Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday 2012: 25 Best Kitchen Gifts for Urban Homesteaders

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Dear festive gifters, 

As we are preparing for the celebration of Christmas, many of us are seeking gifts to present to one another in honor of that glorious holiday.  If you are wondering what to buy for the aspiring or professional urban homesteader in your life, turn to this list of the 25 (or more!) Best Gifts for the urban homesteader's kitchen!  All of these are used and loved by urban homesteaders everywhere; clean eaters, raw, vegan, paleo, whole-foods diets, and natural living are all supported by these excellent kitchen tools.  I say they are "the best" but of course, that is merely the opinion of myself and thousands of others!  On this list you will find fun stocking-stuffers in the range of $5 - $10, all the way up to best-Christmas-ever bangers of several hundred dollars!  If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.  You may have recommendations, as well, which we could all benefit from! 

Be on the look-out for our highly-anticipated book list which will shortly follow.  On it, you will find a delightful range of cookbooks, homesteading and gardening books, all hand-selected to delight the voracious homesteader in your life.  Follow us on Facebook for recommendations, reviews, and giveaways!

I found all of these gifts on Amazon, a site which has become my dear friend especially after the birth of our baby - hurray for free shipping and excellent return policies! 

The 25 Best Gifts for the Urban Homesteader's Kitchen

This lid opener is my best friend - saving me many a scraped knuckle and sore, dented finger, it makes opening those 5-gallon buckets of wheat berries a breeze.  Just hook and unlock each of the bucket tabs with ease, and remove the lid freely!  

Sprout broccoli, alfalfa, almonds, wheat berries and more at home - even more conveniently, use the stash of canning jars already on the shelf!  A few of these sprouting lids are a welcome addition to every nutrition-conscious cook's home.  

With my husband away on deployment, I often have to rely on my flexible rubber jar grips to get things open - even my jars of milk are usually screwed on too tightly for me!  Get this pack for the woman in your life who is constantly handing you the pickle jar to open! 

A wooden reamer is so useful for making tonic, pressing nut purees, or juicing citrus fruits with an easy-on-the-wrist twist.  Wooden tools such as this reamer are especially useful in the kitchen when working with acidic applications where metal and plastic are not always recommended!

Alright, I'll admit; maybe I'm mostly putting this here because I want it!  I have a small one, but I wish I had a mini strainer for straining tapioca, jars of kombucha, small batches of ice cream, cans of crushed pineapple, tonic, pots of tea, homemade apple turnover filling, dusting my work surface with flour or the tops of my cakes with powdered sugar ... Yes, I can think of a thousand ways to use this mini strainer!

Heck, get the big strainer, too!  I use the big one for straining broth, big batches of tapioca, family-size vats of custard, pots of pasta- in fact, I use mine just about every day if not more.  I LOVE these firm rubber handles for gripping.  The thin metal handles tend to wobble and swiggle when I least want them to!

Here's another item that I am listing because I, too, want it... My cousin has a citrus zester/grater, and I jealously use it whenever I am at her house for zesting lemons, limes and oranges into glazes, pastas, pies, cookies, cakes, extracts, salads, dressing ...  Large graters not only peel off big amounts that can be unappetizing to eat, but they dig down to the white, bitter pith far too quickly.  With a delicate zester, you can shave off just the fragrant, essential-oil peel of your organic citrus, or even finely shred nutmeg!

For those with a FoodSaver, this wide-mouth jar sealer is a happy add-on.  Seal jars of dry goods or even jars of refrigerated items like salad for the week or grapes, with just the lid and a Tilia FoodSaver tube attachment.  

A nut milk bag comes in very handy when preparing your own homemade milks!

These odd-sized measuring spoons are such fun when doing precise cooking or baking in the kitchen where odd measurements are called for! 

Turn regular-mouth canning jars into thermoses, sippie cups or afternoon iced-tea mugs with this handy Cuppow lid, which attaches with a regular-mouth canning ring.  Buy a few and stuff them into a lucky homemaker's stocking! 

Delight a frugal or BPA-sensitive home canner with a pack or seven of Tattler reusable canning lids.  Having tried them myself, I immediately became enamored and enjoy not having to purchase new metal lids every year! A wide-mouth set fits the wide canning jars, and a regular set of course fits the regular, narrower-mouth jars.  Each pack comes with lids and rubber gaskets for twelve jars, to be used in conjunction with the metal rings every home canner already has.  The lids have a lifetime guarantee.  

Make rice, beans, wheat, flour, and anything else stored in a bucket into easy-access with this airtight gamma seal lid.  The lid locks down like any other 5-gallon bucket lid, but the center screws easily out for pain-free access.  Especially useful for buckets that are frequently opened, several of these lids would spare many husbands a chore or two! 

For the health-conscious, a one-pound sack of Maca root powder will be a delightful gift that will go farther than a Russel-Stover box of chocolates.  Maca root is a powerful source of protein and nutrients, and just a teaspoon in a smoothie is enough for your day.  I use it daily!  

