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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Chad

  1. One of the minor problems with developing an addiction to high performance knives is having to give up a little stain resistance. Higher carbon, higher hardness Japanese knives are less stain resistant (more likely to rust with less provocation) than their German/Euro counterparts. It just comes with the territory, but the tradeoff is well worth it. With that said, let your knives air dry a little before putting them back on the magnetic bar. Even with vigorous towel drying they are still going to be a little damp. When you put a damp surface in nearly airtight contact with another surface you are going to get rust spots. I tend to get them at the tip when the non-knife nut members of the family do dishes and leave the knives tip down in the drain cup at the back corner of the dish drainer. You are correct, a paste of Barkeeper's Friend or a little Flitz metal polish will do the trick -- as will a green scrubby pad and some Comet or other abrasive cleanser. Don't sweat it, and consider it the price of marital harmony. One sushi-chef trick to keep in mind is to rinse a freshly washed knife in nearly boiling water. Ever notice how when you open the dishwasher your plates are dry but the flimsy plastic containers aren't? That's from heat carry-over. Heavy ceramic plates absorb heat and radiate it out again, drying the plates once the water stops running. So if you rinse your knife blades with very hot water they absorb enough heat to help drive off any residual moisture after you are finished towel drying. So -- rinse with very hot water, towel dry as best you can, air dry to let residual heat drive off any remaining moisture, and don't sweat it if you need to do a little touchup with a green scrubby now and again. Any degradation of the edge (remotely possible, but possible nonetheless) from rust will be removed at the next sharpening. No biggie. Hope this help. Take care, Chad
  2. Wow. I've never seen anything quite like that. The only cause I can imagine is stress fracturing due to improper (or non existent) tempering after heat treatment. A freshly heat treated blade is under enormous internal strain. Tempering relieves some of that while maintaining a good level of hardness. If a blade missed the tempering step it might crack exactly like yours. I wouldn't worry too much about it happening again. That's an anomaly. Good to see Koki took care of it immediately. That's one of the advantages of shopping with JapaneseChefsKnife.com. Take care, Chad
  3. Thanks, dougal. I generally do use weights when I bake, but I make this particular sandwich bread twice a week. I know it well enough (and there is enough flex in the recipe) that I don't need to weigh. The Electrolux DLX keeps coming up. I'm going to have to give it some serious consideration. Part of the reason I feel stuck with the Kitchenaid is that I have, and use, most of the accessories. It's kind of like being a Nikon or Canon photographer. Once you have a collection of lenses, changing bodies, even if something truly spectacular is available, becomes a lot more complicated. However, I did see the full DLX accessory kit available at a reasonable price at EverythingKitchens.com. That might be enough to tip the balance. I use the Kitchenaid meat grinder and fruit/vegetable strainer regularly, so if the DLX's are comparable I'll have to see what the budget will bear. I keep hoping to find some church or civic group getting rid of a Hobart N50 for some ridiculously low price. A man can dream, can't he? Chad
  4. Here's the latest on the dead Kitchenaid Professional 600 front . . . If you own a pre-2006 Kitchenaid Professional 600, be aware that it will probably come to a grinding, screeching halt if you make a lot of bread. When it crashes you will be assaulted by one of the most painful and soul-crushing sounds you are likely to hear in a kitchen. Your beautiful mixer is dead. What is worse, Kitchenaid just doesn’t give a damn. My Professional 600 was a gift from my wife, who thought she was buying her bread-crazy husband the biggest, baddest mixer on the block. It is certainly marketed that way. So why did my 8-cup soft sandwich bread recipe kill it? As it turns out, the Professional 600 mixers made before August of 2006 have a plastic gear housing that is completely inadequate for the size of the motor. Put a strain on the mixing head — bread dough, for instance — and the housing flexes, throwing the whole gear train out of alignment. When that happens every gear strips, locking up the whole assembly and causing an ear splitting shriek that will be etched in your memory forever. It is a horrible sound. Kitchenaid redesigned the gear housing in 2006, replacing it with a metal housing capable of taking the load put out by the motor. They repaired the Professional 600s that died under warranty but didn’t put out a service bulletin or recall notice for the others. We were left on our own. You see, the mixer doesn’t self destruct the first time you use it, the problem is cumulative. The flex gets worse with time until one day the gearbox flexes just far enough to cause a train wreck. It happened often enough that the Kitchenaid engineers built a new gearbox. They just didn’t tell the rest of us. It took an engineer with a dead mixer to find out