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

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. 


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?


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.

When the economy began its steep decline in 2008, almost everything related to housing hit the skids, including the lawn and garden industry. But one sector escaped the pinch: food gardening.

In fact, food gardening sales nationwide have spiked 20 percent since then, and they've stayed there. While many households started growing food to be more budget-conscious, some are deciding vegetables and fruits can be beautiful, too.


Over the years I've received numerous emails from listeners who rhapsodize over the Beef on Weck sandwich of upstate New York . Last week's "favorite foods of memory"  installment brought yet another mention so I decided I'd make my own. Step one was finding out exactly what a Beef on Weck is.

If there's one grilling tip to remember this Memorial Day weekend, it should be this: Flame is bad.

"Flame does nasty things to food," food historian and science guy Alton Brown tells NPR's Scott Simon in the kick-off segment of Weekend Edition's "Taste of Summer" series.

When recipes go wrong

May 23, 2012
The health care blog

Don't blame yourself. It is absolutely not your  fault. After all, you could never make a mistake. Could you?

Nancy Leson

My Food for Thought co-conspirator Nancy Leson has been tormenting me with pics of all the great food she's been scarfing on the east coast.   What lovely schadenfreude I enjoyed upon  learning that the sandwich pictured above was awful.  The bummer was the bread.

Give peas a chance!

May 9, 2012

I'm planting mine – the ones  pictured above – this very weekend. Actually they're Chinese-style Snow Peas.  My wife, the L&T Cheryl DeGroot refuses to eat the little round ones. 

Which is too bad because besides being delicious and versatile peas are really good for you.


Full disclosure: I don't know whether or not they fry their pizzas in Micronesia. I just wanted a rhyming headline and I liked "Micronesia" better than "Spinal Anesthesia."* Who wouldn't? 

Anyway, they have  been deep-frying pizzas in Europe.  Now the fad has moved stateside.

Paul Gibson / For KPLU

Here in the Great Pacific Northwest the days are getting longer, the temperature is on the rise and we are finally starting to see some sun. We’re not out of the iffy spring weather yet but soon we’ll be grilling on the BBQ, lounging on beaches and looking for pubs that have outside seating.

A hefeweizen is a great summer time beer and the Widmer Hefeweizen is one worth trying.

Nancy Leson

One of the most common flash points of domestic bickering is the optimum method for loading a dishwasher.

And now I'm admitting to my wife, the  Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot, right here on the World Wide Web that I was  – arghhh!  wrong and she was  – gackkk!!... right.  But only about the dishwasher.  I think I've been right about everything else.  For years.  Anyway...

U.S. officials announced a case of mad cow disease in a dairy cow in California. It is only the fourth such case detected in the U.S. since the first case was identified in 2003.

Matt Long / Flickr

YAKIMA, Wash. — A new study shows the Washington wine industry contributes $8.6 billion to the state's economy and creates nearly 30,000 jobs.

Ben Adams / Flickr

In response to the hubbub started by, Starbucks has announced today that it will stop using the bug extract cochineal as a colorant in four food and two beverage offerings in the United States, according to its Website.

Dine alone and love it

Apr 18, 2012
Cheryl DeGroot

I do. In fact I was pretty surprised to learn that many people are uncomfortable when dining alone in public. I can't imagine why. I enjoy unaccompanied ingestion for lots of reasons.

Nancy Leson

When you ask your dinner host "What should I bring?" and the answer is " dessert" what do you make?

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Northwest spring is getting off to a wet start. But Eastern Washington farmers appear to be right on schedule.

Asparagus is the herald of spring. That’s because the crop depends heavily on soil temperature to sprout.

Farmer Alan Schreiber says if he and his neighbors harvest asparagus before April 5th it’s an early year. If they harvest after April 15 it’s late.

So far, it looks like the green and purple spears will pop up right on time. Schreiber says growers have been out in the field working for more than a month.

Justin Steyer

KPLU jazz host Paige Hansen did.   Here's how it went down.

Paige told me she was filling up when the guy at the next pump over asked her if she'd like to buy some meat.  And she did.  A lot.  Since she survived to tell the tale I guess she got away with it okay.  In fact she said she and her husband had just eaten one of the steaks the night before "... and it was great."

An international research panel recommends cutting in half the global harvest of small, schooling fish like sardines, anchovy and herring. The group included researchers from the Northwest.

The panel estimates little fish are roughly twice as valuable in the sea as in the net because so many larger sea creatures prey on them.

Oregon State University professor Selina Heppell co-authored the study. She's proud to say the sardine and mackerel fisheries on the U.S. West Coast are already managed quite conservatively.

Here's some good news about Americans' diets: Most of us are getting sufficient amounts of key vitamins and minerals. That's the finding of a nutrition report just out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

Vitamins A and D, folate, iron and iodine are just a few of the nutrients assessed in the nationwide survey, which uses data collected between 1999 and 2006. Overall, less than 10 percent of the population appeared deficient in each nutrient.

Community supported agriculture sounds so simple. Support a local farm, get to know your farmer, enjoy weekly deliveries of fresh produce, and rest easy knowing that you've voted for the local economy with your food dollars.

Nancy Leson

In this week's Food for Thought, Nancy talks about her chicken pot pie recipe and I pile in with an abbreviated list of the things I think  I make the best of. We also recruited KPLU newsies Paula Wissel and Erin Hennessey along with production maven Nick Morrison to brag on what  their significant others say are their culinary triumphs.  

Click where it says "Listen" to hear all about it.