cowboyardee's Profile

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The ":)"...Friendly or passive agressive?

It depends on the context.

I generally avoid using emoticons. However, every once in a while I'll use one after a smarmy response to someone I am friendly with as a way ofsaying 'I'm just kidding ya, buddy.' I could see how that would seem passive aggressive to an onlooker who didn't know who's friendly with who.

1 day ago
cowboyardee in Site Talk

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

I'm not sure what to tell you, Tom. Of course systems from other countries may not work exactly the same in the US as they do in the countries in which they were originally implemented. Importing successful ideas from other societies takes wisdom and care and time. On the other hand, you seem to be arguing that there is nothing at all to be learned from successful systems elsewhere. That can't be right.

Later, you are making claims about the grand failure of American-style Great Society social spending (claims which have about the same degree of historical credibility as that old chestnut that the civil war had nothing to do with slavery, I might add) while ignoring that most of my arguments were in favor of a kind of social spending that differs from the American style.

And slightly less pertinent to the rest of the conversation:

You don't seem to understand the costs of treating chronic and misdiagnosed conditions. Bed sores ain't cheap. And MRIs, though useful, aren't the first-line diagnostic tool you seem to think they are.

Mar 25, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

I can grant you both those points, but I don't think they hurt my case very much.

Comparing economic figures from different countries is indeed tricky and can be misleading if we're talking about relatively small margins and distinctions. But I'm not arguing that a minimum wage hike of X will improve the standard of living by Y percent or anything that specific. I'm just pointing out that there is likely a problem with the notion that a higher minimum wage actually increases poverty. The global trends don't bear that out, even if it's easy to quibble about the exact details.

Also, please don't take my previous post as a statement wholly against need-based welfare programs. I do still think they're important, and agree that basically all developed nations use them to some degree. My point was that need-based welfare systems aren't the only way more egalitarian societies limit poverty and improve the general standard of living. There are more subtle ways to redistribute large wealth imbalances, and countries with the highest standards of living have generally latched onto these while the US has not.

Mar 25, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

How? How exactly has the US proven that?

If you compare countries in terms of social welfare expenditures as a percent of GDP, you'll find... shockingly... that countries with higher expenditures tend to have a higher standard of living and less poverty than the US.

On the other hand, I'd certainly agree that the F-35 ain't ending poverty anytime soon.

Mar 24, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

"In the meantime, the higher minimum wage will price some of the weaker players out of the job market and have them go from a low-paying job to no job at all. Not good for the poverty situation."
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If you look at other countries with higher minimum wages than the US, you'll tend to find that they do indeed have lower levels of poverty and a higher standard of living (even when those wages are adjusted for local spending power). It's possible that those higher minimum wages are *allowed* by higher levels of economic egalitarianism rather than the drivers of it. I'll admit that's a possibility. But in general the correlation between minimum wage and poverty levels runs the opposite direction to what you suggest.

"If society wants to help people in need, you need a need-based system. That's how most welfare states work in the Western World."
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Not necessarily. Much of the developed world relies less heavily on need-based systems of welfare and instead provides government services via tax dollars to the whole populace. Just like our k-12 school system. Government provided daycare would be a fine example. Universal healthcare is another (the US healthcare system in particular acts as a huge non-progressive tax that clobbers the middle class; the poor are entitled to emergency services but can't pay and their costs are built into what providers charge and subsequently everyone else's insurance plans; the wealthy pay essentially no more than anyone else). And as I mentioned above, infrastructure projects can benefit everyone including those they employ.

"If less inequality is the goal, increase the tax burden on the rich and redistribute money to programs that will help low-income people."
_____
I agree that's the more direct way to do it. Doing it well (especially considering how far ahead of the tax game wealthy individuals and corporations currently are), garnering political support for it, and overcoming massive corporate influence over politicians... that's trickier.

With that said, I lean toward an 'all of the above' strategy anyway. Perhaps restructuring of American taxes, increased social spending, and a higher minimum wage are all necessary. What's the best dollar figure for right now? I don't claim to know.

