If you have to think about whether your knives are sharp, then they are not sharp. You can improve you prep time and find cooking a lot more enjoyable if you sharpen your knives once a year.
Consider this your annual reminder. Clark Stone from Wustof -- one of the preeminent knife makers -- will pay a visit to Pryde's Old Westport on Friday between 11 a.m and 3 p.m. The aptly named Stone will be sharpening knives for $3. You can bring up to five knives, and all of the proceeds benefit The Bishop Sullivan Center.
Once your knives have been sharpened, there are a few things you can do
to make sure they keep their edge.
Always hand-wash good knives.
Detergent can be abrasive and the knives could move around inside the
Use plastic and wooden cutting boards -- they are more pliant and will not cause a knife to go dull as quickly as ceramic or harder surfaces. If you're concerned with food safety as the cutting boards acquire grooves, just replace them. Whether your knife is leaving marks on the cutting board is a good barometer for sharpness.
And lastly, don't try and sharpen your blades unless you know what you're doing. Realistically, you only need to have your knives sharpened once a year -- maybe more often if you rely heavily on a particular chef's knife -- and it's worth having it done by a professional.
[Image via Flickr: runneralan2004]