A Game-Changer

Most of y’all know that I love to cook. LOVE. IT. In fact, just thinking about the fact that the holidays are right around the corner makes me a wee bit giddy. Before I know what’s hit me it’ll be time to pull out all my food magazines and a big stack of Post-Its and GO TO TOWN marking all the new recipes that I want to try. It’s my grown-up version of going through the Sears Christmas catalog and dog-earing all the toys that strike my fancy.

So given all of that, it’s sort of a wonder to me that, up until a few weeks ago, I never owned a really good knife. I mean, I had knives, of course, and I used them, and I tried my best to sharpen them, but they were all pretty low on the quality scale. They were serviceable, though, so I tried to make the best of my sub-par kitchen knife situation – even when slicing potatoes reminded me of what it might be like if I tried to cut upholstery fabric with a butter knife. Not that I would ever do such a thing, of course.

Back in the summer I started looking at “good” knives – but it seemed a little extravagant to buy myself something so nice just because I wanted to have an easier time dicing our celery. So I put my knife dreams on hold – difficult though it was – and I figured that eventually there might be a holiday or a birthday when all my knife dreams would come true.

By the way, if you’re looking for a reliable test as to whether you’ve actually crossed over into Officially Grown-Up territory, I think having dreams of a really good knife probably answers that question for you. In fact, just go ahead and let those knife dreams be your assurance that your days of immaturity are far behind you. BECAUSE YOU HAVE A WISH-LIST OF KITCHEN UTENSILS, YOU SEE.

Anyway, do you know what my people gave me for a birthday present this year? Do you know? Can you guess? Will you ever believe?

They gave me a really wonderful kitchen knife. The knife of my dreams, in fact. And for the record, that last sentence is absolutely the most lame thing I have ever written, and I FOR ONE COULD NOT BE MORE DELIGHTED.

I love my knife. I adore it. I look for excuses to use it. And the first time I ever sliced an onion with it, I realized that I hadn’t actually been cutting things for lo, all these many years that I’ve been spending untold hours in the kitchen. I’d just been sawing. Sawing meat. Sawing carrots. Sawing sweet potatoes. But not cutting. Oh, no. I had completely missed out on the wonders of cutting and cubing and dicing and slicing.

All those things are glorious, by the way.


(For the record, I wasn’t using the knife when I took that picture. I stuck the knife in the onion, then took the picture. I just didn’t want you to be concerned for my safety. Because I’m sure you would’ve lost COUNTLESS HOURS OF SLEEP if you thought I was using my knife improperly.)

(Also for the record: I make myself tired.)

It’s such a simple thing: a good knife. And as someone who spends a whole lot of time in the kitchen, I can honestly say that it’s made a world of difference. It’s my new best friend forever (we’re TOTALLY BFFs, y’all). In fact, I’m going to go check on it now. Just to make sure it’s resting comfortably in its drawer.

So. What’s your BFF in the kitchen? What’s the one kitchen utensil you don’t want to live without?

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  1. An immersion blender! The one I have also has a container I can use with it to grind flax seed or chop nuts. Having one makes pureed soups a snap and we love pureed soups! But it also works great for mixing cream cheese concoctions which is why you need one if you don’t already have it :).

  2. You are so right. A good knife would make all the difference. I’ve tried to win a set on PW (and a camera) for years. Until that time I will continue to saw my carrots and potatoes, tomatoes, etc. I buy one thinking it’s THE one and it lets me down every time. What brand is that? I’m over 40 and my eyes can’t read that writing on your knife!

  3. Yes. A good knife is really fun! I know what you mean about enjoying it. You will have a great time chopping and dicing during the holidays. I just love mine; don’t know why I waited so long to get a really good one!

  4. good choice on the Wusthof…we have those and we LOVE them! My husband and I were short term missionaries in Africa for a year, and we actually took our knives. I know it sounds crazy, but we both still agree that they were the best “American” item we brought from home!

  5. Good knives are seriously amazing. You never know what you’re missing until you get one! I have two “real” Henckels Signature knives and they are my pride and joy.

    I will also say I didn’t know what I was missing not having a food processor until I was given one. It’s awesome!

