"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cutting Edge

I think I mentioned before that I started cooking when I was ten years old.  I love to cook.  Back when I used to watch that "one-eyed-brain-sucking-monster", otherwise known as the TV, one of my favorite channels was the FoodNetwork.  Especially, Alton Brown's show, Good Eats.  I love discovering new and interesting foods and recipes.  However, with some exceptions for baking, I really only see recipes as outlines or suggestions.  I'm always looking for ways to make a dish better, or at least, my own.

Miss Belle Pepaire
A big part of cooking involves the inevitable use of knives and other cutting implements.  Or at least it should. Perhaps I should back up here and say a bit more about cooking.  You see, I actually mean cooking. Although I don't really know where the line is crossed between being a cook and being a chef.  Maybe others will disagree with me, but, hey, this is my blog and I'll express my opinion.  At least here I don't have to worry about idiots who think that they have a right not to be offended.  But I digress.  On to my definition.

I think a cook is someone who prepares food according to well established recipes; and that's pretty much all they do.  That is not meant to disparage them.  There are many fine cooks, and someone who cooks well is to be greatly appreciated, since I dare say that there are far more people who cannot cook well. So, what makes a chef?  I think it is someone who can take what they've learned about cooking and create new and interesting, but -- above all -- delicious food.  [In the photo you see above, Twyla took one of the bell peppers that I grew and "spiralized" some carrot and created a little friend.] Chef's are the people who invent the recipes.  And I dare say there may be quite a few people who can graduate from the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and never really do much beyond that.  Just like I've met plenty of lawyers with the minimum curriculum vitae, but also whom I wouldn't trust to defend against a traffic ticket.

So, I can have a lot of respect for a professional chef.  But I can have just as much respect for an amateur chef; meaning someone who does it for the joy of doing it, rather than making a living at it.  Both are very honorable.  My wife, Twyla is a chef in that regard.  She creates cuisine.  She takes pride in the way it looks. She makes it unique. People have tasted her stuff and said she should sell it. Everything she makes is truly delicious.  You see, when I talk about cooking, I mean making everything from scratch. From baking bread to making sauces from various roux to butchering my own chicken, beef, and fish.  I just don't DO pre-prepared food.  That way, I avoid all the man-made chemicals and I can be sure that it's kosher.

I have my own talent for food as well.  I've been told many times that I should compete in the Pillsbury bakeoff, and I've wowed quite a few people with my grilling.  No, I'm not talking about burgers and dogs on a gas grill.  I have nothing but contempt for anything but natural charcoal or wood for grilling.  I love making people "ooh" and "aahh" when I make a chocolate soufflé right in front of them and hearing their accolades as they devour it.  Wow, did I get away from knives, or what?

Precision slices with a Santoku knife
Dull knives can make food preparation difficult and frustrating.  Because I am such a stickler for extremely sharp knives, and cook at home a lot, going to someone else's house and using their knives makes me painfully aware of how many people out there don't know how or think to care about sharp blades.  Serrated edges and the likes of "Ginsu" stuff was invented for such people.  I don't like serrated knives except for very specific and limited functions.  I keep all my knives in extreme sharpness as much as possible, so when I want to slice up some tomato or onion, I can do it by hand with my chef's knife or Santoku blade in very thin, precise slices as if they were cut on a mandolin or a commercial rotary slicer.  It makes food preparation a joy, more than a chore.

I also sharpen scissors and other cutting tools with the same care and attention to detail.  When I worked as the night shift mechanic in a factory that made the seat covers for the airlines, I would sharpen scissors and snips for all the workers on the sewing lines and cutting tables, and they let me know that they had never had anybody do it so well.  It saves a lot of time and fatigue when you can just shove a pair of scissors through a sheet of material without opening and closing them with effort.

My dad told me when I was little, that "a dull knife will cut you quicker than a sharp one."  I didn't get it at first. He would watch me struggling to cut something with a dull knife and then, after repeating that phrase, would sharpen the knife and let me use it.  Later, it dawned on me.  It's when you struggle to cut something with a dull knife that you get careless and end up hurting yourself.  I've seen it plenty of times.

So, one of the things I do to make extra money, [hey, wait a minute!  Is there ever such a thing as "extra" money?]  is sharpening knives, blades, or most any kind of edged tool.  By virtue of my wife,  I happen to be blessed with a new daughter , who is a wonderful graphic artist.  She created this business card for me.

While I am a pretty good "Jack-of-all-Trades," I decided I would try settling down on one  thing and specialize in doing it extremely well.  If more comes of it, great.  So, if you are local enough, and would like your blades in tip-top shape, you can email me:  moses5768@yahoo.com.


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