How to Cook Without Knives
Until I started experimenting, I didn't realize how much you can do in a kitchen without knives. It seemed that self-injurers might be particularly grateful for this information, so I've assembled it here. No, you probably can't take all of the sharp things out of your life. Sometimes, though, it's just better to avoid big knives.
Two Important Tools
If you want to cook without knives, there are two implements that can cut most things. You'd need at least one of them, but each one is better at certain tasks:
A small metal spatula (left) looks like a cross between a table knife and an ordinary spatula. The spatula part is about six inches long (not counting the handle), one inch wide, very thin, round at the end, and not sharp at all. When we tested it, it cut nicely through vegetables, fruit, and chicken (both raw and cooked), and it was best for more delicate items such as mushrooms.
Progressive International makes a silicone scraper (right) that is designed for scraping food off pans. It looks nothing like a knife—it's blue and white with a strange rounded shape. When we tested it, this implement cut through all sorts of things: fruits, vegetables, and chicken (both raw and cooked). I found one at Bed, Bath & Beyond; you can also check out Progressive's website or call 1-800-426-7101 to find stores that carry their products.
The following other techniques will help you "cut" anything that these two implements can't handle. Some techniques are obviously less triggering than others, so pick and choose with caution. Each person's triggers are different; some people wouldn't mind using a peeler, while others would consider it as bad as a knife. So please don't use any tips that might result in self-injury. It's just not worth it.
If you can, buy it already sliced, cut, or chopped. If your bread doesn't come sliced, ask the baker or bakery department to slice it for you. At the grocery store, many meat departments will slice or chop your meat for you as long as it hasn't left the store yet. Many stores now sell torn salad, chopped vegetables, and minced garlic.
Rather than chopping nuts, put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a meat mallet, rolling pin, or other blunt, non-breakable object until they're as finely chopped as you want them. This also works for chocolate, like blocks or squares of baking chocolate: just put it in a bag and hit it. Bonus: May relieve aggression.
Of course, you can use a garlic press to mince garlic. It won't work for ginger, but it might work for mincing other things.
If you do want to use knives, or if you're tempted by hot objects, you might wear cut-resistant or heat-resistant gloves while you cook. Amazon, for instance, offers 13-inch and 19-inch heat-resistant gloves as well as cut-resistant gloves.
Instead of chopping herbs, wash them, remove stems and debris, and put them in a small glass. Stick a pair of kitchen scissors in the glass and snip your herbs into little pieces. You can also use scissors on green onions: just hold them and snip off little slices.
Use a grater instead of finely chopping something. This works especially well with onions.
A peeler works nicely for making very thin slices of things. You might try using a peeler to peel off tiny slices of ginger until you have enough to flavor your dish. You could also peel carrots into a salad instead of chopping them.
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