Friday, July 01, 2005

Utensils - a constant search for perfection

I love kitchen stuff - not just food, but all the toys. The knives, the china, the glassware, the cookware, the cutlery.. everything. But what I love the most is probably the gadgets - the fun stuff. Sam asked us to post a little bit about our fave utensil, since she wanted some ideas. Well, my fave and most extravagant gadget is definitely my Kitchen-Aid (deep glossy red!) but since I know that Sam already has one, well, no use in talking about that one.

Instead, I will talk a bit about a sharpening stone. See, many of us spend a whole lot of money on knives. I know that I certainly do. So, when I saw a guy from Japan visiting one of our department stores, I asked how I could keep them sharper. I already had a small handheld sharpening device, but I wanted something better. Something fiercer. And he showed me the stones. He taught me how to use them, and of course, I couldn't very well leave without one. He said that they were selling a lot of Global knives in Sweden - so many that apparently people didn't know how to sharpen and just bought new knives instead. Amusing. Global knives are really popular here - mostly because of their "coolness" and appearance. Not that I don't love mine though - it's absolutely perfect for my small chubby hands.

The whetstone is expensive - I paid about 600 SEK for mine. But it's SO worth it. I spent a whole morning sharpening all my knives - I have a bunch, as you can see in the picture above. (Hey - see that neat knife holder? That's also one of my favorites, and all the more meaningful to me since it was made for me by an inmate a couple of years ago when I spent a summer working as a prison guard. Thank you Mikael, wherever you might be.) Anyway. The knives became so incredibly sharp again. And it was so much fun! And they've staid really, really sharp for this past month. I'm truly impressed. And every kitchen fanatic should have one! There, I'm done with the selling. :) It's called a Mino Sharp Whetstone, and I have the medium one. There is a coarser one if your knives are really dull and damaged, and then there's a fine one which is apparently just for real fine-tuning.

Now, for something a bit cheaper. I was going to talk about my stick blender - but what's there to say? It's excellent, and everyone should have one. The picture is blurry - sorry about that. In it, you can see my latest toy, a Misto oil sprayer. Very neat! I love it already! But, I'll turn to something a lot more basic. A wooden spoon. The Perfect Wooden Spoon.

I have one. It's the one on the very left. It's perfect. For everything. Unfortunately, it is broken. The handle broke when I was making gingerbread last winter, and I'm in serious mourning. I'm on the hunt for one JUST like it, but so far, no luck. You can see that I've acquired a bunch of other spoons so far, but none of them is perfect. So, the search must go on. (If you find a spoon that might fit the bill - please let me know!) Anyway, a wooden spoon is a true essential in any kitchen, and I encourage all of you to go out and hunt for your perfect spoon!


Ilva said...

This is EXACTLY what I'm looking for, what is it called this wonderful stone and WHERE do I get one? Hopefully one can buy them on the net....

Anne said...

The one I have is called a Mino Sharp, and seems to be sold by the same agency as Global knives. The Japanese guy who demonstrated it said that they sell way too many Global knives in Sweden, and obviously people don't know how to sharpen, so they were going to push more sharpeners instead of more knives. So, maybe check with your local Global dealer..? I don't know about getting them on the web - sorry. I have the Medium stone, which should be fine for most people. The Coarse is just for damaged knives, and the Fine was supposedly very very fine and didn't make much of a difference unless you're a professional sushi chef or something along those lines. :)

Sam said...

Hi Anne
thank you for your post. It's great - many people have elected knives as their favourite items so I am sure they will be pleased to find out about the stone. I would be too scared myself, in case I got the technique wrong. You are brave!

And as for the wooden spoon - perfect! Who doesn't have one? Who doesn't have one with a broken handle, even? Hopefully an astute reader might know where to find one shaped like your beloved broken spoon.

Thanks for taking part
Round up will be toward the end of next week


Anne said...

Sam - it was surprisingly easy. In the right of the picture, there are two small metal thingies. Those are angle guides - you clip them onto the knife blade to ensure you get the perfect angle. It was really helpful with the first five knives or so, but then I got the hang of it myself.

I think I'll still be using the guides when I haven't sharpened any knives for a while - and they really do keep their sharpness for a long time, so chances are that I'll forget the perfect angle in the meantime.

Thanks for hosting such a fun meme!

Anonymous said...

Interesting! I have two things to say:

1. I use a ceramic stick to sharpen my blades, i.e. a Global kitchen knife and a Sabatier. I was taught that Global knives carry an edge that should be sharpened by holding the blade in a very low (i.e. 1-5 degrees) angle, while "the rest" can be held higher. I don't know if that's just a very unfounded rumour or not, but then again, the person who told me that is a sales-person who also recommended a variety of knives to me, while every chef friend I have carry a maximum of two knives, so there you go.

2. When it comes to a utensil I'd like to have but don't yet own I wouldn't say no to a Kitchen Aid tilt-head stand mixer: Pwoarr! What colours, such add-ons, what a sturdy piece of machinery! A friend has one, and it's massive and very good. They last a long time, if not for life.

sylvie1950 said...

Thanks for the info. I have been using a sharpener for my Globals that was recommended by a Sur La Table salesperson. It is made by Shinkansen of Japan. It also has guides to assure the correct angle. So far so good.

obachan said...

Hi Anne,
I have a small handheld sharpening device just like yours. But I think whetstone is much better. :)

Anne said...

Niklas - definitely do get a KitchenAid if you can. I absolutely love mine, it's not only gorgeous but so useful. Totally my favorite thing!