At any rate, I thank you for posting a well-considered response, even if we disagree.

Mar 24, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

"A minimum wage law is an extremely blunt instrument for raising the standard of living. It doesn't look at needs. It doesn't distinguish a breadwinner with mouths to feed and student loans to pay back from a frat boy just working a few hours to get extra money to party. If society is supposed to subsidize certain people, it would be more reasonable to do so based on need."
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Ostensibly, that's what American welfare programs are designed to do - discern need and allocate resources accordingly. Thing is, it's been my observation that most people opposed to increasing the minimum wage are not big on welfare either.

We tend to discuss these things like there are no real world examples of countries that do a better job of avoiding huge wealth disparities and widespread poverty. Of course, applying another country's model wholesale in the US is not necessarily simple or wise, but it would be nice if the conversation focused more on how other systems might or might not apply to our current circumstances rather than simply arguing whether it's possible to create a more egalitarian society on theoretical terms alone as though the idea to so do was conjured up only in the most recent news cycle.

The (US-style) welfare state has the disadvantages of corruptibility (of both administrators and recipients), waste and bureaucracy, pitting classes against each other, perpetually weak political support, and instability due to shifting political whims.

An increased minimum wage and protections for American workers has the disadvantages of its 'bluntness,' potential to worsen unemployment (at least in the short term), and possibly decreased opportunity and/or growth potential for small businesses.

Government programs to more directly employ more people to better wage jobs (such as large infrastructure projects) have the disadvantages of inefficiency and bureaucracy, corruptibility, and the politically unpalatable specter of raising taxes to pay for said programs.

But...

Widespread poverty has the disadvantages of slowly strangling the American economy (which is still one driven largely by consumer spending, after all), cultural and political instability, crumbling or outdated infrastructure, and increased crime and incarceration rates. Which is not to mention the worst problem with high rates poverty... wait for it... high rates of poverty. Why should people continue to support a system that fails an increasing number of them?

I'd love to see an adult conversation where we all at least admitted that whatever action we're advocating or arguing against, we're merely picking our poison carefully.

Mar 24, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food
1

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

Put aside your feelings about those starbucks hipsters and ask yourself a simple question:

What is a reasonable amount of money to pay someone to make coffee?

Or let's phrase it differently... bearing in mind that even baristas may have kids, student loans, etc., what's the lowest wage you can expect a full-time American worker to be able to live on without assistance?

You can pay em to work; or you can pay em not to work; or you can pay to put em in prison. But those are really the only three options. They don't go away just because you find them distasteful.

The ultimate way to season cast iron, per Cook's Illustrated

I have two issues with the Cantor/CI method:

1- It seemed to me that flax seed oil is prone to flaking and intolerant of high heat if many layers are applied. Other people have expressed the same problem in comments on Cantor's blog and elsewhere. In fairness, I did apply many more layers than recommended after my initial disappointment (see below). And it seems some people (yourself included) did not experience any flaking.

2- On its own, it doesn't seem to perform any better than other base seasonings, though it's slightly more laborious than most methods. Cantor's response to people complaining of unimpressive performance after the initial seasoning was that the pan still needed to build a fuller seasoning layer via cooking. But if so, then what's the point of six or seven layers of flax oil seasoning when that puts you in the exact same boat as someone who seasoned with 3 or 4 layers of whatever oil they happen to have around?

Mar 21, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Are Himalayan Salt Blocks awesome?

I tend to doubt its utility outside of a novelty presentation piece. Most likely, there is nothing that it does better than other kinds of vessels in terms of cooking performance.

Problem with knife skills: tip of knife drags behind on board

The combination of the three is actually pretty rare, in my experience. The vast majority of people with really great knife skills are professional cooks, and not too many professional cooks can afford a collection like Salty's.

Mar 20, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Problem with knife skills: tip of knife drags behind on board

The guy who made that video is a longtime poster at the various knife forums, and usually goes by 'Salty.' In the video, I think he is using a Stephan Fowler gyuto. AFAIK, Salty started the trend of posting videos of straight up-and-down chopping of tomatoes as a test of sharpness.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOQtO...
He's a good sharpener, has good knife skills, and has a truly impressive knife collection, so he's a pretty good reference.