  6. A good knife, a favorite cutting board, and an old plastic blue bowl I got as a gift when I went off to college. The bowl is nostalgic and I’ve instructed Hubs not to part with it.

  7. MY KNIVES! I have a set of CUTCO I earned/sold/bought while in college. Awesome tools. And I’ve made it clear that they are MINE – not OURS – even after 11 years of marriage… :)

  8. I remember when my husband put my “first knife” in my stocking for Christmas. I was purchasing tomatoes for the rest of the Christmas season so that I could show everyone how well it slid through it – like butter!! My must haves are my All Clad pots, my Kitchen Aid Mixer, my Cuisinart Food Processor, my aluminum “half sheet” baking sheets with real SilPats that I use for EVERYTHING. And this year I’m asking Santa for the Chef’s Choice Knife Sharpener – model 130 according the America’s Test Kitchen ’cause my knives are not gliding through the tomatoes like they used to.

  9. I have the exact same knife, and yep – love!

    My other big kitchen love is my KitchenAid mixer. I have the biggest one and use it all. the. time.


    I totally get it. We should cook holiday food that requires a lot of chopping together.

    And on the top of my kitchen need list is a LeCruset dutch oven. I’m pretty sure I would settle for a knock off one, but a real one would make me happier.

  11. My phone…hello? Dominoes…do you deliver? Haaaaa!

    Okay, for reals, my favorite gadget is my pampered chef spoonula…spatula with a deep whatchamacallit to actually cook and serve all in one. I love it!

  12. i love great knives. hate the prices…BUT i regularly find Wustof and Henckel knives at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx and they are very affordable!!

  13. I have knife envy! Maybe that should go on my Christmas list! What kind did you get?

    My favorite kitchen tool is my husband…he cuts up the onions so that they don’t make me cry!

    Maybe the knife should be on his Christmas list!

  14. My brother gave us a really nice knife as a wedding gift 13 years ago and I laughed. We used it, it was cool, but I really didn’t like to cook all that much. In the last year, I have really gotten into cooking and would rather spend my time cruising the Williams-Sonoma catalog than doing laundry. I now TOTALLY appreciate that knife in ways I never imagined.

  15. A good set of knives are a must in the kitchen! And luckily my husband agrees so we have an awesome set. I also can’t live without my Le Cruset dutch oven and Kitchen Aid mixer. It sounds extravegent to spend that kind of money on kitchen tools but they get used so much. I bought the Kitchen Aid before I got married (28 years and counting) and it still works like a charm. The Le Cruset was a fairly recent addition and I bought it when I got a bonus from work and have not regretted it one bit. And it is so easy to clean up, nothing sticks to that pan.

  16. This was so eerily close to what my daughter and I talked about last night as I was cooking dinner that I couldn’t NOT comment.

    Mine wasn’t the Sears Catalog…it was JC Penney. Last night I was flipping through a short little catalog from Bed, Bath and Beyond I believe and there were all sorts of kitchen gadgets and whatnot. I was lusting over a few ya know?

    So my 17-year-old daughter is in the kitchen with me and I’m telling her about how it reminds me of the ol’ JCP and the many happy days I spent as a kid dreaming over the Princess Leia comforter ensemble and all. And then I told her that you know you’re old when you find yourself lusting over kitchen gadgets instead.

    Eerie right? (eery? eerye? spelling? anyone? anyone?) Or it could just be plain old coincidence is all. And the fact that I have no real social life to speak of.

  17. Oh this post perfectly spelled my own dismay and woe over the status of knives in my kitchen. I received a set of eight Henkels steak knives for our wedding back in ’01, and they are still my go-to knives when I really need to cut something up WELL. I have a knife block of full of knives that remain UNTOUCHED, I tell you, because of their cheap quality and lack of cutting ability. IN FACT, it’s dangerous to use them,particularly if you are cutting into an acorn squash or something similar.
    Hilarious and wonderful post, Boomama.

  18. I love a good knife!

    I totally get the whole “You know when you have matured when you ask for ____” I turn 30 this year (less than a month) and top on my list is a swiffer wet jet. Sad. I know.

