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Slices and Dices

There was a time, not too long ago, when I would've bristled at the idea of getting a knife set for Christmas. While I don't hate cooking, I don't especially love it, either; I could think of much better things to do with my money than spend it on cutlery. So I used the cheap stuff, never realizing there are people out there who actually chop potatoes without getting tennis elbow.

About three years ago, my mom gave me a good, expensive kitchen knife. It was a carving knife, not much bigger than a steak knife, and it amazed me. It sliced through everything like butter, and it was my faithful kitchen companion. I used it daily, never once in three years needing to sharpen it. I kept my cheap knives in the cheap block on the counter, but I never pulled them out.

A few months ago, my good knife disappeared. Vanished. Let us not dwell on the creepy possiblities of a mega-sharp knife disappearing, even if it does sound like the first 15 minutes of a Lifetime movie. In all likelihood, I suspect that my good knife has disappeared to the place where all good utensils go to die: namely, my backyard. Despite the fact that I have grilled my children numerous times with the are-you-sure-you-didn't-move-it question, and they have issued sturdy denials, I still worry if the good knife is languishing with his cousins, the spoons, at the bottom of the sandbox.

(And I also accept the possibility that I have done something scatter-brained with it, as I tend to do this sort of thing. Last week I unloaded groceries and, for a moment, attempted to put a gallon of milk under the sink next to the steel wool. There's a very real possibility we may ultimately find the good knife packed away with the Christmas tree ornaments or in my DVD drawer.)

Anyway, however the thing disappeared, I became knife-less for quite some time. This was especially difficult over the holidays, when extra bits of slicing and dicing were required of me. It just wouldn't do.

Thus began the ever-so-subtle campaign in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I would save my hardest chopping until Hubs got home. He'd walk in the door, and I'd slave away at the counter, throwing my full body weight into a potato with those sorry, dull knives. Then I'd peel and, invariably, give myself a prick or two, and I would sigh a sigh that would move angels, if, that is, angels cared about fine cutlery.

As it turned out, my good man, who has many years' experience interpreting my heart-felt sighs, knew just what to do. On Christmas Eve he presented me with a knife set to end all others. It's a full top-of-the-line set that is perfect for my kitchen. Among other things, there’s a paring knife -- she make look dainty, but she could skim the peel off an apple before the apple had time to say "ouch". The enormous chef’s knife still intimidates me a little, but it does amazing things to celery (and it also makes me sing the shrieky Psycho theme song in my head).

My point is that my kitchen habits have completely changed. I can chop like the wind now, and I never knew making mashed potatoes could be this much fun. I happily slice any food item I can get my hands on. I think back to all the knife commercials I’ve seen and I find myself tempted to slice through a can of Coke,just because I can.

But I want to take good care of this fine kitchen investment, and, being new to the Fine Knife Club, I’m not sure how (I could read the directions from the knife set, but they are, of course, randomly misplaced -- tucked back in the gardening shed, perhaps?) I’m hoping those of you with experience in this department can help me out. I do recall that the box said the knives aren’t dishwasher safe. Is that a typical legal disclaimer, or are you really not supposed to put kitchen knives in the dishwasher? And what about sharpening? How often should I have it done?

I’d love to hear your best suggestions for knife care. I’ll get us started: 1. Don’t slice through Coke cans. 2. Don’t lose them. Do you have any you can add?

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