If your homemaker stores wheat, flour, dried fruit or any other dry goods in the pantry, stores dehydrated goods or emergency supplies, they will appreciate these oxygen-absorbing packets, which should be added to all pantry stores.  

Even my large, squat spice jars can't accommodate the round bowl of regular measuring spoons, which is where these long, slim measuring spoons come in handy.  Especially useful for spice bottles with narrow mouths, they keep spice measuring from being such a tedious task of shaking, dumping and rattling.  

If you are starting home soda-making or beer-brewing, a two-handed bottle-capper is just the ticket.  Be sure to include a pack of bottle caps, so you can get started on December 26th! 

The ReCap 3-pack turns canning jars into drinking cups, salad-dressing dispensers, trail-mix containers, milk jugs, and more.  Easy flip-top seal saves the hassle of screwing and unscrewing the lid every time you want to access the jar!  

For the pickling and fermenting cook (and that should be all of us!), get this air-lock kit that fits on all of the wide-mouth canning jars already in your - I mean their - kitchen!

I use all cast iron pans in our kitchen.  No toxin-emiting Teflon in our kitchen, or aluminium either, thank you!   Cast iron can go on the stove, in the oven, or even on the campfire - what's not to love!?  Lodge Logic is one of the best brands in the business (unless you can hunt down some cool antique pans!).  And they are shockingly inexpensive!  I use the small 3.5 and 5-inch pans almost daily (I have five of them!) for blooming spices, frying a quick egg, making a toasted cheese sandwich, reheating beans from last night ... I also use the larger 10" + size skillets for curries, stews, stovetop lasagna, oven frittate, campfire cooking  ... You literally cannot go wrong with any size, shape or iteration of a cast iron pan.  You can also order a cover - something I dearly covet!

Add a sturdy coconut meat knife to a stocking full of useful kitchen gadgets! 

Dazzle a home canner with a Ball 125th Anniversary 1 gallon jar - no, it's not for canning, but it's pretty sweet for making kombucha, storing dried beans or filling with cookies!  One, two or ten make the perfect addition to the pantry shelves! 

If your household is getting started on the road to canning, this Ball enamel waterbath canner and tools set will be the perfect starter kit.  It has all the handy gadgets you need to begin waterbath canning the day you open the package!  

The dream pressure-canner of home canners, this Presto 23-quart canner holds stacked pint jars, and seven quart jars.  The lid is the easiest in the industry with a simple screw-on (no washers, clamps or screws to attach!) and easy-to-read dial.  I have three of these and use them not only for pressure canning but for waterbath canning, and cooking large vats of tomato sauce or fruit purees down.  

Ranked the highest of all tested by America's Test Kitchen, the Crockpot touchscreen 6-1/2 quart slow cooker will introduce your home cook to a fine and classy world of crockpot cooking!  

This Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer was the highest rated probe thermometer when a gamut of the tools were tested by America's Test Kitchen.  An effective probe thermometer is a mandatory tool in my kitchen for turning out perfectly baked breads and cinnamon rolls, tender and juicy roasted birds, and just-right frying oil.  

Mr H delighted me with this gift last Christmas!  For making home-carbonated drinks like sodas, energy drinks, fizzy teas and carbonated juices, set your kitchen up with a home water-carbonator, which uses a refillable c02 charger (refill at Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, the NEX, and many other locations), that comes with the machine.  We have this home water-carbonator and joyfully use it almost every day! 

If your homemaker has a Vitamix - or if you are planning to get them one (see end of this post!) - add a dry cup grinder to their arsenal of tools.  With blades angled upward and a smaller, squatter cup, this is the perfect addition to the Vitamix as it enables you to grind flours and knead doughs.  

Home-roasting your coffee?  The FreshRoast not only gets high ranking votes from users, but looks fancy-schamncy, too.  No more burned coffee beans (I love you, Starbucks), but instead roast them precisely, evenly, and exactly how you prefer.

And  if you're really ready to blow your home-maker away, treat them to the world-class, top-rated Excalibur food dehydrator.  The 9-tray edition can be used for drying fruits (raisins, craisins, apple chips), fruit leather, vegetables for soup mixes, jerky, reviving popcorn, making pita chips, almond flour, and any of a thousand other wondrous uses.  Sustained, even drying, and a superior, clean appearance, the Excalibur is without a doubt the final name in home food-dehydration.  

As a final addition to the expert kitchen of your homemaker, blow all other competing gifts out of the water with the gold standard in home blenders.  This Vitamix - the optimum setting version, which I have in my home and is the fastest-selling machine they make - will not only make smoothies, but will grind meat, shred cabbage, knead dough, make nut butters, churn ice-cream, cook soup, and with the dry-cup attachment also make flour out of grains like wheat, quinoa, and buckwheat, and do any other number of excellent purposes.  A must for any vegan or raw kitchen, a necessary tool for any homesteader, this Vitamix will make you a shining star and fill your table with vittles to suit a king! 



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