Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Word or Two about Knives


I found this very useful information about knives in a 1973 edition of one of my favorite cookbooks, Secrets of Better Cooking, A Treasury of Time Tested Methods of Good Cooking. My copy belonged to my mother and she obviously used it often as the pages are dog-eared and some are even falling out. But I also enjoy using it and have found it very helpful in my quest for the perfect dish.

These are among the most neglected tools in the kitchen, although they are used constantly. They are often poor in quality, not well sharpened or not the proper type for the work they are expected to do. There is a knife for every job. The variety is endless, but you can get a perfect starter set of six knives. If you are not able to pay for a good-quality set, buy one good knife at a time as the need arises. Cheap knives are a waste of money.

A good-quality knife made of hard steel is expensive but, if well cares for, will last a lifetime. Wash and dry your steel knives promptly after use to prevent rust or stain.

Stainless-steel knives have become very popular in recent years. They are far easier to care for than the old-fashioned steel knives but will never keep as sharp an edge.

A new type of knife with a scalloped edge is fast gaining in popularity with practical cooks. Originally designed for slicing crumbly bread and cake, it is now made in many sizes and shapes for use in general work such as paring, cutting and even carving. Do not let anyone tell you, however, that these knives will last a lifetime without being sharpened. Although they stay sharp much longer than knives with straight-edged blades, the teeth that project beyond the cutting edge wear down. This knife requires occasional sharpening with a butcher’s steel on the flat side of the blade, and will eventually need regrinding by an expert.

It is a good idea to have a long butcher’s steel for sharpening knives. These are easy to find; any store that sells quality knives will have them. Keep your knives sharp by frequent honing on the steel. To do this, press the knife edge against the steel at a 20° angle. Starting with the heel of the blade at the top of the steel, draw the blade across and down to the bottom of the steel, in a swinging motion. Do this several times, then repeat on the other side.

The most important advice: store your knives in a knife rack or on a magnetic bar; do not jumble them carelessly with other kitchen tools. This will keep the blades keen longer, and you will never cut yourself when reaching for a kitchen tool.

Later I’ll give you their suggestions on a Starter Set of Knives.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Our 4th of July Celebration

Well, I’m only about 10 days late in giving you a rundown on our family 4th of July get-together! But I figure better late than never – right?

My sister and her husband decided to have an old-fashioned potluck on Friday the 4th for those in the family who could make it to Granbury for the weekend. There were 15 adults and 11 kiddos for most of the day on Friday and we enjoyed an impromptu birthday party for one of the 6-year olds, as well. After all of the eating – a wonderful meal, ice cream, cake, watermelon – we all crowded into various automobiles and drove to a great spot overlooking Lake Granbury to wait for the scheduled annual fireworks show that was slated to begin at 9:30 p.m. The hill was crowded with folks in their own pickups and SUVs with kids spilling out of the beds and windows of the vehicles parked on the grassy hill just south of the lake.

We all had a great time and the kids were so excited they could hardly stand still and wait on the show. But finally 9:30 rolled around and everyone “oohed” and “ahhed” with each burst of light and color filling the dark sky.

The next morning most of us drove the short distance just beyond the Granbury High School to wait for the annual Granbury 4th of July Parade to begin. Again, we had kids spilling from every available seat in the cars and pickups we drove there. I used an umbrella to help shield me from the hot Texas sun and my hubby, Shubert, sat very still in the shade of the car. The parade was a hit by everyone’s standards as I heard several folks commenting on how much they enjoyed it and how much better they thought it was this year!

After the parade we all went back to my sister’s house and Shubert made another freezer of ice cream – peach this time. It was wonderful. And after several naps and a lot more playing by the children we headed home, each in different directions, to await and plan our next get-together.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Eat with Sincerity and Gratitude

I found the most uplifting and interesting blog tonight. "This Ignatian Life |" came to my mailbox from a Google Alert on Food Gratitude and I'm so glad I decided to check it out. So often I glance at the list and delete without taking a few minutes to read further.

The last post entitled "Eating Like Ignatius?" was posted July 1 and the picture of the beautiful, plump blueberries drew me in so I just had to read it. Please go to their blog and read this well written piece on how food is such an important component of our spiritual well-being. The writer encourages us to increase our mindfulness about food. A couple of ways he suggests we do that is to "participate in your food production," "prepare your own food," and "learn about the best farming and gardening practices."

The writer ends the post by saying, "
But probably the most important way to begin to cultivate mindfulness is to eat with sincerity and gratitude, 'conscious of the lives and the world from which food comes.' "



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When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.

--Chief Tecumseh

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