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August 1, 2011 2:34 PM

"Get out of my kitchen!" You got a problem with that?

Posted by Nancy Leson

"Can you talk and cook at the same time?" Eater Jennifer Bundy asks. She can't, and that inability is driving her bonkers. "I'll invite friends over for dinner and at least one of them will always want to come in the kitchen and chat with me while I'm cooking, and I'll finally have to say, `I can't talk to you right now.'"

Jennifer's far less tactful with her partner (aren't we all) and feels free to pull a Greta Garbo and kick that intimate interloper out. Which, by the way, is exactly what my husband does when he's cooking and I come in, grab a tasting spoon and say, "Hon, don't you think this could use a little salt?"


Don't ask ("Does this need a little salt?"), don't tell (me how to cook, says my husband). "And can you please stay out of my kitchen?" begs Jennifer Bundy. [photo/Nancy Leson]

Jennifer insists she loves to cook and hates to be a curmudgeon, but she's unable to concentrate on a conversation while trying to get dinner on the table. Worse, she says, "I have friends and relatives who make cooking look easy, and it's never easy for me -- it's stressful." She's prepared to chalk her problem up to her age, noting "I don't remember being so reactive about it when I was younger, but I was a much less ambitious cook then." And what she wants to know is this: "Do other people have that experience?"

So, I thought I'd throw her question out there. Do you find it difficult to be interested and polite while you're chopping garlic, sauteing vegetables or doing what ever it takes to get a meal on the table? When a well-meaning friend asks, "How can I help?" Do you say, "Get lost!"? Or do you fake a smile instead, then grind your teeth and suggest they grind some pepper into the pasta?

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June 27, 2011 9:46 AM

Chicken adobo a-go-go: it's a rap, and a recipe, Seattle-style

Posted by Nancy Leson

It's been a while since I've had chicken adobo -- the unofficial national dish of the Philippines -- but last week I had the jones for some. Must have been that Blue Scholars "Fou Lee" rap my pal Andrew Matson turned me on to: the one with rapper Geo and DJ/producer Sabzi seen shopping at Fou Lee market on Beacon Hill for adobo fixins', before heading home to cook up a pot for a crowd (check it out here).

Since Geo and Sabzi failed to invite me over to partake, and since Andrew waxed so eloquently about how easy it is to buy a chicken, get into the kitchen and get your groove on (something you've heard from me a time or two), I decided to do something I've never done: make chicken adobo at home.


Chicken adobo fixins' here at home. [photo: Nancy Leson]

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April 25, 2011 9:35 AM

Sous vide too "Geek"-y? Poach an egg in your microwave

Posted by Nancy Leson

Sunday morning, as I sat reading newspapers, drinking coffee and hoping my kid would sleep an extra hour before getting up to examine his Easter basket (dream on), I saw this terrific article about our own Seattle Food Geek, Scott Heimendinger. This guy's so fabulously geeky he's happy to share his step-by-step process for building your own sous vide immersion cooker using $75 in scrap parts -- though you could invest instead in the fancy happy-homemaker version.

Like me, the Seattle Food Geek thrills to the joy of eating a perfectly cooked egg. And his DIY machine slowly cooks food sealed in plastic and brought to perfection using the precisely controlled temperature of a hot-water bath. I, on the other hand, have exactly no interest in owning -- or building -- my own sous vide machine. But immersing an egg in water and cooking it for about the time it takes to toast a piece of bread, making for a real quick breakfast? That I'm buying. The good news? I've got all the machinery I need in my kitchen.



Got a minute? My old cheap microwave does the trick. And what a trick!

I've long known about nuking eggs to make the gentle custard served as a side dish at Korean restaurants. And I've seen the trick where you can make scrambled eggs using the steaming-wand of an espresso machine. But until I read the directions this month in Bon Appetit, I didn't realize you could successfully poach an egg in your microwave. The minute I read that, I stood right up and went to work. Lo and behold: breakfast.

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March 16, 2011 11:02 AM

D.I.Y. pantry staples easy as P.I.E. -- share yours?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Whoa. Nice food-page cover-spread this morning in the New York Times: a "D.I.Y. Cooking Handbook" courtesy of food writer Julia Moskin. Julia's right: it doesn't take molecular gastronomy -- nor fancy kitchen equipment -- to produce the easy-to-make staples in her aptly named "starter-kit": a kit that includes more than a dozen recipes, from cultured butter to chocolate-hazenut paste to kimchi.

I know she's right because I've got some of those do-it-myself staples in my kitchen. Including the creme fraiche I started making from scratch (for the first time, this year) when I was trying to figure out how to use up the extra gallon of heavy cream I had on hand post-Thanksgiving. And now, every time I see those little 8-ounce tubs of the stuff at the fussy supermarket for $6.95 I feel really smug.

I use Dorie Greenspan's ridiculously easy creme fraiche recipe from her gorgeous new book "Around My French Table". All you need is a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid, a cup of heavy cream, a tablespoon of buttermilk or plain yogurt plus a good arm for shaking and -- Voila!


My breakfast. This time of year, you've got to love those frozen berries from Remlinger Farms, a staple in my freezer.

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March 7, 2011 6:15 AM

Into the Vietnamese kitchen: do (chua) try this at home

Posted by Nancy Leson

As someone who's been eating banh mi for more than 20 years, it's never occurred to me to try to make those Vietnamese sandwiches at home. I love the fresh, crusty baguette-style rolls that help make a banh mi a banh mi -- and often buy them at my local Vietnamese deli for 50-cents a pop. But I always use that bread to make something else (say, an Italian sausage sandwich).

Why? Because the cost of putting together homemade banh mi is a recipe for adventure, but given the plethora of banh mi options in my neighborhood, it's faster and cheaper ($3 plus or minus a couple quarters) to buy the done-deal.

In order to make banh mi, I'd need the roll(s), plus cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno, carrot, daikon radish, mayo and some kind of protein as the central ingredient. And while I usually have many of those ingredients in my kitchen, the one thing I haven't had around -- till now, that is -- is the daikon and carrot pickle (do chua) that adds crunch, oomph, sweet and sour to the sandwich.



A recipe for success: homemade daikon and carrot pickle, which keeps in the fridge a month.

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December 3, 2010 10:56 AM

Seattle-area restaurant cookbooks: Get cookin'! Your faves?

Posted by Nancy Leson

In this age of austerity, when eating at home trumps dining out -- at least much of the time -- cookbooks with recipes from area restaurants are a welcome invitation to don an apron, hang out in the comfort of your kitchen and get cooking! Here are a handful of recently published volumes to add to your collection, and your gift-giving list.


Restaurant recipes -- at home in my kitchen.

And here are some of the many reasons why I think you should do so:

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October 8, 2010 3:08 PM

Lunch goes postal: why I love the U.S. Postal Service

Posted by Nancy Leson

My late father, who was quite a storyteller, was also a stamp collector who adored the U.S. Postal Service. "Think about it," he once said to me. "Name another service that will send someone directly to your door to fetch an envelope, put it in a truck, fly it across the country and deliver it anywhere in the U.S.A. -- for only 37 cents!" He had a very good point, but that's not why I love the USPS. Here's why:

For a long time my mail arrived via a cheerful curly-haired fellow named Tom who always had a kind word, and even showed up at our door with a baby gift (his own!) when Nate was born. In recent years the mail comes via his successor, Skip, who regularly chats with me about Chinese food and apparently checks in with my All You Can Eat fan page. Last night I told my Facebook fans about the double-batch of Sri Lankan beef curry I was preparing for dinner, and Skip chimed in via the social network, asking, "Do you have enough for your mailman???"

I did. And today I left him a pint of it in an insulated lunchbox with a note that read, "Got Rice?" Skip ate the curry during his lunch break, and returned the lunchbox shortly thereafter, along with my pint container -- filled with his homemade chili, which I ate for lunch. Oh, how my dad would have loved that story. So, anybody else trade edible treats with their mail carriers? Care to share your stories?



Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night will keep me from this homemade chili.

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August 18, 2010 8:47 AM

Chips, ahoy! It's a crumb-y job, but a great idea

Posted by Nancy Leson

I got a kick out of this story about chefs whose creative use of everyday supermarket ingredients offers good ideas for me and my kitchen. (Altoids to add a curiously strong mint flavor to sauces? Love it! And what if I used the cinnamon Altoids? That might be great melted into the custard for my homemade cinnamon-basil ice cream.)

Among the entries from the pros was this one, from Seattle's own ever-creative chef Mark Fuller of Spring Hill: crumbling Tim's Cascade Style Potato Chips -- mixed with panko -- as coating for pan-fried crab cakes. Sounds like an effort sure to work just as well with pan-fried chicken breast, or a pounded pork loin-chop, dishes that see regular rotation in my house. Which reminds me . . .



For an easier method, try a Ziploc bag and a rolling pin.

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July 7, 2010 6:30 AM

Easy summer salad ideas: What's on your table?

Posted by Nancy Leson

When I was rummaging around in the fridge last night looking for salad makings, the sight of a seedless watermelon gave me an idea. OK, so it wasn't a novel idea, but it was a salad I'd never made for my family. I diced the melon, added a little crumbled feta, some fresh mint from the pot out back, and some sumac I'd bought the other day (I knew I'd use it for something!). Cool salad for a warm evening, right? Right.



I sprinkled mine with a little salt. Mac said the feta was "salt" enough for him. Nate said, "Huh? Watermelon and feta?" But he ate it anyway.

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June 16, 2010 2:09 PM

Fried chicken: a little night music

Posted by Nancy Leson

After all that chat about cooking and eating fried chicken yesterday, I felt obligated to fry some up for dinner last night using the recipe I shared from my well-stained copy of the Chalfonte Hotel cookbook (plus some old-fashioned snowy white Crisco). Sure, it would have been easier to go down to my local supermarket and buy the "8 pieces for $6.99!" special, but it wouldn't have been half as much fun. And despite what my cardiologist has to say, it was um-um good.


