Hovey’s Knives of China Medium Utility Knives Work Fried Potatoes

Two examples of the Medium Utility Knife with single-and-double grind blades are used to completely investigate the world of the French Fry and related fried potatoes. The knives have blades that are six-inches long and two-inches deep with straight cutting edges,  truncated, scooped points, thumb notches on the blade and grips ending with  oval rings. They are designed for medium-sized hands, and the single-ground blades are offered in right and left-handed versions.

In contrast to the Small Utility Knife, aka the Caterer’s Friend, the  longer blade will cut through medium-sized potatoes and slice through large ones as shown in the video. The thumb rest on the top of the blade forward of the handle provides the ability to give the blade a firm push for splaying a piece of celery or sugar cane.The video, shown below, demonstrates the better control and cutting ability of the single-ground blade for making precision cuts on raw potatoes with the added utility of using the flat point for mixing, stirring and scraping – capabilities not found on conventional pointed knives. This style point is also more convenient for spreading, if the Chef needed to layer on a coating of lard, softened butter or cream cheese.

 

The small storage footprint of the Medium Utility Knife is particularly useful in crowded apartment or galley cooking nooks, the blade’s strength is adequate for many tasks usually performed by larger butcher knives and its multi-function capabilities even has potential utility for the wilderness camper and backpacker. Although its edge will slice, the lack of a point makes it less likely to poke through a pack on man or mule to cause serious damage in the event of a tumble on a rocky trail.

One feature that the truncated point and inclined handles that are offered on almost all of the knives in this series is that these features clearly distinguish these knives as cooking tools, rather than offensive weapons. A Chef carrying a roll of his knifes on the way to open his kitchen at 4:00 A.M., is much less likely to be harassed by law enforcement, since these are clearly culinary tools. While these knives could be used for defensive purposes, no reasonable person would carry one of these if he intended to do harm to another, as almost any other pointed knife of the same weight would be more effective as a weapon, more easily obtained and far less expensive.

Like it or not from a health point of view, the French Fry has become one of America’s major food groups. As a boy experiencing the economic rebound of the late 1940-50s, the rule was the larger the better. Fries were cut from only the largest potatoes, all skin was removed and they were fried in anything available, including lard. As things progressed over the decades, the large potatoes were cultured and sold as premium-priced baking potatoes.Both to reduce costs and increase the taste factor, fast-food fries of later decades became smaller so that they could hold more salt, resulting in fries that are now about one-quarter inch in size and about 3-inches long.

Chefs, and those who seriously cook, have long know that smaller potato fries could be cut from even smaller potatoes to make better tasting, interestingly seasoned fries by not only using salt, but also various grinds of peppers and  seasonings sprinkled on the hot fries . These might include items like chili power, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, etc., to produce fried potatoes having distinctive mouth feels and taste. These additions brought the fried potato from the depths of being only a gut bomb to satisfy hunger to a pleasurable eating experience.

Most recently the Potato Log has become common in the Southeast in which an unskinned potato is cut into quarters, rubbed with coarse salt and pepper and fried in hot oil. These take longer to fry, but when cooked completely through (not always accomplished in fast food places) turn out to be the equivalent of a poor man’s steak. With coarse salt and pepper, the mouth feel and taste is somewhat as satisfying as eating a piece of meat, and when properly seasoned can be more tasty.

A Hovey Fry is introduced in this video where the unskinned potato is cut into eights, and fried which results in a product that uses all of the potato, results in no wasted food, preserves the nutrients in the skin and can accept a variety of added seasonings. This is the fried potato product what should be offered in areas where food is scarce, hard to obtain and the maximum amount of nutritive value needs to be wrung from every bit of food. All of us do not live in the land of eternal plenty and peace. Even if we do, food is too valuable a product to waste.

A new potato-salvage dish is the “The Rough and Tumble,” in which the cuttings from the potatoes used to make the fries are fried and seasoned with coarse salt, coarse pepper and chili powder. The hot fried potatoes are  mixed with finely chopped onions while the oil clinging to the potatoes is still hot and chips of cheese are stirred into the mix. No further cooking is needed, and the Rough and Tumble is served while still hot.

 

 

Hovey’s Knives of China Prototype Fish Knife

A decade spent working and hunting in Alaska gave me a considerable appreciation of the Eskimo and native cultures and the artifacts they made.

Eskimo ulu with stone point dug from ancient site

Ulu made of bone and slate from one of the northern Alaskan villages, maybe Northeast Cape on St. Laurence Island, which was a location I visited in the late 1960s as a military officer. 

