My Favourite Things!!! (aka. The Modern Homesteader’s Christmas Wish List)
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Every year around this time, I compile a list of the year’s best gifts for the homesteader(s) in your life, whether that means other people on your Christmas list or perhaps even yourself:)
This year I wanted to narrow it down and showcase a curated selection of things that I actually own and use regularly around our house and homestead. Because while there’s an endless list of things that might make our lives and our homesteading journeys easier or more enjoyable, not all of them are created equal.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like throwing my money away on things that don’t work like they’re supposed to, break as soon as you start using them or sit on a shelf collecting dust. I love things that are built to last and that really do give a good return on investment. No cheap plastic or useless novelty items around here!
I’m all about quality over quantity, and while that certainly doesn’t have to mean expensive, it does mean putting thought into each gift we buy and each new item we bring into our homes.
So if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the homesteader, gardener, home cook or natural living enthusiast on your list, or you’re just curious to see what we use on a regular basis around our place, either read on or check out the video below for a full tour of all the equipment, tools, books and more that I love and use often.
From kitchen gadgets and small appliances to natural products to my favourite cookbooks and more, these are a few of my favourite things!
KitchenAid Stand Mixer
If you’re someone who enjoys cooking from scratch, then your kitchen isn’t complete without a good quality stand mixer. And when it comes to good quality stand mixers, nothing beats a KitchenAid.
My KitchenAid stand mixer is an absolute workhorse in my kitchen. I use it weekly to make breads, baked goods, pizza dough, homemade marshmallows, whipped cream, whipped mashed potatoes… You name it! If you mix it in a bowl, you can probably mix it in a stand mixer and save yourself a fair amount of time and effort.
But the best part about the KitchenAid is that you can get all sorts of awesome attachments that will help you make even more of your own food at home from scratch. We have the meat grinder, the ice cream maker, the pasta maker attachment and the spiralizer, and we truly do use them all!
This is definitely an investment piece, but for anyone who truly loves to cook or bake from scratch, it’s worth every dollar. It’s a solid machine that’s built to last and there’s almost no limit to what you can create with it in your kitchen! Plus, there’s not a countertop it doesn’t look good on;)
I’ve had my Soda Stream for a number of years now and I absolutely love it for making all sorts of fizzy homemade drinks at home. From sparkling water to homemade sodas and cocktails of all kinds, our soda stream usually gets pulled out a few times a week in our house.
For starters, we don’t buy soda at all (and we don’t buy the packets of soda flavourings that go with the Soda Stream because let’s be honest, those are just as junky as a can of soda), so we opt for sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime instead. Or I make my own homemade sodas with all natural ingredients, like rhubarb soda made with my rhubarb juice concentrate, or homemade ginger ale made with fresh ginger and honey.
Not only is using a Soda Stream both cheaper and healthier than buying soda or even bottled sparkling water from the store, it’s also way less wasteful as you’re not constantly having to throw bottles away. I highly recommend this one for anyone trying to kick a soda addiction or simply expand their repertoire of homemade beverages!
Breville Espresso Machine
I’m a serious coffee lover, and while I tend to settle for the drip variety on most busy weekdays, I love a good latte on weekend mornings. But it pains me to pay $5.00 or more for a latte from the café and then throw away the single-use cup afterward (not to mention, I don’t exactly want to have to go out for a latte every time I feel like one). So we decided to invest in a good espresso machine a few years ago.
The first one we bought wasn’t up to snuff. It took a long time to heat up and never really got hot enough to steam the milk well. So we returned it and got this Breville Espresso Machine instead. We’ve had this one for about six or seven years now and use it almost every weekend to make our own homemade lattes, including homemade pumpkin spice lattes that are better tasting and healthier than the PSLs from you-know-where;)
If you’re a serious coffee lover too (or you’ve got one on your list), then this is a worthwhile investment that will definitely pay for itself over time.
Cast Iron Cookware
I’ve pretty much been in love with my cast iron pans since I got them. Not only do they heat up and cook more evenly than stainless steel or non-stick pans, but they’re much healthier to cook on too.
For starters, the Teflon coating on non-stick pans is made from a synthetic chemical that can emit toxins into the air when heated above a certain temperature and has even been linked to cancer, so using cast iron is already a healthier choice than that! But in addition, cooking your food in cast iron actually adds iron to the food that you eat, which is an added health benefit, especially since iron deficiency is pretty common for a lot of people eating a standard western diet these days.
