Food

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

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.

If you've been applauding yourself recently for choosing the apple slices over the french fries for your kid's fast food meal, or an apple-laden prepackaged salad for your own dinner, you might want to hit the pause button.

It's a bacon renaissance. The stuff's in everything from milkshakes to chocolate to bourbon whiskey. Just Google "new uses for bacon" and you'll see. There are innumerable sites devoted to all things bacon. Including one called Mr. Bacon Pants, a concept with some intriguing possibilities. 

And now in the interest of full disclosure, I confess:

This summer's drought continues to wilt and bake crops from Ohio to the Great Plains and beyond. Under a baking, late-afternoon sun just outside of the tiny east-central Illinois town of Thawville, John Hildenbrand walks down his dusty, gravel driveway toward one of his corn fields.

"You can see on the outer edge, these are a lot better-looking ears on the outside rows. Of course, it's not near as hot as it is inside the field," he says.

Nate McCarthy / Wereteens of Edmonds

Nancy's pretty let down about this. Not so much that she can't bring her own but that she won't get to watch the dogs others bring.  In Seattle dogs are allowed at some farmers markets and banned at others.  

Here's a list: Farmers markets in Washington make their own rules.

BENTON CITY, Wash. – Northwest winemakers say they’re optimistic that 2012 will turn out to be a great vintage. Many of the region’s red wine grapes are just on the edge of starting to change color and ripen. The timing of this color change is a good indication of the coming harvest’s quality.

Scott Williams is a pretty jovial guy. But get this Red Mountain wine grower in the middle of some color-changing grapes and he’s just giddy.

It’s a hot summer day at his Kiona Vineyard. We wade into an undulating sea of bright green Lemberger vines.

CONNELL, Wash. – Drought that’s sizzling the rest of the nation has largely left the Northwest states alone. Furthermore, the Midwest’s farmers’ misfortune is actually benefiting farmers here. That’s because grain prices are raising because of the Heartland’s decimated yields.

Wheat stubble, grain elevators and whole lot of wide open -– that’s Connell, Washington.

There, I caught up with Dana Herron and his partner Craig Teel. The men run a grain seed operation. They sort, clean, treat and store pure grain for farmers’ future plantings.

We humans evolved to eat meat. How many times have you read or heard some version of this statement?

Nancy Leson

Well, Nancy has fun. Sometimes I get a little freaked when hemmed in by a farmers' market crowd. You know –  potato panic. Arugula anxiety. 

But my Food for Thought pard Nancy Leson loves s nothing better than immersing herself in the mob of happy food grazers at farmer's markets in the Seattle area.

Stein / Stein Software and Garlic Management Associates

I read my first Yelp restaurant review this past weekend and I'm pretty sure it'll be my last. So many of the posts were so whiny that they weren't even as amusing as those really dumb Netflix Member Reviews.

You know the ones ...

When you hear the word chia, you probably think of chia pets. Maybe you even mutter that catchy slogan: "ch-ch-ch-chia."

Or maybe not, but lately, chia seed has been getting buzz beyond those terra cotta figurines. It's becoming a popular health food. Rich in fiber, protein and the highest plant source of Omega 3s, the little seeds pack a major nutritional punch.

Wayne Coates grows and sells chia seeds and has a book called Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood.

Nancy Leson

My Food for Thought Co-conspirator Nancy Leson, previously a happy land lubber, was recently cajoled into a trip to Mexico on one of those giant cruise ships.  The good news?  The tales of heroic eating you've heard are true.  The not so good news?  

Manju (MAHN-jew) are Japanese dough buns — often sweet — made from pounded rice flour dough and flavored fillings. In Japanese culture, a box of manju is what you'd take to someone's house on a special occasion, like Children's Day. Or you might simply snack on it with a cup of tea. But manju have to be eaten fresh, and they're pretty labor intensive, so nowadays, they can be hard to find.

Huffington Post

"How could I  not have known about this?"  My Food for Thought pard Nancy Leson echoed the very words I had thought when I discovered the Spiral Cut hot-dog.   It's not only cool,  it's so easy to do. 

Stein

Seattle's ban on (some) plastic bags starts July 1st. Seattleites will still be able to get paper bags at the checkout at a nickel a shot for the big ones.  Or do what any smart KPLU'er would –

We eat a lot of meat in this country; per person, more than almost anywhere else on Earth. (Here's a helpful map of global meat-eating.)

But why? What makes an American eat ten or twelve times more meat than the average person in Mozambique or Bangladesh?

Stein

If you've never had them the idea of cold noodles might not sound too appetizing.  But just take a look at that recipe up there. Why do you think it's so ragged and stained? From multiple uses, that's how. 

I've had it memorized for years but I thought it would be fun to break it out once more so you could see. Click through all the photos and then keep reading – because I've got some good tips for you on how to make it.

J. Henslee / KPLU

Everybody doesn't like some kind of chow that almost everybody else loves. Me, I'm horrified by fruit. That's baffled and bemused everyone around me lo these years. But even I was surprised when some KPLU staffers revealed their food terrors to me.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Northwest cherry harvest is set to begin next week, but farmers are a bit glum. That’s because the National Weather Service says this month’s temperatures will be near or below average across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Cool weather and rain can delay ripening and compress the cherry growing season. That means that markets have less time to sell the perishable fruit. Plus, farmers may have a harder time recruiting enough labor in a shortened season.

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