When I posted the butternut squash soup with cinnamon sugar crouton recipe I wanted to try after a friend of ours made herself a pot back on Captiva Island, I mentioned in one of the photo captions that our cutting board was on the verge of giving up the ghost after years of faithful service. Aaron and I had been looking for the perfect replacement for about twelve months but had run into difficultly getting what we wanted – a high quality, edge-grain, 36″ x 24″ darker-stained board that was at least 1.25″ to 2.0″ thick. A custom cutting board of that size would allow both of us to be productive as we divided the work for bigger family dinners; would make it easier for me to sort out the large quantities of granny smith apples I need for my homemade pies, pre-sort out ingredients so we can just go down the list and use them as necessary on the nearby stove. The utility gain would be tremendous.
At the suggestion of James Kraus (thank you, thank you, thank you!) who was not only kind enough to provide us with a recommendation based upon his own search for a custom cutting board, but later posted pictures of the finished product he had received, we contacted Dan out in San Diego, who runs a business called Custom Cutting Boards. He lets you specify your design parameters, wood type, and even small details like whether you want rubber feet on the underside. Half-a-dozen emails and barely a week later, it was done. The cutting board arrived this morning and we’ve been seasoning it with mineral oil. By tomorrow, we should have both sides fully treated so it will be ready to enter service.
Our original cutting board had been a housewarming gift from two of our best friends and was the work surface we used as we learned to cook. It had been beaten, pounded, burnt, scalded, cut, scraped, and scrubbed so many times it was a miracle it was still intact, especially since we had no idea how to care for it when we started cooking several years ago. (It was one of those situational knowledge things – nobody ever sat us down in childhood and said, “This is a nice, wooden cutting board. You cannot submerge it in water. You must regularly season it with mineral oil. Never run water directly over it.”, and all the other rules that seem like common sense now, such as scrubbing it with a mixture of salt and lime juice if it becomes stained with something that won’t come out of the wood.)
You’ve seen us use that cutting board to make everything from desserts such as the caramel pecan apple pie and nectarine white chocolate cream pie to Italian food like stuffed ravioli in a tomato and cream sauce and spinach fettuccine with butter and Parmesan cheese; tomato sauce with onion and butter; Japanese Gyoza with spicy sauce; banana walnut birthday cake with cream cheese icing; beef bulgogi; Saag Paneer with homemade Indian cheese; nights we stayed up testing dessert recipes; improving canned beef stock; winter dinner at home playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. You saw us use it in our spicy white chicken chili recipe and our Wendy’s replica red chili recipe. Even when it wasn’t in the picture, it was used for Korean spicy pork stir fry, our first Bibimbap, the most delicious corn chowder recipe you’ll ever find.
That cutting board was the most used item in our kitchen, with the exception of the Technivorm Moccamaster. (Public service announcement: The Technivorm Moccamaster is a device so perfect it will single-handedly make you love The Netherlands for engineering a coffee pot that hasn’t had any need for an update in more than half a century. If you enjoy coffee but don’t own one, just spend the $300 and be done with it. Read the reviews for yourself if you must. It deserves every word of praise. Every single cup is perfect. I recommend it without reservation . It’s fantastic. There is no planned obsolescence here. It’s an appliance from a completely different time.)
I have a lot of work to get done but I think I might go play Final Fantasy Type-O for awhile. It’s almost like the old Final Fantasy series, Golden Eye on Nintendo 64, and Mortal Kombat had a baby. As with Skyrim, et. al., I naturally gravitate toward being a ranged player – King with his double pistols, Trey with his bow, and Ace with his cards are my favorite, but I’m also kind of digging how Seven uses her whip and Queen … that lady is just powerful. In the middle of melee battle, executing divine judgment then going in for a kill shot has this overwhelming sense of satisfaction when battling the military. I understand one of the other characters remarking in passing, “… I hope she never turns on us.”