How to Choose a Knife Set

Have you ever prepared a meal from scratch and not used a knife or two? It’s unlikely. Knives are undoubtedly the most important and a most used kitchen utensil. When you have a good set of kitchen knives, or cutlery, you will find that preparing meals is much easier and more enjoyable.

Did you know that a good quality knife set has the potential to last you a lifetime? Granted, a set of knives with such superior quality will not be inexpensive. However, you get what you pay for with kitchen knives. You should always buy the best set you can afford. In the long run you will spend less money because you will not need to replace your knives every couple of years.

TIP: Buying knives in a set is generally less expensive than buying several knives individually.

A high quality knife set from a major manufacturer usually includes all the basic knives along with a knife block or holder for storage.  If you need to purchase more specific knives in the future to complete the basic set you’ll be able to do that.  If you lose or break a knife you also have the option to have the knife replaced or purchase a new one. Many manufacturers, such as CUTCO offer lifetime guarantees on their knifes.

Most knife sets will contain the following knives:

Chef’s Knife - Has a triangular blade that ranges from 6 to 12 inches long. Used for slicing, dicing and chopping. This is the knife that is used the most when preparing meals. Also called a cook’s knife.
Paring knife  - Has a blade that is approximately 3 inches long and is about 3/4 of an inch wide. Probably the second most-used kitchen knife. Used to peel apples and other fruits and vegetables. Also used to slice, dice, and chop foods too small for the chef knife.

Serrated knife - Long knives are used to slice bread without mashing it. Shorter paring knives are used for slicing tomatoes and other soft fruits and vegetables.
Utility knife - Has a blade around 6 inches long. Smaller than the chef knife and can be used for many purposes in the kitchen.
Just the four knives above can make up a good starter set. There are also a multitude of specialty knives that can be added over time.

Chefs and serious cooks normally choose fine edge knives due to the weight and feel. The blade is very sharp which allows for precision cutting. Fine edge knives will require some maintenance however, such as steeling.
Knives that never need sharpening are a good choice for most people who cook for themselves and their families on a daily basis. Knives that never need sharpening will not make the same precision cuts as fine edge knives, but they retain their sharpness over time. These knives are excellent if you are seeking basic quality at reasonable prices.

The type of steel used in knife blades is one of the most important factors in choosing a knife set. The majority of knives are manufactured with a blend of high carbon stainless steel that will resist rust and corrosion. The tang is the part of the knife in which the metal is attached to the handle. The best knives will have a tang in which the metal extends to the end of the handle. Knife blades are normally tapered at the edges to allow for easier sharpening.

In purchasing a knife set, you will need to know the difference between stamped and forged. Forging is the process of taking a heated piece of metal and grinding it into the shape of a blade. Stamped blades are cut from a single sheet of metal and pressed into a blade. Forged knives are generally heavier than stamped knives, giving you better quality.

Quality knives are balanced and feel good in the cook’s hand. The knife should be easy to handle and feel solid. A good knife should feel like an extension of your hand and allow adequate space between where your fingers grip the knife and the surface on which you are cutting.

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Choosing a Kitchen Table

Compared to several years ago, there are hundreds of different styles of kitchen tables, all of which suit different purposes for different familes. Choosing your kitchen table should depend on an array of factors, including the size of your family, the uses of the table and the style of your kitchen. Simply driving to the nearest furniture store and looking at the available selection on the showroom floor may seem overwhelming, so it helps to do your research in advance. What type of table are you partial to? And what size table will you need for your kitchen? First, measure the length and width of the nook in which your kitchen table will be placed. You'll want to leave at least 2.5 feet on all sides of the table to allow for chairs and room to move. Some people prefer to extend this space to three or four feet; it depends on how often you will use your kitchen table. Next go online and look at the different styles. Are you looking for a glass table or a wood one? Would you like a tile or marble finish? Should the table have extra leaves for seating guests? You can also look at the other colors and styles in your kitchen. Would a heavy oak table complement the décor, or would something lighter and roomier be more appropriate?

Next, consider the uses for the kitchen table. Unlike the dining table, kitchen tables are often used for a variety of purposes: homework, crafts, conversation, etc. Will you be worried every time the kitchen table sustains a water mark? What if the kids spill paint or accidently color it? And will you be doing heavy crafts that might result in scratch marks and scarring? For a sturdy table, you might want a marble or tile finish that can sustain heavy use and won't show unpleasant marks. This might also extend to the legs of your kitchen table.
The size of your kitchen table will depend on how many people you will need to seat. Small, round tables are cozy and comfortable for a two-person family, but a four+ member family might require a long, rectangular table. Also consider whether or not you like to place centerpieces on the table or whether you serve large meals. Lastly, make sure that the table "goes with' the rest of your kitchen. A light, airy atmosphere might require a table that is small, in class or marble or tile. A darker kitchen with dark wood molding might be better served by a heavy oak table. You can also use place settings and chair upholstery to accent your table and the kitchen around it.