My Favourite Things – 2021 Edition (aka. The Modern Homesteader’s Christmas Wish List)
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Every year around this time, I compile a list of my favourite things: Things that I love, use or covet for my own homestead, and things that I know other modern homesteaders will love too!
As the list continues to evolve, I’ve begun to pare it down to only the items that I truly love and use on a regular basis.
Every year I update the list to include new gadgets, products, books, and items that have made their way onto my favourite things list over the past year, and I curate the list even further. This year I’ve narrowed it down to my top 10 favourites of the year!
As a general rule, I’m all about quality over quantity, and while that certainly doesn’t necessarily have to mean expensive, it does mean I look at items as investments, whether they’re for our family or for someone else’s.
The list below includes a mixture of higher-ticket kitchen gadgets that are investment pieces (and absolute workhorses in a busy homestead kitchen), to lower priced items and even stocking stuffers under $20.
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the homesteader on your list, or you’re just curious to see what we use on a regular basis around our place, read on to learn more about the equipment, tools and products that I love, use often and highly recommend!
These are a few of my favourite things:)
I waited a long time to invest in an All-American pressure canner, but this year I finally took the plunge, and all I can say is that it’s well worth the investment.
While it only gets used for a few months of the year, it takes up permanent residence on my stovetop during canning season and is built like a tank with a metal-to-metal seal (which means no gaskets to replace) and multiple safety mechanisms that ensure I never have to worry about whether our home-canned food is safe to eat. And that peace of mind is worth every penny!
Confession time: When I first got my Instant Pot for Christmas a few years ago, I wasn’t sure I’d actually use it. 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.
Hands down, the Instant Pot is a worthwhile investment that has consistently my list of favourite things every year since I got mine:)
Last year I included both the Breville Espresso Machine and the Breville Immersion Blender on this list, and this year I’m adding the Breville Sous Chef Food Processor because it’s been such a game changer in the kitchen.
Over the years we’ve come to own many different Breville products, along with many other popular kitchen brands, and both my husband and I have come to notice a distinct difference in the quality of Breville products over other brands. Everything we’ve ever owned that’s made by Breville is a solid piece of machinery that has stood the test of time (and the wear and tear of our busy kitchen). The espresso machine and immersion blender still get used regularly and the food processor has earned a well-deserved permanent spot on our counter.
We also own a Breville Juicer, which is a workhorse during harvest season when I use it to process hundreds of pounds of apples into fresh, homemade apple juice. It makes juicing quick and easy and makes cleanup a cinch!
At the end of the day, if you’re in the market for any kind of small kitchen appliance and you’ve got a choice between Breville and another brand, well, I think you know what my advice would be;)
Cast Iron Cookware
I’ve been in love with my cast iron skillets 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. You can learn about the many benefits of cooking with cast iron here.
Much like the All-American canner, cast iron is build solid and made to last. In fact, well-seasoned and cared for cast iron can be passed down for generations!
If you’re in the market for some new cast iron cookware, 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 online, both Lehmans and Amazon carry American-made Lodge brand cast iron.
Whether for yourself or someone else, you can’t go wrong with cast iron. Pair with a set of wooden spoons and a jar of homemade lard for seasoning and you’ve got a thoughtful and valuable gift that won’t break the bank.
The Always Pan
While cast iron is usually my first choice when it comes to cookware, sometimes I want something a little more non-stick than cast iron (because even though a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is naturally non-stick, I still find that things like eggs tend to stick a little more than I’d like them to on cast iron.
But I refuse to use Teflon coated non-stick pans due to the harmful toxins that Teflon has been proven to contain.
So last year I got myself an Always Pan and I have to say, I’m impressed! The Always Pan’s non-toxic, nonstick ceramic coating is made without toxic materials like PFAs, PTFEs, lead, cadmium and toxic metals that can be found in other non-stick pans. It also comes in 10 different colours and comes with a stainless steel steamer basket insert and beechwood spatula.