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June 16, 2010 9:53 AM

Salmon on the grill: keep it simple, cupid

Posted by Nancy Leson

Last week, when I wrote about salmon from a restaurant-centric point of view, I heard from not a few of you regarding your favorite place to eat wild Northwest salmon. Overriding verdict? At home. And who am I to disagree? So, today on KPLU's "Food for Thought" Stein and I had a nice yak session about my favorite finfish, where I gave you, my Eaters, the nod for your DIY-attitude and shared my husband's time-tested recipe for keeping salmon moist on the grill (check it out, here) .

Mac's been grilling salmon using his quick-to-prep chutney-based recipe for 30 years. And despite the multi-flavored ingredients (including Major Grey's, barbecue sauce and lemon juice), his paste magically manages to complement -- not overwhelm -- the fish. Anyway, since it's salmon season, I thought I'd throw this question out there: Have you got any simple grilled-salmon recipes you'd like to share?



Catch me if you can! If not, go see your local fishmonger. That's what I always do. What do you mean you don't have one? I know some folks who can help you out: my seafood-lovin' Eaters, who shared their thoughts on the subject in the comments on this post.

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March 29, 2010 12:46 PM

Chicken soup's on! Got any tips you want to pass over?

Posted by Nancy Leson

As Jews the world over prepare for Passover, I thought I'd join them today by making a big pot of chicken soup -- to serve later with some nice matzoh balls. Chicken soup's a funny thing, culturally speaking. Every culture has its own, and everyone swears their mother or grandmother is the soup maven who truly does it "best."

Judy Bart Kancigor, author of "Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family" is convinced her mother made the best chicken soup, and has been fighting with her cousins for years about that "fact," though she does us all the service of including her Aunt Estelle's recipe in the cookbook. Her aunt's recipe calls for 25 "bottom chicken quarters," 2 pieces flanken, the giblets from 20 chickens and 3 petrushkas (parsley roots) -- among other ingredients.

Anyway, while I was prepping my single 4-pound bird for the pot this morning, it dawned on me to answer a query from Eater "kag1984" (who regularly comments from her home in Peoria, Illinois) regarding the "best" way to make chicken stock for soup. The answer, unfortunately, is that there are far too many answers. But ever the sport, I thought I'd throw out a couple tips, and ask the rest of you to add your two-cents-worth.



My tips: keep the skins on the onions, save the schmaltz for the matzoh balls, don't be shy with the salt, and go buy some "Soup Socks."

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March 17, 2010 11:16 AM

Photos from the "Why didn't I think of that?" department

Posted by Nancy Leson

In keeping with my corned-beef-and-eggs theme this morning, my hat's off to Eater Ty Graham for sharing this bodacious breakfast with me. Brussels sprouts! Why didn't I think of that? If you've got photos of your corned beef-leftovers, feel free to hit me with your best shot, tell me what I'm looking at, and I'll add it to this post.



Corned beef hash with poached egg and Chicaoji -- sprouts on the side. [photo courtesy Ty Graham]

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March 17, 2010 7:25 AM

Corned beef and -- what do you do with the leftovers?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Top 'o the mornin' to you. Thought I'd get a little jump-start on the festivities with a proper breakfast -- made with a wee bit of leftover corned beef and cabbage from last night's dinner. (I'm going out tonight, for seafood.) Perhaps you'll be setting out this evening to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by lifting a pint with some friends at a proper Irish pub. If so, where are you headed? (Need some ideas? Try these.) And to those of you who'll be keeping the home-fires burning, cooking a bright pink slab 'o meat with some brine-soaked greens, I've got to ask: What do you do with the leftovers?



A meal so nice, I made it twice: corned beef and cabbage omelet.

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February 24, 2010 11:21 AM

Great chicken recipes: mine, Stein's, yours?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Today on Food for Thought my radio sidekick Dick Stein and I clucked loudly about some great chicken recipes. He swears by Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Baking Day Chicken from The Italian Country Table, and I can't say enough about how much I love the quick and jazzily-spiced Spiced Chicken recipe from the new Gourmet Today cookbook.



My latest gotta-make-it chicken recipe: "spiced" -- and easy!


In my book (and I've got 'em in spades) there's nothing as versatile an ingredient as chicken, and I've got "favorite" recipes out the yin-yang. Like the simple roast chicken I regularly make on Sundays, which never tastes the same twice since I often add a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

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January 22, 2010 10:14 AM

Rosemary Olive Rolls recipe: your weekend assignment

Posted by Nancy Leson

KPLU recently re-ran the "Food for Thought" episode where I talked about my recipe for Rosemary Olive Rolls. Though calling it "mine" is stretching the truth. It's actually a recipe from Peter Dow's Cafe Juanita. The last time I ate there -- back in the pre-Holly Smith days -- those housemade rolls were served with the meal, and when I asked for the recipe chef John Neumark was kind enough to comply. My friend Barbara scribbled it down on a notepad, and more than a decade later it holds a hallowed place in my old-fashioned recipes file.


"Nancy's" Cafe Juanita Rolls recipe, the hand-written version.

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December 14, 2009 7:54 AM

Your homemade food-gift ideas? (Salted bacon caramels!)

Posted by Nancy Leson

My friend Maureen sent me a note with a seasonally significant suggestion:

"I'm looking for some food gift ideas -- but not fancy expensive store-bought stuff. I'd like to make some nibbles to give to people, but I'm not that interested in cookies this year. Have you come across any good blogs or websites with homemade food gift ideas? If not, maybe your blog could suss some out? Just an admittedly self-serving thought."

Hey, you're in luck, Maureen. Because I also got an e-mail from blogger Suddenly Sahm, the creatively employed (S)tay (a)t (h)ome (m)om who loves to cook. Sahm turned me on to the greatest idea since Bacon Explosion: salted bacon caramels, a recipe she shares on her blog this month.



Suddenly Sahm's gift-wrapped salted bacon caramels. Sweet!
(photo courtesy: Suddenly Sahm).

I don't know about you, but I expect to be hanging out in my kitchen during my upcoming holiday vacation makin' bacon'. And as Maureen suggests, perhaps you, dear Eaters, would be kind enough to share some of your favorite blog-posts, websites or family recipes for homemade edible gifts. Like this recipe for preserved Meyer lemons. Or . . .

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November 19, 2009 9:12 AM

Wok season

Posted by Nancy Leson

I've owned several woks, but never got into the habit of using them. My first was aluminum and came as part of a cheap boxed set -- with a pair of long chopsticks and a half-moon frying rack. It gathered dust in the far corners of my cupboard till I sold it at a yard sale long ago. I own a nonstick wok that's truly good for nothing, and I married into a small halfway-decent wok with a wooden handle that Mac often employs to stir-fry beef with cabbage and "brown noodles" -- one of the dishes he and Nate eat when I'm out on the town. But a week ago I treated myself to a new wok, for which I paid a surprisingly reasonable $18 at the restaurant supply store. It's the wok I've been thinking about buying since I first read Grace Young's lovely book "The Breath of a Wok," in which she describes that versatile vessel as "the only pan ideally suited for stir-frying, pan-frying, braising, poaching, boiling, deep-frying, steaming, smoking foods, and even cooking rice."



Cost? $18. Thrill-quotient? Priceless.

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November 17, 2009 5:35 AM

She's "17 and Baking" -- teen blogger has recipe for success

Posted by Nancy Leson

If you're a food-lover who loves to read about food, chances are you're familiar with Molly Wizenberg, whose blog Orangette launched the memoir "A Homemade Life" (and whose husband launched the Ballard pizzeria Delancey). Perhaps you've heard of Shauna James Ahern, the Gluten-Free Girl whose blog and book co-stars her husband, "the Chef." And Matthew Amster-Burton, whose Roots and Grubs blog birthed "Hungry Monkey," the story of a Seattle dad's quest to raise an adventurous eater. Now allow me to introduce you to the Bellevue high school senior who gets my vote for "most likely to succeed." Her name is Elissa Bernstein and she shares her love for baking -- and lust for life -- as the vibrant voice behind "17 and Baking."



Bernstein takes the cake -- and shared her recipe and photo for this beaut last July.


Elissa was 14, perusing the cookbooks at Costco when she spotted a book whose recipe for spongecake with meringue frosting would become the catalyst for her sweet obsession. "I convinced my mother to buy it," she told me, and when her earliest effort "ended up looking exactly like the picture in the book," her interest in baking snowballed.

At 15 she got a KitchenAid stand mixer for Christmas. Turning Sweet 16, she added to her arsenal a food processor and an ice cream machine. Her father -- a terrific home cook and his only child's No. 1 fan -- bragged, "You'd have thought we got her a convertible!" Elissa celebrated the occasion by inviting friends to dinner. But not before they had a party in the kitchen, preparing three kinds of handmade pasta.

Today the Interlake High School senior is an intern at John Howie's Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar in Bellevue. There she works two days each week gaining school credit by prepping salads and desserts, torching creme brulees and baking cookies that impress the Seastar pros, who've begun to call her "the cookie intern."

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November 13, 2009 10:10 AM

"What can I bring?" Good question invites an answer

Posted by Nancy Leson

I just got a tweet from blogger Suddenly Sahm. The acronymic, laid-off S(tay)-a(t)-h(ome)-m(om) who loves to cook thought I'd appreciate her latest blog-post. One that delves into the oft-asked question, "What can I bring?" Suddenly Sahm ponders the ubiquity of that query, and wonders:

"Where did this come from? I was raised to bring a hostess gift when invited to someone's home, but unless the occasion was expressly labeled a potluck, I do not remember my mother ever bringing a dish to someone's home or vice versa.

