Monday, May 29, 2017

Sabatier Edgekeeper Self Sharpening Knives

Sharp knives are a pleasure to use in the kitchen, but I have feeling that most folks don't recognize when their knives need sharpening. The dulling process happens pretty slowly, so it's not like one day you're slicing through carrots like a pro and the next day you're struggling to cut through a hard boiled egg.

What I hear often is that someone will get a new knife and they'll be all giddy about how sharp it is compared to the old ones they have. It's not that the old knives were always sup-bar. It's just that over time, they got dull, and the new knife is perfectly sharp.

While there are a ton of different sharpening tools, it seems that most folks don't own them, they don't use them, or they don't know how to use them. So their knives just get duller and duller.

When I heard about the self- sharpening knives from Sabatier, I was intrigued. How does this magic work? I imagined the knives coming to life at night and getting to work on keeping that sharp slicing edge.

So I said, yes, send me samples. I received the 8-inch slicer, the 8-inch chef's knife and the 3 1/2 inch paring knife to test. They came securely packaged, and each included a sheath. I unpackaged, inspected, sliced, and even took a knife to a friend's house to get a second opinion.

Alas, the magic is not quite as mystical as I imagined. Each of the knifes sheaths has a little embedded sharpener, so every time you insert the knife or take it out, the blade runs through that sharpener.

Well, sort of. If you slide the knife into the sheath with the top edge (the flat unsharp side) sliding against the sheath, the sharp edge of the blade doesn't make much contact with the sharpener. So you do need to pay attention to how you're sliding the knife in and out of the sheath. It's not difficult, and it's certainly not necessary to slide against the sharpener every single time. But if it's your goal to keep the knife sharp at all times, it's a good idea to get into the habit of letting the blade contact that sharpener regularly.

For me, that took a little bit of thought to make it a habit. I don't use a lot of sheaths - my favorite knives are on a magnetic hanger, and other knives are in a block - but when I use a sheath, I tend to try to keep the blade from scraping the sheath. So I had to remember to run the blade along the sharpener, and in the case of knives with a curved edge, I had to make sure the whole length of the blade contacted the sharpener. Once it became a habit, it was easy peasy.

I think this is a genius idea, particularly for people who don't want to deal with sharpening knives regularly and for people who are intimidated by the idea of doing their own sharpening. Even better, these knives are affordable. Most of them are under $20, so these would be great for new kitchens, vacation homes, for a take-along knife in the picnic basket, or in a desk drawer at work for apple emergencies.

Who's it for: Everyone needs a good knife, right? But these are particularly good for people just starting out, or for anyone who's averse to sharpening their knives with a stand-alone sharpener.

Pros: It really works.

Cons: I haven't had these long enough to know how long the sharpener will remain useful. I imagine it will be years, but not generations. On the other hand, the knives are not expensive, so I don't think anyone will expect to pass them down to grandchildren.

Wishes: A self-sharpening steak knife set would be kind of sweet. Does anyone ever sharpen those? And having sheaths to store them would be better than a box.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Degustabox - May

Every month, I get a free box of goodies from Degustabox, so I can tell you all about it. Sometimes they they send boxes to customers with different options, based on customer requests. But (lucky me!) I get all the options. Yum yum.

This time, some customers get a box with tea for Keurig-style coffee makers, while another box is for folks who don't have Keurigs.

I have to say that this might be my favorite box so far. It was sort-of Italian themed, and I love Italian and Mediterranean foods.

I say that it was "sort-of" Italian themed, because while there were quite a few Italian items, there were other product as well. You'll see.

Mulino Bianco shortbread cookies
I love shortbread cookies. They're buttery and not too sweet, and they're sort of a "pure" cookie since they don't include a lot of extra ingredients. So I don't need to worry about finding coconut in there. Also, shortbreads are great for making cookie crusts for cheesecakes or similar desserts. I hadn't tried this brand before, so I was happy to have another option. These were pretty typical shortbreads, except that they had a bit of a toasty flavor. They were nice. I got the "Galetti" cookies which have a rooster stamped on them, but Mulino Bianco has a whole bunch of other shortbread cookies as well.

Mulino Bianco tomato and oregano bread sticks
I adore bread sticks. They're perfect with soup or salad, but I also like them as a snack. Kind of like pretzels without all the extra salt. These were flavored with tomato and oregano, so they had plenty of flavor.

Barilla Farfalle Pasta
When I was a kid, we called this shape of pasta "bow ties" and my mom often used them for tuna noodle casserole, but now I know they're supposed to be butterflies. It doesn't matter what the shape is supposed to represent, I still like it. I like it a lot for pasta salads. Hmmm. Pasta salad with pesto would be good, right?

Goya lentil and vegetable soup
I was going to make soup, but then this showed up and I decided to give it a try. It was supposed to be cooked in 30 minutes (to cook the dried lentils all the way) but I needed about 10 minutes more, since I live at high altitude. This was a good soup and super-easy. For a heartier meal, it would be great with some leftover chicken tossed in.

Pure Growth Organic Oatmeal
Since there was a photo of SpongeBob on the box, I'm guessing this is aimed at kids, but it's basically an instant oatmeal. I prefer steel cut oats, but I use instant and rolled oats quite often for baking, so I still have a good use for these.

La Tortilla Factory corn and wheat tortillas
These are awesome. They're made from both wheat and corn, so you have the flavor of corn tortillas, but they're more pliable and less prone to cracking and breaking that's typical with corn tortillas, while not being fluffy and bready like flour tortillas.

Mutti finely chopped tomatoes
I use a lot of canned tomatoes. I even use them when tomatoes are in season, because they're so convenient. I'll be looking for these at the store since the finely diced texture is great when you want pieces of tomato rather than a puree, but you don't want giant pieces. Like for a salsa, where you want to get all the ingredients onto a chip.

Barilla traditional pesto
Pesto is easy to make, but it takes a lot of basil. If I have a garden growing, I might have enough basil. If not, this stuff is handy to have on hand. Pesto is great mixed with pasta, but I also like it mixed with broccoli.

Some boxes contain the following two:

Soy Vay honey barbecue sauce
I've tried a bunch of different Soy Vay products, but I didn't know they made a barbecue sauce - I thought they mostly made things like teriyaki. This was an asian-style sauce with honey and soy, and it had sesame seeds floating in it. So it's not what you'd find at your local barbecue place ... or maybe it is, if they have a lot of sauce.

Village Harvest quick-cook whole grain blends
This includes rice, lentils, and spices, and cooks in 15 minutes ... or a little longer for me, since I'm at high altitude. I usually make rice in my rice cooker since I can put it in early and it keeps the rice warm and fluffy until I need it. But this is great for when rice is more of a side dish than something that's there to sop up a sauce. And it's done in 15 minutes. Easy peasy.

Other boxes contain the following two:

Chicago Vegan dandies marshmallows
These vegan marshmallows are made without any gelatin, but I didn't notice any significant differences between these and regular marshmallows, except seemed a little softer than the usual store-bought brands. Perhaps that's just because they were fresher and probably made in a small batch. When I make my own marshmallows, they're usually a lot softer than purchased marshmallows when they're first made, but they get firmer over time. If you're vegan and want marshmallows, these are worth a look.

Skinnygirl Mojito Mint green tea for Keurig
I love mint tea, so I was pretty happy to get this. It's got green tea as its base, so it's not all mint - a nice mix, actually. The mint helps make the green tea seem sweeter and not quite as astringent as a typical green tea. Overall, I liked it.

I receive these boxes at no cos to me, so I can describe them to you.