When I got married, I received many beautiful kitchen gifts, including silverware, china, table linens, and a complete cookware set. But my favorite gift was a set of kitchen knives from my best friend. I had no idea that a good set of kitchen knives could inspire me to learn how to cook wonderful meals.

I rarely cooked before I got married, and usually just grabbed some fast food with my friends after work. My new husband, however, preferred to relax at home after a long day, and encouraged me to try new recipes with his help. Years before, he had taken a knife skills course at the local community college and learned that there are many types of kitchen knives available to help with various types of food preparation. Now I know the difference between a paring knife (used for peeling and slicing fruits and vegetables) and a bread knife (with serrated edges to cut through crusty loaves.) I use a chef’s knife for daily chopping and slicing, and a boning knife to prepare boneless chicken breasts. I even invested in some other kitchen knives, including a Nakiri knife, which is a type of knife popular in Japan for cutting vegetables.

My husband and I will often stand in the kitchen and discuss our day while we are chopping and dicing the ingredients for our dinner. We’ve prepared some memorable entrees like pork chops with thinly sliced apples, hamburgers with diced onions and parsley, and a delicious vegetarian chili with chopped zucchini squash. We also love entertaining on weekends, and invite our friends or neighbors over. One of our favorite meals is a stir fry with lots of chopped vegetables and meat. I break out the kitchen knives and ask everyone to help cut up the ingredients. It’s a fun and relaxing way to spend time with friends. You should try it too!

Learn more: Tips for handling kitchen knives