The 3 must-have kitchen tools


I enjoy cooking and I’m a pretty good cook but I use very few gadgets or specialized equipment. In fact until my husband gave me a food processor a few years ago all I needed were my knives and a small electric hand mixer that Consumer Reports said would last forever. It  has – 25 years and still going strong.

The finest Chefs go through a career with nothing but a good set of knives. But with the rise of cooking shows and restaurant makeovers, cooking has turned into a type of porn, a huge marketplace of “stuff” to fulfill naughty little needs you did not even realize you had.  There are stores dedicated to equipping your home kitchen to look like the one in the Ritz-Carlton hotel, yet evidence shows fewer of us actually cook even the simplest of meals. I can turn out good meals using a few must haves.
Here’s the list:

A good set of knives
: A good knife will hold a sharp edge so it does not slip and hurt you. It will have a handle designed for good gripping and smooth movement and will come in a variety of sizes so you can fit the right knife to the job. Years ago I used a Consumer Reports article to buy my knifes. As the time Henckel knives were top rated,  but I went with the Calphalon Katana set because it gave me one extra knife under $300. Calphalon knives are widely available including at The Bay.

A Stand Mixer:  A mixer on a stand will leave your hands free to add ingredients and if it comes with a dough hook will take care of  most of your baking needs. I received my KitchenAid mixer as a gift and they certainly are beautiful with wonderful colours and attachments but they start at $350 and go up over $500. You can sometimes get them on sale for as littler at $300.  My mother had a Sunbeam Mixmaster that lasted for decades very well. Sunbeam still sells the Mixmaster; their top price is $199. Hamilton Beachalso makes a top rated mixer for under $200.

Pots and pans:   Paderno is a company with excellent pots and pans.  I love them because they are non-stick without a non-stick coating. But these are literally pots of gold. An (11) piece set cost you $880. I have a few Paderno’s and a lot of  whatever was ‘on sale’. The ‘on sale’ ones work just fine as long as they meet a few criteria. 1. Stainless steel or heavy-guage aluminum 2. Heavy, thick and flat bottoms 3. Riveted handles that stay cool and 4. In your hands they feel comfortable and easy to use. My soup pot cost $25 at the Bay in  Calgary in 1985 and looks and works like new. My Dutch oven cooker is a cast iron pot with a lid, it cost $20 in Chinatown, it makes perfect stews, it oven fries chicken, it replaces a slow-cooker and at one-tenth the price of a $250 Le Creuset oven cooker. Le Creuset by the way is just cast iron with a pretty coloured enamel coating on it.
The modern pot is basically indestructible and they work for all home cooking, no need for anything too pricey, if you buy the most expensive set Walmart carries it may cost you about $170 and they will still do the job.

Published by maisievanriel

Welcome to my website. My name is Maisie Vanriel and I am a Registered Dietitian. I am a graduate of The University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Food and Nutritional Science and a Diploma in Food Safety from the Guelph Food Technology Centre. I realized a few years ago that some of the best times I have had in my career as a Dietitian have been those times when I was writing. For many years I was part of the Editorial Advisory Board of Diabetes Dialogue Magazine (The Canadian Diabetes Association) which afforded me the opportunity to write articles and editorials on diabetes. I contributed to the first Ontario Healthy Eating Manual and recently reviewed the lesson plans in the updated version launched this March 2012. In May of 2011, I won the Toronto Star’s MoneyVille section Next Blogger’s contest beating out 265 other contestants for the chance to write on nutrition and sensible shopping. My winning Blog was entitled: 5 things your grocery store won’t tell you. Writing is one of my favourite ways of communicating and like cooking it relaxes me; so in some ways your allowing me to communicate with you will contribute to my health and I hope in return I can contribute to your health and wellbeing. The inspiration for this website is my grandmother who lived 97 years and enjoyed excellent health for almost all of those 97 years. She believed in healing power of herbs, a plant-based diet and in paying attention to the type of fuel (food) that she put in her body. So my postings will be less about the constant stream of research and studies around what and how to eat and more about reminding us that we have always known how to eat. We just need to get back in tune with our bodies and focus on providing it with the best possible fuel, quality foods.

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