Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Video Treat: Open a Young Coconut

When you open an older coconut, you need to dig in the toolbox for a hammer. On the other hand, opening a young coconut (sometimes called "green coconut") is much easier: a sharp knife and a level surface usually do the trick.

In this how-to video you can watch me take a sharp knife (and a not-so-level surface) and open a young coconut.

Well, to be truthful... I eventually get the coconut open. There's some coconut chopping hijinks in the middle there.

Some people shave the white husk away to get at the nut inside. I usually have good luck with getting a wedge in, but I think extending my arms and working on a wooden tray rather than a cutting board were maybe not my best moves.

Thus, I have to stress the need for a steady, sturdy cutting surface. It's a must when using a knife. Nobody wants to their chop hands instead of their food.

Oh... and I owe beoucoup thanks to J, my steady-handed camera guy.

Once you actually get inside the coconut, the coconut water is cool and delicious, and the soft flesh is a sweet, creamy delight when added to coconut curries, blended into Thai-style coconut soup, puréed into smoothies/frozen drinks (daiquiris, anyone?) and mixed into the pretty green chutney I made last week.

Miss Ginsu

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Miss Ginsu, Meet... Ginsu

Any longtime readers may remember I had a spot of trouble last year with a fellow who wasn't keen on my use of the name Miss Ginsu.

As it turned out, one of the execs at Quikut, the company who owns the Ginsu name saved the day, and this little food blog lived on. Yay!

And now, suprise, surprise... that very same executive just sent over an actual set of Ginsu knives for me to check out. I'm a field tester. Woo!

Ginsu Knives

It's a set of 12 (the ones you see above, plus a bunch more steak knives) and it looks like this in the box.

Ginsu Chikara Knives

My standard set of knives are heavy German-style Wustof ones (they were the standard-issue knife at school), and I have one Kai Shun Japanese pairing knife.

That said, as long as it's sharp, I'm not opposed to using any knife out there.

I'm most interested in function, and after using the chef's knife and pairing knife fairly heavily over the weekend, I can attest to the fact that they do seem sharp and durable.

So here were the initial comments from friends and coworkers on the Chikara set.
"Wow... they kind of look like Japanese knives, but they're heavy and sharpened on both sides like the German knives. It's like the axis powers joined in cutlery."

"They're better than I expected."

"These are Ginsu? Have you tried them out on a tin can yet?"

"Huh. They're actually pretty nice. Nicer than I thought they'd be. I like the wood block. It's fancy."

So there you have it. Sharp knives, nice heft, German-style blades with Japanese styling and about a third of the price of what you'd pay for the Wustof ones.

Anyway, I'll keep using them for a bit and check in again after a while to let you know how it goes.

Happy chopping,
Miss Ginsu

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FoodLink Roundup: 04.21.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was hanging out in Les Halles (1st arrondissement) in Paris. (Nice work, Hazard!) Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post a guess in the comments.

The UK fig roll crisis
What will become of tea time?

McCain Recipes Lifted from the Food Network
Quick! Throw the intern to the wolves!

Roller Girls roll out cookbook
Oh those enterprising Michiganites...

Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter… and Umami
I missed this one when it came out last fall.

Laguiole : Exceptional knives
Wow... really ugly web page, but them's some beautiful knives.

Choices and Finger-Pointing
Hmmm... dinner for a week or a tank full of gas?

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She Slices, Dices... & Gets Slapped with a Cease & Desist

Golly! I never realized that such a mild (and frankly, nerdy) hobby as food blogging could be so edgy. So disquieting. So dangerous.

So... get this: I just got hate mail from Ed Valenti, who is apparently one of the marketing gurus who launched Ginsu Knives into the public eye back in the late '70s.

Here's the story, according to your friend and mine, the Internet:

The knife that is now sold under the "Ginsu" name was once a blade called "Quikut" — a mild-mannered utensil manufactured in Ohio to little fanfare.

In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife... but it can't cut a tomato!

Thanks to some fast-talking ad copy, a fabricated name and the services of a Japanese foreign exchange student who appeared in the ads, a classic commercial was launched out into TV-land. The campaign was a cheesy wonder and the U.S. post was inundated with "limited-time offer" shipments of razor-sharp Ginsu knives traveling to homes across America.

Dave Choppity-Chopping

NOW how much would you pay?

Of course, as a pop-culture reference, the word "Ginsu" was also a source of good laughs. Jerry Seinfeld, Weird Al Yankovic, Notorious B.I.G. and Nas have all made sharp-sharp Ginsu knife references in their works.

That's probably why one of my fellow cooks called me "Miss Ginsu" while observing my killa fresh-outta-cooking-school knife skills. Soon thereafter I started food blogging, and I used "Miss Ginsu" as my pen-name rather than the far-less-catchy real name that my parents gave me.

But that's not all!

Fast-forward to today, when I receive this fan letter in my Gmail inbox:
Please be advised that Ginsu is a registered trademark of the Berkshire Hathaway Company. You indicate a copyright after your name. Please provisde me with any copyrights you have obtained or a letter of permission to use the mark from BH....

Ed Valenti
1775 Bald Hill Rd
Warwick,RI 02886
401 826 3600

I posted my very first food blog entry waaay back in May, 2004, and like most people who cook, eat and feel some strange need to share all that the internet, I've been blogging in obscurity ever since.

Do I make money from this site? Nope. Food blogging has been a four-year drain on my free time and my personal finances. Why do I do it? I love food. I love connecting with other people about food. I love all the things I discover about food as I travel and cook. And I love sharing that stuff.

So why does marketing guru and accomplished public speaker Ed Valenti care about harassing an obscure food blog?

Well, it all comes back to dollars. He doesn't own the word "Ginsu," nor my nickname, "Miss Ginsu," (I guess Berkshire Hathaway owns all that) but since Ed Valenti makes his money in lecture halls and marketing books about "Ginsu" concepts, it seems that he has his own business interests to protect.

...But this is a limited time offer, so call now!

So here's where you come in, dear reader. I'll probably have to change my name and my website pretty soon. I find it sad that crushing little food bloggers with legal power is sorta the way this country does business.

I used to blog as Miss Ginsu, and my blog was titled, "The Hedonista," but that got pretty confusing. People asked me, are you "The Hedonista" or Miss Ginsu? Understandable confusion.

These days, this site is about excitement and discovery and the way food discussion is relevant in nearly every aspect of our lives. I don't know if "The Hedonista" really encompasses that food exploration theme.

Anyone out there on the inter-webs have a good suggestion for a name replacement? I'll offer a T-shirt to the kind soul who comes up with a winner. Help a girl out and post in the comments. Thanks, y'all!

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