why the gears stripped the way they did. My mixer is out of warranty so I wanted to see what my options were. I did a little research and found dozens of other Professional 600 owners who experienced exaclty the symptoms and mixer death. One of them was an engineer who took his mixer apart. It was he who discovered why the gears stripped the way they did. There was a detailed analysis with photos on his website, but it is no longer available. Given that this was a known design flaw — one that Kitchenaid admitted when redesigning the gearbox — I asked them to cover the repair of my mixer. They refused, charging me $150 to replace the gears and gearbox housing. Their customer service representative claimed A) that mixing 8 cups of flour for seven minutes, rather than the recommended five, was responsible for the lockup that killed the mixer, and B) that while the gearbox did indeed crack, the gears stripped first, so the gearbox couldn’t have been the problem. I pointed out that the gearbox flexes, causing the gears to strip before the housing cracks but she didn’t want to hear it. The problem was obviously my fault, and her tone suggested that I was probably lying about only mixing 8 cups of flour. It was an infuriating conversation. In short, Kitchenaid markets the Professional 600 as a heavy duty mixer designed to knead bread dough knowing that 90% of their customers are going to be making cakes, cookies and meringues, which put no strain on the motor. It’s the 10% of us who do bake bread (or use the meat grinder) on a regular basis who are fucked because Kitchenaid won’t stand behind its products. Chad
  5. Hey, Kenneth. You are correct. There is a taper from bolster to tip. The distal taper, as it is called, does keep the tip from being inordinately thick. Even with the distal taper, though, the tip is still thicker than the edge, at least on most German, French & American made knives. The other part of the problem, as you rightly note, is accommodating the arc of the blade as it sweeps toward the tip. You'll have to check with Ben Dale, inventor of the Edge Pro, for the detailed explanation, but because the blade is not fixed to the blade table -- i.e. you do, in fact, move it across the table -- you are sharpening with a series of arcs rather than one big one. That's the problem with systems like the Lansky or Gatco. They're fine for short-bladed knives, but once you get over three inches or so the arc of the stone can't match the edge without repositioning the jig. With the Edge Pro you are playing connect the dots with a series of arcs. And because you don't (or shouldn't) swing the stone past the edges of the blade table, they are short arcs at that. You also rotate the knife on the table as you move from heel to tip, presenting a (mostly) straight section of edge to the stone. It's a compromise, but it's the best compromise I've found so far (aside from freehand sharpening, that is). Hope this helps. If not, and if you still have questions, email or call Ben Dale at Edge Pro Inc. and report back here. Ben always takes time to answer questions. I'll be eager to hear what he has to say. Take care, Chad
  6. Chad, Do you note this technique in your book? Thanks, Starkman ← I didn't, unfortunately. Chad
  7. Interesting story about polishing watch mechanisms. Thank you for sharing it. Many, if not most, Japanese water stones today are synthetic or are natural stone powder in some form of binder. True quarried natural stones are hard to find. However, that is not really a problem. The synthetic stones, while they feel different than the natural stones, are more consistent and more accurately graded. I like them a lot. There are four ways to keep a serrated knife sharp. Serrated knives are sharpened only one one side. The back side is usually flat. Grinding the serrations often leaves a burr that keeps the knife from cutting as well as it can. Simply laying the back of the knife nearly flat on a fine stone and removing that burr will often improve the cutting ability of the knife. Similarly, when the edge dulls it can often be refreshed with the same method, sharpening at a very low angle on the back side of the knife. Over a long period of time this will eventually remove the serrations. You can pretend the serrations don't exist and sharpen as normal on your stones or sharpening system. This will remove the serrations over a shorter period of time than the previous method, but it does work. You can sharpen the serrations individually with a fine tapered diamond rod, a V-shaped ceramic file or simply a dowel (or even a screwdriver or pencil) wrapped with fine grit wet/dry sandpaper. Finally, you can use a V-system (like the Spyderco Sharpmaker) or crock stick setup, going very slowly so the rods glide in and out of the serrations. The triangular rods of the Sharpmaker are particularly effective for this. Hope this helps. Chad
  8. Yup, it'll definitely be an improvement. Ben Dale (owner/inventor of Edge Pro) is a proponent of coarser, more toothy edges for kitchen knives, but I find a more polished edge cuts better and lasts longer in the kitchen. When I use my Edge Pro I take my knives up through the 800 grit stone and sometimes use the polish tapes as well. That puts the level of finish about on par with my hand sharpening, which usually goes to 6,000 to 8,000 grit depending on which water stones I'm using. That's probably overkill, but what the hell. I like it. If you are going to purchase an additional stone anyway, throw in the 800, too. Once you've established your edge with the coarser stones, using the finishing stones is a matter of a few strokes (less than 10 or so) to really take the edge to a pretty remarkable level. Take care, Chad
