WEST Kitchen – Week 2

Written by
Diana Dutcher
on September 23, 2020

Our first knife skills class went very well! We learned the basics of handling a knife and practiced keeping our other fingers safe. The things I want to remind you of as you practice your skills over the next week:

  • Take your time. You don’t need to cut fast, you just need to cut safely.
  • Keep a firm grip of the knife up onto the top part of the blade which seems weird at first but you will get used to it. Thumb on one side and forefinger on the other; the rest of the hand gripped snug around the handle.
  • The opposite hand should ALWAYS practice CLAW fingers. Tuck those fingernails downward, we like our fingertips and want to keep them.
  • Stand firmly on two feet, square in front of the wide side of the cutting board. A stable base will give you leverage to cut.
  • Let the length of the knife do the work. Slide the knife forward and backwards in a rocking motion instead of pressing straight down. This is called “the wave”.
  • If the item you are cutting is odd-shaped, the first cut you make should create a flat surface so your food is stable for the following cuts.
  • Walk with your knife tips pointed downward, not to the front or the back. Maintain a 90 degree angle at your elbow with the knife gripped in a fist, blade down as you walk to and from the sink.
  • Always make sure the cutting board and knives are 100% on top of the table; nothing should hang off of the table as you work.
  • Have a plan before you start cutting. Lay out the cuts in your mind before you do anything.
  • Keep the cutting board clear. As you work, you will have scraps and discard – throw those in the trash or compost ASAP so you can work comfortably on your cutting board.
  • Be patient. It is nerve wracking and hard to learn a new skill. We will go slowly and work with our ingredients one by one so we all learn the skill we will keep for a lifetime. These are just the building blocks. You’ll get more proficient with practice.
  • Practice! The more you work with these skills, the sooner they will feel comfortable.
  • When washing knives, push the sponge or washcloth in a diagonal motion from the dull side to sharp side (this keeps the motion moving AWAY from the sharp side and prevents cuts).

Fruit salad
Serves: 20 as a side
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes


  1. Wash all fruit. Even the outside of melons need to be washed! I like to use a fruit and veggie wash for fruits that are eaten with the skin (strawberries, peaches, cherries, etc…)
  2. Dry fruit with a kitchen towel and prepare a comfortable work surface with knives and cutting board.
  3. Lay out the container you can put the cut fruit in; this will keep your cutting board clear as you work.
  4. Large dice fruit of choice (check this link for tutorials on cutting fruit) – watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupes, nectarines, strawberries. I posted the fruit cutting videos here again in case you need a reminder.
  5. Mix it together
  6. Optional: make an infused simple syrup to add some more flavor and tie the dish together. 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Infuse with lime zest to brighten it up.
  7. Place the simple syrup in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.
  8. Drizzle lightly over the cut fruit and mix together.

Bring next week
Cutting boards, knives – chef’s knife and paring knife (and an apron is optional). Please arrive on time to our meeting spot OUTSIDE as we will head in to the kitchen ASAP; we need as much time as possible. If it is raining, we meet inside the double doors at the entrance to the sanctuary.

Homework *IMPORTANT*
Get your knives sharpened if you didn’t last week! A super sharp knife is actually the safest tool in the kitchen. Dull knives create hazards. Lunds & Byerly’s offers FREE KNIFE SHARPENING at the butcher counter. They keep them overnight so plan ahead. They take 3 knives at a time and you can bring 3 every single day if you wish. You may bring any size flat edged knife; they do NOT sharpen serrated knives.

Practice your skills – cut some fruit this week! Even if it doesn’t really need to be cut, spend some time with your knives and get more comfortable with them.

Watch these videos on how to cut specific vegetables so we will be ready to make pico de gallo with our knife skills class next week.

Basic knife skills
How to dice and slice an onion
How to slice and dice a tomato
How to dice a jalapeno pepper
How to slice and dice a bell pepper
How to chop fresh cilantro

Thanks everyone, I’m looking forward to another wonderful week next week.

-Diana Dutcher

Written By
Diana Dutcher

I am an educator and entrepreneur who is passionate about non-toxic living. I get to be with my five kiddos (8, 6-year old twins, and 4-year old twins) in the mornings and teach in the afternoons or evenings. It’s a beautiful abundant life 💖

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