Mar 20, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Powdered alcohol brand given green light

Might be able to add it late in the mixing once the ice cream has already frozen (but not fully stiffened) to limit its reconstitution.

The probability of it tasting pretty bad is admittedly high.

Don't get me wrong - ice cream wasn't much more than a jokey example in the first place. The point was merely that there may be a use or two for this stuff beyond dodging the $10 per beer prices at the ballpark and getting astronauts drunk.

Mar 16, 2015
cowboyardee in Spirits

Powdered alcohol brand given green light

Possible, but AFAIK there's no word yet on exactly how it's encapsulated.

There are a number of things you can't do with alcohol due to its liquid state, its low freezing and boiling points, its tendency to act as a solvent, etc. We don't really know yet exactly which characteristics might behave a little differently in this form. Chances are we could come up with at least one or two interesting things to do with the powdered form that you couldn't do with regular alcohol. If it doesn't taste like concentrated Four Loko, anyway.

Mar 16, 2015
cowboyardee in Spirits

Powdered alcohol brand given green light

So no one else is wondering if they could make a decent highly alcoholic ice cream out of this stuff yet? Could really elevate your post-breakup-depression game.

What happens when it's cooked before being fully rehydrated? Will there soon be more than one way to spike a brownie?

Mar 16, 2015
cowboyardee in Spirits

Problem with knife skills: tip of knife drags behind on board

What serious eats calls the 'back slice,' is a motion I call a 'draw cut' - you draw the knife through food like you were using an Xacto knife or drawing a line with a pencil. And if you ask me, it's extremely under-emphasized and under-utilized in intro-level knife classes/videos/etc. It's useful for a lot more than herbs.

The main advantage of draw cuts is that they tend to leave a lot of foods right where they are on the cutting board. So while the cut is perhaps just a tiny bit slower than a chop or a rocking motion, it can still be a more efficient and faster way of cutting things that you intend to cut lengthwise then crosswise into smaller uniform pieces - you don't lose time gathering your food up after the first cuts and arranging them for the next round. Here are a couple examples:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YKRn... (at 4:35
)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KY42... (at 9:33

)

You don't have to keep the tip of the blade on the board here as you move the knife forward to prepare make the next cut, btw. It looked like the Serious Eats video was doing that, but it's not necessary.

Mar 14, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Problem with knife skills: tip of knife drags behind on board

Yeah, that video is describing what I would call 'rock chopping,' more specifically the row-the-boat kind.

As I wrote before, making sure not to use too much pressure might help. But if not, try walking through the stroke very slowly. I think most people who are good at this stroke actually would have a hard time explaining why they don't leave the tip behind because they're not consciously aware of how they manage to keep the blade straight - I literally had to go grab my knife to figure out exactly how I do it.

The crucial moment is right when you finish your forward stroke and are about to begin pulling the knife back and lifting the heel up. Rather than merely starting to pull back and rock forward at the same time, you should lose contact with the board for the briefest of nanoseconds and place the tip (or something close to it) of the knife down at the very end of the forward stroke just a bit to the left (assuming you're a righty) of where it was. This is the exact moment you correct for proper alignment of the next cut. In practice and at full speed, it doesn't feel like you're moving the tip or coming off the board at all - it's just a natural consequence of a smooth, quick transition from the forward stroke along with a gentle pressure toward the receding food.

With all that said, I still hold that other motions can be just as fast and efficient, or else so close that it's not worth worrying about it too much. Pure chopping is usually faster. Push cutting (which at times can basically be a chop with only the slightest forward motion) and pull cuts are fast enough once you're very comfortable and practiced with a knife.

Mar 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Fuji vs. Miyagi Birchwood SG2 7" Santoku

You should be happy with your new knife - it's a nice blade. You seemed to be talking about knives beyond your own, so I ran with it. At any rate, when you make inaccurate statements, it's worth correcting them not only for your purposes but for other readers getting information here.