Funny she should bring it up. She's right, of course. Among my crowd, that's the standard response to any invite, and I'm as guilty of asking the question as the next person. It was the first thing my best friend asked early this week when I called to say, "Mac's making paella, you guys in for Friday night?" (Of course they were in. Who wouldn't want Mac's paella?)



Just show up with a nice Rioja, OK?


So, what do you think: Has every dinner party turned into a potluck? Is there something wrong with that?

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October 20, 2009 2:35 PM

Talking turkey: A tale of two chickens -- $25 vs. $8

Posted by Nancy Leson

Ever wonder what all the fuss is when it comes to "fancy" chickens? You know the kind: lives down on the farm, roams green pastures, nibbles grass and organic grain, never met an antibiotic or a saline solution, spends time pecking in the dirt, basking in the sun, hiding from hawks -- you get the picture:



Down on the farm -- at Skagit River Ranch in Sedro-Woolley.


As much as I like the idea of truly free-ranging chickens raised on family farms, until recently, I've never actually bought one. Not only because they cost a small fortune, but because several years ago I cooked a $65 local heritage turkey for Thanksgiving (along with a $24 supermarket bird) and there wasn't a single well-fed mouth at that very long table who disagreed with my assessment: we all preferred the plump cheap bird to the lean, genetically superior, well-bred and thoughtfully raised one.

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September 25, 2009 10:12 AM

Trader Joe's: What's in your shopping bag?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Twenty years ago in a Ballard apartment, my pal Abbie introduced me something I'd never seen -- nor heard of -- before: products from Trader Joe's. She was unpacking a suitcase after a trip to California and carrying on the way some people do when they've returned from France with raw-cheese contraband. "Look at this pesto!" she said, pulling a tall jar of the deep-green paste from its clothing cushion. "And what about these sun-dried tomatoes? Guess how much they cost? Bupkes!"

Well, that was then and this is now, when California-based Trader Joe's stores are an ingrained part of our shopping culture, and TJ's -- with their secretive house-brand products -- can be found all around town (the latest is slated to open in Redmond October 9). I hit my local TJ's regularly, stocking up on things I can't live without. Just about everyone else I know apparently does so, too.



"Homemade?" Uh, not exactly, but I won't tell if you don't tell.


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August 6, 2009 2:46 PM

Can o' worms: Eat "right" or else? I don't think so.

Posted by Nancy Leson

I love it when readers get riled up, as some did after I gave the big nod to pancakes in a can. Some of you agreed that the organic pancake-mix Batter Blaster is not only a blast -- but a must-have on summer camping trips. Some took me to task for promoting it. Others voiced concern that Seattle's recycling laws may render the product (with its "recyclable" plastic cap and steel can pressurized not by aerosol, but by the CO2 in the batter) unwelcome here in the most emerald of cities. I'm still working on getting answers to that one from the City of Seattle and the brass at Batter Blaster -- who FedEx'd two cans to the recycling gurus yesterday. Verdict pending.

Meantime, I need to talk to you about something that riles me up: the pervasive attitude that educated consumers must be 100 percent clean and green in the kitchen. If not, suggest the righteous, we don't deserve to breathe the air we share with Alice Waters and Michael Pollan -- esteemed by our Slow Food nation for what they've brought to the table. Nor are we doing our part for our children, ourselves and our planet. P.S.? B.S.

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July 30, 2009 11:39 AM

Movin' some zucchini? Here's my recipe for success

Posted by Nancy Leson

I've never been one to pass-up a "free!" box, and I got my chance again this morning when I drove by my neighbor's house and saw this:



Squash the brakes! They're giving away zucchini!

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May 28, 2009 7:30 AM

Nonni's biscotti recipe: that's the way the cookie crumbles

Posted by Nancy Leson

Carol G., a baker of 40 years longstanding, is having issues with biscotti. "I like to bake my own biscotti," she wrote, "and my problem is that when I have to slice the baked loaf and then put it back into the oven, the loaf crumbles a lot. Do you know of anything I can do to make the loaf not crumble quite so much? Am I not allowing it to cool long enough before slicing it? I don't mind eating the broken pieces, but I sometimes like to give homemade biscotti as a gift, and broken-up baked goods don't seem quite appropriate."



Biscotti: the gift that keeps on giving. (Seattle Times file photo)

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May 26, 2009 8:56 AM

America the beautiful: what do you bring to a potluck?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Yesterday, like Americans all across our country, I went to a Memorial Day barbecue and spent several very pleasant hours eating, drinking and chatting with friends old and new. While the kids jumped around on a trampoline and ate watermelon, the grownups mingled, drinking sangria and talking about their lives, their kids, their work and (in the case of me and this new pal) the state of our country's health care system.

There were hot dogs and hamburgers of course, plus "Ruski kebabs" prepared by one of the many Russian guests (and described as such by another). The Irishman tending the grill did a pitch-perfect job with the chicken: a chilies-fueled version of Indian cookbook-author Madhur Jaffrey's recipe, procured by his wife -- whom he met in Zimbabwe.



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April 30, 2009 10:50 AM

Garbanzo beans, chickpeas, ceci: get 'em while they're fresh!

Posted by Nancy Leson

You many have already heard about my penchant for buying "exotic" fruits and vegetables -- something I do regularly when shopping at Asian markets. I view the exercise as a fun science experiment, figuring, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it's always an education. Well, last night I stopped into my local PCC, and right inside the front door was a sign promoting fresh garbanzo beans:


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April 27, 2009 6:55 AM

Bob Kramer on The Splendid Table, I make shrimp stir-fry

Posted by Nancy Leson

You've heard me talk about local bladesmith Bob Kramer and his much-coveted handmade knives here on the blog. Well, yesterday, while listening to The Splendid Table, I heard him chatting with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, describing in great detail exactly how he does the voodoo that he does so well. If you missed the show, here's the link. And if you missed my post of a year ago, in which I discuss Lynne's latest cookbook and what has since become one of my favorite quick recipes, here it is again:


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April 24, 2009 1:30 PM

They took the 5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake challenge

Posted by Nancy Leson

I promised a photo galley of Eater's versions of the 5-minute Chocolate Mug Cake recipe I blogged about earlier this week. And away we go (come on! what are the rest of you waiting for?):

Grace Hensley writes: "Yippee! An excuse for chocolate in the morning! We used cake flour and Easter-egg-hunt chocolate-almond Kisses. We reduced the sugar to 3 tablespoons and microwaved it for 2.5 minutes in 1550-watt microwave. Big wow-factor in the microwave. Too bad it fell after we took it out. Still a bit rubbery, but not too sweet. We enjoyed it with Thin Mint ice cream on top. It took [total prep/bake-time] 12 minutes 34 seconds. . . In a coincidence, we are reading the book `Chocolate Fever' by Robert Kimmel Smith; we'll let you know if Jack breaks out in chocolate polka-dots."

Here's Grace's son Jack before his fever spiked:



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April 22, 2009 10:44 AM

5-minute masterpiece? Chocolate mug cake recipe gets nuked

Posted by Nancy Leson

My friend and longtime reader Dick Fike sent me a little gift this morning: a recipe for Five Minute Chocolate Mug Cake -- a "dangerous" microwave dessert that's had its 15 minutes of fame on many other food and cooking blogs, where it's beloved and ridiculed in varying measure. So, two mugs into my morning coffee, with a good half-hour before I had to wake Nate for school, I headed into the kitchen to see what all the fuss was about. The five minutes, by the way, accounts for mixing and nuking, but not for the gathering of ingredients (I know that Hershey's cocoa's hiding in this cabinet somewhere!) nor picture-taking:


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April 21, 2009 8:55 AM

Urban Eats Nosh-a-thon. I'm going to Tukwila. You?

Posted by Nancy Leson

I'm not much for launch parties. Or any big-honkin'-parties whatsoever. But the Urban Eats Nosh-a-thon -- a kick-off event for the latest in a line-up of month-long, 3-course-for-$30 restaurant promos -- sounds like something I shouldn't miss. The entry fee ($30) is a donation for the job-training program FareStart (and you know how much I love FareStart), but that's not why I'm driving to Tukwila Saturday to party down from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sure, I'll be sipping wine and snacking on foods prepared by 10 chefs culled from Urban Eats' 48 participating restaurants (see full list below). And though seattletimes.com is sponsoring the Urban Eats promotion -- set to offer dinnertime discounts May 3-31, exclusive of Mother's Day -- I won't be heading south because The Boss insisted I should. I'm going because the Nosh-a-thon (details here) is being held at the Basco Kitchen Design Showroom. And because this meet-the-chefs-event will have them cooking -- LIVE from TUKWILA! -- at 10 of Basco's 15 demonstration-kitchen stations.

While I'm there, I can ogle the goods, and by goods, I'm not talking about whatever nibbles the chefs from joints like Palace Kitchen, Taberna del Alabardero, The Georgian and Dulces Latin Bistro are cooking up. I'm talking about the showroom's showy appliances -- each set up in its own little version of somebody's "dream kitchen." Mine, perhaps? The very kitchen we were chatting about last week when I told you about my upcoming remodel.

That post had nearly 50 of you (and counting) responding on-line with your heartfelt and instructive do's and don'ts -- calling a spade a spade (or more precisely, a lemon a lemon), telling me what's worked for you, and what hasn't. One of you (signed in as -- love it! -- "Go Away I'm Cooking") even suggested I check out the Basco showroom. So, how can I resist?

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April 16, 2009 2:04 PM

Can you eat on $7 a day? What if you had to? How would you do it?

