The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Chopping Carrots

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I can’t watch Maggie chopping carrots: she does it all wrong.

Every TV chef I’ve ever watched talks about curling your fingers back under and resting the flat of the blade against your knuckles so you have complete control and there is no chance of removing the tips of your fingers by mistake.

Some have even mentioned the practice of keeping the tip of the knife permanently on the chopping board acting like a hinge, so the knife rises and falls more like a paper guillotine. This extra level of control allows you to cut with increased speed and security.

Maggie does neither of these things. The knife is used more like a cleaver with the entire thing rising above carrot, while Maggie’s fingers are pressed outwards, perilously close to the falling blade.

But I’m not allowed to say anything. Maggie’s been chopping carrots since before I was born and has never cut her fingers. She can also chop them at least five times faster than me.

So I shove my knuckles in my mouth to stop from yelling out, then look away and try not to think about it.

And I know if I was to mention my thoughts out loud, I’d be forever more on soup duty.


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28 comments

Carole said...

That is just wrong. The picture I mean.

Kim Ayres said...

Well the original pic just had a carrot where the chopped finger is, but I didn't think it did the post justice so I tweaked it.

Z said...

But a carrot is quite hard and if I just raised part of the knife I wouldn't have the strength to cut it. I can only chop herbs or mushrooms that way. I had no idea I was quite so feeble.

Anna van Schurman said...

I didn't even notice the finger until I read the comments. Maybe it's a little too close to home. If it is any comfort, when she cuts off (part) of her finger, she won't really feel a thing. Speaking from experience.

C in DC said...

Similarly, but not so dangerous, I can't watch my husband type or use the computer in other ways. It's just wrong.

I'm envious of anyone who can chop efficiently and safely. I'm a slow chopper. My only chopping injury came from doing something that was ill-advised from the get-go.

Sini said...

that picture scares me.

i have chopped off a very small--now it looks just like a not-so- shapely finger--piece of my index finger as a kid.

Eryl Shields said...

I can't watch Stevie doing anything in the kitchen.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

Well, when it comes to rough chopping carrots, I think you can do a good ol' chop (lifting the whole blade off the board). Just helps get the knife through.

For the most part though, I do the advised technique (knuckles guiding the blade, tips tucked in, knife in constant contact with the board).

So far I haven't cut myself.

savannah said...

ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! the picture, not maggie's chopping skills...if it works for her, let it be, sugar! if she tried to change now, she'd probably REALLY cut of a finger and then would you be? ;-) xox

Kim Ayres said...

Z - maybe a heavy handled cleaver is the answer...

Anna - ah yes, my apologies for such an insensitive post so soon. Did you have a burial service for it? I forgot to ask.

C in DC - oh come on, surely you can reveal a bit more than that - idiocy and embarrassment is what blogging is all about

Sini - photos or detailed descriptions to make us all go "ew" are required

Eryl - is that because he locks you out?

FLG - I thought maybe we could try and hold the knife steady and pull the board up towards it instead...

Savannah - even if she did, I never be able to say "I told you so." Not if I didn't want the knife in my ribs, that is...

Conan Drumm said...

I think men are always uncomfortable around women holding maps or knives. Don't know why. Oh, that's just me is it?

I always quarter carrots lengthways before any further cutting.

Sayre said...

I'm a slow chopper - and I still have all my fingers. I envy people who have the skill to do it the "professional" way, but I'd definitely lose body parts if I tried that.

Tom said...

Carrots? Yes, I've heard of them. They never seem to come on my Big Mac, though.

Love the pic.

Anna van Schurman said...

The story on the piece of finger that got cut off: I picked it up off the top of the slicer, just in case they could use it and held it in my hand that was balled up into a fist to prevent blood loss. When we arrived at the ER, I showed it to the trauma nurse to see if he thought we could do anything with it. It was too small to reattach. I asked him to take it. "Why?" he asked. "Is it touching you back?" He wasn't wearing gloves, so he told me to put it on the gurney. When they were washing my hand, they were catching the biohazard in a pan. I popped the little piece of skin-and-nail it and I never saw it again. And that's the story story of the piece of finger that got cut off.

karatemom said...

the thought makes me shudder..as for the finger...( pardon my critique..but the finger you chopped off is the one holding the knife..more likely you would lose a finger off the other hand..) ..

obviously i had far too much time on my hands while looking at this photo...have a good day .

