Knife Skills Refresher

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This post could alternately be called, Saved By a Fingernail, Because I Wasn’t Paying Attention. (only need a bit of super glue until the nail grows out a bit, no actual blood was shed). I’ve been back in the kitchen over the last month or so. I take this as a good sign, as I’m actually looking forward to feeding people again; food is love in my world.

I can always tell when life is getting to be too much for me based on how much energy I have for cooking and meal planning.

I’m not saying I dish up ice cream to kill the feels, I simply mean that the act of preparing food is an expression of love. (No, hitting the drive-through doesn’t mean you hate your family, stop putting words in my mouth, it means your schedule is kicking your butt or life has you overwhelmed. We all have these days, no weeks, no months, fine years.)

Even experienced cooks occasionally need to brush up on their knife skills. To that end, I would like to point you to a number of articles here on Home-Ec 101 that relate.

Before you even get started, please sharpen your knives. Why? Sharp blades are much safer than dull blades. I’d rather you accept this bit of trivia than learn through personal experience. Okay?


Once your knife is sharp, don’t forget to keep your steel close at hand. Why? Check out honing v sharpening.

Now on to the tutorials -which I will hopefully, maybe, be adding to soon. (I need a spare pair of hands to take these kinds of pictures.) And remember, when it comes to vegetable prep, the reason we dice, rather than chop willy-nilly crazy-like is to make the cooking step easier. Vegetables of equivalent size cook more evenly, preventing that odd woah, that was crunchy and gee, that’s a bit limp combo you can get when things are uneven.

How to dice an onion and its partner how to slice an onion.

How to dice a tomato -and not have the seeds get into everything. Skip the seed scooping part if you want the seeds.

How to dice a bell pepper.

How to chiffonade. (You do this with herbs like basil and occasionally some leafy greens like butter lettuce)

How to cut up a whole chicken. (People, do not underestimate this skill, it’s come in handy so many times for me)

How to spatchcock or butterfly a chicken. Want to cut the cook time of a whole chicken? This is the way to go.

How to debone chicken thighs – if you like to make chicken stock, thigh bones aren’t food waste.

How to dice a butternut squash – this vegetable is a pain in the rear, but the technique applies to other odd shaped squashes.

Embarrassing bad photo tutorial of how to seed and dice a cucumber – I need to fix this one NOW. Hey, all bloggers started somewhere, and here you get to see the humble roots of Home-Ec 101.

How to batonnet – this is getting fancy.

And why do we bother? For that fun, you can visit this piece on why I cook from scratch, even when it can be an utter pain in the butt.

What knife skills tutorials would you like to see here?

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3 thoughts on “Knife Skills Refresher”

  1. I work in a salad bar/catering environment at a grocery store. What are quick ways to cut broc., caul., celery, melons, for various containers for customers to purchase. What is the best knife to use… a small or med. size chef’s knife and paring knife, seem ok to use. High volume of products made each day.
    Also, vegetables are cut for grilling, such as bell peppers, onions, etc. Is onion cut from root straight down for fajita’s?

    • I’ll work on tutorials for all of these. When I was doing cold prep at my last restaurant I used an 8 or 10″ chef knife because it’s what they had. At home I tend to use a 6″ chef knife for everything except items with a hard rind. I just feel more in control with the smaller chef knife and don’t need a lot of leverage.

      As far as onions, slice pole to pole in half, remove the peel. Lay the flat side down and cut off the tip slice lengthwise, with your opposite hand stabilizing the onion at the root and finally cut off the root. See: /how-to-slice-an-onion/


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