  9. Hey, thanks! Sounds like you're dealing with the problems associated with high moisture foods. The moisture causes adhesion and drag. There are a couple of solutions. Cutting faster, as counterintuitive as it sounds, will keep foods from sticking quite so much. So will wetting the blade a bit. A little moisture causes sticking. A little more helps the food release more easily. Give those two things a try and let us know how it turns out. Chad
  10. I'm in love! Dig this custom painted 20qt Hobart mixer. It's worth the price as a conversation piece alone. Chad
  11. That would be great. I'd appreciate the info. I'm not particularly handy with tools but I like the idea of making the repair myself if the parts are available. Thanks, Chad
  12. My Kitchenaid Professional 600 died a screaching death yesterday. Doing a little digging I discovered that until 2006 the Professional 600 models, touted as heavy duty mixers designed specifically for the needs of bread bakers, had a flimsy plastic gear case. The same gear case as in the smaller, less powerful mixers. When the mixer heats up the gear case flexes, pulling the gears out of alignment, leading to broken gear teeth, cracked gear case and cracked worm gear. Kitchenaid customer service was not helpful. My mixer is past its one-year warranty but I argued that a known design flaw -- which Kitchenaid acknowledged when it redesigned the mixer in 2006 -- should be treated as a recall item and repaired for free. She did not agree. The only option is to spend $34 to ship the mixer to them to have them "diagnose the problem" and repair it for a couple of hundred dollars. There is no diagnosis necessary. It's a known problem. From what I can find, all pre-2006 Professional 600 mixers will break if used regularly to mix bread dough. Kitchenaid counted on the fact that bread bakers are a small percentage of their customer base. Most buyers will use their mixers for cakes, cookies, meringues, etc. and only occasionally bake bread or pizza dough. I'm going to continue to push for a free repair (and upgrade to the metal gear box). I'm not hopeful. Anybody else had this problem? Any luck resolving it? What did you replace yours with and are you happy with it? thanks, Chad
  13. The second of my (very) low budget knife skills videos is up: The Onion Cheat is a great way to dice onions if you're spooked by cutting toward your guide hand in the standard method. Chad
  14. I do. I keep a lexan full of water next to the sander. It's deep enough to dunk all but the longest blades between passes. Chad
  15. There are quite a few sharpeners doing business with belt grinders. You can even get leather belts for stropping. I do not know why you would need to go to the stones. I would either do one or the other. Here is a great thread about sharpening with belt grinders: Jerry Hossom on sharpening ← Thanks, H2O. I was just about to reference that discussion. Sareed, if you can do it, have at it! A belt sander with fine belts is a quick way to get your knives in shape. And to answer H2O's question, you can set an edge -- especially if you are repairing a damaged knife -- very quickly with a belt sander. However, if you want a little more refinement and control, finishing on waterstones is the way to go. A couple of pro sharpeners I know do that very thing. Lee Valley Tools has some great sharpening belts for small sanders. I have a cheap 1x30" from Harbor Freight that I'll occasionally use to fix bad nicks or chips. I've never fully mastered the technique however, so I limit my use of the belt sander for repairs, rounding spines and heels, and power stropping with a leather belt loaded with CrO2. I've often wondered if my failure to get the hang of belt sharpening has as much to do with the cheap sander. Not only is the speed a lot higher than it should be for sharpening, but the belt jitters wildly. I might get a better platen and try it again. Chad
  16. Hi, Ronnie. Thanks for the kind words!. I'm not familiar with that system. It looks like somebody tried to combine a NordicTrack with a sharpening jig. Personally I'd find something like that extremely limiting. As you note, 15 degrees is as low as it will go, and I frequently set bevels and back bevels lower than that. The fixed jig also limits how you sharpen near the tip, where it is sometimes necessary to make adjustments to keep the bevel uniform. The other limitation is the grit range of the stones. The finest is only 1000 grit, which isn't bad for utility edges but not as fine as I'd like for kitchen use. I frequently take my edges up to 8,000 grit, sometimes to 10,000 or 16,000 if I'm feeling sporty. Admittedly, that's up in the fanatic range, but I like having the option. Hope this helps. Take care, Chad
  17. You can do it either way. I have better luck with the edge going into the steel. I find that it is easier to find and hold the correct angle that way. Good luck! Chad
