Dear Readers: A good set of knives in the kitchen is a must. Here are some hints when selecting food-prep kitchen knives:
l Get a feel for the knife; hold it in your hand.
l The blade should be one continuous piece of metal up into the handle.
l Wood or plastic/resin handles are best; bone handles can fall apart.
l The best quality knives are made from non-stainless steel (carbon steel).
l You can save by buying a set of knives, but make sure it has a good variety:
1. A general, all-purpose knife.
2. A veggie knife for cutting and peeling hand-held vegetables like potatoes, carrots, etc.
3. A chef’s knife for chopping, mincing and dicing.
4. A serrated knife for cutting bread.
5. A meat cleaver.
You’ll also need a tool to keep the knives sharp. You’re more apt to cut yourself on a dull knife rather than a sharp knife. And a storage block? You’ll need that too. — Heloise
P.S. Kitchen knives can be expensive, or not. The quality of a knife isn’t necessarily akin to its price.
A TIP on TIPPING
Dear Heloise: Coupons for dining are popular now, and they are a great incentive to draw people back into the restaurants after quarantine. However, don’t forget the server. Tip for your meal as if you are paying full price for the meal. A discounted dinner doesn’t equal a ripped tip. — A Server in Pennsylvania
Dear Server: Tipping generously is a sign of great respect. Readers, while coupons can shave a few dollars off your tab, you should tip based on the full price of the meal. — Heloise
Dear Heloise: I always consider the spice racks at the vintage/thrift/resale shops. They can be sanded down, painted and repurposed to hold nail polish, small bottles of creams and lotions, brushes, and other beauty helpers. Bonus points if the spice rack comes with the original little bottles! — Julie W. in Oklahoma
DID YOU KNOW?
Dear Readers: The brown bits at the bottom of the pan when you’re finished sauteing, roasting or frying? They are a flavour goldmine. “Deglaze” the pan by adding broth, water or wine to the bits and stirring. Add a glug of heavy cream, flour and butter to create a delicious sauce. — Heloise
HINT FROM HIM
Dear Heloise: Check out a tape measure the next time you get a chance. Look for the black diamond. It can indicate where a wall stud may be. — Henry T. in California
Dear Heloise: Parchment paper is handy; it saves a ton of cleanup time, but it’s hard to conform to smaller pans, like a meatloaf pan. The solution that works for me is to get the parchment paper wet and mould it into the pan. — Kelly M. in Texas
Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.