, at the 2012 Northwest Allergy Forum in Seattle.

Wikipedia

Yes, there actually was a Granny Smith.  That's her right above.  But she was not (gasp) an American.

Program aims to make kids more critical of junk food ads

Oct 9, 2012

Researchers in Washington are trying a new approach to the growing problem of childhood obesity. They plan to teach kids to be more media savvy -- and less susceptible to all those junk food ads.

Researchers say kids who spend more time in front of the screen are at higher risk of becoming overweight. And it’s not just because they’re sitting on the couch.

“One of the problems is that there’s so much food advertising,” says Erica Austin. She heads Washington State University's Center for Media and Health Promotion Research.

Here's a little math problem for you: How many calories go into the ethanol that's in your tank of gas?

Enough to feed 22 people, if you're talking the bare minimum calories needed in a single day, according to researchers at the New England Complex Sciences Institute.

Stein / Set design by C. Degroot

Nancy Leson is back in the saddle again. After months spent in lady-of-leisure mode (I can just hear her outraged snort) Nance is back  doing a weekly column for The Times. In this week's FfT she talks about her new job and about a Pink Door recipe for squid she gave her own twist to.

Stein

This week's Food for Thought is part two of our chat with Andrea Nguyen, author of the terrific new cookbook Asian Tofu, hence the dreadful pun above. Nancy and I usually get a fair number of comments to our Food for Thoughts post. But last week's Part One brought this response.  So it's time to walk on the wild side.

When you go into a restaurant, you probably give some thought to whether you're ordering a small, regular or large sandwich.

That makes sense.With widening waistlines across the land, many of us want to make a health-conscious choice. But are we really getting a small portion when we order a small sandwich?

Well, that depends.

University of Michigan marketing professor Aradhna Krishna has studied how labels impact how much we eat. In one experiment, she gave people cookies that were labeled either medium or large, and then measured how much they ate.

So you're minding your own business when all of a sudden, a nuclear bomb goes off, there's a shock wave, fires all around, general destruction and you, having somehow survived, need a drink. What can you do? There is no running water, not where you are. But there is a convenience store. It's been crushed by the shock wave, but there are still bottles of beer, Coke and diet soda intact on the floor.

So you wonder: Can I grab one of those beers and gulp it down? Or is it too radioactive? And what about taste? If I drink it, will it taste OK?

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

I blame the hippies. If it weren't for concoctions like Tofu Chili Surprise and other abominations maybe so many Americans wouldn't turn up their noses at tofu. I've always believed that the only legitimate context for the stuff is in Asian cooking.  

In Andrea Nguyen's terrific new cookbook, Asian Tofu, that's right where she puts it. Full disclosure:

Harvest season is upon us, but in the U.S.'s northern lakes, it's not just the last tomatoes and first pumpkins. Through the end of this month, canoes will glide into lakes and rivers for the annual gathering of wild rice, kick started with the popular Wild Rice Festival in Roseville, Minn., on Saturday.

Thefreshloaf.com

Now that the weather is finally cooling off it's time to crank up the oven.  In this week's Food for Thought,  Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson and I share a few favorite baking maneuvers.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington liquor sales picked back up in July, the second month people were able to buy liquor in Washington grocery stores and other markets. Sales were up 15.4 percent compared to July 2011.

PRESCOTT, Wash. -- Washington state apple farmers have the second largest crop in history but too few pickers to get it all in this harvest. A worker shortage means there won’t be enough people to get the fruit off the trees quickly enough.

Broetje Orchards in southeast Washington is one of the largest fruit growers in the world. Owners there put a plea out for more workers -- they're short 800 people.

Last month we heard that a farmer in Kentucky was feeding his cattle discarded chocolate because corn was too expensive. Things are getting weird, we thought.

USDAgov / Flickr

The recession has brought a major spike in the number of Washington families who experience hunger, according to data from advocates and federal officials. Hunger has gone up all over the country, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that Washington has fared worse than the country overall.

Wendy / Flickr

Apparently bacon goes with everything … including in and not just with coffee.

Seattle’s Best Coffee held a series of contests for a new coffee recipe and the winner, from Des Moines, infused her coffee concoction with caramelized bacon.

zazzle.com

Definitely the BP in my case but I'm a confirmed Luddite, anyway.   I can be accused of malfeasance right at home by my wife.  I don't need to go to the supermarket to hear it from a snooty machine.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

What do you do when you’ve got a bumper crop of zucchini or lettuce? Or flower bulbs that have multiplied like rabbits? Many people give their extras away. And in the down economy, more and more hobby gardeners are trading their bounty at swap meets. 

A new website from a team in Seattle and Tacoma makes those transactions easier.

Yes, organics is a $29 billion industry and still growing. Something is pulling us toward those organic veggies that are grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

But if you're thinking that organic produce will help you stay healthier, a new finding may come as a surprise. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds scant evidence of health benefits from organic foods.

Mallory Kaniss / KPLU

I’ve never eaten so many flowers in my life – Anise-Hyssop, Borage, Nasturtium, Day Lily …

But it turns out flowers are common fare in extreme locavore/organic dining. That’s the first thing I learned at the Herbfarm restaurant and gardens where I went to explore how chefs there make the restaurant’s strict locavore, organic dinners.

Do vegetarians and vegans think they are better than the rest of us? Judging from personal experience, a good number of people who aren't vegetarian or vegan would offer a resounding "Yes" to this question.

Those individuals who publicly tout eating no meat, especially when their stated reason has to do with caring about animals, are thought to be telegraphing a message of superiority: My dietary choices make me a better person than you.

Nancy Leson

Of course there will be no feast to find unless you put one in.  The feast my Food for Thought pard Nancy Leson likes to store is her Sri Lankan Beef Curry.  The picture above shows the results, and it looks pretty good to me.  Why don't we all give it a try?  Here's  the recipe.

Freeclipart.com

Even for some of our favorite activities the first time is not necessarily the best time.  Restaurants are no exception.  Especially when you stop to think about how much there is to go wrong.

Guzer.com

Seattle Times food writer and my Food for Thought co-conspirator  Nancy Leson is just back from the windy city where she attended a big fat wedding.   She points out that these days there's a bit of a problem in giving cooking-related wedding gifts.  Here's why.

Pages