Posted by Nancy Leson

All You Can Eat, like many food blogs, celebrates the ways we love to eat: at home, in restaurants, perhaps with a glass of good wine in one hand and a friend or loved one nearby. I talk with you regularly about dining out, frequently mentioning some of the city's more expensive venues: ones worth saving up the big bucks to explore. And I've turned you on to great restaurant-values and to the many cheap-eateries I frequent, whether I'm dining in or taking out.

Of course, I also exhort your support for businesses like FareStart, whose beautiful downtown restaurant employs the homeless and disadvantaged, and whose training program helps feed those in need and assists students in finding work in the hospitality industry. And St. Clouds, whose community efforts to feed the hungry include monthly "Homeless Cooking Wednesdays" -- where friends and neighbors gather in Madrona to help feed those who don't have a kitchen to cook in, or the money or wherewithal to cook. But hunger goes beyond homelessness and into the homes of many, and that's where United Way of King County comes in.

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April 10, 2009 1:34 PM

My favorite cake recipe: perfect for Easter Sunday

Posted by Nancy Leson

Wednesday night was my bookclub night, and our dinner was divine as usual. For dessert, I made Cornmeal Rosemary Cake with Lemon Glaze, which is perfect for Easter dinner -- in case you were wondering what to serve for dessert on Sunday, or headed to someone's house and want to impress them with a homemade host/ess gift. OK, so the kids might not be as crazy about a cake made with rosemary and cornmeal as I am, but they won't need dessert, having already bitten the heads off their solid chocolate Easter bunnies and stuffed themselves sick with jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps:



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April 8, 2009 6:45 PM

Eat bamboo shoots first, ask questions later

Posted by Nancy Leson

If you frequent Chinese restaurants chances are you've eaten bamboo shoots -- the canned version, no doubt. But often, when I'm out shopping in Asian markets, I see fresh bamboo shoots packed in plastic bags or loose in big rubber tubs, and though I occasionally consider buying some, I end up asking myself, "Yeah, but what are you going to do with them?" Last night I got my answer.

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April 3, 2009 8:26 AM

Why I love our Asian Markets

Posted by Nancy Leson

Today, in my Ticket roundup, I profiled five Asian supermarkets, among them places I regularly shop to feed my family, my fridge and my pantry. As I've said before, I'm an equal-opportunity shopper. And while you might enjoy hitting the sales at the malls for bargains on clothes, shoes or techno-toys, my idea of a great time is roaming the aisles of an international market -- as entertaining and enlightening a trip as any found on a shoestring budget. Passport to India? Who needs one? Ditto for Japan, China, Korea, Southeast Asia and every other spot on the globe I've yet to visit.


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March 25, 2009 8:02 AM

Japanese recipe website: it's J-Simple

Posted by Nancy Leson

When we talk about Japanese food in Seattle, we're usually talking about one of two things: sushi (my favorite subject) or teriyaki (the city's ubiquitous "Japanese" take-out shops). But there's so much more to the cuisine, as you can see if you take a spin through the whoa-vey-iz-mir! aisles of Uwajimaya or the much smaller (and homier) Maruta Shoten in Georgetown. There you can stock up on ingredients needed to make the simple homestyle recipes you'll find at J-Simple Recipes. There's lots to love on this impressive site courtesy of brother and sister team Kenji and Manami Imai, from Japan's Aichi prefecture. Especially for folks like me who live for Japanese food but have yet to attempt making such comfort-food classics as this one:

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March 18, 2009 11:24 AM

"Awesome" meat loaf recipe

Posted by Nancy Leson

Eater Kevin Peterson is hot on the trail of an "awesome meat loaf recipe" and wrote to ask, "Do you have any favorites I can try?" In fact, I do, Kevin -- though I'm obliged to tell you we ran a great-looking recipe for Classic Meat Loaf in our Food & Wine section today, along with meat loaf-making tips and techniques from Southern chef Scott Peacock. And I'd love to hear from anyone else who has a favorite recipe they'd like to share with me and Kevin. As for my "awesome" recipe, replicated below, it comes with a story:

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March 13, 2009 4:40 PM

Baking fish "en papillote" -- So easy, and elegant!

Posted by Nancy Leson

Back in the '80's I worked at a the Marx Bros. Cafe in Alaska, where one of the most popular dishes was "salmon en papillote." The salmon filet was layered over a ridiculously rich scallion-laced cream sauce thickened with egg yolks, enveloped in parchment paper and baked in a 450-degree oven till the paper puffed up like old-fashioned Jiffy Pop:



Am I crazy, or is that "witch" Ruth Buzzi?

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March 11, 2009 2:52 PM

Seville oranges: going, going, gone?

Posted by Nancy Leson

"I was just reading your article about making marmalade from Seville oranges," Eater Teresa Jonsson wrote this morning. "Do you know where I can find fresh Sevilles in Seattle? I've been calling stores all over the place and have been unsuccessful." Funny she should ask. Earlier this month I was trolling the produce aisles at Shoreline Central Market when I found this:



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March 3, 2009 7:41 PM

Music to cook by. I'll take Pizza -- relli. How about you?

Posted by Nancy Leson

What music do you listen to while you're cooking? When I posed that question on air to my radio sidekick Dick Stein, he told me he listens to Zydeco if he's making Cajun food, maybe some opera if he's cooking Italian and, uh, Meat Loaf when he's prepping meatloaf.

Me? I listen to lots of James Taylor and Karrin Allyson; Crosby, Stills & Nash and a ton of Brazilian jazz. I've worn the grooves off my several recordings of Getz and Gilberto singing Jobim, and regularly play the Brazilian Lounge compilation half the bistros in town seem to have on their sound systems. But often as not, I'm listening to that Italian guy from Jersey whose voice I adore. No, not that guy! The other Jersey Boy: John Pizzarelli -- the crooner who has "Pizza" in his name.

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March 2, 2009 10:46 AM

A toast to that French Toast

Posted by Nancy Leson

Whoa. What a breakfast! Had I cooked first and written my last post later, I'd have told you that I can see why Troy Walker had such fond memories of the French toast he served and enjoyed when he worked for the Santa Fe Railroad. Calories be damned (and trust me: there are plenty in that recipe), it's the best French toast I've ever made -- or eaten. Was it the bath in creamy custard? the deep frying in hot oil? the extra crisping in the oven? Maybe it was my buddy Leslie's homemade meyer lemon preserves adding that certain je ne sais quoi as a garnish? Perhaps it was all of the above. Try it, you'll love it. I sure did!


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March 2, 2009 9:24 AM

Recipe redux: French Toast a la Santa Fe -- and other dining-car memories

Posted by Nancy Leson

"It's been 65 years since Troy Walker got hired as a dining-car waiter on the Santa Fe Railway, but he readily recalls a few things he loved about the job: the steady, clean work; the excitement of seeing new places, meeting new people -- and the French toast the railroad cooks made for breakfast."

So wrote my pal Jack Broom last month -- after interviewing Walker for a Seattle Times story honoring railroad porters. "That was one of their specialties," Walker, 90, who lives in the Rainier Beach area, told Jack. "They'd start it the night before. I'm not sure how they made it, but it was very good."

Jack and I would like to extend our fond thanks to astute reader Scott Handley, who made it possible for Mr. Walker -- and the rest of us -- to enjoy that specialty at home. Handley wrote to say that "French Toast a la Santa Fe" appears in the book "Dining by Rail: The History and Recipes of America's Golden Age of Railroad Cuisine" by James D. Porterfield.

Porterfield (who clearly has the right name for the job) wrote: "This special and renowned recipe, perhaps the best French toast of them all, was perfected by Fred Harvey chefs in 1918 for the Santa Fe Railway's dining cars. It produces a puffy, golden brown delicacy. The Santa Fe Railway dining-car service, at its peak, produced nearly 1 million breakfasts a year. This item perennially topped the `most popular' list." Here's the recipe:

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February 25, 2009 8:40 AM

Pasta water discussion hot topic in my house

Posted by Nancy Leson

Over my morning coffee, I read with great interest today's New York Times installment of "The Curious Cook" by Harold McGee. In that kitchen-tested testament, McGee answered the question "Why boil so much more water than pasta actually absorbs, only to pour it down the drain?" That query, and the pro's answer, made me want to rush to my computer and send the Curious Cook a query from another curious cook -- this one:

When I'm in a rush to make pasta, whether it's for a family favorite like spaghetti Bolognese or a box of Annie's macaroni and cheese, I often use hot tap water to speed the process. At which point my husband, Mr. Safety, grabs a ruler (just like the one the nuns used to use on him in grade school) and slaps my hand, reminding me once again that I should "Never, ever use hot tap water for anything that's going to be ingested":



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February 17, 2009 12:14 PM

Got an hour? Make some fast and fabulous Chinese barbecued baby back ribs

Posted by Nancy Leson

I don't know about you, but I think three-day weekends should be the law of the land. You work four days, you "play" three. Don't I wish. The reason I think three-day weekends would make my life complete is that with an "extra" day-off you can actually find the time to do the things you like to do.

For example, this weekend, in addition to the stuff I had to do this (clean out my hell-hole of a home office, pay bills and balance the checkbook, chase the new dog around the neighborhood after she got out -- sans collar, which was found later hanging on the bottom of the fence-hole she slipped out under), I also got to visit with new friends and old ones. And take the ferry to Vashon Island. And show my kid I can play "Hotel California" on "Guitar Hero." And spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking delicious things.

