I do not love chopping vegetables. Yes, I know there are all sorts of amazing kitchen gadgets and processors that do this for you in the blink of an eye. But I’m always calculating whether I’m actually saving any time when I use them because I have to wash all their crazy parts when I’m finished. And then I have to re-assemble them in the right way. (I get my French press out only on Saturday mornings since putting it together the right way takes me too long on a weekday morning when I have a schedule. Shameful to admit, I agree.)
Pretty often I need to chop just 1 onion or 3 potatoes or a single bell pepper—hardly worth the effort of hauling out the food processor or even the little buzz chopper our younger daughter gave me a few years ago. Apparently I’ve been talking about this chopping burden.
Merle and I were away all last week, and we got home too late Saturday night to go grocery-shopping. I was glad to be home and wanted to cook Sunday, but there weren’t many ingredients around since I had nearly emptied the fridge and pantry before we left. Except for the good old staples—carrots, potatoes, onions, celery. Right, things that require chopping.
But here’s the news. I have recently stocked up on some great knives—and, folks, they make chopping a dream. (You’re right, it’s hardly news. But it is startlingly true.)
I was sorta pitying myself as I got all the veggies together and washed them. The recipe I was making called for 2 potatoes. I laid my knife through the first one—and the knife cut like a laser. Before I knew it, I had cubed 4.
I got myself stopped after 2 onions, but only because their paper casings refused to let go easily.
I could have zipped through a full pound of carrots when I only needed 3. But I caught myself as the Dutch oven started filling up before I had all the rest of the ingredients put together in the thing.
So take this as my confession, and a simple little reminder. A sharp knife is a seductive knife. Get yourself one. In fact, get yourself several of different sizes.
Here’s one of my favorite chili recipes taste-wise. With my new sharp knives, I no longer think twice before launching a batch. Consider it a test run for your new sharp knife.
Norma’s Vegetarian Chili
Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook, page 117
Makes 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes (maybe less with a sharp knife!)
Cooking Time: 8½ hours
Ideal slow-cooker size: 5-quart
2 Tbsp. oil
2 cups minced celery
1½ cups chopped green bell pepper
1 cup minced onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
5½ cups stewed tomatoes
2 1-lb. cans kidney beans, undrained
1½-2 cups raisins
¼ cup wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tsp. salt
1½ tsp. dried oregano
1½ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 bay leaf
¾ cup cashews
1 cup shredded cheese, optional
1. Combine all ingredients except cashews, and cheese if you’re including it, in slow cooker.
2. Cover. Simmer on Low 8 hours.
3. Add cashews and simmer 30 minutes more, covered.
4. Garnish individual servings with shredded cheese if you wish.