We just returned from a family trip to Arizona, including almost a week under the warm Tucson sun. Working in our VRBO kitchen gave me an understanding of why so few people enjoy cooking. Case in point, the wooden knife block filled with new, thinly serrated kitchen knives sitting on the counter.
Actually an incredibly dull set of new kitchen knives. They tore and mangled vegetables rather than cleanly cut them. Truly some of the most dangerous and poorly designed knives I’ve ever worked with. I was concerned for my fingers. These knives required much too much pressure with each slice and still didn’t cut through. They even smashed bagels which is where serrated knives usually shine.
& Cutting Boards
Of equal concern was the tempered glass “cutting board.” The smooth side caused the knives to slip around, while the rough side prevented the blade from cutting all the way through the vegetables. Totally frustrating. With effort I could cut a carrot in half. But then could only slice half a carrot at a time making for very slow going. It was actually faster to use a pair of scissors to cut scallions and herbs. And, I totally gave up on the sweet potatoes for the Tuscan White Bean Soup I was preparing. Replaced them instead with softer and easier to cut russets.
Kitchen knives that work with you rather than against you
Not all kitchen tools seem designed to work with you. As evidenced by those serrated knives and glass cutting surface (in good faith, I can no longer even call it a “cutting board.”)
I now understand the look of surprise and disbelief on the faces of the people in my cooking classes when I easily and thinly slice a jicama for example. Someone inevitably asks “How’d you do that?”
The answer: a good knife. Which, for me, means well-balanced with a comfortable handle and weight and a thin blade that easily takes and maintains an edge. My favorites are made by Shun and Victorinox. Two brands at opposite ends of the price scale.
I waited a very long time to purchase my Shun chef’s knife. When it went on sale a couple of years ago at Williams Sonoma I ordered it immediately and have been oh so happy. I’ve never had a knife cut so cleanly and effortlessly through fruits and vegetables.
BTW Shun offers life-time sharpening of their kitchen knives. A few days before we left for Arizona, I sent my knife to them. And, miracle of miracles, it arrived yesterday looking “mighty sharp.”
- Wash kitchen knives by hand, not in the dishwasher
- Avoid soaking knives in water
- After washing, rinse and towel dry immediately
- Store in a knife block, knife case or knife sheath
- Learn to use a sharpening or honing steel
- Regular honing significantly extends the time between sharpening
Plastic (polypropylene) or wood are my favorites as they are the easiest on kitchen knives. I love that plastic boards can go into the dishwasher, come in large sizes and even a few colors. Wood is good. Wood is great, though it needs extra care like hand-washing and regular oiling to keep it from drying out.
From my experience, glass is unacceptable. Besides being so hard that knives easily dull, the thud with each slice is disconcerting. Plus, glass breaks. Perhaps it could be used as a trivet . . . in the dining room.
You’ve read my thoughts . . . now share yours
Tell me about your favorite and least-favorite kitchen knives and cutting boards and even other kitchen tools. Which kitchen tools frustrate you the most?
Three highlights of our trip –
We enjoyed almost a week visiting with our grandson and his parents. Here’s a sweet photo of this very precious little boy. His smile alone melts hearts and brings much joy.
Two: Joshua trees in bloom
We had never seen Joshua Trees before traveling in the southern Nevada desert. There was a many mile area heavily dotted with these unusual trees covered with huge ivory blossoms. Each blossom measures about 15 inches wide and 30 inches tall. Quite spectacular to see so very many flowers in this desert landscape.
Three: “Gastronomic glee and culinary contentment”
So says the ticket on the front of my colorful new Trader Joe’s Arizona tote bag. I was able to pick up a few favorites while there to bring back to Montana in our checked baggage.
Note: all opinions are my own. I have received no compensation from the companies and products mentioned in this post.