Nothing slows down a cook more or is more likely to cause injury than dull knives. Using a steel maintains a precise edge but can't actually sharpen a knife. To get your knives ready for action, go for professional sharpening, at a cost of about $5 per knife. Not sure you need a pro? Test your blade on the skin of a ripe tomato; you should not have to exert much pressure to cut the fruit. Sur La Table stores offer sharpening (www.surlatable.com or 866/328-5412), or you can ask about sharpening at a favorite butcher shop or cookware store. Or search for "cutlery" or "sharpening services" online.
- FOOD & WINE