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Category Archives: cutlery

Product I love right now… my chef knife.

Product I love right now… my chef knife.

A chef knife is crucial for any home cook.  The shape of the knife allows you to rock the blade back and forth for better chopping/mincing control.   Chef knives run from $1.99 to hundreds of dollars.  In most cases, you get what you pay for and should base your investment amount on how often you cook.  I do think that every kitchen needs a chef knife but don’t waste money on an incredibly expensive knife that will barely see the side of a vegetable.

A few helpful links:

How to hold a Chef Knife.

How to use a Chef Knife.

Anatomy of a Chef Knife.

 

Happy Chopping!

Product of the week…The Santoku Knife

Kitchen Essentials from Calpahlon at Target. $29.99

Kitchen Essentials from Calpahlon at Target. $29.99

San.. what?  Santoku knife.  A great, well balanced knife that everyone MUST have.  It slices, dices AND minces.  There are small indentations the length of the blade to create small air pockets when using the knife.  This prevents sticking and reduces cutting friction.  Making all your cutting tasks easier.   If you want to get into the history of the Santoku, here is a link for more info:

What is a Santoku Knife?

This has definitely been the ‘it’ knife for the past few years.  If you don’t have one, I highly recommend you invest in one.  Every major brand has a santoku option.  Short options (5″) to longer 8″ options.  From J.A. Henckels to Hampton Forge to Chicago Cutlery.  This list could seriously go on and on.  Prices range from $6.99 – $99.99.  The difference in price ranges depends on the type of steel used for the blade, the comfort of the handle and the warranty behind the knife.  Basically, you get what you pay for.  A $6.99 Santoku knife will do well initially but may end corroding or breaking over a shorter life span.

Scratch that.

Cutting Boards should be a pretty straight forward kitchenware item, right?  Not so much. It’s about more than just keeping your counters clean and scratch free.  While these are important reasons to own a cutting board, my goal is to educate you on how to care for your cutting boards and what you can do to keep yourself and your families safe and healthy.  Seems a bit serious but bacteria and cross contamination are big issues with cutting boards.

I’ll ease into it though.  Let’s talk first about the types of cutting boards and their fun facts. There are three main materials used for cutting boards:

  1. Wood-The most common material, wood can come from many sources.  Steer clear of softer woods such as pine.  Pine splinters quite easily and why risk getting wood in your food?  Yikes.  Gravitate towards harder woods such as cherry, walnut and bamboo.  Be wary of the overly decorative ones that you find in novelty stores, they are typically made of laminate. Hang those up for decoration.  While wood is a porous material, it has been used for hundreds of years to cut on, so that should count for something.
  2. Plastic-Plastic is non absorbent, light weight, relatively inexpensive and dishwasher safe.  You can buy thicker, harder plastic cutting boards (many many shapes and sizes) as well as flexible cutting mats.  Mats are typically color coated so that you can use the green for veggies, red only for meat, yellow for chicken, etc… (see example below)

    Color code guide for cutting boards/mats

  3. Glass- While glass is nonabsorbent, they tend to be slippery.  A little dodgy when you are trying to use a giant knife in my opinion.

Caring for your cutting board (**if you only read one thing… read this**):

  • Wash and dry cutting boards thoroughly using hot, soapy water.  Use the top rack of your dishwasher for plastic or glass boards.  Dishwashers get to such a high temperature that you can feel confident that they are clean.
  • Sanitize wood cutting boards frequently with  bleach (1 Tb of bleach to 1 Qt of water) or my personal favorite white vinegar (1 part vinegar to 5 parts water).  The easiest thing to do is buy a cheap spray bottle and fill with your mixture of choice, spray on, let sit for several minutes, wipe and then let air dry.
  • Try your best to keep your cutting board dry.  Bacteria thrives in damp places.  Don’t let your cutting board just sit with liquid on it.  Try to, at a minimum, wipe off excess liquid until you can thoroughly clean it.
  • I recommend having at least two cutting boards.  Use one for meat only and the other for veggies and fruit.  Personally, I prefer to be a little neurotic and have several.  One for fish, one for meat, one for veggies, etc….

The bottom line is this.  You must keep your cutting boards clean and dry.  You risk food bourne illnesses when you are a slacker.  Why put yourself at risk?

Happy, safe cooking everyone!!

Sliced and Diced.

Complicated. Confusing.  Overwhelming.  Expensive.  Any guesses on the topic of the day?? Parenting?  Nope.  Leaving home for the first time?  Nope.  Making a major purchase (house/car)?   Nope.  Weirdly enough, I am talking Cutlery (thanks Ellyce for my topic today!)  Trust me when I tell you that there is more to Cutlery than meets the eye. What brand? What type of handle? What type of knife do I need? Should I buy a block set? or just a few knives? I could go on and on. It is never ending and in my experience, people tend to skip the questioning and buy the block set that has the best sale price. Not to overgeneralize but really, does anyone truly understand cutlery these days. It cuts my veggies, my meat… I’m good. I hope that after you read my little blog, you will file just a few of my tips in your ‘someday this info may be helpful’ file in your brain.  If you remember these three things when buying cutlery it will be a great starting point:

  1. Every Kitchen needs an 8″ chef knife (use for large cuts of meat, chopping small and large veggies) and a paring knife (use for peeling, mincing and dicing).  The rest is nice to have but you can survive without them.  I say this because if you focus on these two knives, you may be able to spend a little more for a great quality brand such as Wusthof or J.A.Henckels.  You can find Wusthof at Macy’s/Crate and Barrel/Williams Sonoma (to name a few) and Henckels is available at retailers like Macy’s and at Target.
  2. Buy forged if you can – What in the world is forged?  Forged is when the knife is made from one solid piece of steel, making it incredibly strong.  Forged doesn’t always have to be expensive.  You can get a great Hampton Forge forged set for @$50.  You can buy Hampton Forge at Target and Kmart.
  3. Buy Stainless Steel blades –  Most knife blades are made of carbon steel or stainless steel.  Carbon steel is cheaper but is susceptible to corrosion so I say steer clear!

Once the site is up and running, I will do a complete cutlery guide so that when  you are ready to buy, you can just hop on the site, print and take with you.  In the interim, I hope this helps.  Happy Slicing and Dicing everyone!

Fun fact:  ‘sliced and diced’ was going to be my website and blog name but my amazing brother in law came up with ‘minced reviews’ when I realized I couldn’t use my original idea and I love it! Thanks Paul!