Aside from the health benefits, cast iron is made to last and will stand the test of time in your kitchen. You’ll even be able to pass your cast iron cookware on to future generations (and let’s be honest, cast iron is so much cooler and more useful than crystal bowls and silverware;)
Even old, rusty cast iron pans can be brought back to life with a little TLC and re-seasoning. But if you’re looking to buy new, I recommend either the Lagostina or Lodge brand cast iron (since those are the two that I have;)
If you’re in Canada, like me, you can usually find Lagostina cast iron cookware at Canadian Tire for a steal, especially around Christmas when all the kitchen stuff goes on sale. If you’re ordering off Amazon, they tend to carry Lodge cast iron which is just as good.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with cast iron. Whether for yourself or someone else, no homestead kitchen is complete without at least one cast iron pan!
I love my set of wooden spoons, which includes a solid spoon, slotted spoon, solid spatula, slotted spatula, mixing spoon and forked spoon (much like this set of wooden utensils, which also includes cooking tongs).
I prefer to use natural wooden spoons over plastic ones for sure, but I also prefer them to metal spoons that could react with certain foods. And much like cast iron, wooden spoons and utensils complete the look and feel of a homestead kitchen while being equally useful too!
Confession time: When I first got my Instant Pot for Christmas a few years ago, I wasn’t sure I’d actually use it. (Actually I was pretty sure I wouIdn’t use it). I figured I had an oven and a stove, and I really didn’t need any extra gadgets to help me cook my food. (I don’t even use a slow cooker).
But when I started using it and realized how quickly I could get a delicious, from scratch, fall-off-the-bone meal on the table, I quickly became an Instant Pot convert.
While you can slow cook in the Instant Pot, it’s also a pressure cooker, which means you can cook foods that would normally take hours to slow cook in significantly less time.
I love using my Instant Pot to cook dried beans because I don’t even have to pre-soak them and they’re read in under an hour! I also make all of my bone broth in my Instant Pot (it takes me two or three hours vs. the 8 to 12 hours it usually took on the stovetop). And even the toughest cuts of meat come out of the pot moist and tender in less time than it takes to have takeout delivered.
While it’s a little more high tech than good ol’ wooden spoons and cast iron, the Instant Pot is a worthy addition to any modern homesteader’s kitchen:)
Breville Immersion Blender
Whether I’m making applesauce, jam, soup, homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise or any other number of dishes that need blending, it’s SO much easier to use an immersion blender and blend directly in the pot or container rather than having to transfer everything to a standard blender and back again.
We bought this stainless steel Breville immersion blender quite a few years ago and use it on average two or three times per week (at least). Even so, after several years it’s still running strong!
As a bonus, you also get a small food processor and a whisk attachment that you can use to blend and whip up all sorts of foods from scratch! This is by far one of of the most used gadgets in our kitchen and I’m pretty sure if you give it a try it’ll quickly become one of your favourite gadgets too!
Kombucha SCOBY & Herbal Tea Flavourings
Okay, so this last item on the kitchen equipment list isn’t exactly “equipment,” but I couldn’t leave it off the list considering how much we use it in our kitchen… I’m talking about my SCOBY, aka. “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast,” which is basically a blob of cellulose that facilitates the process of making your own kombucha at home.
If you’ve never seen or handled one before, it can be a little confronting at first! But SCOBYs are completely harmless and necessary for starting your own batch of kombucha at home. (If you’re not sure what kombucha is or you’d like to learn how to make your own, you can check out my two-part video series here).
If you’re in the market for a SCOBY, whether for yourself or for someone in your life who’s interested in fermentation, home brewing or natural health, you can order your SCOBY online here and get started making your own kombucha at home right away. And the best part is, once you have a SCOBY, you’ll never need to buy another one because it will continue to multiply every time you make a new batch!
As for flavouring your kombucha, Farmhouse Teas herbal tea blends are my favourite way to flavour my kombucha. They offer flavours like apple pie, turmeric and ginger, rosemary citrus and strawberry mojito, to name just a few. And not only do they taste amazing, but they’re all natural and 100% organic too so you can always feel good about what you’re drinking:)
The Prairie Homestead Cookbook
As far as cookbooks go, hands-down my favourite right now is The Prairie Homestead Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Heritage Cooking In Any Kitchen, by Jill Winger.
I’ve cooked through about 1/3 of this book already and every single recipe I’ve made has been delicious. Not to mention, all of the recipes are made with simple, whole-food ingredients that most homesteaders, modern and old-fashioned alike, tend to have on hand (ie. eggs, milk, flour, butter, fruits and veggies, various types and cuts of meat, etc.)
Not only are there loads of from-scratch breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes, soups, sides, salads and desserts, this book is also packed with recipes for all sorts of homemade breads, pastries and from-scratch staples including French Bread (my fave!), Soft Flour Tortillas, Butter Pie Crust, Maple Oat Sandwich Bread and more. Plus recipes for homemade pickles, butter, cream cheese, ricotta, bacon, sourdough starter and more!
