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Cooking Whine

November 18, 2011

I’m bleeding and I’m grumpy. Mrs. Fussy is off at another conference, and I’m left with nobody to remind me that starting a multi-hour cooking project late at night is a bad idea. In trying to rush through the prep work, I cut a small chunk out of the pad of a fingertip and a slightly bigger chunk out of what I think is called the middle phalanx.

Both cuts are on my index finger. And let me tell you, it’s no fun to type.

Yet, type I must, because as I write this, I have a pot of split pea soup on the burner and it’s going to be hours before I can go to sleep. So as a rare treat to myself, I’m going to just let it all out. Whining never solves anything. It doesn’t get you what you want. But sometimes it just feels good.

So how did I get myself to this point? I blame AOA Greg, and his irrational need for pretty photographs of food.

You may have noticed, there are almost no pictures on the FLB. That’s a long story, and it hurts to type, so we may have to save that for another day. But when I write for AOA they require pictures. That’s why they will not be getting the story about the local grassfed burger at Taste. The light was bad in the restaurant, and my pics came out all fuzzy. But I was there for science not for glory.

Anyhow, I wrote this post on winter cooking that went up yesterday, and I had to think of some way of photographing three different bean dishes. All my pictures are actually taken on my iPhone, and I wasn’t about to stand with my precious over several simmering pots of beans, that’s just asking for trouble.

Instead I came up with the not-entirely-original notion of photographing a still life of the major ingredients used for each dish.

The only problem was that it required me to actually gather a few specialized ingredients. I picked up organic green peppers from a local farmers market. I also went to Rolph’s Pork Store for a beautiful ham hock. Actually, I went a bit overboard and got two ham hocks and a smoked pork chop end while I was there. Well, that and some of their house-made German-style ham. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.

When my shoot was over, I was left with these ingredients. And that inspired me to go on a cooking binge. In the course of a week, I made four quarts of black-eyed peas (with one of the ham hocks) and another four quarts of Cuban black beans (with the green peppers). This left me with the remaining ham hock and smoked pork chop end.

Part of me wanted to make a simple white bean soup, and use up some of the legumes I had on hand. But yesterday I was in the market, and I realized I had everything I needed for split pea soup except the dried peas themselves.

So I bought the peas and pulled up the FLB post on The Most Delicious Split Pea Soup in the Known Universe to retrieve the recipe—I do actually use the blog myself as a personal recipe folder for some of my favorite dishes—only to find that IT HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM SF GATE!

What the f&ck Internets.

Seriously. Whatever happened to the idea that once something was online, it was online forever. Maybe it’s there somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. Luckily the identical recipe turned up on some other site, so I could make my soup. But now I have to go and re-link my original post. It’s not a big deal. It’s not going to take a lot of time. It’s just a pain in the ass.

Right. So here’s the first no brainer: Don’t start a four-hour cooking project at 8pm. Actually, that’s just the cooking time. There is some prep involved, and then some cooling time at the end in the frigid garage before the soup gets shoved into the refrigerator.

The second no brainer is that if you are going to try and rush through the prep, don’t use some shitty, flimsy dull-ass knife, just because it’s clean and can go through the dishwasher. You will cut yourself.

Actually, I don’t even know how I cut myself. I kind of think it might have been on the back of the knife and not the blade. But I can’t imagine how that’s even possible. If you do cut yourself, grab something to soak up the blood so that it doesn’t get in the food, and keep on cooking. It sucks, but until you start whining about it, it’s pretty badass.

I threw any badass cred out the window with the first two words of this post.

You know what else I should throw out the window? My knives. The abuse perpetrated against these forged pieces of carbon steel is criminal. I own good knives. They have served me well for many years. But I can’t even remember the last time they were sharpened. I can definitively say it was more than four years ago, since I’ve never gotten them ground since coming to Albany. This I blame on parenthood.

It’s embarrassing. It’s more than embarrassing, it’s shameful. What’s more, right now some of my better blades are dirty and sitting in a pile next to the sink, waiting to be cleaned. You do not want to know how long that pile has been there. I’ve been busy. And when I’m busy I rely on my dishwasher knives. For the most part, these are professional butcher knives that are actually designed to go through a dishwasher. Except of course for the one that cut me. I think that came from Target.

Mind you, all of this comes from the photography requirements for one measly blog post about beans. Fortunately, I love AOA, so it’s almost all worthwhile. Plus in the end, I’ll have a chest freezer full of beans. And that’s totally worth spilling a little blood.

Okay. I’m feeling a bit better. Thanks for indulging me. Have a great weekend.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2011 10:28 am

    Funny you mention kinfe sharpening. I just had my knives sharpened last week at Different Drummers in Guilderland. They charge $5/knife (over 5″) and donate the proceeds to animal shelters. Win/Win in my book.

