Kitchen Tools: Sharp Knives

Several months ago, I wrote about wanting to go through my cookbooks and either start using them or give them away. I have finally started on that project.

When I opened up Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab, I started reading the almost 100-page introduction. It is filled with helpful information about what pots, pans, and kitchen appliances are really key and which ones are kind of fun but mostly take up space; how to stock your pantry, and where best to store foods in the refrigerator to keep them safe.

The thing that really caught my attention was how to sharpen your own knives. Dull knives make chopping more difficult, and because you need to use more pressure, there is more potential for mishaps and cuts. In the past, I have taken my knives to a professional sharpener. They usually need to keep the knives for a few days, so I can’t take them all at once, and it gets kind of pricey.

I have a sharpening stone, but I never thought it worked very well until I read how to use it properly. So now, with a little patience and a few new tricks up my sleeve, my knives are super sharp, and no need to take them to a professional sharpener.

According to Lopez-Alt, there are several steps to successfully sharpening your knives. I have summarized them here:
1. Create a station with everything you need. I recommend putting on a podcast or a good book on tape because this process takes a while.
2. Soak your sharpening stone(s) for 45 minutes before using.
3. Work at a 15-20 degree angle using even pressure while dragging the knife over the stone.
4. Repeat the same strokes down the stone until you get a gritty burr on the other side of the knife edge, about 30-40 strokes. Then switch sides of the blade.
5. Keep the stone moist.
6. Repeat the process using fewer and fewer strokes per side until you are down to one stroke on each side.
7. If needed, fix the groves in the stone with a low-grit stone fixer.
8. Dry the stone on a rack for at least a day and wrap it in a towel to store.

So now, with knives sharp, I am going to dig further into The Food Lab, which is really more about understanding kitchen science than anything else, and try to improve some of my cooking skills. I will be posting some of my results on social media. You can expect that, as with most cookbook recipes, I will use them as a framework and switch up some of the ingredients to work with my dietary needs and my taste preferences.

Because we can control the ingredients, home-cooked meals are often healthier and cheaper than eating restaurant and takeout meals. I am a nutritionist, not a trained chef, and like most of my clients, I go through stages of being excited (or more motivated) about cooking and other times where I just want to simplify as much as possible.

Looking through cookbooks and recipes online (or using Chat GPT as I experimented with a couple of months ago with ingredients I had on hand), going to the farmers market, traveling, creating a picnic, and eating at a friend’s house all help reignite my cooking curiosity. If you are going through a cooking rut, I encourage you to try one of these things and come at it with a mindset based in curiosity.

Time for a Check-In 
Summer, with its abundance of fresh produce and longer days, is a great time to take a look at your diet and lifestyle in the bigger context of your overall health and wellness. If you are in a rut or have been thinking about making some changes and are not sure where to begin, book an exploratory call (for new clients) or a follow-up visit (for existing clients) at book an appointment and let’s talk about how I can help you reach your goals.