Last December, in between hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas in the new house, painting and unpacking, I got distracted one night while cutting an onion and sliced 3/4 of the way through my left thumb tip. The injury was painful, but not nearly as bad as the experience of getting my thumb stitched back together. Fingers and toes, I was told at the ER, are the worst places to get stitches. My thumb still isn’t its old self again, and it hurts to do things like push buttons on the remote.

I decided after that accident that I needed a knife skills class. This is one area where my charming, haphazard approach to things isn’t such a good idea. Until I build up the stamina to attempt something like The French Culinary Institute’s intensive class for amateurs, I have Norman Weinstein’s book to help. It comes with a DVD so I can follow all his moves, and the photographs and descriptions of techniques and tools is impressive. I value my fingers too much not to learn some basics.