Kitchen Capers

Produce aisle, here I come!

The past week of silence is due to the fact that I was at my first residency — I’m officially a grad student now! It was a dense experience, so I’ll save that for another post. But let me just point out that I used an em dash in that first sentence, not a hyphen. I’ve been doing it wrong all my life, so hey! I’m improving already. (Technically I shouldn’t be using bold for emphasis, and that exclamation mark was probably unnecessary, but this is a blog called “always room for ice cream”, so you know I’m not taking this too seriously.)


Today’s post is just me rejoicing over the fact that now the residency’s over and I have more free time, I can finally get down to equipping my kitchen. Aww yesss. In a week we won’t be eating microwave meals and hamburgers and American-ised Asian food, in a week we’ll be able to sit down to a home-cooked Chinese meal, complete with fluffy rice straight out of the rice cooker and vegetables drizzled over with soy sauce. To celebrate, I’m going to use one of my few precious packets of bak kut teh herbs, and I’ll probably also go to that Thai stall I saw in Reading Terminal Market and stock up on some tom yum ingredients. I can’t wait. I’ve got a much more Western tummy than hubby, but even I am starting to feel rice deprivation.

After some light research — thank God for review sites like The Sweethome and cooking guides like The Kitchn and Epicurious — and with an eye always on my budget, here’s a list of my must-haves when setting up kitchen in a small apartment.

Unlike when I was back home, I’m equipping this kitchen with an emphasis on home cooking rather than baking (which I love). Which is why you’re not going to see a KitchenAid stand mixer on this list, though believe me I’m crying inside.

Jenna’s 10 Kitchen Essentials

  1. Chef’s knife
  2. Paring knife
  3. Serrated knife
  4. Wooden chopping blocks (1 for meat, one for produce)
  5. Cast iron Dutch oven
  6. Set of stainless steel pots and pans
  7. Food processor
  8. Baking sheet x 2
  9. Rice cooker
  10. Coffeemaker

If you want to see which ones I picked out, you can check out my Amazon Philly list here. None of the choices were made lightly. Having a budget makes you really consider the value-for-money of the items you’re buying. Every item was chosen after visiting a couple of different review sites as well as a quick read- through of the Amazon customer reviews.

Since I intend to bring most of the items home, I was trying to balance quality with price. So the items on the list aren’t the cheapest ones out there, but neither are they the most expensive ones on the market.

Talk to me:

  1. Did I leave anything out of my kitchen essentials list? Is there a product you think is better than the one I picked?
  2. French Press vs Coffeemaker: Thoughts?

Tell me what you think in the comments section!

Have a great weekend, and remember — there’s ARFI.


5 thoughts on “Kitchen Capers

  1. Food grater, stand for steaming and a strainer =) all rather low-budget items, so it should be easy to squeeze them in. If you have the budget for it, I would highly recommend a proper heavy chopper. Makes food prep especially meat much simpler. Oh, and a whetstone to sharpen your knives – because getting them sharpened at the butchers or something is super expensive.


    1. Thanks Yow! So the set of pots and pans I chose came with a steamer; and yes! I should definitely get a food grater + strainer. For the heavy chopper, I rarely chop through bones (city girl, I get the butcher to do it for me). So I think a good chef’s knife should be enough for most of the heavy kitchen work. As for the whet stone – I’m trying to save space in a small kitchen, so I don’t really want to get something that I’ll use like once a year. When I get home!


      1. I dunno, i tend to use the whet stone a LOT… and it’s small… the one we have at home is about.. 8x3x0.5 in inches. Really small and handy to have – unless you have a granite or stainless steel kitchen counter, which can double as a whet stone =)


  2. When choosing the stainless steel pots and pans make sure one can act as a double boiler and there’s one wide enough and preferably comes with steaming tray as an option. You have to make late grandfathers steamed chicken with salted fish and lap cheong.


    1. Thanks Anne (Marie, right?) The set I chose comes with a steamer, but no double boiler option (I think). I’ll look into getting one later on if I come across recipes that need it, but for now – budget! Since I’m planning to begin exploring Italian cuisine, I don’t think I’ll need a double boiler any time soon. And do you have the recipe for the steamed chicken with salted fish and lap cheong? Though I don’t know if I can find lap cheong here…


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