Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Necessities in Mama's Kitchen

While I know there's a few absolute staples in the kitchen, I'll start basic. Knives. I believe that above even an amazing set of pans, you should start with a good set of knives. By "set," I mean that you really only need 2-3 knives, not that block full of knives sold in every place imaginable. Think I'm crazy? Hang on, this will be a good ride.

My main knife is a 6" Calphalon forged Stainless Chef's knife (purchased from the outlet with a 10% off sticker and on sale, I paid $11.99 for it. And I swear I didn't have to rob anyone or whip out my ghat). It's big enough for most anything, yet small enough that I'm not worried it's getting away from me. I also have a 5" Pampered Chef Utility knife, which is like a small version of my main knife. I bought this one first, but when the Husband started hanging out in the kitchen more, we needed a second knife. I must impart the importance of a forged, weighted, stainless steel knife. Those knives that come in the block, even the $150 set are crap. You'll know just how crappy once you use a real knife. And half of those knives are just filler. Sure, it's nice to have a nice just for boning, but most people don't even know the proper way to use it or how to even bone poultry or fish. And seriously, those are so flimsy that I've felt like the bone is going to win every time I used one. I feel much more confident with a real knife.

I also have a forged stainless paring knife, which I pull out to do things like peek kiwi, but it doesn't come out that often. (It's too damn small and I lose it, really). I recently bought a new bread knife, and I'll get into that one later. And I think that's honestly all you really need.

With these knives, you must care for them. I bought a fine sharpener with mine, so I sharpen it about every 3 times I use it. You probably should sharpen it each time, but seriously, I forget to put on socks some days. And despite what some Calphalon "Knife Gurus" may tell you, have it professionally sharpened about once a year. Yes, the guy at the Calphalon store told me I would "spend hundreds of dollars in sharpening, you should just replace them instead." Well, I wasn't sure what it would cost me to have them sharpened, so I embarked.

Now, I am lucky to live up here in Hockey Country, and not too far from me is Mount Saint Charles Academy. They turn out professional hockey players like Virginia Tech turns out criminals. So to my luck, LeMays Sharpening is a Pop-And-Son operation out of Pop's house. Everyone in the area recommends LeMays, so I entered their address into the navigation and set on my way.

I found the house, tucked away on a quiet street a snowball's throw away from Mount and went in the side door. Where Son was working and sharpened my knife as I waited. I thanked him and paid... wait for it... $3! Yes, THREE DOLLARS! I can't imagine going broke on knife sharpening at $3 a pop. And let me just tell you how S.H.A.R.P. this knife now is. Wow. I thought that $12 was the best I ever spent on a knife, but this $3 is a close second (only since I'd need to purchase it before I sharpen it, right?). If you're local and looking, they sharpen ice skates for $5, but they'll sharpen anything that can be sharpened. HIGHLY recommended.

So, run out and get you a real knife for everyday use in the kitchen. Seriously, it'll make a difference in the way you cook. I think I'm taking mine with me next time I travel to my mom's. Hopefully airport security won't oblige.

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