Saturday, January 10, 2009

Knife Is Beautiful

This past week, the Renaissance Man made a run to Lehman's Hardware and found himself browsing the section of kitchen knives (specifically, the Damascus steel knives of high quality and high price).

When he told me about his dream knives, I applauded him on his good taste and told him even the Chef Mother would approve. He then mused that since he feels deficient in kitchen skills, perhaps the Chef Mother would be willing to give him a lesson in proper kitchen knife selection and use.

Knowing that the Chef Mother loves to teach about cooking even more than I do -- and that I myself had learned a good deal from my own knife lessons a year ago -- I was more than happy to act as go-between and set up the lesson.

This morning, despite the heavy snowfall blanketing town and obstructing roadways, we headed over to visit My Wonderful Parents for the scheduled lesson.

The Chef Mother had asked me to bring along several vegetables so that she could demonstrate different techniques. Starting with garlic, she showed the Renaissance Man how to smash garlic with the flat of the blade in order to remove the peel more easily, and in demonstrating how to hold the knife in order to mince the garlic finely, she also showed him how to mince with two knives at once (as seen here).

Following the garlic, she showed him how to diced onions without having the layers fall apart. Holding on to one intact end of the onion, she cut horizontally back into the onion (but not all the way through).

Then he made vertical cuts to set up the dice...

...and firm slices through the cross sections resulted in a relatively even dice. Brilliant!

She also had him slice and then julienne carrots (shown here), which then were diced into tiny cubes.

I started sauteeing the aromatic vegetables (along with some chopped celery from the freezer) with a handful of herbs. As I started the base of our lunchtime soup, the Renaissance Man finished by chopping cabbage and cubing potatoes. He added those to the pot while I dumped in a quart of home-canned tomatoes, and I brought the whole soup to a simmer to let everything finish cooking.

Less than an hour later, we had a delicious and hearty vegetable soup ready to warm us on a winter's day -- thanks to the Chef Mother's lessons, the Renaissance Man's knife work, and my combining it all. (I think we make a good team.)

And that's a pretty good slice of life around here!

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