Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It Cuts Like a Knife or VeganMoFo Day 7

I was chopping vegetables today and I realized how attached to my knives I have become. It has been a long road. When I was a young kid, I remember my mother cutting herself pretty badly while peeling something over the sink. I was awful about blood and it must have emotionally scarred me because knives freaked me out for a very long time. We didn't have a dishwasher growing up so we washed everything by hand and I wouldn't even touch a knife to wash it or even put my hand in soapy water when a sharp knife was in the sink. Obviously, that cut down on my cooking opportunities as a kid. I would use a peeler, but never a knife sharper than a table knife.

As I got older, I was a little better, but not much. I lived on my own for six years before Rob and I started dating and I know I was still pretty scared of knives then. The great toe incident on our first Thanksgiving didn't help things. Gradually, through Rob's patience and understanding (read: relentless teasing and belittling) I came to not only be able to use sharp knives on a regular basis, but actually appreciate a good, high quality knife to the point where I get fussy if my favorite knives are not available. I've come a long way, baby!

So, dear friends, I am here to tell you that the number one kitchen tool that no vegan, dare I say, no cook worth their weight in tofu can live without is a good knife. What constitutes a good knife? Well, it is a very personal thing and everyone has their preference, but for me a good knife starts with the weight. It has to be heavy. Don't give me no silly sissy knives. I need a big honking knife that weighs down my hand and doesn't go flying across the room when I'm chopping like crazy. Henkels is the first brand of knife I fell in love with (again, Rob's influence) so I am partial to my Henkels knives, although if I had an unlimited budget I would like to date around and see what else is out there. Even out of our Henkels, I have one that I will reach for before the others.

When shopping for a knife, don't be afraid to play with it. Touch it, feel the weight and how the handle fits in your hand. You will be using it a lot so don't just go for looks...think long term relationship. Go for a knife that you will still want to use years from now. Buy several knives. Don't go cutting up your tomatoes with a paring knife! Buy a small serrated knife for slicing things like tomatoes and a bigger one for breads. Be selective and don't just buy a set. Make sure they all fit you. If you and your partner both cook, you may want two sets of knives. Especially, for couples who's hands are very different sizes, they may not want the same weight or handle for their knives. Shop around. For quality knives you may be spending some money so don't settle for something that doesn't feel just right and once you find that perfect fit you can look for sales.

Be good to your knives. It is best to wash them by hand. Sure, I get lazy and throw them in the dishwasher, but I fell better when I wash them by hand and they will last longer that way. Sharpen them at home on a regular basis and have them professionally sharpened when needed. Put them in a handy place (not thrown pell mell in a drawer) where you can always reach them (while in the kitchen...please don't sleep with one).

If you have children, teach them to use knives safely and as early as you can (when they are developmentally ready and responsible). I love that my eight year old feels completely comfortable and confident slicing up veggies and my four year old is great with supervision.

Now get chopping!


Anonymous said...

Hello Linda. :) My name is Robin. I happened upon your blog via an organic gardening link on another blog. The title of your blog sparked my interest because I have been slowwwwwly transitioning to eating more Veggie-based meals for about two years now. It has been a long road, but It's been a good one. :) It takes a long time to learn multiple ways of cooking a variety of veggies!

I LOVE how you chose Bryan Adams song for this entry!! I almost got all teary-eyed because this sent me right back to 1983 and my junior year in high school. Thanks for that trip down memory lane and for the giggle with the knife analogy. I'm on my 4th time of playing the song when I really should be going to sleep. LOL

Anyway, it was nice visiting your blog, Miss Linda. :) I just moved my blog from WP to blogspot a few days ago. Have a terrific Thursday!, Robin

Lisa -- Cravin' Veggies said...

Great post... very true. I have been using the same knives for twenty years, although I just bought myself a Henkels paring knife which I love, love, love. I have always heard great things about Henkels, but, like you said, it doesn't mean it's right for me - so I started with the smallest, cheapest one to test it out. Definitely thinking about upgrading my chef's knife next.

B said...

Hey you, I’m still reading your blogs daily and I must say I found this blog to be quite entertaining. Seeing as I’m probably the furthest thing from a vegan I can’t relate to many of your blogs regarding food. I don’t know what half the ingredients are but I do look at the pictures to see if anything looks enticing. Some do, some don’t. I myself don’t have any really good knives although every time I go to cut something up, I wonder why I have such cheap knives. I may have to go out this weekend and see just what it is about a good Henkel knife. See if I get the same excitement as you see to do :)

Tracy said...

I have been thinking recently that I really need a better set of knives than the cheap-o set dh and I bought when we were married, so thanks for the recommendations! Do you have an electric knife sharpener, or do you use something else? Our knives came with this rod-thing that doesn't seem to work very well - or maybe I just don't use it often enough. I prefer the ones from Pampered Chef that come in a sharpening case. Oh, have you seen this one for kids? I am thinking of getting it for Samuel for Christmas.

River said...

Great post!! I love love LOVE Bryan Adams! Thank you for the clip!

VeganLinda said...

Robin, Thanks for stopping by! I'll take a look at your blog soon. Good luck on your transition and if you have any questions, I'm happy to help. I can't get Bryan Adams out of my mind now. LOL

Lisa, I love my chef's knife.

B, I'm here to entertain. :-) You won't regret a new knife set. Although I shudder to think what you'll be cutting up.

VeganLinda said...

Tracy, We just have the rod-thing and it works fine. My parents had an attachment to their can opener or something which sharpened knives, but it didn't work well. When our knives get beyond the help of the rod-thing, we send them off to be professionally sharpened (it takes years to need this). Interesting link for kids! They just use our knives, but I should get them some which are more their size. I think the glove might be overkill, but I think it would have helped me get comfortable when I was a kid. So far we haven't had any cuts on the kids with knives (Parker did get a small cut the other day with the peeler).

River, I had no idea there were so many Bryan Adams fans. LOL!