If you love cooking with non-stick pans but are ready to rid your home and kitchen of potentially harmful toxins, the Always Pan is yet another worthwhile investment that I use on an almost daily basis. Oh, and it makes great eggs:)
The Prairie Homestead Cookbook
This is another favourite of mine that has made the list two years in a row now. As far as cookbooks go, this is one I find myself using at least once or twice a week, and after cooking through at least half of the recipes in this book with nary a complaint, The Prairie Homestead Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Heritage Cooking In Any Kitchen, by Jill Winger has earned its place on my cookbook shelf, and on my list of favourite things!
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.)
This is one cookbook that belongs on every modern homesteader’s shelf, and I have a feeling it will be on mine for a long time to come:)
Sourdough Banneton & Baker’s Set
Homemade sourdough bread is a staple in many a modern homesteader’s kitchen, and it’s all the more enjoyable to make with a few simple and inexpensive tools. I’ve been making my own sourdough bread for a few years now and finally decided to invest a few bucks and get a banneton proofing bowl, scoring lame and dough scraper. The set I got also comes with a plastic bowl scraper and a bread bag which helps to keep loaves fresher longer.
There are lots of options available when it comes to sourdough bread kits, however I’ve linked the exact kit that I purchased and use. Now that I’m used to having these few simple tools on hand, I honestly don’t know how I made sourdough without them!
This set is great to keep on hand in your own kitchen, and also makes a thoughtful gift for anybody else on your list who loves to bake bread or who’s interested in learning new –albeit, old fashioned– kitchen skills.
I started getting really into fermented foods this past summer. While I’ve dabbled in fermentation before, the one thing I’ve always struggled with is keeping the vegetables beneath the brine. So I decided to invest in some pickle pebbles this year, which are glass weights that you place on top of your fermented vegetables to keep them beneath the liquid brine.
They work like a charm! The only problem now is that I didn’t buy more, because I only got a 4-pack, which means I have some jars of fermented veggies without pickle pebbles in them. All of the jars with the pickle pebbles still look great, but unfortunately I’ll have to scrape the top layer off of the other jars. Live and learn!
You can get the pickle pebbles on their own right here (they make a great stocking stuffer!) Or opt for the complete fermentation kit, which comes with 4 airlock tops, 4 pickle pebble glass weights, an acacia wood tamper and bonus printed recipe book.
I started using Farmhouse Teas herbal tea kombucha flavoring packs a couple years ago and not only do I rarely use anything else to flavour my homemade kombucha, I now turn to Farmhouse Teas for all my looseleaf teas and even some of my herbal medicine (they carry elderberry syrup kits, ingredients to make your own fire cider, cherry bark cough syrup, etc.)
Some of the kombucha flavorings include apple pie, turmeric and ginger, rosemary citrus and strawberry mojito, to name just a few. Other looseleaf tea blends include seasonal favourites like Country Christmas Breakfast, Gingerbread Spice, Sweet Maple Chai and Winter Wonder Berry, among many others! Browse their tea collection right here or shop Farmhouse Teas’ Christmas sets here.
Farmhouse Teas also offers artisan foods, herbal skincare items, kombucha kits, herbs and spices and even seeds to grow your own herbs and herbal teas. Oh, and they’re 100% organic and family-owned. The founder, CeAnne, and I have become friends and I absolutely love that every time I place an order I know that I’m supporting a family-run small business. At the end of the day though, their products speak for themselves.
Plant Therapy Essential Oils & Products
Plant Therapy oils are 100% pure and third party tested, which means they’re held to strict, high purity standards. But unlike some other popular 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 of Plant Therapy products myself, including bottles of essential oils numbering in the hundreds, diffusers, naturally scented candles, body lotions, lip balms, etc. The only thing I haven’t had a chance to try yet is their line of full-spectrum CBD products (because they can’t ship those to Canada… darn!) But if you’re in the U.S., you’re in luck:)
* For a limited time only (until the end of November 2021), you can enter code HOMESTEAD at checkout and save 10% off your entire order!
What are YOUR favourite things???
I’m always on the lookout for new tools and products to make life on the homestead just a little bit easier or more enjoyable! If you have any products or items that you love and use all the time, please comment below and share!
Wishing you a homemade, homegrown, homestead holiday season 🙂
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