065 Missing dull knives

065 Missing dull knives

I miss my dull knives. I sent my knives in for sharpening, so I’ll be without for a few weeks. I had to get creative in the kitchen–and learned to appreciate even very dull knives.

I know, I am holding what looks like a knife while I’m telling you I miss my knives.

We have two old very cheap IKEA knives that we’ve kept for all the things you don’t do with good knives: opening packages, cutting plastic, stuff like that. Now, even cutting fat is too much.

The farm where we buy most of our groceries had a few kilos of lard that had expired a few weeks earlier. I’d bought lard there before, so they asked if I wanted it to see if it was still good. Essentially free lard? Yes, absolutely. I did.

I know there are many ways to render lard. I am no expert but this approach works well for me: I add the fat to the pot on a very low temperature, and continually remove the browning crackling. The super low temperature means it takes forever, but it also means I don’t have to pay as much attention to it. I can do other things (like start some disgusting-looking milk kefir grains) or leave the room.

When I was a kid, my mom used to take us to these weird events called “Knights’ Feasts.” I always enjoyed eating without cutlery, making a complete mess, but the highlight was always the Schmalz. Apples, onions, and crackling in lard. It was spread over sourdough bread. I admit I didn’t even know what it was.

With two “knives” that were little more than flat metal, I decided to let Marvin do the chopping.

With onions and apples chopped in the machine, making the Schmalz would be done in no time. Right. And then I realized I couldn’t use a different bowl, even when I wasn’t using a hook. Ah, darn it.

Now, I had to figure out how to get the bowl emptied of the rising sourdough bread. So, I got my hands wet and into the dough.

I couldn’t find the container I use to rise dough in when the size matters. But even after locating it and moving the dough over, the bowl was a sticky mess–and the sink full.

So, I let the bowl dry and chopped some of the apples and onions, or rather, butchered apples and onions.

People tell me I’m good at planning and organizing. In the kitchen, I’m definitely a mess. It’s why I prefer learning and understanding to recipes. I can’t follow them anyway 😉

When I get my knives back, I won’t take them for granted. I can tell you that. While I waited to be able to clean the bowl, I prepared the rest of the onions and apples for Marvin.

The good thing about this knife: even I can’t manage to hurt myself with it… When the bowl was finally available, I–well, okay, the machine, made quick work of everything. Fun fact: shredding onions is a great way to induce tears.

As I knew I wouldn’t get my knives back for a while, I chopped all the onions we had left. I decided to dry almost all of them. I set aside some for dinner, then added them to dehydrator sheets. The rest of the dehydrator got filled up with shredded apples.

My husband and I took turns checking on the Schmalz, and by the afternoon, it was done. I added some salt to the mix, then ladled the final product into two jars.

Two large jars of Schmalz. And as my husband hates the stuff, all for me. Yay! I’d also gotten three and a half jars of neutral lard. So worth it!

After sending my laptop in for repairs, they forgot to put a little part back in. Perfect quality assurance…

Luckily, we paid attention to at-home repairability when choosing the company. So, they shipped the little clip, and I attached it myself. I am glad to be comfortable with computers.

Computers look a lot different now than they did when I learned to build them as a teenager. I sound old now. I grew up in the 90ies in Germany. I had records and tape. But I also had a computer at age 6. Everything is a lot smaller and a lot fiddlier now. I am still a lot more confident with a screwdriver and a laptop than with fermentation.

I finally had the time and brain to read more of The Art of Natural Cheese-Making. And how could cheese be simpler? Milk, time, and later some salt. Now, I’ve got my first fresh cheese.

In another episode of “I miss my knives,” I tried to make stuffing/dressing without a bread knife. Fun.

I guess, these knives are dull enough that I managed to hurt my joints because I needed too much pressure. They really can’t be called knives. Still, better than nothing. I don’t think I could have pulled stale bread.

Somehow, I forced the bread into a semblance of cubes–and a lot of crumbs. But this was a workout. And hard on the joints. Have I mentioned that I miss my knives? And considering I miss their dull form, I can hardly imagine having sharp knives soon.

As I had dried onions from the day before, I only had to butcher some garlic.

I don’t know why it makes such a difference that I am the one who dried these onions. But somehow, it feels special to open a jar with something I preserved. I guess it’s like the difference between a meal cooked from scratch and a ready-made meal. Connected to the process, I appreciate the food much more.

I have dried these onions. I have cooked this vegetable broth. I grew the parsley, powdered the zucchini.

Thanks to preservation over the months, I got to prepare for dinner so much faster. In time, I might even be able to add my own eggs. No, I still haven’t decided on getting chickens.

So long, and thanks for being here.