Like the cornmeal rosemary cake with lemon glaze, from my well-stained copy of "Tom's Big Dinners." And our friend and former daycare provider Vijay Niles' "famous" beef curry (prepared over the course of several hours, while reliving my youth by listening to Karla Bonoff's Greatest Hits CD after watching her perform at the Edmonds Performing Arts Center Friday night). Or these fast and fabulous Chinese barbecued baby back ribs -- which I threw together in less than an hour Monday evening after an exhausting day cleaning out the aforementioned hell-hole:


So, if you're exhausted from a nice long weekend, and can't think of anything to cook tonight (or any other night), I suggest you do as I do: make those quick-and-easy ribs, culled from the November 2007 issue of Gourmet Magazine and conveniently archived right here online at epicurious.com. It only takes an hour, and the "active time" is a mere 10 minutes, leaving plenty of time to chase the dog. Or grab your faux-ax and fly like an Eagle.

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February 17, 2009 8:48 AM

DIY coffee roasting. Help!

Posted by Nancy Leson

I recently read an article in the Jan/Feb issue of Northwest Palate suggesting roasting your own beans is not as hard as it looks, so I cut it out, intent on taking on the challenge:


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February 10, 2009 11:36 AM

Bacon Explosion: five out of five cardiologists don't recommend it

Posted by Nancy Leson

When I saw the headline in the New York Times last month -- the one that said: "Take Bacon. Add Sausage. Blog." -- those were words I simply could not ignore. And when my KPLU-buddy Dick Stein saw the same story, about a recipe for bacon-wrapped-sausage-and-bacon that's taken the Internet by storm (complete with photos!) it only took about six seconds for him to flip me an e-mail insisting it would make for some fun food-radio. As if I needed prompting! So, on Sunday afternoon I went to work, making a tweaked version of "The BBQ Sausage Recipe of all Recipes" (as dubbed by the originators, a couple of barbecue-competition maniacs). But first, I called on my cardiologist, who suggested I might want to sprinkle a little Simvastatin over the top before I chow down:


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February 9, 2009 7:27 AM

My favorite French onion soup recipe. Yours?

Posted by Nancy Leson

What's my favorite do-it-yourself French onion soup recipe? No, it's not the frozen version I buy at Trader Joe's, though that's certainly an easy fix -- as I mentioned in Friday's onion soup blog-post. The recipe I hold dear is Jim Drohman's.

Jim needs no introduction (though I'll make one anyway). He's the chef and co-owner of Cafe Presse and Le Pichet, where he serves onion soup the way he -- and I -- prefer it: made with chicken stock, in the Lyonnaise style:



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February 5, 2009 11:45 AM

Useless utensils: One cook's trash is another's treasure

Posted by Nancy Leson

Look up "utensil" in the dictionary, and you'll find a definition like this one: "An instrument, an implement, or a container used domestically, especially in a kitchen." Look up "useless utensil" and here's what you should find, says me:



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January 29, 2009 1:00 PM

Rachael Ray goes to Harvard -- and I go to her for Super Bowl Sunday recipes

Posted by Nancy Leson

Yesterday I received a PDF-file from Harvard Business School titled "Rachael Ray: Cooking Up a Brand." I just finished reading it, and I have to tell you: the 21-page, fastidiously footnoted case study, prepared by professor Boris Groysberg and his business school colleague Kerry Herman, was fascinating.

Not since Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal locked lips in "Love Story" -- seen at the movie theater when I was an impressionable lovesick 'tween -- have I been so intrigued by something having to do with Harvard.

And what I learned about Rachael Ray has certainly changed my opinion of her. Not that I had anything against her, really, if you don't count the whole Ritz Crackers-situation I wrote about in 2007 under the headline, "Rachael, Rachael, Rachael: Enough already!"



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January 27, 2009 5:12 PM

The last Chinese book club dinner: Eat, Drink, Discuss

Posted by Nancy Leson

This being Seattle, and the fact that you're a reader, leads me to believe you're either in a book club, know someone who's in a book club, or -- as I did for so many years -- wish you had the time to join a book club.

Two years ago I made time, and here's why: because my book club cooks and our monthly dinners are amazing. I've long thought I should show-and-tell you how amazing they really are, and this being the week for Chinese New Year's celebration, and also the month we read "The Last Chinese Chef," I figured that time has come.

First, a bit about my group. Some are shopkeepers while others have office jobs. One's a beach ranger, another's recently retired, one writes for magazines and does PR work. A few keep the home-fires burning while their husbands work. And then there's the one who, I'm convinced, works for the CIA (the governmental arm, not the culinary institute), though she pleads the Fifth every time I suggest it. Each valiantly holds her own in our spirited discussions about the books we've read, and for me, spending time around the table with these smart funny women is one of the highlights of my month.

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January 16, 2009 4:43 PM

After school snack: easy "homemade" pizza recipe

Posted by Nancy Leson

I don't know about you, but my kid drives me crazy when he comes home from school. God forbid he should say, "Hi Mom! How's it going?" or "I had a really interesting day in school today -- let me tell you all about it" or even "You'll never believe who got sent to Mr. Baumgartner's office!" Nope. Day after day it's the same thing: "I'm starving!"

At which point I take a deep breath. And I don't say (though I'd like to) "When I was your age and my mother worked all day, I came home and not infrequently started dinner. After your aunts and uncle and I helped ourselves to bowls of Lucky Charms because they were so magically delicious!" Instead, I make him something to eat. Yesterday it was corn tortillas stuffed with leftover roast pork and salsa. Today it was pizza. But not just any pizza: "homemade pizza" -- like the one I just pulled out of the oven:



Here's my secret recipe: You go to the store and buy flatbread (pita works, or even a tortilla, but I prefer the Middle Eastern Flatbread from Trader Joe's: $1.99 for six rounds); mozzarella (I grate my own from an 8-oz ball, but for the sake of ease, you might prefer pre-grated); canned pizza sauce (Muir Glen's version is a superior product) and whatever toppings I can find in the fridge (I usually have some sliced ham around, and Nate likes pepperoncini).

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January 8, 2009 12:09 PM

That's Italian: Where to shop?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Eater Kevin Slover writes: "I wanted to find out if you had any recommendations for an Italian market that would carry the following items: canned San Marzano tomatoes; whole anchovies packed in salt; capers packed in sea salt; high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, wine vinegar, etc. Also, various cuts of veal that you can't get at the grocery store. I'm on a quest to learn how to cook good Italian food and having access to excellent ingredients is something I'm after. I figured you might know of some good sources."

I do. But I thought I'd throw the question out here on the blog, so you folks can add to my list.

First let me say that we live in a food-shopper's paradise. Many of the items Kevin's searching for may be found at our area supermarkets -- everywhere from QFC to PCC, Top Foods to Whole Foods, Metropolitan Market to Central Market (where I often buy meaty veal shanks for osso bucco). There are also many web-based businesses selling the products Kevin's looking for. For those who choose to go that route, I encourage you to support the local economy by shopping at ChefShop (whose retail store is at 1415 Elliott Avenue) and buying Ritrovo products (available via Ditalia).

But what fun is shopping by phone or online when -- listen up here, Kevin! -- you can stop what you're doing right now and drive to Pike Place Market for some serious one-stop shopping.

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January 7, 2009 9:17 AM

Maximus pantry for Minimalist New Year: what's in yours?

Posted by Nancy Leson

In today's New York Times, "The Minimalist" Mark Bittman brings home a point that became all too clear to me during our recent "Storm Watch: 2008!" when I, like so many of you, hunkered down at home and cooked. During that lengthy home-'n-hang I turned to my fridge and pantry with considerable more interest than usual, to keep from having to de-ice-and-snow the car or walk in (ankle-) deep snow to get to the market for provisions.

Using ingredients I had on hand I made soup. And turned to my larder for homegrown potatoes to eat with that comfort-food specialty, roast chicken. I also baked many loaves of the Bread Recipe That Roared (thanks again, Bittman!). I even delved into my notorious downstairs freezer for inspiration.

So this morning, when I saw the photo accompanying The Minimalist's story "Fresh Start for a New Year? Let's Begin in the Kitchen" and read what he had to say about the literal "ins" and "outs" regarding cooking essentials, I immediately wanted to share it with you. And here's why:

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December 19, 2008 10:10 AM

Keeping the home-fires burning: Comfort foods. Yours?

Posted by Nancy Leson

With hell freezing over yesterday, I did what had to be done: I roasted a chicken. And fried some potatoes. And then I served both along with an iceberg lettuce salad (appropriate, no?), with a loaf of fresh-baked bread:



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December 18, 2008 7:15 AM

Help! Latke recipes are giving her tsuris

Posted by Nancy Leson

Over the river and through the woods, to Bubbe and Zayda's we go! Nah. Instead, I'll take you all the way to Peoria, where All You Can Eater Kathryn Lambert has (appropriately enough) some burning questions. Kathryn, known here as frequent commenter KAG, is having "issues" with potato pancakes, as noted in her email. Here's her culinary conundrum:

"Tomorrow I'm frying latkes for our kindergarten and first grade classes here where I work (Common Place is a non-profit social service agency with a large literacy program for adults and an after school program for children grades K-12). Most of our kids don't know a latke from a French fry -- but what's not to love about fried potatoes?


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December 17, 2008 12:45 PM

Lentil soup: I did it myyyyyyy way.

Posted by Nancy Leson

I'm curious to see what you folks think about Foodista.com. And I hope by now you've all checked out the just-launched site -- billed as "the cooking encyclopedia everyone can edit!" Here's what I have to say about the lentil soup recipe I found on Foodista this morning and prepared for lunch -- edited to suit my taste (isn't that the whole idea?):



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December 17, 2008 9:08 AM

Foodista.com: a site to behold

Posted by Nancy Leson

So, are you ready to be snowed in? I am. And does this look like a soup day or what? When the weather gets like this, I get a hankering to rummage around in my fridge and cupboards, intent on finding the right ingredients for something warm and substantial. What'll it be? Well, that depends on what I've got on hand. Whatever I find, I can either head to my cookbook collection for inspiration or turn to Foodista.com. Launched today, "the cooking encyclopedia everyone can edit" is a Seattle-based Web site: a collaborative effort "revolutionizing how people learn and share about food and cooking!"

