General Knife Skittishness (and Colcannon)

In January, I nearly lost my forefinger.

OK, that’s slightly dramatic.

In January, I sliced my finger open while chopping, of all things, celery, which I don’t even like. Look, I have long ago resigned myself to the minor injuries that are expected when you cook as much as I do, but I feel they should be relegated to foods that are really worth it, and celery is not it.

At the time, I felt the cut happen and I very calmly went to the sink to rinse it and examine the damage, because this isn’t my first bronco ride at this particular rodeo. What I discovered was that (warning: this may make you squeamish?) I had sliced on an angle through my fingernail/fingertip.

Bryce, the husband, started to freak out a little bit because Bryce is not good with blood, open wounds, or pain of any kind. We begin to have this conversation:

BRYCE: *avoiding looking at the finger* We should probably go to the emergency room.

ME: *applying pressure to the wound* Oh, just go get me a Band-Aid. It’s fine. It’s through the nail but it’s fine. I didn’t cut off the whole finger.

BRYCE: *skeptically* Are you sure?

ME: *offended now that my vast medical knowledge has been questioned* I would know if my finger was missing a piece. NOW GO GET A BAND-AID.

Bryce goes upstairs and in the meantime I decide it’s a good idea to check if the bleeding has stopped and re-examine exactly how deep/bad it is, so I take off the paper towel and bring my wounded finger very close to my face. For some reason, despite being raised by a nurse and watching about half a dozen medical dramas over the course of a decade, meaning I am basically a certified medical professional or a close approximation of one, doing this makes me extremely lightheaded.

By the time Bryce gets back downstairs with my magical fix-all Band-Aid, all the color is gone from my face and I am chugging water because I feel very close to fainting, and I am now experiencing anxiety that I might have to go the urgent care on top of feeling a somewhat throbbing pain and thinking myself plain old dumb and being mad at celery on top of it all.

Bryce then makes me call my nurse mother, who is an actual qualified medical professional, for her input. Chaos ensues because my mother never answers her phone, and when after three or four missed calls she does answer her phone, she and my father (a non-medical professional) cannot seem to make up their minds as to whether they trust my judgment or if I should definitely go.

I ended up at the urgent care, got my finger cleaned, got a tetanus shot (learn from me, people: bad cut on the finger? Just go to the people who know the medical things) and spent the next six weeks with what I was certain would be a permanently deformed fingernail which now looks fine. I also had to deal with a certain husband’s lack of understanding that my finger would obviously never heal completely and the nail would forever sport this gouge.

Needless to say I’ve been skittish around knives (and celery, you wretched waste of water) since, and have mostly been baking, so I’m really proud of myself for chopping so many things to make this delicious colcannon.

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish, and I usually make it a few times a year. It’s particularly tasty right around St. Patrick’s Day when every grocery store has major sales on cabbage. Typically it includes kale, but I had spinach on hand so I used that instead.


4-6 medium potatoes
1 small head cabbage
1/4 cup white onion, minced
drizzle of olive oil
2 cups spinach leaves or kale
1/4 cup butter (half stick)
1/4 – 1/3 cup milk
green onion
salt and pepper to taste

Wash potatoes and, if desired, peel (I always leave skins on from a combination of enjoying the texture and simple laziness) then cut. Bring to boil in a large pot of salted water and cook until tender.

Chop cabbage, kale (if using), and onion (leave the green onions till the end). In a large saute pan or pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions. Lower temperature to medium and add kale and cabbage, cooking until cabbage is somewhat wilted and translucent, but still has a crunch.

Drain potatoes and mash them with butter, milk, salt and pepper to taste. Combine the cabbage and onions with the potatoes. If using spinach, add it now so it wilts and mix in chopped green onions.