One knife that was very popular was the Ulu, which has a central palm grip and a symmetrical blade beneath it with points and a cutting edge outlining an arc of a circle. Alaska’s permafrost has yielded examples made of bone, stone and copper. Later traders had these useful blades made of steel and are available today.Ulu shown on fleshed hide. The sweeping blade makes it ideal for work on hides

This modern Ulu was made more for the tourist trade than use, but I have used it to flesh the hide of a Georgia deer. It came with a cutting board with a dished-out portion to match the blade profile for mincing vegetables and fruit. 

My take on the Ulu is to make the handle non-symmetric so that an enlarged portion fits into the palm of the user’s hand. On one side of the sweeping blade it has a point, but the other side behind the palm has a vertical cutting blade with a gut hook designed to do such useful tasks as open boxes and gut fish. This vertical blade is also used to cut down the backbones of fish to do the initial separation of the fillets from the fish.  Then the angle of the blade is changed and the sweeping cutting edge removes the meat from the rib bones and tail section. A final cut completely separates the fillet from the remainder of the carcass. The fish is then flipped and the other fillet removed. The fish may be skinned with the long blade while the carcass is intact. Leaving the skin on until it is ready to cook helps prevent the meat from drying out either from freezing or ice-chest transport back home.

My first trial of the prototype design was on a Georgia sea trout. The arrangements of the blades and their use was fine, but I found I needed to thin the main cutting blade and rework the gut hook and vertical blade for optimum results. For my medium-sized hand the shape of the grip was good and worked very well as I changed the position of the blade in the hand. This is a knife that gives a person complete control, and if properly fitted to the person is a pleasure to use.  You can see me working with the knife on the following video:

I am going to do some new blade grinds to preserve the feel and heft of the blade, but improve its cutting characteristics for cutting and spreading sushi, seafood, squid and other fish-related products.

 

Hovey’s Knives of China Pepper and Small Veggy Knife Makes Tacos

The versatility of the Hovey’s Knives of China™ Pepper and Small Veggy knife is again illustrated when it is used in the following video to make a Taco. Even though not an Oriental dish, the knife is very useful as a cutting instrument, for cleaning the grater, as a surface to hold product, for collecting product from the cutting board and opening non-metallic containers. Previously,it had also been using for peeling and mashing.

This video also discusses how these knives are to be sharpened and stored. They are best stored, as were their historical ancestors, by hanging either on the edges of a butcher block or on a board beside the work space. This way scarce work space is not taken up with a conventional knife block, and the knives’ edges are not dulled by being abraided by  other cutlery in a drawer.

The unusually wide, rectangular, blade will not fit in conventional knife blocks because of its wide width, even though most blocks have recesses that are cut to the same widths down the lengths of the blocks. The largest openings in these blocks are designed for Chef’s knives which have smaller blades. I am looking for wood-fabricator partner to make blocks for Hovey’s knives as well as hanging boards made from  synthetic matgerials and natural woods. In the meantime, the user can fabricate his own hanging board from plastic or wood cutting boards by drilling appropriate holes and using bamboo chop sticks to provide the pins. These pins should be set at an angle, so the knives will stay on the boards unless purposefully removed. Because of the different weight distributions of each blade, a second pint will be needed at the bottom for each blade to remain hung in an attractive sub-parallel position.  If a number of knives are to be hung, I suggest that their positions be outlined on the board, so that anyone who removes a knife will instantly know where it belongs when it is cleaned and replaced.

Those who have never worked in a profession kitchen do not know how jelously many  Chefs protect their knives. The usual convention is that you do not use another’s knife without their expressed permission. These may be very valuable knives, and some Chefs will lock them up or take them home after each shift. I am planning to also offer a nylon knife roll with slots for my blades sewn with cut resistant threads. These will have grommets on the top to allow the roll to be hung up at the workplace, if there is a space available for it. Otherwise, the kinives are removed and replaced each day. These rolls will have a carry strap so they may be slung over the back for bycycle or scooter transport to work.

The prototype knives are made of saw-blade high-carbon steel that is easily stained. The blanks that I will initially sell will be of T-410 stain-resistant steels, but will require tempering  and a hot oil quench to retain proper hardness. A post-quench annealing may be necessary to make chip-resistant edges. I have not worked with this particular steel, so I do not know. The steel is commonly used in cuttlery applications, so I am sure that there is literature on line for recommended heat and/or cryogenic treatments. These requirements will be investigated in the future.  Even though these knives may resemble cleavers and have cleaver-shaped blades, they are not to be used for hard chopping. These will damage the blade grinds, and the knives will not be guarenteed for this use, unless the blades are special-ordered for this purpose. In that case a more robust edge grind will be used to take impact loadings. This will increase the thickness of the blade at the edge, reduce the blade’s sharpness but greatly strengthen the edge.