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December 15, 2008 9:15 AM

On the beach: Razor clams. How do you like yours?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Love razor clams? 'Tis the season, writes Seattle Times' Lynda Mapes -- who got down and dirty with some clammers during the short razor clam season, out on the beach in Grays Harbor County. I'm nuts for those clams, and watching this video reminded me of the last time I went razor-clamming 20-some years ago in Alaska:



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December 2, 2008 9:30 AM

Money-saving tip! DIY sushi

Posted by Nancy Leson

OK, you know how much I love sushi. In fact, you're probably sick of hearing about it. Too bad, because I've found a way to enjoy "my greatest vice" (as I so often refer to my sushi obsession) on the cheap. I got the idea a while back, after attending a special sake-tasting event at Chiso Kappo, where I paid $60 to sip a variety of fabulous sakes with the folks from Sake Nomi while rolling my own sushi rolls.

Soon after, I was tooling through Uwajimaya's expansive seafood department in search of dinner when it dawned on me: if I bought some sashimi-grade fish and Waji's pre-cooked sushi rice (I already had dried nori in the kitchen cupboard), Mac, Nate and I could have DIY sushi. Since we've long been making our own Vietnamese salad rolls for a quick, inexpensive dinner, I figured we could pull the sushi-thing off too. While it's not exactly a "cheap" dinner, it's certainly a whole lot cheaper than going out for sushi, or even buying the stuff already made at the supermarket. Did I mention it's also fun?



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November 26, 2008 7:50 AM

No can do: the cranberry sauce is ready for its closeup, and I'm off and running

Posted by Nancy Leson

I've got 16 seats filled for tomorrow's Thanksgiving table, a day's newspapering work ahead of me and a house that needs cleaning. Did I mention the fact that my "wicked stepmother" will be here from California and she's spending the weekend? (In fact, I did.) There are two turkeys in the downstairs fridge, along with andouille for grilling, Jimmy Dean and Granny Smiths for the stuffing, rolls to make (I'll do that tomorrow), and yes, I am a "little" uptight. But not about the dinner, since we do it potluck-style and I've learned to delegate over the years. Friends are bringing appetizers, side dishes and desserts, including the last-minute pumpkin pie I suggested Nancy Watson bring along when she called last night for her marching orders ("4 p.m."):



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November 20, 2008 8:51 AM

Get 'em while they're hot! My recipe for buttermilk rolls, perfect for Thanksgiving

Posted by Nancy Leson

My very first waitressing job was at the Chalfonte Hotel in Cape May, N.J. -- a grand old Southern-style hotel with an "American plan" (meaning you'd get breakfast and dinner along with the price of a room). I lived on-premise and spent much time hanging out in the big country kitchen, drinking coffee and lending a hand in my off-hours by helping the cooks with their daily chores.

I was fascinated by the sense of place there, and of family. And I vividly recall helping the cook, Dot Burton, make buttermilk biscuits early in the morning (rolled out thick, then stamped into rounds with the rim of a juice glass), and sitting alongside her mother, the kitchen matriarch Miss Helen Dickerson, late in the afternoon, fashioning dinner rolls by hand. I think of Miss Helen -- who wowed the Chalfonte guests with her kitchen prowess until she was in her eighties -- every time I make these:



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November 14, 2008 12:28 PM

What to do this weekend: make this magnificent minestrone recipe

Posted by Nancy Leson

I was never a fan of minestrone, and then, back in 2000, I came across an appealing recipe, complete with step-by-step photos, in what was then called August Home Cuisine -- since rechristened Cuisine at Home. If that title doesn't ring a bell, I'm not surprised: it's a lesser-known magazine that, like the far more popular Cook's Illustrated, has no ads. I've been subscribing to it for years and it's a real cook's magazine, not some armchair-traveler's idea of a food rag. I've been making that minestrone ever since, and seriously: it's well worth the time it takes (just shy of an hour) to prep. This is most definitely one of those relax-in-the-kitchen and torque-up-the-tunes kind of dishes. The kind that makes you glad to be at home, not running around doing errands, or worse -- working. And when you're done, you'll have a big pot of soup that, ladled-up for a filling meal, looks like this:



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November 12, 2008 7:24 AM

Cooking with Northwest cookbooks -- plus your Thanksgiving-table must-have

Posted by Nancy Leson

It's never too early to be thinking about the upcoming "Holiday Season" -- defined as the time between retailers' first discount on the Halloween candy and the sale of the the last 70-percent-off New Year's Eve noisemakers. In preparation for today's special Holiday Cuisine section, I had a blast talking to some of the local cookbook authors whose recipes we've published. Perusing my cookbook collection for recipes is part of the fun of holiday cooking, for sure:


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November 4, 2008 11:58 AM

Rice town smackdown

Posted by Nancy Leson

How much do I love you Eaters? A lot. And here's why:

Ty Graham took one look at yesterday's paella post, examined the photo of Brian Williamson's "legendary" grilled paella -- prepared this summer at Brian's home in Haller Lake -- and felt culinarily obligated to say, "OK, legendary in Haller Lake, maybe." Ty says he regularly makes paella on Lopez Island, mostly at the state park, though he's not above dishing it up from his Weber grill at home here in Madrona. "We use big pans on hot fires. It's pretty macho. If we could buy Spanish cigarette ash at The Spanish Table, we'd sprinkle some of that on," he joked. (I think.) In true smackdown fashion, he opines, "For the good stuff, you need a large pan, bomba, Spanish smoked paprika and a wood fire. Forks are prissy!" Then he proves his point by sending along these lipsmacking lovelies:


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November 3, 2008 7:22 AM

Eaters say: (Paella) party on!

Posted by Nancy Leson

"Paella freaks unite!" wrote Brian Williamson -- one of several Eaters who emailed last week after reading my entry about making paella. The grain from Spain "is a subject near and dear to our hearts at our little house in Haller Lake," Brian said. And to prove it, he sent this stunning glamour-shot from his own paella party, held this past summer:



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October 29, 2008 8:21 AM

Paella party

Posted by Nancy Leson

Maybe you're one of those paella fans who thinks "paella?" -- and immediately rushes to the phone to make reservations at Andaluca, Tango or Gaudi. But If you're a cook who's often wondered whether you can pull off a (near) perfect paella at home, I'm here to tell you that I recently watched my husband Mac do it, and I've got plenty of faith in you:



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October 15, 2008 2:16 PM

Praise the lard -- and pass the pie

Posted by Nancy Leson

Today on my radio show Food for Thought, my pal Stein and I chewed the fat about leaf lard, discussing what it is (the precious fat surrounding a pig's kidneys), where you can buy it (I'll get to that in a minute) and why anyone in their right mind would willingly ingest something as grotesque looking as this:

Here's the short -- and incredibly flaky -- answer:



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October 14, 2008 6:30 AM

Baker's quandary: salted vs. unsalted?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Beth Geiger emailed with this query: "What is the reason so much baking requires unsalted butter? How does it affect the baking compared to salted butter, especially when the recipe calls for salt anyway?"


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October 8, 2008 12:29 PM

Oh, McGee, you've done it again: the "hottest" in pots and pans

Posted by Nancy Leson

There are a lot of people who turn to names like Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray when they're looking to buy pots and pans. I'd direct them instead to Harold McGee -- the science-minded food authority and author of that kitchenmeister's bible, "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen." In today's New York Times, under the header "What's Hot, What's Not In Pots and Pans," McGee offers a very personal look at his batterie de cuisine -- which, from what I read and what I'm guessing, looks an awful lot like mine:



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October 2, 2008 7:37 AM

What's your favorite soup recipe? Here's one of mine

Posted by Nancy Leson

Nice day, huh? Nice day for soup, that is.

After I wrote about buying, peeling, seeding and freezing fresh-roasted chilies, reader Carl Edwards emailed to (very nicely) take me to task for my improper storage technique of these farmers market beauts:

Here's what Carl had to say:

"I'm a chili fanatic, so I've been roasting and freezing my own chilies at home for many years. The roasted chilies will actually do better if you freeze them without peeling or seeding them first. If you leave the charred skins on, the roasted chilies will maintain their integrity through the freezing process. You can peel and seed them after you thaw them out, and they'll be in good enough condition to use for chili rellenos, and the chile flesh will have a better texture. If you peel and seed them first, they tend to turn to mush when you freeze them. I sometimes do this, but only if I intend to use the frozen pulp in some type of sauce."

When I wrote back, thanking him for the tip (and noting that, indeed, I am an eejit), I told him I intended to use those chilies to make an old favorite -- potato, cheese and chili soup, which takes less than an hour to prepare. Ever the chili fanatic, he urged me to post the recipe on the blog. Good idea.

If you're the proud owner of "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest" by Mollie Katzen -- her follow-up to the classic "Moosewood Cookbook" -- perhaps my old standby is in your repertoire too. If not, here's the easy-to-make recipe. You can use fresh-roasted chilies, as I intend to, or do as Mollie suggests and open a can.

Potato Cheese & Chili Soup (makes four to six servings)


4 medium (3-inch diameter) potatoes
3 cups water [I use low-sodium Swanson's chicken broth, or homemade stock if I've got some]
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. basil [Mollie doesn't note it in the '82 edition, since revised, but I've long assumed she means dried]
2 medium cloves of garlic, crushed
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups green bell pepper [which makes me burp, so I use sweet yellow or red bell pepper instead]
1 cup diced canned green chilies

3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup (packed) grated Jack cheese
2 scallions (whites and greens), finely minced [I prefer to garnish with cilantro]

1. Scrub the potatoes, cut them into small chunks, and cook them in the water, partially covered, until tender (about 20 minutes). Cool to room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, begin sauteing the onions in combined butter and olive oil in a large, heavy skillet. After several minutes, add salt, cumin, basil, garlic and black pepper. Conintue to saute over medium heat until the onions are soft (5-8 minutes). Add chopped bell pepper and saute a few minutes more.