Seriously, this book belongs on every homesteader’s shelf. I have a feeling it will be on mine for a long time to come:)
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
If you’ve followed me and my blog for any length of time, you’re probably sick of hearing about the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving already because I talk about it A LOT, and for good reason…
This is the book that taught me how to can food. It was the very first canning book I ever bought and it’s still my favourite canning reference and recipe book today!
With 400 recipes for canning jams, jellies, pickles, pie fillings, sauces, salsas, fruits, juices, soups, stocks, meats, vegetables and more, this book is great for both beginners and experienced home canners alike! And since it’s published by Ball (the maker of Mason jars), you can count on the fact that all of the recipes are tested and safe.
The Family Garden Plan (& Planner)
Just six short years ago, I knew next to nothing about gardening. But I quickly found a mentor in Melissa K. Norris, who teaches gardening and homesteading online and who recently published her first full-colour gardening book, The Family Garden Plan: Grow A Year’s Worth of Sustainable and Healthy Food.
Melissa has a way of breaking things down and making them easy to understand and put into action even if you’re a total newbie (which I once was!). This book is no exception. It walks you through everything you need to know about growing a year’s worth of organic food at home, from seed starting to companion planting to crop rotation and beyond… There are even planning sheets to help you figure out exactly how much of each crop you’ll need to plant in order to make it through the year!
Whether you’re a beginner gardener or you’ve got a few years of experience under your belt already, this book will help you take your gardening game to the next level.
Plus, Melissa also recently released her brand new Family Garden Planner: an undated paper planner packed with worksheets, charts, calendars and more to help you plan out our garden (and life!) for the year and break projects and gardening tasks down month-by-month, gardening zone by gardening zone.
A Little House Picture Book Treasury
For the littles on your list…
I don’t know many homesteaders today who weren’t influenced in some way by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House On The Prairie books. I had the full set of books as a kid and loved reading about Laura’s life back in the pioneer days of old when homesteading was the norm rather than an “alternative” lifestyle.
I’ve been waiting patiently for my now 4-year-old to be old enough to read the books to, but novels don’t quite hold her attention yet, so I was so excited to find this Little House Picture Book Treasury, which features six full-colour picture book stories adapted from the original books.
This was actually the first Christmas present I bought this year! I was so excited when I found it, I bought it in August and have had it put away since then. I can’t wait to start reading it at bedtime and introducing my own daughter to the Little House books. Because the only thing better than fostering a love of reading in our little ones is fostering a love of homesteading, amiright? 😉
Plant Therapy Essential Oils
A few years ago I began replacing all of the synthetic fragrances and chemicals in our home and body care items with safer, healthier, more natural alternatives, many of which I make myself with essential oils.
From household cleaners to homemade candles to room sprays and body butters, I add essential oils to just about everything, so I needed a high quality brand that was also affordable enough to justify using in all of these homemade products. That’s when I found Plant Therapy, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Seriously though, Plant Therapy oils are 100% pure and third party tested, which means they are kept accountable and held to strict, high purity standards. But unlike some other well-known essential oils brands, Plant Therapy sells direct to consumer (ie. it’s not an MLM company), which means they’ve been able to keep their prices extremely affordable so that you don’t have to sell their products just to be able to afford them!
I’ve amassed quite the collection myself (I’ve got over 100 bottles of essential oils now!) and they just sent me a bunch of products from their brand new Holiday line, which includes essential oil blends in scents like Gingerbread, Christmas Tree, Candy Cane, Holly Berries, Sugar Plum and Winter Wreath (you can get them all in the All Bundled Up set). Not to mention, they’ve also started producing their own line of body products including soaps, creams, lip balms, bath bombs and more, all of which come in various holiday scents and make perfect gifts for the essential oil lover or natural living aficionado in your life.
** Check out Plant Therapy’s full line of essential oils and products here and for a limited time (until the end of November 2020), you can enter code HOME15 at checkout and save 15% off your entire order! **
EcoFan Wood Stove Fan
Like many homesteaders, we heat our home with wood heat during the winter, and one of my favourite things about our wood stove is our EcoFan, which is simply a heat-powered fan that sits on top of our wood stove and blows warm air all throughout our house so there are no “cold zones” in any bedrooms or nether-regions of our home!
I love that this fan is 100% powered by the heat of the wood stove and requires no electricity to run, so we never have to worry about heating our home thoroughly in the winter, even if the power goes out!
If you heat your home with wood heat or are looking for a unique but utilitarian gift for someone who does, the EcoFan Wood Stove Fan might just be what you’re looking for 🙂
The perfect gifts for every homesteader on your list
Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for the home cook, gardener or homesteader in your life, there’s something for everyone on this list. So if you still haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, why not take advantage of some of the holiday deals to be had right now and knock those names off your list!
(And yes, it’s completely acceptable to put your own name on your Christmas shopping list 😉
Wishing you a homemade, homegrown, homestead holiday season 🙂
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