I will be displaying this and others of my knives at table 16 U at the Atlanta Blade Show at the Cobb Galleria on June 3-5. I will have these prototype knives available for examination and hope to have blade blanks cut from T-410 steel for sale to individuals and companies. Bulk orders will be taken for drop shipment from the fabricator in Atlanta.

These are open-source designs. Anyone anywhere in the world may produce them under license and sell them for whatever price their workmanship demands. I will license makers for a 5% of retail price. This license will enable them to make the knives and advertise them under my name and trademark. If samples are sent to me they will be discuissed in this and other blogs, written about in print outlets, displade at trade shows at my booth and generally promoted, provided they are up to quality standards. It is my objective that these valuable and useful kitchen tools be available worldwide at prices than anyone can afford, as well as high-value custom-order products.  There is room in this business model for both companies with large-scale production capacity as well as custom knife makers to profit from making these knives. One brand of these knives, the Signature Series, will be custom knives only made in Central Georgia  by, or under the direction of, Bladesmith Paul Hjort.

A Kickstarter project will be launched later in April where cupons giving discounts of up to 40% will be offered on any product sold by “Hovey’s Knives of China™ at any time. This is the only time that such deep discounts will be ordered. If you wish to receive notification about this program or to correspond with me about potentially partnering with me on supplying wooden or fabric items, you may contact me via E-mail  at hovey@hoveysknivesofchina.com

 

 

 

Pepper and Small Veggy Knife Makes Salsa and Gucamole

Common Mexican dishes like salsa and guacamole are now so Americanized that there are few who do not frequently eat them. Hovey’s Knives of China’s™  Pepper and Small Veggy Knife is a  broad-bladed, single-edge-grind knife with a truncated point that has considerable versatility in processing the peppers, avocado  pears and Roma tomatoes used to make these classic dishes.

 

The 8-inch long, 2-inch wide blade serves not only to cut the vegetables, but also acts as a spatula to hold the cuttings and as a putty blade to spread or crush the peppers and pickled okra used in the dishes. A special quality or both of these dishes was the use of crushed peppers, which has a different quality to the bite than conventional ground pepper. More expensive vinegars might have been used, but I elected to use ordinary white vinegar and a little from the pepper sauce to season the salsa.

Incorporating a  beyond-use-date  yellow bell pepper, allowed me to show how to clean a less-than-perfect pepper and imparted an unusual sweetness to the salsa. This was somewhat unexpected, but not unpleasant. Had the salsa been too peppery for taste, a can of nibblet corn could have been added. The use of corns in salsas is common in Mexico, but not often seen in the U.S. Should you take a bite of a burning-hot salsa, the usual remedy is to cool the mouth with water and/or beer, but a pad of butter on a cracker often works faster to capture the pepper and remove it from the mouth.

As always, I advocate making the cooking experience as individual and interesting as possible by using new knives, ingredients and techniques to produce a meal of quality that is fun to prepare and eat.

My hound dog food testing committee, Diana, Hera and Cassey, enjoyed these dishes with tail-wagging enthusiasm and wanted more. Unknown to most people, dogs like some peppery spice in their food. Most will eat cooked chili, guacamole and chips and lettuce coated with these foods with glee. However, feed these to your dogs very sparingly, as a dessert-like treats. These hot peppers will cause digestive upset and runny stool if fed to dogs with delicate stomachs and discomfort to others. It is even possible that a heavy dose of salsa, or the like,  might be fatal to tiny dogs. If any is given to dogs, follow or precede with a regular meal of dog food.

If you are either a commercial or custom knife maker and wish to produce these knives for sale, I will license the use of my name and trademark for 5% of your retail price. You may make as many or as few as you like and charge any price that your work demands. If you send me a sample of each pattern, I will review them on blogs, videos and display them at my tables at trade events, such as The Annual International Blade Show at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, Georgia.  This year I will be at the Show June 3-5 at table 16 U. If things go as planned, I will have water-jet blanks cut from T-410 steel for sale and bulk orders for these blanks may be placed for drop shipment from the fabricator in Atlanta.

To make prior arrangements you may contact me at hoveysmith@bellsouth.net.