    But please, please clean your knives after each use. It takes a second and will extend the lifetime of the edge.

  2. November 18, 2011 11:06 am

    Umm. This might help. Knife sharpening technique, by Jacques Pepin. ~

  3. November 18, 2011 11:20 am

    Ugh, I cut my index finger this morning on one of my horrendously dull, cheap knives. Weird. I have big plans to buy a few Victorinox knives, but have been lazy. I have an AccuSharp sharpener ($10!) – as was recommended by ATK, but don’t think it really does much when your knives suck in the first place. It’s good to know Different Drummers offers the service.

  4. November 18, 2011 11:41 am

    I found the best way to keep good knives sharp is with Japanese whetstones. You usually need two, a medium grit 1000-2000 and a fine grit 6000. You can also get double sides stones which save you money. It takes a while to get used to using them but if you want a mirror like edge like the sushi chefs have this is the way to go. There are demos on youtube or if you’re really into it check out great source for western style Japanese knives.

  5. November 18, 2011 12:01 pm

    I have nothing to say about knives that hasn’t already been said, but I will say this: don’t write angry! I counted five swears, which is a lot for you. 4 of them were actually completely spelled out, too. I’m not offended, just amused.

    I hope your day gets better. :)

    • Kerosena permalink
      November 18, 2011 1:30 pm

      Now, see, I liked the vinegar in this post :)

  6. Stevo permalink
    November 18, 2011 12:42 pm

    I keep a box of latex gloves in the kitchen. When I cut myself I just put a band-aid on the cut and then put on a glove and I’m good to keep cooking. You can even cut the corresponding finger off the glove and wear that only on the bleeding appendage if you don’t like cooking with a glove on. The gloves are great for other uses too, such as when working with beets to prevent purple stained hands.

  7. Kate H. permalink
    November 18, 2011 1:29 pm

    I couldn’t stop laughing – between the over indulgence at Rolf’s, the need to do something with it later in the evening than a project should be started and the using a crappy knife because it will go in the dishwasher all were eerily familiar to me! I’ve been guilty of all three, sometimes separately and sometimes all together! Usually when I start cooking too late I briefly doze off and injure myself.

  8. marcie permalink
    November 18, 2011 4:41 pm

    My parents always sharpen their knives annually once hunting season starts… which is tomorrow!

    I was thinking about your lack of photos the other day. Some local foodie bloggers post WAY too many pictures. Like really, I only need to see one angle (if any) of the oatmeal you made for breakfast.
    But in general I think photos help break up a blog post really well. I thought your still lifes were a nice touch. I wondered if you took them yourself or if AOA sent you a photographer ;) But, like most things, you have your own style, and if photos in blog posts aren’t for you, that’s ok too.

  9. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    November 18, 2011 6:38 pm

    Sliced the tip of my finger off while slicing potatoes with a mandolin last Easter. ER, the whole bit.

  10. November 19, 2011 10:50 am

    Was it the Black Forest ham at Rolph’s? Great tasting ham. I bought some for my spouse a while back and she didn’t like it. She’s used to the industrial market ham. Oh, well.
    I hone our knives regularly with one of those hand held gizmos. Twice a year, I use a whetstone and oil. I have heard that you should dry knives as soon as you wash them.

  11. Ellen Whitby permalink
    November 20, 2011 3:25 am

    I’m sorry about your finger. At the very least, the memory will fade in time – as will the scar.

    Not that this has anything to do with anything…certainly not with injuries or kitchen knives. I found this video on “how to peel garlic in less than 10 seconds”. On second thought, peeling garlic the traditional way would be pretty difficult (and painful) if you were newly injured and missing the tip of your finger.

    Have a look:,

  12. November 21, 2011 2:14 am

    Never put a knife in the dishwasher. Never prep food with a dull knife. Dull knives have killed more people than cars and handguns combined.

    It really isn’t that hard to sharpen them once you get the hang of it. Practice on cheap knives/knives you don’t care about and a stone you get from the hardware store.

  13. Darren Shupe permalink
    November 23, 2011 7:18 am

    Rolf’s is a dangerous place. I was in last week and picked up a 9.74-pound bone-in ham (I remember because the thing was just so freakin’ huge) and a number of other piggy-derived products. Froze the hambone, but will of course use it for a bean soup. Anybody know if Honest Weight is the best source for dried beans in this region?

    As for the knife… I sympathize. A dull knife is certainly the problem more often than not. A whetstone can be a simple solution; many grocery stores (at least in my former home region of Northern California; I’m not so sure about here) offer free sharpening services. And many knives just aren’t suited to sharpening in the way that older knives were – you can’t really grind them down. Those really fall more in the “disposable” category than the ones that were typically made 100 years ago.

    Hope you’re feeling better and that your Thanksgiving is a good one.

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