3. Puree the potatoes in their cooking water using a blender or a food processor. Return the puree to a kettle or a large, sturdy saucepan, and add the saute, plus the diced green chilies, sour cream and milk. Whisk until well-blended, and heat over a slow flame. When it is hot, stir in the cheese and scallions [or the cilantro] and serve.

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September 8, 2008 7:30 AM

Yes we can: tomatoes

Posted by Nancy Leson

If you love the idea of canning, but are fearful of the process, relax: Roma can be built in a day:



But first, it's a good idea to do as I did, and find someone who knows the drill. For my pal Jodi, that someone was her friend Michelina, an Italian nonna who learned to "make jars" -- as Michelina refers to the tomato-canning process -- in her native country. After several years of studying at Michelina's elbow, Jodi's now passing the tradition along to her family and friends.

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September 4, 2008 3:02 PM

Baby, it's chiles outside

Posted by Nancy Leson

Earlier today I introduced you to Chili's Deli & Mart. Now say hello to chiles roasted outdoors -- and to farmer Pedro Esquivel, seen here handcranking the goods at the Kirkland Wednesday Market:



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August 29, 2008 11:00 AM

I'll be the judge of that: part two

Posted by Nancy Leson

This week, Columbia Crest Winery, in conjunction with the Food Network, announced the winners of their national "Flayvors of Washington" recipe contest: Teresa Ralston, a homemaker from New Albany, OH, won the grand prize: an all-expense-paid trip to NYC where she'll cook with Columbia Crest's new red-headed spokesboy Bobby Flay. Ralston beat-out second-place winner Zoe Doll (a pianist from Clifton, NJ) and third place-taker Edwina Gadsby (a retiree from Great Falls, MT). But talk about "winner take all": that would be me.



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August 27, 2008 10:38 AM

Call me well-grounded: DIY burgers

Posted by Nancy Leson

After the latest go-round of ground-beef scares, and many years of thinking about doing so, I finally purchased a grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer (as I discussed this week on KPLU). I tried it out for the first time last weekend, when I decided to make some homemade burgers -- a family favorite. When my husband makes burgers, our son calls them "Dadu Deluxe" -- after a certain fast-food chain. But since Dadu was out of town on an extended business trip, and I've been pretty cranky and short-tempered in his absence, I figured I'd get on Nate's good side (and one-up his dear-old-dad) with my own version, the Mamu Deluxe:


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August 21, 2008 10:02 AM

What's your favorite ice cream flavor? Mine's cinnamon basil.

Posted by Nancy Leson


It's certainly been an ice cream summer, what with artisan-ice cream makers popping up everywhere you turn. Me? I don't feel the need to rush out to, say, Wallingford, to stand in line for a creamy-sweet concoction flavored with fresh lavender or bergamot-infused olive oil. Because I'm a do-it-yerself kind of gal. And yesterday I did it myself at home, cribbing from the Jerry Traunfeld playbook to make the most amazing ice cream, using this:



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August 15, 2008 2:41 PM

Use your imagination for marination

Posted by Nancy Leson

Eater Joel Marcus makes a mean marinade -- or so he tells me. He shared his ingredients for making a "secret sauce" for soaking everything from shrimp (ginger and orange juice), to flank steak (apple butter), to beef brisket (Pepsi!) to chicken (brined with salt, sugar and turmeric). And I'm sure he'd agree that the real secret to a great marinade -- and the answer to a quick and easy dinner on a hot day like this one -- is keeping a well-stocked cupboard. I just opened mine. . .


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July 14, 2008 7:30 AM

'Tis the season to get cracking: DIY Dungeness crab-feed

Posted by Nancy Leson

Last week, my heart beat a little faster when, standing in front of the seafood counter at QFC I saw that whole fresh-cooked Dungeness crab was selling for $4.99 a pound. That's six bucks off the "regular price" -- so long as I brandished the card that has that freaky disembodied voice at the self-checkout saying, "Thank you, QFC member!"

I'll take two, I told the gal behind the counter, who fished around in the cracked ice for a couple of nice-sized specimens, weighing-in at about a pound-and-a-half each. "You want me to clean those for you?" she asked. I did. And then I took them home, dismembered the legs and body and prepared the crab "Asian-style" -- which I'll describe below. Lickety-split -- so to speak -- I had an amazingly easy-to-fix and downright delicious dinner.

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July 8, 2008 8:00 AM

Teach your children well: Kids who cook

Posted by Nancy Leson


Cathy West sent an e-mail yesterday (justly) bragging about her son. "You won't believe this, but Will, my youngest, loves to cook," she wrote. Actually, I do believe it, because I knew Cathy when she was a professional cook -- one who spent her days at Saleh al Lago making Linguine Buon Gusto and little lemon-custard tarts that still have me mentally salivating 17 years later. Will -- who turned 14 on Saturday -- answered the phone when I called her to chat. When I introduced myself, and asked him how his love for cookery came to be, he explained, without pause: "I've been cooking with my mom my entire life."

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July 7, 2008 8:52 AM

Camp stove cookery: any ideas?

Posted by Nancy Leson

July 4th has come and gone, which means it's really summer, right? For my friend Laura -- and maybe for you, too -- that means it's time to go car camping. She wrote with this query:

"I'd love to get some suggestions for good, fairly simple meals to make on a camp stove. Tired of Hamburger Helper, spaghetti, hash, etc., we're hoping for something that tastes fresh, and maybe local. We can haul some prepared ingredients in our cooler when car camping. Backpacking can complicate plans, but dehydrated rice-and-bean pouches are dreary after a long hike. Don't you think your readers would have some great menu ideas for either situation?"

Indeed I do. Eaters? What say you? It's been way too long since I went car camping, but I'd make certain to tote along a variety of fresh herbs and interesting spices ("snack size" Ziplocs work well for transport). Everything tastes better with fresh herbs and spices. Don't forget the good salt and you might want to invest in a mini peppermill. I've got one that comes in a pouch and fits right in my hand.

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July 3, 2008 7:45 AM

Super! Natural.

Posted by Nancy Leson


Ooooh-EEEEE-oooh. I just found this note in an email from a reader in Darrington, with a link to the photo that ran with my story yesterday about Captain Bay-Schmith's chicken. She wrote:

"I don't mean to alarm you, however, [in] the picture of you with your BBQ, there's a face in the smoke. . .very strange yet very clear .. let me know if you see it":



Saints be! I DO see it! My husband's convinced it's the late Captain Bay-Schmith keeping watch over "his" chicken, which would only make sense. What do you think? Look like anybody you know? Elvis, maybe?

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July 2, 2008 7:47 AM

Girl meets grill -- and no, I wasn't chicken

Posted by Nancy Leson

Looking forward to the July 4th weekend, I was determined to assert my independence. So I asked my husband to teach me how to clean, prep and light our charcoal grill -- dirty-work I heretofore deigned not to do. Then I smoked one of his justly "famous" Captain Bay-Schmith's chickens, posing for the camera -- and Seattle Times cameraman Dean Rutz. You'll find my shocked expression (and the accompanying smoke) in today's big spread-- along with the chicken recipe and Mac's grilling tips. But what you won't find there, that you will see here is the glamour-shot: the "sanitary gloves":


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June 27, 2008 10:30 AM

The Vacation, Part Three: in which Seattle chefs loom large

Posted by Nancy Leson


It's been just shy of a week since I returned from the last leg of my two-week vacation -- my family's annual trip to Orcas Island, where we stayed in this cabin on the waterfront:



We brought fishing poles and a tackle box, plenty of books, umpteen different kind of salt and my Le Creuset Dutch oven for making many loaves of "Almost No-knead Bread". . .


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May 21, 2008 11:00 AM

That's Some Pig!

Posted by Nancy Leson

I haven't eaten at the Herbfarm in Woodinville since executive chef Keith Luce took the helm (have you? how was it?). But I'm not surprised to hear that the Herbfarm is growing more than herbs these days. Now they're raising Mangalitsa pigs, meant to grow up to look like this one:

Mangalitsa sow

This Wooly Pigs blog post tells the tale of Mangalitsa pigs and their cross-bred Mangalitsa-Berkshire brethren, now being humanely raised for slaughter (and the Herbfarm's famous table) down on the Herbfarm's farm. And yes, as they grow, they're porking out on organic herbs among other fine foodstuffs, so that multi-course diners can pigout on chef Luce's house-cured charcuterie. Attention Charlotte, Fern, and PETA: Yes, I've already gotten the memo, so please don't bothering harassing me!

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May 19, 2008 11:05 AM

The egg came first

Posted by Nancy Leson


If you've ever thought about raising chickens in your backyard, and missed reading Nicole Tsong's ode to the urban chicken coop Saturday in NW Home & Life, give it a read. I think about raising chickens all the time, because there's something really special about a fresh-laid egg, and I've got enough room in the backyard for a nice-sized coop. But then, I think, why bother? For one, between the two geriatric dogs and the four fish aquariums in need of constant care, plus the ever-propogating stick bugs in their insect cage (a birthday gift given to my son from some crack-pot friends of ours -- don't get me started), do we really need more pets?


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May 16, 2008 10:30 AM

Captain Bay-Schmith's gotta-make-it chicken

Posted by Nancy Leson


You haven't lived till you've tasted my husband's "famous" chicken:



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May 14, 2008 2:57 PM

Chicken -- little?

