Thursday’s Thingamajig: CONTEST Win a Knife Sharpener

Just last week I was talking with a foodie friend and I was saying that if I had 2000$ lying around I would so love a complete set of top notch knives. That would be such a wonderful dream. But I don’t and I make do with what I have which is the basic kit I bought when I moved out 12 years ago. It has always served me right. Over the years 3 knives have been added: 2 Global knives, a serrated utility and a paring one, and a ceramic knife. My Global knives were and improvement but still they are not top line. My ceramic one is very new.

My knives are in need of some serious sharpening. I have tried the sharpening stones on a cheap pocket knife and destroyed the blade…that is an art form. I have tried an “As Seen on TV” hand held sharpener….plastic broke on first try and it did not do a good job. I don’t have a budget that justifies a professional service. So when Cookware.com approached me about doing a contest/review I decided to treat my knives to a face lift, or blade lift, by trying out the Chef’s Choice Pronto Diamond Hone® Manual Knife Sharpener. I received one to try out AND they offered a second as a prize for one of my readers! Contest time! But first the review:

A good knife sharpener will restores the 20 degree angle of kitchen knives. This model accomplishes that with 100% diamond abrasive wheels that are conically angled. Both sides of the knife are sharpened at the same time with a precise 20 degree angle. No guessing of the angle like with stones. The pronto has a 2 stage sharpening mechanism. The slot 1 creates and hones a sharp edge using fine diamond abrasives. The slot 2 uses micron size diamonds to ultra hone the edge of your knife. It provides the final sharpness.

I used the paper test to check my knife’s sharpness, before and after. A sharp blade should cut right through a piece of paper, where as a dull will tear IF it cuts the paper at all. My knives all failed this test. To sharpen hold down the handle with your left hand. The handle has a soft touch for a better grip and there are 4 rubber disks under the unit so it won’t slip of your table/counter. Always use the sharpener with the numbers 1 and 2 facing you, holding with your left hand. With the right hand you draw the knife in an ‘in and out’ motion according to the manual.

Each type of knife has specific instructions: smooth blade, serrated, or even Santoku knives. Santoku knives have a 15 degree angle so although you can use this sharpener there is one made specifically for them. I completed instructions for slot 1 and then slot 2 and took out the piece of paper again. This time the knife sliced nicely through the paper. I was really impressed at how fast and well it worked.

utility knife left - paring knife right

I now have a drawer full of refreshed knives and I can touch them up at any time. The compact size of the sharpener makes it easy to store as well in a drawer. This is totally worth the investments. A refreshment sharpening only needs to go through slot 2. To keep clean just wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth (no oiling required). Keep in mind this sharpener is not recommended for scissors, ceramic or single sided knives like Kataba knives.

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WHO WANTS TO WIN A KNIFE SHARPENER ???????????

I will draw a name randomly from the eligible entries and that person will win a Chef’s Choice Pronto Diamond Hone® Manual Knife Sharpener. You have till August 14 2010, 9 PM EST to enter. US and Canadian Residents only. The winner will be announced August 15th on my twitter.

How To enter:

**Leave a comment in this post telling me why you want this knife sharpener.**

Extra ways to enter…
– Tweet about the giveaway, copy paste…1 entry per day
@cheapethniceatz CONTEST Win a Knife Sharpener http://cultureatz.com/thursdays-thingamajig-contest-win-a-knife-sharpener/
– Write the knife sharpener’s SKU # in a the comment, click the knife sharpener’s link above to find it…1 entry

Good luck everyone !

Vacation Eatz: Washington DC part 2

Yes part 1 was just the was my evening arrival and morning. This post is on the afternoon and evening. OK so it’s like 100 F in a big city. Hello museums with lots of A/C. I did 2 museums (quickly) that day. The first one was the National Museum of American History. Lots of fun and important exhibitions reviewing the past influences and happenings that shaped the USA.

One totally unexpected but fabulous exhibition was Julia Child’s actual kitchen from her home in Massachusetts. Apparently she donated it to the Smithsonian in 2001 when she moved to California. Julia cooked in this kitchen for 42 years! This kitchen alone influenced the way of eating of a whole nation. I stitched pics together to give the best 3d effect I could, bare with the imperfections.

She was apparently a knife fiend. And lots of copper pots too.

Next museum was the National Air and Space Museum. Here you will see the history of flight and space exploration attempted, failed and achieved. It is a hugely popular museum with lots of people. Be prepared! But it is something to see. I card less for the flight part but really enjoyed the space side.

And yes even this museum had food items on the display menu! There was the occasional brief comment on airline food and a statue of a ‘stewardess’ holding a tray.  Ice building totally unrelated but wanted to show you the pic. It was near my friend’s house.

Now space food….on display…was unexpected. Coke, Pepsi, brownies, nuts,prepared stews, fruits. The upper left pic above this text is the kitchen on Skylab. Little teaser: tomorrow’s Thursday’s Thingamajig will be related to space food so come back to see that.

On Apollo 10, semisolid foods became regular items. With a supply of chicken, ham, and tuna salads, along with breads contained in sealed, nitrogen-filled packages, the astronauts could prepare fresh sandwiches. Beginning with Apollo 13, a canteen was added to the astronauts spacesuits that would allow the crew members to drink while they worked on the moon. The Apollo 15 astronauts carried apricot food bars for a snack during increasingly long work periods on the lunar surface. Each astronaut meal was individually wrapped in foil and color-coded.

