Archive for the 'How to Use Your Knife Like a Pro (tm)' Category

Fastest Carrot Peeler in the Land

Monday, April 1st, 2013

6 carrots… 51 seconds… Find out how:

Sandwich-less, Nut-less Lunch Ideas

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Corduroy– My pseudo-granddaughter’s school lunch options consist of less-than appetizing processed foods.  She’s not a big sandwich eater.  One sandwich she does like is peanut butter and jelly–but nuts and nut butters are banned from the class due to allergy concerns.  Any ideas for what a 5-year old might enjoy at lunch that would travel well? –CLS

Depends on the five-year-old, I suppose.  Here’s a list of ten ideas.  Anyone else can free to leave a comment and start at number 11.  I bet we can come up with at least 25 ideas all told.

1) Hard boiled eggs.  Perhaps with a little packet of salt and a little packet of pepper.  Aurora would say forget the salt and pepper and give her a packet of mustard.  Greg would say a jar of hot sauce and a beer, but you’ll probably want to ignore his advice.  I’d say it’s fun to crack ‘em on your head.  Ramona would say watch out, your mom might have gotten distracted and put a raw egg in your lunch instead.

2) Whole Fruit.  such as grapes, apples, plums, peaches (in a small plastic container to reduce bruising), etc.  Bananas also tend to bruise.  Cut fruit tends not to travel well.

3) Vegetables.  Carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber sticks are some of the more obvious ones.  Depending on the kid, you might want to try broccoli florettes, leftover corn on the cob, cherry tomatoes, leftover roasted sweet potatoes, and so on.

4) Yogurt.  Hold on a second while I climb up onto a soap box. And please, please, please, buy your children real yogurt, and if they want flavors in it, mix it up with actual fruit, or even jams containing actual fruit, or real maple syrup or something like that.  I look around the grocery store at the crap that is marketed to kids and I think it’s (pardon me while I curse for added emphasis to show how strongly I feel) fornicatingly wrong to sell artificial colors and flavors to children who are too young and inexperienced to know what it is that they’re actually eating.  Kids get poisoned every year because they drink the green or the blue or the yellow dish detergent hat has a picture of fruit on the outside of it because they’re used to being fed food that has those shockingly false colors included in them. Beautiful, interesting, and flavorful natural colors can be added with inclusions such as blueberries, cherries, strawberries, peaches, and so on. Encourage and guide your children to eating food that is actually food.

5) Muffins. And think beyond blueberry, banana, etc. How about carrot; zucchini; bacon and cheddar; or ham, scallion, and goat cheese?

6) Bagels. I like cream cheese on mine. I’ve seen people eat them with peanut butter. You can’t do that. How about sunflower seed butter? I’ve also seen hemp seed butter, which I understand is actually nutrient-dense and a legitimate food, as opposed to something you’d spread on one of Alice’s brownies.

7) Lunch meat rolls. Spread a piece of ham or turkey with mustard. Top with a slice or two of real cheese (not that individually-wrapped plastic crap), roll, and hold in place with a toothpick. Also tasty is mortadella wrapped with cheese and a spear of dill pickle.

8 ) Cheese and crackers. See above rant on using real, actual cheese as opposed to something called ‘pasteurized process cheese food product.’ You might also use small pieces of lunch meat. You could portion each up in its own small tupperware and house those in a larger tupperware for a ‘lunchables’ style lunch that would actually be worth eating. (do you catch my drift on the level of absolute feces that gets slung toward our children by large corporations?)

9) Sardines. I know, it depends on the kid. And the kid’s classmates. But I totally take sardines in to work for my lunch and I think it’s grand. A tin of fish, a sleeve of crackers, sume mustard and/or hot sauce. Okay, so this is probably more a tip for moms and dads who take their lunches to work than grade schoolers who compare lunches and trade things and ridicule each other mercilessly.

10) Cookies. Preferably homemade so that you can control what goes in them. And can even do things like add oatmeal into the chocolate chip cookies in place of the forbidden walnuts. And spice them with a touch of cinnamon and some allspice. And use real butter instead of hydrogenated vegetable oils. That’s a good cookie. And because it’s made with real ingredients instead of false ones it’s the kind of sweet treat that kids ought to eat.

Segmenting Citrus How-To Video

Friday, August 19th, 2011

I filmed this a year and a half ago… and finally got around to editing it. Hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

Revised Garlic Peeling Instructions

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

In text and video, I have recommended peeling garlic by first crushing it with the flat side of your chef’s knife.  I wish to revise my suggestion to indicate that crushing it with your bench scraper is a safer way to handle things.

Over the weekend, distracted by several things going on at once, using a wet knife, and exhibiting an overall carelessness and complacency while wielding a sharp knife, my hand slipped as I pressed down on a garlic clove and my wrist met the blade of my knife.  It sounds worse than it was: it was a very shallow cut and I was never in any sort of danger, but the placement of the wound was disconcerting in that had it been worse and had it been deep, I would have been in rough shape.

So, please, be safe.  Use your bench scraper to crush your garlic.

Video Blog–Dicing Carrots

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

One more video blog on dicing carrots. Plan is from here to use these as references when I post other recipes, sort of like a video guidebook to some of the basic skills that go into so many different results.

All of these videos were done courtesy of my brother’s video camera—but I think I may get one in the near future; so if you have any suggestions, questions, or requests for videos you’d perhaps like to see down the line, please be certain to let me know!

Video Blog—Peeling and Slicing Garlic

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Another great knife skill that should come in handy as you cook: the easiest way I know to peel garlic. From there, slicing should be a breeze assuming you’ve been practicing your claw grip.

Video Blog—Cutting Peppers

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Another installment of knife skills in action, this time with tips on slicing and dicing peppers of any shape.  Please let me know what you think.

Video Blog–Dicing Onions

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

If you haven’t already viewed the videos of how to hold your knife and how to dice (potatoes), I definitely recommend checking them out, as having a grasp on those two skills should be preliminary to cutting onions.  I hope these videos are useful.  If you have any questions about the techniques, please let me know!

Improving Cutting Skills

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Dear Sir:
  I am a beginner cook. When I go for a job, they want me to have good knife skills. On a recent interview where I showed my doing julienne, my julienne of ginger was poor. It was slightly larger than fine julienne because I cut a slightly larger section of the small piece of ginger. Even though I thought the interviewer was jerking me off by giving me such a small piece of ginger, I would like to know how I can improve my knife skills to a level of professionalism that won’t impede me from being hired. I bought 1 book by Norman Weinstein. I will try practicing some cuts he does in book. Is there anything else I can do?



I wasn’t there, so i can’t comment on the size of the sous chef’s ginger—though once you’re comfortable with a knife, you ought to be able to cut things of any size into smaller, regularly sized pieces. 

If your knife isn’t extremely sharp, get it sharpened.  From there, practice is the most important thing.   I have found that seeing the knife in motion can be very instructional, so here are a couple of video posts to get you started: how to hold the knife properly and how to dice (potatoes)

I’ll have more videos up within the next several days.  In the meantime, check out some of my text-and-picture instructions, and see if they might be helpful for you as well.

Video Blog: Dicing (Potatoes)

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Potatoes are a great vehicle for practicing knife skills with: they are cheap, easy to cut, and once diced, you can use them to make many different foods. Once you’re comfortable cutting potatoes, that skill will transfer to all of your cooking.