Posted by Nancy Leson


After reading about one of my favorite Sunday suppers (roasted chicken). Jane Ramsey wrote to ask if I know where she might get her hands on a true "roaster" -- not one of those dinky broiler/fryers sold all over town -- like the ones my husband smoked on the Weber last weekend:



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May 13, 2008 7:40 AM

Quick! Make this for dinner

Posted by Nancy Leson


If you're anything like me, you tend to wait till it's almost too late to decide what to cook for dinner. I'm a last-minute stop-and-shopper, prone to hitting the store on my way home from work/wherever, then tooling around the supermarket, thinking: "What looks good tonight?" Early this month, I spent $35 on "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper" at a booksigning event. That may seem like a small fortune, but it turned out to be cheap at twice the price. Not only because it was signed by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, and co-authored by her uber-talented producer and busy working-mom, Sally Swift, but because when I took it home and read it, I realized: Whoo-wee! This one's a keeper! What's more, it's also a user -- filled with tips of the cooking-trade, laughs (yes, they discuss the "after-effects" of eating asparagus), cookbook recommendations and many, many quick-to-fix meals, including this one:


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May 8, 2008 11:58 AM

Help! There's a cow in her freezer

Posted by Nancy Leson


Kelly Adams, from Olympia, writes:

"A couple of years ago, my brother raised two dairy cows for butcher. My husband and I bought one while my brother and his wife kept the other. This meat has made the most amazing, lean, flavorful hamburger you can ask for. The roasts have been fantastic when braised and the stew meat wonderful. What we have had trouble using have been the steaks; they have great flavor but lack tenderness. We are looking for great ways to use the mountain of steaks in our freezer before they get past the point of no return. We have discussed making sausage and pepperoni but that sounds like a colossal job. Do you have any other groovy ideas?"

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May 7, 2008 11:15 AM

"Beyond the Great Wall": Why I love this book

Posted by Nancy Leson

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid don't just write cookbooks, they take you on an extraordinary voyage to places you never knew you wanted to see -- then make you so much better for having seen them. Reading about this couple's travels, and absorbing the photographs in each of their six cookbooks, I feel as if I'm sharing their senses: seeing, tasting and smelling along with them while learning so much more than how to prepare the recipes. Their latest effort, Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China, may be their best effort yet. And that's saying a lot:



More good news? They're coming to Seattle May 22 to promote it, signing books and showing slides from the "other" China -- the one that takes us far beyond moo shu pork and General Tso's chicken -- at a Cooks & Books event to be held May 22nd at Culinary Communion.

I spent much of the weekend poring- and "peering" over Beyond the Great Wall-- when I could pry it out of my husband's hands. (Their Seductions of Rice is his favorite cookbook.) And on Sunday, I cooked from it for the first time, making Uighur Lamb Kebabs after learning that the Uighur people of Central Asia speak a Turkic language, cook over a wood or charcoal fire, and that their sheep and goats forage in the hills and oases of Xinjiang. You can view the results, below.

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May 7, 2008 7:15 AM

You want it, you got it -- again: Hinterberger's "Clam Spaghetti" recipe

Posted by Nancy Leson


Say the words "John Hinterberger" and next thing you know, someone asks for his long-loved recipe for Clam Spaghetti.

For those who'd wrinkle their noses before putting their noses in the air and saying, "Canned clams? When you can get them fresh at any market in town?" John would surely say, "Get over yourself: Life's too short! Open the can, go outside and pick some dandelion greens, toss the greens with a little good olive oil and vinegar for a salad, and you've got a great, cheap dinner."

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May 6, 2008 7:05 AM

Kathy says: Zest those lemons, among other money-saving tips. Yours?

Posted by Nancy Leson


After Kathy Benson read what I had to say about cooking on the cheap, she sent an e-mail, sharing some of her favorite food-budget tips. She says she can't claim the ideas entirely as her own, since many came from her days, back in the '70s and '80s, as a production assistant on the "Seattle Today" show, which later morphed into "Northwest Today" and then "Good Company." Part of her job involved handling the mail for the show's Household Hints segment, and lo these years later, she's continued to use many of them. She writes:

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May 2, 2008 11:59 AM

Your weekend assignment: Bake this "no-knead" bread. It's unbelievable.

Posted by Nancy Leson


By now, I'm sure you've heard about "No-Knead Bread" -- the "No way! You're kidding me!" easiest-recipe-ever for making an incredible (and incredibly cheap) loaf of crusty, European-style bread at home.

Really? You haven't heard about it? Well, where have you been -- out spending $5 a loaf at artisan bakeshops? If so, allow me to turn you into a bread-making machine, because if my bread can look like this:

So can yours!

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April 30, 2008 9:15 AM

Cooking on the cheap (OK, inexpensive) -- and on the fly

Posted by Nancy Leson


In today's NWFood&Wine pages, we discuss ways to eat well on the cheap -- an idea started right here on All You Can Eat. Today, I'll add to that (and hope you will, too), by turning you on to one of my favorite quick-and-easy meals: one that can be put together in less than a half-hour, prep time included and can be prepared with everything from rotisserie chicken, to tofu and vegetables, to the sale-priced flank steak I bought at QFC yesterday, or with leftover whatevers. It's my take on Vietnamese Summer Rolls, a roll-your-own extravaganza of deliciousness:

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April 24, 2008 9:30 AM

Ooh, Ahh, 'sparagus

Posted by Nancy Leson


I was driving through Ballard yesterday, when I spotted this: Local asparagus, making its seasonal debut!

So I pulled over, went into Jimmy Wild's produce market Top Banana, bought a pound and took them home:

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April 21, 2008 1:37 PM

Bargain dinners at home. What's cooking at your house?

Posted by Nancy Leson

I'm not a big spender, but I do spend a disportionate amount of money shopping for high-quality foodstuffs. Reading my pal Karen Gaudette's front-page news today regarding the precipitous rise in food costs, got me thinking. With money buying less at the market these days, which homecooked meals do I consider a delicious bargain? Last night's dinner came quickly to mind.

For my family of three, I roasted a whole Washington chicken ($7) basted with a couple of tablespoons of bacon drippings leftover from breakfast. I served the chicken with Yukon Gold potatoes ($1.49) which benefited greatly, flavorwise, from being chunked and browned in the bottom of the roasting pan with the chicken drippings. And I splurged on my family's favorite green vegetable, Chinese long beans (for which I paid about $4). Bottom line: for just over four bucks a head, we had an incredibly delicious dinner. One that took little effort to prepare and provided enough leftovers to make two thick chicken salad sandwiches for lunch.

So, here's what I want to know: What delicious, inexpensive dinners are you cooking at home?

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April 15, 2008 8:05 AM

Reader in a pickle. Can you help?

Posted by Nancy Leson

This query in from a not-so-sour-puss named "C" who wondered:

"So, now that Farman's parent company has gone to India for cukes, is there any local jar of pickles left? I refuse to make my own (you do NOT want me near that kind of cooking, I may blow Seattle off the map!) and I don't want to buy leeetle craft jars of 3 baby pickles each at a Farmer's Market. I want a hefty jar 'o pickles, not sweet, just good mainstream dill pickles. From local farmers. Am I building cloud pickles? Barking up the wrong pickle tree?"

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April 11, 2008 7:58 AM

Weekend project: Makin' Marmalade. Easy, schmeasy

Posted by Nancy Leson

You never know what riches you'll find at Big John's PFI. On a recent foray, I came across a can of Hartley's Ma Made Thick Cut Seville Oranges, stamped with the words "Just Add Sugar and Water." On closer inspection, it promised "6 Lbs of Delicious Homemade Marmalade in Just 30 Minutes" for $9.50.



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April 10, 2008 4:15 PM

My name is Nancy, and I am a Cookbook Junkie

Posted by Nancy Leson


The sky might be falling in the cookbook industry (see last post), but you couldn't tell that from looking around my house. I've got a cookbook collection that's getting competely out of hand -- and I wouldn't have it any other way. If I had to venture a guesstimate, I'd say I own more than 500 cookbooks.



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April 10, 2008 11:52 AM

Cookbooks, the Food Network, and Famous Guy's wives

Posted by Nancy Leson


Kevin Rochlin e-mailed me with this query:

"After browsing in bookstores and making a rough estimate of the books
covered in The Good Cook flyer (the cookbook equivalent to a record club) it
seems that 90% of cookbooks out there are either by Martha Stewart or Food
Network
stars. While I am a fan of many of the shows, I don't consider the
majority of them cooking experts and do not really have an interest in their
recipes. Do you think that the number of cookbooks by non Food Network
authors is still the same but overshadowed by FN, or has the FN taken over
the industry?"

In a word, Kevin? Yes. I do think the Food Network has taken over the industry, and there's a reason:

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April 2, 2008 6:40 AM

Trees, Bees and My Son's "Famous" Apricot Sauce

Posted by Nancy Leson

The weather's been nuts this last week, which has me worrying about our apricot tree and the fruit I'm hoping it will bear this summer. I love that tree. It was the "free" part of a "buy four and get one free" promotion from Raintree Nursery over a decade ago. Unlike our other drawf fruit trees (cherries and apples) the apricot took five years to produce, and when it did: Man-oh-Manischewitz! Those were some of the sweetest apricots I'd ever tasted. But what's up with this snow? On the first buds of spring, no less?

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March 31, 2008 11:22 AM

Pike Place Market: How lucky can we get?

Posted by Nancy Leson

I've spent many column inches over the years writing about how much I love Pike Place Market, and it's no word of a lie: I'm crazy about the place.

I just don't get it when people tell me they only go to the Market when they've got friends or family visiting from out of town. Yes, I know there are fabulous farmer's markets everywhere these days, and there's no question that some of our amazing supermarkets are one-stop shopping places with scads of free parking, but to me, nothing -- nothing -- beats Pike Place Market.

If you haven't been there for a while (or worse, never been there), let me share my Market with you. . .

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