Online Since 1997

Quick Search Recipes:

Search Recipes Alphabetically
A - B   C   D - F   G - J
K - N   O - P   Q - S   T - Z

Texas Wines & Wineries

Texas Restaurants

Ask Doctor John
Previous Q&A:

March, 2011
      Jan, 2011
      Dec, 2010
      Nov, 2010
      Oct, 2010
      Sept, 2010
      Aug, 2010
      July, 2010
      June, 2010
      May, 2010
      April, 2010
      March, 2010
      February, 2010
      January, 2010
      December, 2009
      November, 2009
      October, 2009
      September, 2009
      August, 2009
      July, 2009
      June, 2009
      May, 2009
      April, 2009
      March, 2009
      February, 2009
      January, 2009
      December, 2008
      November, 2008
      October, 2008
      September, 2008
      August, 2008
      July, 2008
      More Ask Dr. John Q&A

Cooks Need to Know
Handy substitutions, equivalent measurements and metric conversions
Looking for
great food gifts?

Find something
special in our
Food Gifts Store

Restaurant Loans
for your food business

Website: Texana
Visit our sister site devoted to Texas books, travel, people and culture

Shop on

More Ask Dr. John Q&A's   Message Boards   Free Newsletter   Grocery Coupons  

If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc

December 2, 2009

As we find ourselves in the middle of the Holiday Season everyone's favorite subject is food. The Calorie Police out there in Medialand are trying to make everyone feel guilty about eating anything that might be good tasting. To them the perfect holiday feast would be broccoli, steamed, no salt, no butter, a sprinkle of onion flakes.. Dr. John has four words for the Calorie Police, "Let-Them-Eat-Cake". The world would be a better place if everyone had a Texas Cooking style meal for the holiday.. Let's get on down the road and see what the good doctor can prescribe for his patients..

Julie asks:

Dr John, my kitchen knives are always dull. How can I sharpen them and how do I keep them sharp?


That is not a dull subject. A sharp cutting tool works better and is safer than a dull one. The first kitchen knives were made of flint or obsidian and were sharpened by chipping off small flakes until a sharp edge was formed.

All the modern knives are made of some sort of metal except for the ceramic ones the television chefs have. I have never met a ceramic knife in person so we will stick to good old steel.

Knives are like anything else. There are good ones and there are bad ones. The general rule of thumb is, "You get what you pay for". A two dollar knife will probably be made of soft metal that will not take or hold an edge.

We don't have to get into the real expensive knives that are seen only in catalogs. You can get a decent knife for in the twenty dollar neighborhood. Learn the brand names and go with them.

The best knife is made from steel that is a compromise between sharpening capability and flexibility. Really hard steel is brittle. It will break if mishandled. Hard steel takes the best edge.

As for sharpening a knife. That is a process of using progressively finer grit sharpening tools. The course tool shapes the blade and the finer tools polish the blade. No matter how sharp a blade, under the microscope it looks like a saw. You have to get the saw teeth in alignment for the best result. That is where the "Chef's steel" comes in. That is that round metal thing the chef uses to polish the edge of his knife. They make it look like a really difficult chore with them sliding the knife toward their face but you can just get it down in your lap if you have to. The whole process is too long to go into here.

Let us just assume that you have a sharp knife and want to keep it that way. The first thing you do is get a cutting board. Wooden boards are superior to the plastic ones as for some reason germs do not thrive on the wooden boards.

You do not let your knife edge come into contact with metal. You don't just throw your knife in the drawer with the rest of your tools. Find a knife rack or just lay it in a safe place.

You do not cut on a tile counter top. Nor a granite counter top. Nor in a plate. Nor in a metal pan. Keep the edge of your knife away from things that are harder than it is.

I could go on for days on the care and feeding of knives but I have other patients in the waiting room. Thanks for writing Texas Cooking and Dr. John

Mike has a chili problem:

Dr John:

I want to make some chili but all I have ever had is so greasy. Is there a secret to making chili without grease?

Michael my lad:

The "grease" you find in chili is the fat out of the meat. You use meat that contains no fat and your chili will be greaseless and really, really good for you.

Let me qualify this by saying all meat has fat in it. The "chili grind" you find in most meat markets will run 50% fat or more. Some meats have very little fat and that is what we look for.

In the beef line that is the traditional chili choice, arm chuck or round are the best. Most wild game of the deer type have little fat. Venison makes very good chili. I use a mix of half venison and half lean beef.

Whatever kind you get remove everything white from it. Everything white in beef or venison is either fat or connective tissue.

I use just a little corn oil to "brown" the meat before it goes in the pot. If you want to avoid that little bit of oil you can use a little beef or chicken stock instead. If you discard the juice that comes out of the meat while you are browning it you will get rid of a bit more fat. I always discard the juice as sometime it will have an "off" taste to it.

This is about as good as you can do. Just discard the fat and follow a good recipe. Thanks for writing Texas Cooking and Dr. John

M.J. wants to know:
Dr John, what is the difference between mashed potatoes and creamed potatoes? They seem the same to me..

Here in Texas the terms "mashed" and "creamed" for potatoes are interchangeable. They are actually Creamed. That is, the potatoes are cooked and then mashed with the potato masher and then butter and milk is added and the mix is stirred real good. Some use an electric hand mixer on them.

On the other hand you seldom see "mashed" potatoes which are merely potatoes mashed with the masher and a little butter, salt and pepper added. They will have some texture to them.

2009 has been a great year for the Doctor. I wish each and everyone of you all the best for the coming year..

Dr. John.

If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc
end article

Traditional Texas Food Articles
By Dr. John, Ph.B.

Follow Us on Twitter

Save on Your
Favorite Coffee

Coffee For Less
5% off Coupon Code: CFLESS

Free Stuff

Catalogs | Gifts
Cosmetics | DVDs

Special Offers for
Texas Cooking Readers

Justin Boots - Tony Lama Boots - Levi's / Wranglers / Jeans - Search Recipe Cookbook - Fiestaware - People & Chat - Contact Us

© Mesquite Management, Inc. -- ALL RIGHTS RESERVED