WND – Knife Dropping & Other Kitchen Skills

September 4, 2008

I have to ask, have you ever dropped a knife while you were cooking in such a way that you were worried it was going to slice your feet?  Inquiring minds want to know.

I ask because the advertising for “Cook With Your Kids” Week on the Food Network has started and the degree of caution with which the Food Network approaches the idea of kids and kitchens always strikes me as a little extreme.  I understand that they have lawyers breathing down their necks about liability and the FDA and who knows what else, which is why everyone on the Food Network washes their hands obsessively.  But surely there must be a happy medium between caution and wrapping everyone in cotton wool?

A few years ago during “Cook With Your Kids” Week I was abjured to be sure to always wear shoes while I cook lest I inadvertently slice my feet with a dropped knife.  I always cook barefoot because I don’t wear shoes in my house.  And granted, I have occasionally stepped in things I’d rather not have (dropped pieces of avocado for example).  I have certainly accidentally sliced my fingers on pretty much everything in the kitchen that has a sharp edge.  I’ve burned myself.  I’ve been splattered with hot oil, and scalded my arms with steam.  I’ve even dropped my fair share of knives.  I’ve never once had one stab me through the foot though.

I was also startled the first year I watched “Cook With Your Kids” Week to hear someone seriously state that 13 was not too early to be learning knife skills.  I’m reasonably sure that I could put together most if not all of a complete meal by the time I was 13, never mind start learning how to use a knife.

I’m actually in favor of “Cook With Your Kids” Week.  I think cooking with kids is a great idea.  Knowing how to feed yourself a balanced meal is an important skill, and there are all kinds of studies, both anecdotal and somewhat more academically rigorous, indicating that kids are much more willing to experiment with what they eat if they have a hand in preparing it.

Helping my mother make dinner was a requirement from middle school onwards.  My mother gave up on getting me to make my bed long before middle school, but cooking was non-negotiable.  Fortunately I liked cooking.  And, through lots and lots of practice I learned that most mystical of things – timing, which is to say, how to get everything on the table at the same time.  I also learned how to feed myself and how to shop for groceries.  These are useful skills, and they’re much easier to learn along the way than they are to learn in one fell swoop when you graduate from college.

Roasted Chicken
Green Beans
Corn Fritters
Lightly Pickled Cucumbers

Roasted Chicken

Green Beans

I went to brunch on Labor Day and came home with 2lbs of green beans from a friend’s garden.  2lbs of green beans, is a lot of green beans, which is probably why she was looking to hawk them to the nearest bidder.  And thus, green beans were had for Dinner.

I was going to do something fancy with rosemary, garlic and lemon zest to put on top of the green beans, but I ran out of time and just shook them with some olive oil and salt and pepper when they’d finished cooking.

Corn Fritters
(serves 2-3)

I wouldn’t do these for a crowd because they (a) require a ridiculous amount of corn, and (b) you’re stuck standing there flipping tiny corn pancakes for 20 minutes.  However, I knew I was going to have fewer people than usual at dinner this week and I wanted corn but not on the cob.  Ergo, corn fritters.

4 ears corn
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp corn meal
2 Tbsp heavy cream *
1 egg, lightly beaten
Pinch of cayenne

Grate 2 ears of corn (against a grater and then use the flat edge of a knife to get the rest of the corn milk out).  Cut the kernels off the other 2 ears of corn.  This is very messy.  You will have corn milk and corn kernels everywhere.  I recommend the judicious application of an apron.

Mix all the rest of the ingredients together.  You can do this ahead of time.

Heat a frying pan or griddle (have I mentioned my love for my griddle?) and grease with a little butter.  Drop ¼ cupfuls of the batter onto the griddle and cook for 2-3 minutes on one side, and then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side.  Make sure your pan/griddle is still greased and repeat until batter is gone.

* or light cream, or half-and-half, or probably even milk

Lightly Pickled Cucumbers
This is the “IT” recipe of the summer.  I’ve made it for dinner several times.  Friends have made it for dinner numerous times.  It’s easy and fast and fresh tasting and what more do you want from a recipe?

Recipe previously given:  Farmer’s Market Addiction



  1. Oh those corn fritters–my mouth is watering. When will Europeans learn about tender corn for eating (as opposed to animal feed corn).

  2. RE: the knife question – YES. I dropped the large chopping knife last year and it embedded in the floor less than an inch from my foot.

    and I’m still jealous of your mandoline.

  3. Really? [is bemused] huh.

  4. […] Recipe previously given:  Knife Dropping & Other Kitchen Skills […]

  5. […] Recipe previously given: Knife Dropping & Other Kitchen Skills […]

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