Emma Waverman writes about the chaos of modern family life in the kitchen and out of it. She has a weekly food column on CBC Radio One, Here & Now. She is the co-author of the family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them and is hoping to one day finish her certification as a parenting coach. She lives with her three kids, ranging from tween to university student, and husband in Toronto. Emma has written for a variety of national lifestyle magazines and newspapers. When she's is not making typos, telling you what she thinks, and thinking about dinner, you can find her on Twitter at @emmawaverman and Instagram. You can contact Emma at embracingchaos@hotmail.ca.

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My 10 Kitchen Must-Haves 

BTW: This is a SHOP.CA sponsored post. (But still full of important kitchen essentials.)

What are your must-haves in a well-equipped kitchen? I have been thinking about this a lot since we just bought a small chalet up north and I have to furnish a tiny kitchen. I grew up in a kitchen store – my grandmother opened the first (and best) kitchen store in Toronto – the Compleat Kitchen. I spent most Saturdays of my childhood there, I thought it was because I am a natural when it comes to retail but I now realize was a parental dump for a free Saturday. My grandmother taught me, spend money on your kitchen -- your kitchen loves you, nourishes, and feeds you. It is the heart of your home and it deserves to be filled with equipment that work well.

Good pots and pans heat more evenly, expensive knives stay sharper longer and slice and dice with more precision. As I was telling a friend – bad cooks need good quality kitchen gear even more than experienced ones.

All this to say that I am trying to think of my 10-must haves for my new kitchen for first day in the kitchen. I have been stalking the SHOP.CA site as I can send all my purchases straight to the chalet and not have to fill my trunk with more stuff! I know that it will be there within the week with NO shipping charges and no duties. And a bonus, I get Aeroplan points which is good because I will need a trip south after a winter up north.

This is what I have narrowed down my list to so far:

 1.       Enamel Cast-Iron Pan

This 12” pan is the workhorse of my kitchen. I roast, fry, sauté absolutely everything in it every single day. It goes from stovetop to oven. And I am in love with the colours, which is a good thing because I don’t even bother putting it away. The downside is that it weighs a ton. (The above is a chicken with the backbone removed, seared and then put in the oven with some veggies underneath.)

2.       Single Shot Blender

I always feel a little embarrassed admitting this but I loved my Magic Bullet. You know the single shot blender that you see on late night commercials? That thing is brilliant for smoothies, and salad dressings. The kids use it on their own and there isn’t much cleanup. I loved it so much that I have bought three of them – every time one wore out I just bought another one. But now I am going to upgrade to the Cuisinart Compact Blender. It’s not plastic so I think it will churn out more protein shakes for hungry skiers without breaking. Once you own it, you won’t know how you lived without it!

 3.       Not just scissors, kitchen shears

They cut bags, opens rigid plastic toy wrapping and can also debone a chicken, cuts up Miami ribs and shreds herbs. An all-purpose kitchen shears that goes in the dishwasher that acts as a second knife is a must.


4.       Tongs

My desert island pick. There is nothing that tongs can not do. These spring-loaded ones with the silicone tips are my favourite.

5.       Wooden Spoons

A kitchen without wooden spoons is not a kitchen. Buy many. And never put them in the dishwasher.

6.       Global Knife

This is my favourite knife in the world. And when you find a knife that you love, you cherish it, take care of it, sharpen it and you buy a second one for up north. Bad knives can make you a bad cook. Good knives will make you a better cook. I cannot repeat this enough – buy good knives. Find the one that works for you.

7.       Accessories

Good Grips. Good Grips. Good Grips. And yes, we love the apple cutter.


8.       Instant Read Meat Thermometer

Twenty dollars for a thermometer, 30 seconds to see if meat is ready, knowledge that you have not poisoned your family – priceless.

9.       Slow-Cooker

You didn’t think I would have a chalet without a slow cooker did you? It has so many uses, it keeps hot chocolate and mulled wine nice and warm for those needed après get-togethers.

  10.   Peugeot peppermills are the best pepper grinders because of their internal mechanisms. I have been giving them as gifts since I worked at my grandmother’s store. Feel free to buy me these as a housewarming.

I haven’t even mentioned the pasta pots, and paring knives (I need lots), and the plates and dishes and a really good teapot. But it’s okay Boxing Day is coming!



Reader Comments (5)

Good stuff, thanks Emma.
The link to your fav knife points to the tongs. Can you fix or tweet the correct link?

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Hi Mike,
Sorry about that! The correct link is: http://www.shop.ca/c/global-71g2220br-knife-kit-with-water-sharpener-4943691222015-24558877 and the knife is on sale with a sharpener!

December 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterEmma Waverman

Thanks for the post Emma. I've heard about Shop.ca before. Recently my relatives got a watch on my uncle's bday for half price at shop.ca. Now reading your post, makes me want to give it a try for myself.
And I absolutely agree, the thermometer is a key tool in any kitchen. I was hesitant to get one for the longest time, once I got one... it became my go to tool!

December 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy T

Hi Emma, I bought several All-Clad SS and LTD pieces from The Compleat Kitchen back in the late 90s when they were on sale and they're such great quality pots and pans that they'll still be in use for decades to come. I haven't been to that part of town in ages, is the store still around?

I would add two more things to your new kitchen: a digital scale and an electric knife sharpener. Cooks Illustrated is always reviewing gadgets and equipment so that's a great place to read up on the more expensive things you need (want) like slow cookers or 12" stainless steel fry pans.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterClarence

Time to add some more gadgets. Thanks for sharing.

March 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJyoti Bajaj

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