I'm just saying there are a lot of nice knives out there, and there are a lot of reasons a knife might be nice. You seem to envision knife steels falling into a straighforward hierarchy in terms of quality, but the reality is far murkier than that. Tradeoffs, pros and cons, etc. Likewise, you seem to think that knives can be judged first and foremost by the quality of their steel. While it's true that no one wants a knife with crap steel, the truth is that many nicer knives (especially but not exclusively Japanese knives) have excellent steel, and the differences in grind and profile and handle and fit & finish and even aesthetics very often make a much bigger difference to how you as a user experience the blade than the steel does.

Mar 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Problem with knife skills: tip of knife drags behind on board

It's pretty hard to offer specific guidance in this case without a video of you cutting, since I'm not certain I'm understanding how you managed to run into the problem you're having or even exactly what you mean by 'slicing.' In fairness, knife technique terms are only semi-standardized.

Normally, 'slicing' refers most specifically to placing the heel of the blade over whatever you're cutting and pulling the knife backward to cut, finishing the cut near the tip of the blade. The tip of the blade is not necessarily on the cutting board at the beginning of this motion, so it seems strange that you would 'dragging it behind.' If you're referring to this kind of slice, the easy solution is to just lift the blade off the cutting board after each cut.

I'm wondering if you're referring to more of a rock-chopping motion. It would be a little easier to experience the problem you describe using that motion. There are essentially two different ways to keep a steady angle when rock chopping and avoid leaving the tip behind whatever you're cutting.

One way is to cut only up and down in place, like those guillotines for cutting paper. You position the thumb of your non-dominant hand behind whatever you're cutting and use your thumb to slowly push the food into the blade's path. This works best for cutting small amounts of firm, easily held, easily cut foodstuffs (like a carrot or celery). Here is a video (at about 2:42):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlnOs...

The other way is far more versatile but requires more practice. You have to exaggerate the forward motion of the cut rather than just moving up and down, and the whole motion is more like rowing a boat. Here it's important to have good control of your knife and also to have a knife that's sharp enough that you don't have to use a lot of force with each cut - a lot of force will often throw off your motion. Here is a video of the motion (a good shot at 4:37):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-QpO...

Of course, this may not be your problem, but I'm having a hard time envisioning your problem when using another motion.

Also keep in mind that you don't necessarily need to keep the knife touching the board the whole time, despite plenty of (bad) advice to the contrary. A push cut is a perfectly decent motion and leaves little potential for the kind of problem you're describing. Here's a video (0:48 mark, though you should probably just watch the whole video if you have any confusion about different techniques):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx1U-...

Mar 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Fuji vs. Miyagi Birchwood SG2 7" Santoku

First off, disclaimer: I don't know how to further avoid confusion in the following post without being fairly blunt. Please don't read my tone as angry, but merely puzzled and direct.

"I'm fine with being wonky."
________
'Wonky' was a gentle way of saying 'incorrect.' I meant that statement betrayed a misunderstanding of what makes a knife sharp.

"VG/MAX represents an upgrade for Shun."
________
I don't understand what makes you state this as fact. As someone who has admittedly never used VG-max, I claim nothing more than an educated guess on the matter. But seeing as you're also someone who has never used VG-MAX (AFAIK) and who seems to have scant knowledge of knife steels and no real expertise in sharpening, I don't know how you can even make an educated guess, much less a confident declaration. Do you have additional information on VG-max you haven't discussed yet? Or even a link to a detailed comparison by some well-informed and experienced user? If so, I'd be happy to read it. Or did you just buy into Shun's marketing without reservation?

"One advantage that they have is in proprietary materials--most recently VG/MAX--materials that competitors cannot use."
________
'Proprietary' doesn't mean better. It doesn't even necessarily mean that it was developed by the company selling the knives (though in this case, it may well have been for all I know). It just means the company isn't spilling the beans on what they're using. Global's CROMOVA steel is considered 'proprietary,' and I doubt many experienced knife-heads would list it among their favorite steels. Wusthof's PTEC sharpening process is also proprietary... and I create sharper edges using a few old whetstones at home. Tojiro's DP steel was once considered 'proprietary' until the cat got out of the bag that it was VG-10.