  19. We received approximately 20 Henkels knives as wedding gifts, and it was some of the best gifts we got.

    My “can’t live without” is a garlic press. It saves me from my fingers smelling all garlicky and I HATE big chunks of garlic in our food, so mincing it up quickly is a dream come true for me..

  20. I must know what knife your peeps chose. I can relate to every word of your sawing food. I’ve done this for the past 12 years. WAY TOO LONG!

    PLEASE, share. I’ve looked at various knives, spoken with a high-school student selling knives and dreamed. Dreamed of cooking made easy by a knife that actually cuts. My mother passed some of her knives with me along with a stone for sharpening. But I’m still dreaming of “THE” knife. So, please share. And do you know how much your peeps paid for said knife?

  21. I cannot live without the following:

    *Our good knives (amen, sister)
    *My crockpot
    *My cast iron dutch oven.

  22. My orange Kitchen Aid Mixer. LOVE it!!!

  23. I have this VERY SAME KNIFE! It was the first really nice gift that my now-husband bought me after we got engaged! I LOVE LOVE my Wusthof Santoku knife!!!

    I hope you and your knife will be very happy together :)

  24. though i am not a cook, i just thoroughly enjoyed reading all about your new knife. who knew knives could be so funny!?!

    and to think my last conversation with my mom and sis was about what to do for thanksgiving, becuase none of us want to cook! sad, but true!

  25. My kitchen BFF is my husband. Because cooking? Not my thing. Eating? Totally my thing. But not so much on the cooking part. Unless “cooking” means mixing a bunch of ingredients together and calling it casserole. That I CAN do.

  26. Oh, and do you mind sharing with me exactly what kind of knife that is? I think it would make an excellent Christmas gift for my favorite chef!

  27. I love my Wusthoff knives!

  28. Welcome to the good knife club! I love, love, love mine and can’t imagine cooking without them. First thing you must remember, they are so good and sharp that it’s much easier to cut yourself. I have several scars to prove that. So take it easy! Also, I was taught never to put the good knives in the dishwasher and I never have. I’ve had mine knives for 15 years and they still look and perform like they are brand new.

  29. a mezzaluna…chopping herbs will never be the same! The best part is all my fingertips stay out of the way and in tact. I do not have a good track record in the knife dept.

  30. I was not so much worried about your safety as I was your comment, “looking for an excuse to use my knife.” Yikes!

    Hmmmm…I have lots of things in my kitchen that I could not do without. Love my garlic press. And, actually, my knives, too.

    What do I dream about for my kitchen? A Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. But daycare bills and diapers call…

  31. Mine would be my Cutco knife–petite French chef’s to be exact. It’s my go-to knife that I could not live without. Ever. You can take my Kitchen Aid mixer (maybe) and my Cuisinart food processor (’cause I don’t really know how to use it), but do not take away my Cutco knife . . . or knives for that matter.

  32. Dear Sharp One,
    I was lucky enough to have a fiance who felt like the number one “new home set-up” essentials before we got married were amazing cookware and wonderful knives. Seven years later they are faithfully standing by for everything I do in the kitchen. Seven years later my husband is faithfully standing by to help me in the kitchen. I’m a lucky girl.

    My other kitchen crush is wooden cooking utensils. After deciding to reduce plastics in our home these seemed like a wise choice. But more than that I adore the way they feel… the different shapes, the varied woods and grains… they’ve become my friends (BFF’s)and I have quite a growing collection.

    Spooning in NE

  33. I don’t know if our knives are good or not. I do know that I am not good at cutting things, and that I’m lucky I haven’t cut myself more often! So I am really enjoying my Cuisinart food processor. It cuts for me! (And it grates cheese!) I also love my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer!

  34. I have a few:

    the knife my sister gave me for Christmas
    my iron skillet
    and my Pampered Chef food chopper! (because I’ll be honest, I do not enjoy cutting up nuts with a knife, or cutting the cilantro for the pico. Give me that food chopper any day for those!

    Congratulations on your new Happy.
    (Aunt Joyce always calls something little that gives you joy a ‘Happy’)

  35. um…a phone? to call the thai place?

    in seriousness, though – i love having my grandma’s cast-iron skillet and good knives. even though i don’t actually have the latter. because i’m 33 and still single and, therefore, STILL SIT AT THE KIDS’ TABLE.



