Saving time in the kitchen, part 3

January 26, 2011

It’s time management week here at SV where we talk about saving time while preparing delicious meals, and today I’ve got the first of 2 real life examples of what I talked about yesterday: doing something for the purpose of saving time often means not doing something else, and you might enjoy that other activity, so you’re going to have to decide what’s important to you.

In this case, I like working with a chef’s knife, but my time is more valuable right now, so I’m making the effort to use my mandolin slicer. I’m not doing this example to sell slicers, but I know people are going to ask and they’re really useful tools that not everyone knows about, so here’s a link to the Borner model I use, which is a little under $40 right now, but like I said, you can get a simple slicer for under eight bucks if you want – I’m pretty sure that’s the model I started with years ago before moving up to the Borner. And yes, both of those links are affiliate links, I make money if you buy from them, which like I said wasn’t my goal here but the links took time to find so I figure that’s fair – if you don’t want to send me a commission just go to Amazon (or your local cooking store) and find something yourself.

Don’t be too alarmed by the “people also bought” links showing armoured gloves, by the way. If you pay attention while you’re slicing and use the handle properly you’ll be fine. I still have all my fingers, but yes, the blade is very sharp, just like your knives are, so use the appropriate amount of caution…

I’m happy to answer any other questions about mandolins in the comments, but while you’re in there, has this given you any ideas of a “do this not that” that you can put into action in your kitchen to save time, even though it’s replacing something you don’t mind doing? I think that’s the key – not so much that you’re giving up something you love to do, because it might make sense to keep doing that, but there are so many things in our lives that we don’t mind doing that we never take the trouble to optimize because it doesn’t seem like a big deal – let me know what you come up with in the comments, and tomorrow I’ll show another example from my life!

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Colleen January 26, 2011 at 11:06 am

I have a mandolin – one of the ones with a straight blade. I’ve had it (it was a gift) for a few years but haven’t used it. I cut myself really badly just washing the damned thing after we moved so now I’m terrified of it. I know I should try to get over this fear but so far haven’t worked up the guts.

One of the ways I’ve been trying to save time in the kitchen lately is to get as much cleaning up done while still cooking as possible, so that there won’t be as much to do after dinner. It’s not a complete process by any means, but it is helping and I’m finding we have more time for walks and such in the evening.

Jason January 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Agreed, cleaning up as you go is huge – I try to do it in such a way that if someone were to come in at the tail end of the process and the lids were on the pots and pans, there’d be no way to guess what I made. And that imaginary someone is from CSI.

Lauren January 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I got a cheap mandolin. it is really helpful for certain types of chopping. however, the julian (sp?) slicing attachments are much less sharp than the main blade. This causes some problems. So beware! Next time I have steady income I may invest in a better one.

Amanda January 26, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Speaking of CSI, I believe my mandolin is like the swiss army knife of mandolins. It slices and dices in every way imaginable. In the past 3 years I’ve had it, I’ve probably collected enough DNA with it to frame someone for murder….. What makes it even grosser is it’s terrible to clean, and the lid on the compartment that holds all the special blades tends to pop off unexpectedly, sending blades of death hurling at your eyes, pets, and children.
I’ve nearly sliced my knuckles off with it, as well as my husband, and my mother in law and her friend both took off sections of their palms.

Jason January 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Amanda, does your mandolin have a handle with pins in it that you stick into the food you’re slicing, so when the slicing’s almost done it’s the handle that’s close to the blades instead of your fingers? If you’re just using your hands, the food, and the blades, then yes, that’s a recipe for disaster unless you’re a zen master of concentration.

Oh, and the comments reminded me of the one time I got hurt: I wasn’t cooking, I was cleaning up, and the julienne attachment fell off the dish rack and I instinctively grabbed for it. Had a nifty v shaped pattern of dots on my palm for a day or so… In fairness, I’m lucky it wasn’t a chef’s knife I grabbed for.

Amanda January 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Yes, it has one of those do-dads to stab your potato or whatever and protect your hands while slicing….the problem with the gadget is that it will not let you go past a certain point of the vegetable because of a 1/2 inch guard around the base of the thing, so you’re left with a quarter section of your veggie that can’t be sliced safely…so of course, not wanting to be wasteful, I carefully slice the remaining portion without the guard. Gives new meaning to “knuckle sandwich”

Jason January 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Yeah, some of the models have a fair sized gap. The Borner isn’t too bad, and the handle is shaped so you can use the edge of it to push the last little bit through. I can’t remember how much it leaves (that’s it, my office needs a mandolin) but I remember tomatoes being pretty much gone after a straight pass through.

Lisa January 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I see I’m not the only one who has had a mandolin mishap! I really enjoyed using the mandolin until I sliced my thumb on it. That was about 3 days after getting it… and yes, it was my fault for not using the guard. I was afraid of it after that and eventually brought it to Goodwill.

I’m still working on my knife skills. I bought a whetstone and ceramic steel after watching your blade basics video, so now I’m using sharper (and safer) tools.

Jason January 27, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Awesome, glad to know I’m helping knives worldwide get sharper! :)

Eli April 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I own a mandolin, and love using it!

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