"The correct comparison to VG-10 Shuns is VG-10 Tojiros--not lower end DPs."
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Tojiro DPs are made of VG-10.
http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tojirod...
They're every bit as well made as Shuns, but lack damascus cladding (which is merely aesthetic). Many people are happy to pay ~half the price of a Shun Classic to get a knife that performs just as well or better. Shun/KAI doesn't offer a knife of similar construction at a similar price point to the DP (the construction of the Sora is pretty strange).

Again I tend to doubt that Shun's steel itself is more chip-prone than that of the DP. I think Shun subtly encourages poor knife care practices - their marketing of various ribbed steels is a fine example, and brings this conversation full-circle.

Shun Fuji vs. Miyagi Birchwood SG2 7" Santoku

"I believe VG-Max is more of a marketing strategy"
______
That's likely enough.

"I agree with you that adding more chromium does not seem like to benefit the steel any more beside reducing corrosion. Most likely, it will make it worse in term of ability to hold an edge and the ease of sharpening."
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As you know, I'm not a knife maker or an expert in metallurgy. But that's my impression as well. My favorite knife steels tend to be either carbon (very low or zero chromium content) or stainless steels that contain just enough chromium for stainlessness. I tend to view adding more chromium to VG-10 as a concession to poorer maintenance habits at the expense of performance.

Vanadium is interesting, in that some perfectly good knife steels contain vanadium (including vg-10). But I've also come across a number of knives where it seems like vanadium is used to make crappy steel minimally useful. These knives tend to be a pain in the ass to sharpen (due to wear-resistance and maybe some carbide-tearout) and have mediocre edge retention in relation to their increased sharpening effort. I'm just wondering if extra vanadium here is used as a patch to smooth over some of the problems caused by adding more chromium. Again, just speculating. My point is just that more vanadium doesn't necessarily equal a better knife steel or even an equivalent one.

Mar 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Fuji vs. Miyagi Birchwood SG2 7" Santoku

Good to know. I've sharpened a lot more Shun Classics than their other lines. But as you probably know, I've only sharpened for others as a kind of hobby/small-time side project and have never handled the kind of volume you do. Don't think I've handled a vg-max knife yet. I tend to think the Shun profile (encouraging rock chopping regardless of skill with that technique) and target market probably explains their tendency to chip more than their steel does. IME, VG-10 can make some very nice and high-performance knives, given the right conditions and usage.

I assume we're talking about the same thing when you say v-max and I say vg-max, but correct me if I'm wrong. Do you have any other impressions of it besides its tendency to chip?

Mar 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Fuji vs. Miyagi Birchwood SG2 7" Santoku

You seem to have some misconceptions about the steels used to make knives.

On SG2 being sharper and less chippy:
- It has generally been my experience that SG2 is a bit less chip prone than vg-10. Though, like any hard knife using acute edge angles it can still chip. But sharper? Sharpness is primarily a function of sharpening. Shun might make their SG2 knives come with a sharper factory edge (though I tend to doubt this). Or it might be easier to sharpen (IME, the opposite is true). Or it might support a lower angle edge better than another steel (in truth, both SG2 and VG10 can support lower angles than the edge Shun puts on their knives). Or it may hold a sharp edge a bit longer (in general, it does).

But saying one steel is 'sharper' than another is kind of wonky.
__________________________________
On VG-Max:
- I haven't tried VG-max, and I don't know many knowledgeable people who have - maybe knifesavers will be able to weigh in with more practical experience. So I'm speculating here. But I think it's unlikely that vg-max is a big improvement over vg-10 In fact, I suspect the opposite. According to Shun, vg-max has higher amounts of chromium and vanadium. To me this sounds like an attempt to minimize either brittleness an/or potential for corrosion, most likely at the expense of the knife's ease of sharpening and possibly its edge retention. Might even just be less expensive to produce. I don't know. But as a rule of thumb, it's rare that a large manufacturer successfully builds a reputation and market presence and THEN opts to start using more expensive and better performing components. The opposite is more likely.