Kim Ayres said...

Conan Drum - fortunately Maggie's ability to wield a knife is completely unrelated to her sense of direction

Sayre I'd suggest buying a slicer, but after reading about Anna's incident...

Tom - What? No McCarrots?

Anna - Somehow, it feels like a lost opportunity...

KarateMom - if you look closely, the finger lying on the board is in fact an index finger from the left hand (you can tell by the curve). You might also notice you cannot see the index finger on the hand holding the carrot...

Restaurant Gal said...

Back in the day, my husband told me every time he saw me chopping onions or whatever that I was doing it all wrong. So, I simply stopped cooking. Draw your own conclusions on how that worked out ;)

Kim Ayres said...

One of the reasons I wouldn't dare criticise Maggie out loud

Andraste said...

Wise man.

Spent an afternoon 'julienning' carrots once. Jesus - the boredom. I started to buy them pre-shredded now. Lazy, yes, but me around knives is a dicey (HA! Sorry) proposition at best.

debra said...

I didn't even see the finger when I first looked--I thought it was a carrot. And if anyone want to tell me how to do anything in the kitchen, that person can inherit the job from me.

PI said...

Quite right too! I wish you could teach MTL to shove his knuckles in his mouth on the odd occasion we super market together and he sweetly tells me how to load the trolley.
Now I must unclench my jaw.

Mary Witzl said...

We're the same in this household. My good man cannot bear to watch me chopping anything, and I have to avert my eyes from his cooking habits. We've both said "Well, if you don't like the way I do it..." and now know what NOT to do.

When I'm in a hurry, I chop carrots right over the pot, the knife meeting my thumb time after time. I've never once cut myself, but I give everyone else the heebie-jeebies. It's become a sort of party trick; I'm quite proud.

Mary Witzl said...

Ooh -- and I like that picture! It really gets the meaning across nicely. You need more blood, though.

MikeP said...

There must be a "blunt cogs" story idea in your post somewhere. Gruesome, but I can't take my eyes away.

Personally, I can't stand to watch my spouse load the dishwasher--I always rearrange it after she does it. I guess I'm obsessed with orderliness.

Kim Ayres said...

Andraste - well a mandolin slicer thing is very good at doing that kind of thing, but once againI would point you to Anna (above) for the warnings

Debra - which is why I don't complain out loud

Pat - ah, well now, you have to give him credit for his male-brain spacial awareness ability. Comes in handy for reading maps too ;)

Mary - I cut my apples like that, but haven't tried carrots.

Mike - I'm sure there is - you script it and I'll build it

Kanani said...

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!

C in DC said...

I was trying to separate frozen hamburgers using a paring knife. The knife slipped and left me with a gash across my left thumb. It hurt and bled like you wouldn't believe.

The more interesting part of this story is that we'd only been living in London for a little over a month at this point. We had no idea of where the nearest emergency room was or how to call for emergency services. It was dinner time on a Sunday night in January.

We got into our car and DH drove until we found a hospital sign (that we vaguely remembered). We parked when we found the hospital, and then had to walk halfway around the block until we found the actual emergency entrance.

We waited ages in the ER, with me holding my left hand above my head to stop the bleeding.

Finally, a nurse looks at it. She cleans it up, puts on some ointment and a butterfly bandage, wraps it up, and sends us home. For all that bleeding, I received no stitches or anything like that. I wasn't allowed to get it wet for a couple of days, but other than that, it was considered a "minor" injury.

Kim Ayres said...

Well depending on which date in January, it could have been Burns Night, in which case ER would have been full of Scots having had accidents with Haggis...

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