  18. Congratulations on the new Edge Pro! My tastes have moved away from the heavy German style, but the Wusthof Classics are very good knives. They'll serve you well, especially now that you can keep them in top condition. I'm surprised that you are finding the edge angles that acute. Wusthof, Henckels, et al, usually come with 20-25° per side edges. If yours are ground finer than that, great! They'll cut much better. After your knives have been sharpened multiple times the edge will start to thicken. It is at the same angle but you are moving into the thicker portion of the knife. Double beveling (which in the book I called a compound bevel to avoid confusion with western-style double bevels and Japanese chisel-style single bevels) is a way to thin the shoulders of the edge for better performance while maintaining a robust cutting edge. You don't have to do it at all, or, as the Edge Pro materials suggest, you can hold off until touchups become a problem. Either way is fine. I find factory edges way too thick for my tastes so I thin them as soon as I get a new knife. But that's just me. And, yep, you've discovered one of the dirty secrets of knife sharpening. The tip of the knife is thicker than the main cutting edge. If you imagine a top view of your knife blade, the spine forms the widest part of a triangle. The sides taper down to the edge. And if the cutting edge were flat (as it is on some santokus, nakiris, and usubas) it would be of uniform thickness. However, the sweep of the belly on a western-style knife means that the tip, usually at the centerpoint of the blade width, is going to be ground from a thicker section of steel. To keep the aesthetics of the bevel nice and even, the grinder changes the angle slightly. So, yes, it is a little more obtuse. The way I work around that when I use an Edge Pro is to set the blade stop with the very tip of the knife positioned right on the corner of the blade table with just a little of the edge showing. That means the heel of the knife and the lower portion of the cutting edge stick out a little farther than they should, but the bevel width stays more even as it follows the sweep up to the tip. Give it a try and see what you think. Take care, Chad
  19. RAHiggins1 and gfron1, very cool! Thank you both. Glad I'm not putting anyone to sleep Chad
  20. Hi, Jenny. Sorry I missed this earlier. I'm not intimately familiar with the Wusthof pull-through sharpeners. As someone else suggested they are probably carbide wheels or bits. Depending on how fine they are, they might not be too bad but you can do much better. As much as I love the Edge Pro Apex, if you aren't going to use it often, the Spyderco Sharpmaker is probably a better bet. You can do minor reprofiling with a little effort, and basic sharpening and touchups are easy enough that you'll do them more often. The Sharpmaker also requires a lot less storage space and setup time, which, again, means you'll use it more often. Hope things are going well. Take care, Chad
  21. I made it earlier this week. I did deviate from the recipe, however. I added about a tablespoon of crushed red pepper flake, which is really nice. I had an eight pound bone-in pork shoulder and scaled up the salt, pepper and sage accordingly (55-60%). I did not scale up the ginger and garlic, which turned out to be a good decision. I taste tested a bit of sausage at the original proportions, and while I like both ginger and garlic they're a bit overwhelming in this recipe, at least for breakfast. If you plan on serving this sausage at any other meal the amount of garlic and sage would probably be fine. In the proportions I ended up with, the ginger and garlic play more background roles, the ginger adding a nice bit of brightness without taking over. Chad
  22. And more amazing news. An Edge in the Kitchen made Slate.com's list of Best Books of 2008, apparently beating out the new books from Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz and Heston Blumenthal.* Holy crap. Chad * edited to add that I don't take that part of the review too seriously, but is sure is fun to think about
  23. There is an extensive discussion of this very topic, including recommendations at various price points HERE. Hope this helps. Chad
  24. Thanks for the kind words Robert. I appreciate it. The next book isn't going to be knife related, at least if they buy off on the proposal I'm sending. I might get back to knives at a later date. There are, however, other resources for sporting and tactical knives. On a joyful note, the Chicago Tribune has listed "An Edge in the Kitchen" as one of it's Best of 2008 food books. That really made my day. Of course, this complete lack of judgment may explain the Tribune's current financial woes Chad
  25. I didn't consider the Norwalk-type viruses when writing the chapter, just the most common food borne illnesses. Thanks for pointing that out. I'm on vacation and have limited Internet access. I'll address the bleach point when I get back. In the meantime, here's one of the studies showing the effectiveness of vinegar as a sanitizing agent: Microbiology of Cleaning & Sanitizing a Cutting Board. There is another study, done to improve food safety in developing countries, that shows a sequential combination of vinegar and peroxide will sanitize cutting boards, fruits and vegetables even better than vinegar alone, killing just about any bug out there. I'll track it down in my notes. Chad
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