Of course, the jury is still out. But don't take Shun's word for it that vg-max is an improvement.
_________________________________
On tojiro DP:
- People buy Tojiro's DP line instead of Shuns for many reasons, and the steel was never really one of them. Tojiro DPs are significantly less expensive, for starters. They have a better profile on their gyutos than the Shun Classic chef's knife (IMO). The grind on a DP is arguably a bit better than most Shuns. The DP handles are a bit less polarizing than Shun handles (only a bit though). Shun's switch to VG-max will have basically zero effect on Tojiro's sales.

ETA: It's occurred to me I may have misread you with respect to Tojiros. But what do mean by an 'apples to apples' comparison? FWIW, I tend to believe that Tojiro's steel is no less chip-prone than Shun's VG-10, but rather the practices of shun users vs tojiro users tend to lead to more chipping in Shun knives.

Mar 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

So where does one buy (non stainless) steel knives?

No. You seem to be thinking specifically of vintage French carbon knives. Stainless knives vary in their hardness, and so do carbon steel blades. Some carbon knives are harder than some stainless knives, and vice versa.

Anyway, hardness does not determine a knife's ability to take an edge (though it does have a lot of bearing on a knife's edge retention). The ability of a steel to take a sharp edge is more directly related to the steel's grain/carbide structure. Carbon steels tend to have a more even and fine grain structure than stainless steels do. Even so, there are many stainless steel that sharpen extremely well and some carbon steels that don't.

Mar 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Why delicious Indian food is surprisingly unpopular in the U.S.

My point was not specifically that Indian food is inherently delicious. Rather, since millions or billions of people seem to like it a whole lot while others do not, I'd conclude merely that it's not inherently un-delicious... which isn't quite the same thing. More specifically, I'd conclude that taste is subjective.

We seem to agree on the subjectivity of taste. Where we differ is that I go one step further and suppose that many who dislike it might come to like it under different circumstances. I don't think everyone who dislikes Indian food is ignorant or even necessarily inexperienced with Indian food. But I do think that the right kinds of exposure and positive associations can change many people's minds. Not everyone. But many. As I wrote above, tastes change.

Mar 12, 2015
cowboyardee in Food Media & News

Are there advantatages to a pressure cooker besides saving time?

The primary benefit of a pressure cooker is, of course, quicker cooking. Braised/stewed meat, stocks, and beans are some of the most obvious beneficiaries of this, but it also be a time saver with other things - I can make mashed potatoes in maybe 15 minutes start to finish in a PC, for example.

But there are a few other advantages, some of which haven't been mentioned in this thread.

I think Chem mentioned that pressure cookers can actually manage a different effect when making stocks due the enclosed environment and minimal loss of more volatile flavor compounds. In some cases, this can lead to a better stock, not just a quicker one. Note that this is easiest with modern-generation pressure cookers that do not vent steam during the cooking process, though with careful control you can manage the same effect in jiggle-top PCs.

Here's a usage that's a little more out there: by increasing the pH, you can use a pressure cooker to caramelize certain foods not just on their surface but throughout. The most famous example is the caramelized carrot soup from Modernist Cuisine.
http://modernistcuisine.com/recipes/c...
You can do the same thing with squash and most likely several other foods. I've been meaning to dick around with parsnips, for example.
Similarly, you can use a pressure cooker to make a deeply caramelized onion stock in just a few minutes. I discussed this here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8143...

Then of course there is the potential for canning. Generally speaking, you should probably stick to a model designed for canning, but in an academic sense pressure canners are basically just pressure cookers and most pressure cookers are theoretically capable of canning at low altitudes.

Mar 11, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Fuji vs. Miyagi Birchwood SG2 7" Santoku

I hesitate to ask, but what's "knife art philosophy"?

Mar 11, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Fuji vs. Miyagi Birchwood SG2 7" Santoku

Your knife will cut through acorn squash just fine.