  36. Oh my Boo you have hit on a subject that I can run with. I love to cook though I think you have me beat in the desire department. BUT…I do love my “gadgets”. I believe you should own every type of kitchen gadget there is so that you are equiped and ready for whatever life brings. I have always wanted every type of pan, utensil, dish, etc. there is (and I don’t have them all yet). I once sold Pampered Chef and it was a dream I just got tired of the late night doing parties and getting up to go to work the next day.

    I have the pampered chef knives that come with the sharpening case (which are mediocre on the real chefs world) and I have loved them tremendously. I use them everytime I cook along with a cutting board from pampered chef.

    I love me some cooking!

  37. Oh, girl! That knife you’ve pictured is one of my faves! I registered for the good knives 11 years ago when we got married and didn’t regret for a minute the potpourri bowls or embroidered hand towels I misse dout on as a result! In fact, talk about grown-up, somehow – and I will forever be baffled as to how this happened, I lost my good bread knife from that block. I got a email from my favorite knife people that my knives were on major sale for a month and I emailed it to my mother and asked her to please replace my bread knife for Christmas. What kind of Christmas wish list is that?! A grown up one!

    As for my favorite kitchen tool…the immersion blender is right up there. But seriously, my Kyocera mandoline slicer is my can’t do without thing these days. It’s one of those single-function mandoline slicers, so it just slices disks, no juliennes or waffles, just thin slices. As such, it’s much cheaper. About $30 at a kitchen store. Can’t live in the kitchen without it. I won’t even put a salad together without it. Love it!

  38. What’s that? You can’t cook and take pictures AT THE SAME TIME? Do you mean to say that you’re not the Pioneer Woman? ;) Maybe she can teach you that skill next time you visit her…then teach me so I can do it too. Never mind, just take me with you to the ranch! :)

  39. For several years now, I’ve been asking for one of those sets of knives that sit on the counter in a wooden block. This might be the year! I’m so pitiful that I want that for Christmas. So I can relate. I got a new knife recently that actually cuts instead of saws, and it has made slicing tomatoes a delight! Truly.

  40. i can relate! this year, i’m here to tell you that i have a good BROOM and DUSTPAN on my Christmas list.



    (say it like kristen wiig doing elizabeth hasselbeck on SNL’s ‘The View’ sketch.)

  41. It makes my heart so happy to see that you have a Wusthoff! I never knew the difference a good knife could make until I got married! The husband was all.about.the.knives. In fact that chef’s knife my college roommates’ mother sent was his absolute favorite present. I think he might have kissed it!
    Anyway, yes, having a knife that cuts, and can easily be kept sharp, is simply lovely! Congratulations!

  42. Ah yes, the good Santoku knife. I own 3, one for each kitchen I cook in. My other favorite item is a Tupperware mixing bowl for cake batter that has a rubber anti-slip ring on the bottom and stays put on the counter when mixing up all sorts of goodness. just love it. and wire whisks and spatulas for whipping and scraping in that marvelous bowl. must get every drop of batter out of the bowl. just have to.

  43. Love my crockpot and my Kitchenaide mixer.

  44. I LOVE my knives too! Up until 2 years ago, I was using the Sawing Technique as well. My sister-in-law {who is a Food Lover and Cooking Lover} was astonished to find out that I didn’t own a good knife. So for the next Christmas & Birthday I got great knives! They’re from Pampered Chef, and I LOVE them. I mean, to actually be able to cut celery in a clean cut and not have little strings left over is AMAZING! :)

    So glad you can enjoy the experience of having great kitchen knives. :)

  45. i’ve been dreaming of good knives since i was about 17…hmm…wonder what that means! if only i knew it meant that i was too grown up for my own good ;)

  46. Ah cooking… it’s my great joy. I love my “Magic Bullet” blender… it’s unbelievable! It’s just a little tiny thing, but it does a million things, and it’s perfect for making one serving of a smoothie or milkshake at a time,too. :)

  47. Christy S. says:

    As much as I LOVE (and I mean love) my Cutco knives, my favorite kitchen appliance is my KitchenAid mixer. We went out of town for 4 months and when we returned I embraced that thing like a lover coming back from the war. You just don’t know how beautiful your own kitchen is until you are forced to live without it!

