Sunday, November 21, 2010

Let’s Talk about Knives

I must confess to never really paying attention to knives, other than they were sharp. My husband has a nice collection of knives he keeps sharp, and to be honest, I have just been borrowing his when chopping up roots, herbs, veggies, etc. I have been known just to grab a steak knife, or the bigger ones he has, that I vaguely knew he had basically for processing wild game and fish. 
Now folks, do not judge me too harshly on my ignorance of knives, please. There is a story behind my lack of interest in learning about knives… When I was about nine years old, a friend and her family invited me out to dinner with them. We ended up going to a restaurant with table clothes and more silverware than I was accustomed to.  When our meals arrived, I looked forlornly at mine and had to shyly ask my friends dad if he would cut up what needed cut up. You see, my dad had not allowed me a knife, other than a butter knife before. I confess to being a bit klutzy, so certain he had his reason! lol My husband tends to hover when I am using a knife also, so to be honest.. I have had this idea that using knives was just not a skill I had a need to learn. My husband had brought me home a set of knives awhile ago, so I finally got them out to see if they were more appropriate, according to what I was learning with my lesson. Knives are tools, and with this lesson I have learned quite a lot about them! The top one in the picture is a meat cleaver, for whacking through bones, and the bottom one is a meat carver. Both will hurt your hands if used much, and this I can attest to as these are what I have been using! Both are excellent knives, with the tang going into a wooden handle, and riveted. But, their blade shape and size make them both wrong for the apothecary work. Seems the ones my husband had brought home were ideal for my needs. Notice the different size and shapes. The top one is sometimes called a Chef’s knife and then the smaller paring knife version of it, below.
I have since told my husband about this lesson and he said that he was just hoping to get me to stop dulling his knives when he brought home the others! I told him what I have learned and he said, “Well, I am certain my grandmother would have just used these I have also!” I said, well maybe, but I bet she would appreciate the weight and design of these new ones. He then actually hefted mine and looked them over and was surprised and understood where they would be the better choice for my apothecary purposes and would be much nicer to use:) With a nudge from this lesson, I intend to learn how to sharpen my own knives also.
Now where to store those knives, to keep them clean and sharp? Some of our knives have been stored in this wooden block , which is fine, except for one thing,
When you look at the picture of the block I will be using, see if you can spot the main difference between the two, other than the lovely painted scene by my favorite local artist, Ray Phillips,
Do you see what the difference is? It is the the angle of the slot the knives go in.  With the old block, the constant pressure of the knives on the wood, (when not in use),  and the drawing out of the knives,(when going to be used), both dull your knives! The pretty one, (I had got for a gift), will now be used for my apothecary knives, rather than being put up just as a decorative.


Anonymous said...

Hi Leslie,
This is great advice- good tools are the basis for any trade. You've inspired me to ask Father Christmas for some good herbal apothecary knives this year! It's lovely to follow your progress on your herb course :)
Love Lucinda x

Comfrey Cottages said...

Thanks Lucinda:) This lesson has been very useful in the tool department, of what is need in the apothecary. I am loving this process:) Sweet you are inspired to ask for good knives:) big hugs and love and thanks for visitingxx

Anonymous said...

Hi Leslie~
Great point, if you would see the knives I use to cut soap! :0. I really liked that picture by your friend very pretty.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Comfrey Cottages said...

You have a wonderful Thanksgiving also Rosemary! thanks for visiting xx

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

A Renaissance woman you definitely are, Leslie! Who knew you would be teaching us about knives. Now if we can just work the herbs in somehow! Happy Thanksgiving! xxoo Nancy

Comfrey Cottages said...

But we have worked in the knives with the herbs, Nancy! These will be the knives I use for chopping up herbs, roots and other things in my home apothecary:) Happy Thanksgiving to you sweetheartxx

Steph said...

Wow - thanks for this info! Glad you liked the sweater cozy idea, too. Happy winter!

Comfrey Cottages said...

thanks for stopping in Steph:) That cozy is adorable:) xx