I can tell you all about different objective tests for sharpness if you want to hear them, but I get the impression that's not where you're heading. The main reason to keep an especially sharp edge is fundamentally the same reason to buy an especially nice new knife in the first place... because it's a better tool and more fun to use. Frankly, I'd rather use a very well sharpened $30 knife than a semi-sharp $200 one.

Truth is most people are happy and impressed with their knives as soon as they're sharper than they're used to. And there's nothing wrong with that. But it's why just about any sharpener has glowing reviews on Amazon.com regardless of how well it works.

Do I think your knives will be relatively sharp and you'll be happy if you professionally sharpen once a year and use a smooth steel in between? Yep.

Do I think you'd be able to feel a real difference between a knife maintained only with a smooth steel and one maintained on a fine abrasive? Yep to that also.

Mar 10, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Fuji vs. Miyagi Birchwood SG2 7" Santoku

Of course. Grooved steels have a pretty bad risk/reward ratio for Japanese knives - not guaranteed to damage your blade, but definitely some risk, and all for not much benefit.

I was thinking more of drrayeye's smooth steel when I wrote that though.

Mar 10, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Fuji vs. Miyagi Birchwood SG2 7" Santoku

It does admittedly go against some of the advice you've undoubtedly read. Honing steels evolved from an era when most knives were made of softer metal than even most of the Western options on the market today. Edges rolled readily while chips were uncommon, and honing steels were a perfectly reasonable tool for these blades. Somewhere along the way, the notion that a honing steel was essential for knife maintenance became crystallized, even if the same logic doesn't apply well to the knives you're now buying.

Knife makers and kitchen supply manufacturers are interested in making products that sell. If honing steels sell, companies will make em, regardless of the best way to take care of knives. Likewise, popular articles on knife maintenance are rarely written with much expertise, and tend to echo whatever information is most popular, not the most insightful (there are a few exceptions).

On the upside, if you already have some tools, you don't have to take my word for it. Try it both ways - after one professional sharpening, use a smooth steel and your pull through sharpener until the knife is dull; after another pro sharpening, maintain with a fine whetstone or a decent ceramic honing rod. See which one produces better results and keeps an edge longer.

At any rate, bear in mind that this whole issue of knife maintenance is kind of like arguing about the most effective exercise routine. One routine might be better than another or produce different results, but for the average person the most common problem isn't doing the wrong routine but doing nothing at all. Any reasonable maintenance is better than nothing.

Mar 10, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware
1

Japanese Knife Techniques - Grips, Chops, other stuff?

"Buying a japanese knife as a noob is probably an over ambitious move..."
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Ehh, I wouldn't say that. A lot of the times people have problems with Japanese knives, it's not so much because they're new to handling knives but because they've developed bad habits with other knives that don't chip easily. Things like steeling roughly and aggressively (here's Gordon Ramsay demonstrating what NOT to do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBn1i...) or chopping through bones or cutting with the perfect storm of sloppy technique and lots of pressure (a habit usually developed from using knives that are too dull and prone to wedging).

You can rock chop, if you go light on the pressure and try to keep your form from being all over the place. Push cutting can be safer as you learn the ropes. Slicing - starting with the heel of the blade and pulling back as you cut down - is useful for many softer foods (think meats). Draw cuts are a seriously under-utilized technique that can help you to keep your food in place on the cutting board - put the tip if the knife down on the cutting board past what you're cutting and pull the knife back keeping the tip down, like you were drawing a line (Alton Brown uses a draw cut at about 9:32 of this video, though he calls it a slice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKgGl...). Chopping (straight up and down, usually using the tip for smaller foods and the heel for larger foods) might take a little practice, but it's one of the many joys of using a thinner, sharper Japanese knife.

Here's another video demonstrating several different kinds of cuts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx1U-...

After that, it's largely a matter of practice and knowing which techniques work best with which foods and knowing some food-specific cutting techniques (like how to dice an onion or break down a chicken, for example).

Mar 10, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware
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