  48. I need that knife. I’m tired of sawing.

  49. That knife is the Love of My Life…given to me by the former bearer of that title 4 Christmases ago. It is perfect for everything–slicing, dicing, and, should you need it, intimidation. Enjoy!

  50. I wholeheartedly agree with you about a good knife! My husband got me some decent knives 3 years ago for Christmas and I changed from a “have-to” cook to a “love-to” cook. Makes all the difference!

  51. Yes, crossing over into grown-up territory: we got a new ‘fridge a few months back WITH AN ICE MAKER/WATER DISPENSER and let me tell you I.AM.IN.LOVE!!!! Britta be damned!

    I received some nice knives for my wedding but back then I didn’t appreciate a “good knife” like I do now and failed to give them the TLC that they SO deserved. (Wouldn’t it make sense to register for gifts after 5 or so years of marriage instead of WHEN you are about to get married?) Now I want the santuko so I can prove I know how to treat a knife right. ; )

    And Congratulations, by the way!

  52. I bought a Cutco knife from a friend’s son, who was selling them… then another friend’s son was selling them, so I had to buy another knife. I was skeptical about them, but wanted to be a good friend. WOW. I didn’t know what I had been missing with my previous knives. LOVED the Cutco’s so much, that I called back the most recent friend’s son and bought myself an entire set! I have never splurged like that before, but I have never regretted it! And free sharpening for life is a great perk, too!

  53. Forgot to add that my favorite, absolutely necessary kitchen “gadget” is my Vita-mix blender. That thing can BLEND!!!

  54. I love the spatulas from Williams Sonoma – all the sizes. Love, love, love them! I have the same knife as yours and I also immensely love it!! I only hand wash it, which is saying a lot because I pile all my dishes in the dishwasher!

  55. Ooooh! You got the CADILLAC of knives, girl!

    I’d have to say that my good knife (which is the only knife I ever use for cooking) is also my BFF in the kitchen, but my Williams Sonoma microplane (for zest, nutmeg, parmesan, and a million other things) and my Kitchen Aid stand mixer are neck and neck for second place. OH! And I often wonder how I ever made big fat cookies, or muffins, or cupcakes, without my Pampered Chef Scoop (Large).

    Sigh… talking about kitchen utensils makes me entirely too giddy. (I’m apparently VERY mature.)

  56. My favorite, most useful kitchen utensil is a jar opener that belonged to my ex-husband’s grandmother. It must be over 100 years old now, and it is the bomb! I also have a knife or two like yours, and they really make life easier.

  57. My three, yes, three Crock Pots. A 3qt, a 4qt and a 6qt. Even tho our nest is empty, and I’m a stay at home wife, I still use my CPs regularly. The current three are probably the sixth, seventh and eighth I’ve had. I literally cook ’em to death.

  58. My phone with Pizza Hut on speed dial. A cook I am NOT. Sad, but true.

  59. I’m feeling so guilty because I am now coveting your knife. That is one more thing I will have to pray about tonight before I put my head on the pillow. In my kitchen the knives barely cut warm butter! I do love my Kitchen Aid mixer though. I have teased my husband that in a fire he is on his own because I’m headed for my mixer! It would be ok though, because he would be trying to chuck his entire gun safe out of the house before he even thought of saving little ol’ me.

  60. I bought a knife just like that, a couple of years back. Best knife ever.

    If you peel a lot of potatoes, the Pampered Chef vegetable peeler is great. I went through many big-box store peelers before I discovered the joy of a good one.

    The hand-held can opener by Oxo makes me so happy in that it cuts of the lid w/o leaving sharp edges. It’s the little things.

  61. I got my first “big girl” knife last summer, after 24 years of using mediocre ones. I LOVE MY KNIFE. I totally get where you are coming from.

    I also love my le Creuset dutch oven. It makes me so happy I can’t even say. crazy, I know.

  62. My own personal chef.

  63. Thanks for that. My son has a total aversion to eating raw fruit , so I make the fruit into smoothies for him and then he loves it! I also found some great smoothie recipes here and thought I’d share – lots of other great ideas there.