 

 

 

The Small Fruit and Utility Knife

Feeding one’s family and friends should be more than putting out safe, eatable food. After all, we do as much when we slop hogs. Fixing and eating meals should bring pleasure to both the person preparing the food with love and care and to the person who is consuming it with appreciation and grace. Hovey’s Knives of China’s™ newest prototype knife is the Small Fruit and Utility knife that is designed for the typical homemaker (whoever she or he might be) and Professional Caterers.

Typical of  many of Hovey’s Knives of China,™ products, this knife has an oval-ring grip; but this grip is straight and smaller that the other knives introduced thus far. The knife is designed for smaller individuals for general uses in the kitchen, such as cutting small fruits and vegetables. A larger utility knife will be introduced in the near future. The Small Utility knife is suited for light-duty use as shown in the video below where it helps to prepare an inexpensive breakfast in 15 minutes that includes home-cooked oatmeal, eggs, toast, fruit, nuts and coffee.

 

In the hand the Small Fruit and Utility  Knife has a desirable degree of weight and heft that gives a sense of power to the user that is not present with light-weight knives. The knife is eminently controllable and do precisely as directed without fear of the blade bending under pressure. Its sharp straight edge makes for efficient chopping on flat surfaces and much cleaner cuts that with serrated-edged blades. These cleaner cuts mean smaller amounts of fluids are lost from plant or animal tissues and any mix remains drier as a result.

In addition to home use, this knife might also be called the Caterers’ Friend, because this is a safe, versatile knife that can be taken to an event that is so distinctive that it cannot possibly be confused with anyone else’s knife, has a squared-off point as to be as safe as any useful knife might be and this point is also useful for spreading condiments or prepared mixes of any sort. This knife makes an ideal gift to present to a caterer after a successful event or as recognition of the excellent quality of the service that has been rendered by any cook. Ultimately, this knife will also be available in a presentation box.

The original bronze knives which inspired me to design this line of modern cooking knives were last in common use before the rise of Imperial Rome. Then, Chinese civilization was very highly developed and cooking methods and traditions enabled by the unique designs of these knifes can now be re-imagined and rediscovered. The strongly scooped points enable the user to guide the point by grasping the front of the knife with his fingers  with extreme precision compared with conventional European or Japanese knives.  This is true even if the point is cut-off square instead of being sharply pointed.

These knives that I design and sell under the Hovey’s Knives of China™ brand are Open Source Designs in that they may be made by any knife maker or company. I will allow my name and trademark to be used in connection with these knives for 5% of the retail price. In return, if the maker will send me samples and they are up to quality standards, I will feature them on my blogs and videos and display them when I attend trade shows. These knives will make their first appearance at The International Blade Show at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta June 3-5. I will be at booth 16 U. If things go as planned, I will have blanks of some patterns that are water-jet cut from T-410 steel for sale to individual makers. Bulk orders may also be placed by companies which will be drop shipped from the fabricator in Atlanta.

For more information about these knives or to discuss partnership arrangements for fabricating metal and wooden accessories, contact me at hovey@hoveysknivesofchina.com.

Hovey’s Knives of China Introduces Five Prototype Cooking Knives

cropped-hoveys-knife-banner.jpg

Hovey’s Knives of China™ policy of introducing new cooking knives based on ancient patterns has produced five prototype knives that will be introduced at the International Blade Show at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta  June 3-5. These knives trace their linage from the Acheulean hand axes of 1.7 million years ago to bronze knives made more than 2,000 years ago during the Waring States Period in China.

The Point Square is a one piece all-steel knife with a pencil-shaped point and a short length of double ground blade. It is a palm knife in that it is held in the palm with the index finger resting on the top of the knife to direct the cutting point. Although the small length of blade can do limited amounts of slicing, the sharp point does the real work of the knife in cutting dough, pressed meat or designs in soft materials.

The largest of the series is the Cabbage and Duck Chopper which has a blade more than a foot long, a raked pencil point, strongly up-swept oval ring grip and deep blade slightly over 2-inches thick. This is designed after choppers originally made as all-metal bronze knives and used to process large vegetables, like cabbage and cut ducks, bones and all, into fragments for soups, stews and savory meat dishes that somewhat resemble barbecue.  Because bronze tends fail when subjected to repeated impact stress, these knives depended on pressure and leverage exerted on top of the long blade to cut through these tough materials, rather than the force of a chop, as exerted by a modern cleaver. This is a big, imposing knife best used by a large individual who is tired of being forced to use ordinary cutlery that was always too small for comfort.

