There are many things that you can "make do" with or simply "do without." Don't have a whisk? A fork will do. Can't afford a food processor? Usually your blender will get the job done in small batches or use a knife until your arm falls off. Would love a stand mixer? The hand-held ones work pretty well - and in absence of those, a giant spoon will get 'er done.
Today as I was chopping, on the heels of attending a free knife skills class at Williams-Sonoma, I thought, I need to tell her to get a sharp knife.
A good, sharp knife is irreplaceable.
I love mine so much I travel with it (I have a plastic cover for it). The chef's knife on the far right in the above picture is my all-time-fav. The brand name is Global, and is lightweight. It won't break your wrist holding it all day. I've had it about 12 years now. It was a gift from my in-laws.
Believe it or not, I remember using "the knife" for the first time. Taking a carrot from the fridge and the knife I had been using, along with my new one, I sat the carrot on my chopping board. First I made a cut with my old knife. Then I cut the same carrot with my new Global. Woah. It went through like butter. Easy peasy.
Having a super sharp knife made chopping a fridge full of veggies so fun! The sharp knife actually made it possible to do the "rocking motion" that professional chefs use when chopping a mountain of veggies. A dull blade makes that skill virtually impossible.
When visiting other homes, most people will have a relatively sharp paring knife. Trying to chop an onion with a small knife is like trying to unload a truck full of dirt with a spoon. It works but takes for-ev-ah. That's why I bring along my knife. And when people use it they instantly break into knife envy. I have to keep an eye on it until it's safe in my drawer at home.
The orange handled knife, above, has a ceramic blade and I've been quite impressed with how sharp it was when I bought it and continues to hold the bevel over 15 months later. I think it was about $15 at Tuesday Morning.
Try Before You Buy
If you find yourself in the market to buy a knife, let me recommend actually holding a few in your hand. Go to a store that sells sharp knifes, like Williams-Sonoma, and ask to put your dirty grubby little hands on them. Even better is to ask if you could take it for a test drive. Williams-Sonoma usually keeps veggies on hand for this purpose. What feels awesome in my hand may not feel great in yours. (Although I think most women prefer lighter knives, like Global.) In addition, the shape of the blade will influence how you do the rocking/chopping motion. So at the very least, if you are unable to actually chop something in the store, please put the knife on a cutting board and pretend to get a feel for its performance.
Well, that's the ONE thing I think every kitchen needs. What do you say?