After years of listening to my grumbling whenever I cooked at her house, my mom actually designated a knife just for me. The sharp blade waits in a drawer, unused, until the couple times a year that I visit. That alleviates my frustration, but I still worry about her safety. Despite my exhortations, I know she won't suddenly start sharpening her own knives. For myself and others in similar situations, I've come up with a few solutions:
• Give a sharpening gift certificate: It's a good idea to get knives professionally sharpened about once a year. If you or your parents can't drop off knives at a local business, there are mail-order sharpening services. (The Wall Street Journal has reviewed several.) Provide mom and dad with pre-paid shipping boxes so all they have to do is pack and send.
• Get an electric sharpener: Okay, this wouldn't actually work with my mother (it would just sit in the cupboard) but for parents who like gadgets, an easy-to-use electric sharpener might do the trick.
• Protect the blades: It seems that a lot of parents store their knives loose in a drawer, which can ruin the edges (and nick fingertips). In kitchens where there isn't space for a knife rack, block, or drawer tray, a simple solution is to use blade guards or sheaths. I recently got some Bisbell Magmates, which sandwich the knife blade between two magnets and protect it during storage or transport.
Speaking of transport, sometimes you just need to...
• Bring your own knives when you visit: This won't fix your parents' knives, but it may be necessary to preserve your sanity.
Do your parents have dull knives? How do you cope?