Back on earth it was time for supper. My hosts decided to take off the beaten path all the way to Fairfax Virginia where a favorite Thai restaurant of theirs is: Cee Fine Thai Dining. How can we not like this place CEE is Cheap Ethnic Eatz acronym too.

It really was a great meal, if not a bit too SPICY (OMG) even for me. I am not new to Thai but this was hot! Thanks god for the Thai Ice Tea (dairy calming down the fire). All 3 of us are foodies and all 3 of us wanted to taste everything. That suited me just fine! We ordered Tom Yum Soup, Jacketed Shrimp and Pot Stickers for starters. Entrees were Drunken Noodles, Panang Chicken Curry and one I cannot remember but it was seafood mix. If you are in that area I recommend this restaurant.

Keep on checking daily….

Thursday’s Thingamajig will be related to space food.

Friday’s post begins the North Carolina leg of my trip.

Ceramic Knives, a Must Have

One of the most essential tools in any cook’s kitchen is a good knife – and I mean a really good knife.  For years I have used 2 Global knives, which I love and were a pretty little investment.  That is the problem with knives, quality rises with price. The newest advances in knives, too, these days are ceramic knives…which also come at a steep price.

Well I was recently given an opportunity to try out any item of my choice (to a certain extent) at CNS Stores and review it.  They had a ceramic knife that fit within that budget. I had to try it!

Meet my new knife: the Wade Ceramics American Masala Utility Knife in Green/White. This model is a utility knife which is made of a white ceramic blade with a green handle. The blade measures 5 inches long. One of the things that hits you right a way when you pick up this knife is its weight. It barely weights anything and is super comfortable grip wise. A ceramic utility knife is ideal for slicing, mincing and cutting through boneless meat, vegetables and fruits.

Ok so I hear you asking me why would one want a ceramic knife versus a metal one. Here are some advantages:

– a ceramic knife is a knife made out of very hard ceramic, often zirconium oxide.  Zirconia is very hard; it ranks 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, compared to 6 to 6.5 for hardened steel, and 10 for diamond, giving a very hard edge that rarely needs sharpening. Ceramic blades can only be resharpened with a material harder than themselves; industrial grade diamond sharpeners are usually used.

– the blade will never rust; they are often used by scuba divers.

– the blade will not absorb the taste or odor of cut food as the ceramic is not very porous.

– Same reason, they are very easy to clean. A quick rinse in warm water will get your ceramic knife a lot cleaner than a thorough scrubbing on a metal knife. It is recommended to hand wash ceramic knives instead of putting them in the dishwasher.

Still, a few precautions…

Since they are very brittle they cannot be used for chopping, cutting bones or frozen foods or for any application which tends to twist the blade such as prying, which may cause the cutting edge to chip or the blade to break free from the handle. The blade could break if dropped or seriously knocked around.

How does it perform? Like BUTTAH. I am terribly impressed. First thing I cut was a zucchini and papaya. I barely put any pressure on the handle and it slid right through the fleshes. Then I tried a tomato. It makes a really clean cut on the skin and lets you cut thinner whole slices. Through meat it was divine as well. Basically, it just requires a lot less arm power for beautiful cuts. I really love this ceramic knife.

Thursday’s Thingamajig: Foodbuzz Daily Specials 3/6

Foodbuzz has a Daily Special feature going on for the next 6 weeks. Every day of the week a cool product will be highlighted.

I though this would fit so well in combination with my Thursday’s Thingamajig…so the next 6 weeks I will present the Daily Special. This week is the….

Emerilware by Wusthof 6″ Chef’s Knife

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Flatware 101

When serving up a delicious meal to your friends and family, you should focus on the taste as well as the presentation of your dish. The way food is prepared and presented to your guests through stylish dinnerware will make all the difference in how each diner takes to your food on the table. While cooking a tasty dish that is filled with delicious flavor is always the priority, it’s also important to focus on the style of dinnerware we use to hold each dish as well as the flatware we decide to use on each table setting.

When we think of flatware, basic table settings such as forks and knives seem to always come to mind first, however this dinnerware category encompasses so much more. Once we’re in need of updating our current flatware collection, there are a few factors that are important to consider that will help determine the best table accessories that fit our style and budget. Just as in cookware sets, stainless steel flatware is the most popular option as it is affordable, durable, and long-lasting. Stainless steel is considered an “everyday” flatware set while other table setting materials such as sterling silver or silver can be more expensive but is wonderful for special occasions and holidays. Silver serving dishes and flatware are dishwasher-safe and should be polished at least once per year to prevent these flatware pieces from tarnishing.

In addition to material, the pattern of your flatware should complement the existing style of your dinnerware and dining room. For a modern space, angular flatware is a great option as it focuses on clean lines and a simple geometric design. According to The Knot, the rounded appearance of plain flatware is the most versatile and popular option as it matches well with a number of different styles of dinnerware. With this style you don’t have to worry about finding a different flatware set for each new serving dish or plate set you bring to the table. If you’re looking to host more formal dinner parties, the banded flatware option is most popular as it looks wonderful alongside banded china and serving dishes.

Hugs and Biscuits
Evelyne