The most versatile of these knives is the Bok Choy which has a profile similar to the larger Cabbage and Duck Chopper, but in a smaller size. It is ideal for processing medium-sized vegetables, such as bok choy, hence the name. This has the same oval-ringed up-swept grip, but made to a size to fit a medium-sized individual. The prototype is produced with a pencil-shaped point, but is also available with a squared-off point for safety reasons. This is an ideal tool for chopping vegetables, but its distinctive strongly down-swept point also gives it much of the versatility of The Point series for cutting dough and similar uses. The point on the Bok Choy is also useful for being able to reach down and spear a vegetable or piece of fruit from a container on the floor and bringing it up to the work surface without having to put down the knife and pick it up again.

Peppers and small vegetables are worked with The Pepper and Veggy Knife which has a straight oval-ring grip and a deeper 2-inch thick blade that is 8-inches long and has a truncated point. It is used to efficiently clean and chop either fresh or dried peppers and small-diameter vegetables, like carrots or even work medium-sized balls of  cheese. This knife is typically shipped with an edge that is ground on only one side, although a double ground edge is also available. The single ground blade allows more precise vertical cuts. A choice of blade grinds is also available on all of the company’s Signature Grade custom knives.

Designed particularly for home cooks and caterers,  the Small Fruit Utility Knife has the distinctive oval-ringed handle, but this handle is straight and attached to a 5-inch up-swept blade with a scooped top truncated point. This knife is designed for smaller individuals who desire a general purpose blade to do a variety of kitchen chores.  It is particularly adapted for caterers who might want to take a small knife without a point to their distant jobs in case they need to do some last-minute preparations or make something on the spot. Even those who might occasionally participate in group cooking events would find that this very distinctive knife would not  be confused with anyone else’s knives. This knife would also be a distinctive and appreciated gift to anyone in the catering profession in appreciation of an outstanding event.

It is my intention that these are Open Source designs that anyone may use. Either commercial or custom knife makers may make and sell these knives as they wish with the use of my name and trademark for a 5% royalty on their retail price. If examples are sent to me I will assist in marketing them by giving them on-line reviews on my blogs, exposures in my videos and exhibit them at events like The International Blade Show in Atlanta.

More than 15 designs are in progress. I will have these four designs at the  Atlanta Blade Show and am making plans to have some pattern blanks made of T-410 steel available for individual purchase at my table. Volume orders will be drop shipped from the fabricator in Atlanta.

I have produced a series of videos showing these knives in use that may  be seen on Pinterest, listed under Hovey’s Knives of China,™ and also on YouTube under the same name. Often, there will be copies of these videos on my hoveysknivesofchinablog.co  along with descriptive materials, histories and explanations. Any Google search of “Hovey’s Knives of China.” will also key into these materials wherever they are on the web.

The Point Square and the Acheulean Hand Ax

002

Variations of a knife pattern we are calling The Point has the oldest heritage of almost any cutting tool. Primitive forms of the Acheulian hand ax have been found among the remains of modern man’s distant ancestors that date from 1.7 million years ago in Olduvai Gorge in East Africa and are still in use among primitive cultures today. This makes this type of cutting instrument man’s oldest complexly worked cutting tool.

For a tool to persist this long, one would think that it must have had some utility, and indeed it has. My modern version is gripped the same way, in the palm of the hand and the cutting point is guided by the index finger of the master hand to make precision cuts in food and other products. The Point Square is distinguished in that it has a square hole through which the fingers fit and also has a cutting edge as well as a pencil-sharp point.

Because others of Hovey’s Knives of China™ knives have truncated points , The Point series of knives is made to provide a separate point for use for delicate cutting used. The fact that it also has a short blade means that it can also be used for cutting and dicing small objects, or larger purposes like skinning game where delicate control is required. Its flat shape and compact size make it ideal for use as a knife for skinning animal heads in place of bulkier knives.

An introductory video showing the use of this knife to make a pasta dish with shoe-string cut meats, wholewheat pasta and horseradish sauce may be seen at: https://youtu.be/MsFBXQ89D-w. The top photo is from that video which also shows an original Acheulean hand ax from France. This example was made some 10,000 years ago and was associated with the famous cave paintings that illustrated man and extinct Pleistocene animals, such as the mammoth.

Other variants of this shape will be offered in two sizes. The one that is demonstrated is a small size, and others for working fish and sushi will have a handle and more than one cutting blade.

If you are interested in finding out about man’s early use of this tool, the best popular reference is Making Silent Stones Speak: Human evolution and the dawn of Technology by Kathy D. Schick and Nicholas Toth that was published by Simon & Schuster in 1993. I published my own take on stone knives, which included processing game and working on a bison hide, in an article titled Chips off and Old Rock in the Krause annual Knives 2010, edited by Joe Kertzman.