As I write this post, I am breaking into song using my best Julie Andrews voice, “These are a few of my favorite things.” I simply love to see what products, tools and gadgets other bloggers and moms love and use in their homes. Some of the items I would never use and some I can’t wait to add to my wish list.
I’m sharing MY favorite things in the hopes that you will find good feedback on products that you might enjoy as much as we do. Just a reminder, I DO NOT sell any of these products, I am NOT an affiliate for these products or companies and I am not compensated in any way for recommending them to you. In some cases, I received a product to review, in some cases I purchased the product to review, but these are my honest, unbiased reviews and experiences and the items below are truly my favorite things and I use them daily, if not multiple times daily, in my kitchen!
I am posting links to their product pages so you can read about them, but be sure to check other dealers and sources and compare for the best pricing. Many times you can get better prices by comparing.
What I have done over the years is to ask my family to allow me to choose my birthday, anniversary and holiday gifts by submitting a wish list. The wish list has super inexpensive gadgets to more expensive machines so everyone could choose what worked on their budget. Some years several of the kids went in together to get me a higher-priced item from the wish list. By the way, my children all do the same, they submit a wish list to us and we choose an item or items on the list to buy for their birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. THAT way, we know we are buying exactly what they want!
My favorite category is kitchen tools, so I’m starting with my favorite kitchen tools!
I used to be a Bosch gal, all the way. For decades we used Bosch mixers and all the attachments, happily. We had tested several other large mixers, including the previous version of the Ankarsrum, but preferred the Bosch over all of them. However, using the new Ankarsrum Original Mixer almost daily for so many applications, I must say, this is my favorite! I love the big, open mixing bowl which makes it easy to add ingredients while the mixer is running, the drive which produces even, powerful mixing and sensing, but the crowning glory of the Ankarsrum for me is the kneader and scraper which products amazing bread. Read more, find a dealer and check out all the accessories here.
Please read my detailed review here.
I’ve used other pressure canners before, those less expensive and I have to say, I think they did a great job. I never had a problem with any of them. The main drawback for me is the gasket that needs to be replaced every so often and the dial which needs to be calibrated. The All American is stainless steel, no gaskets to wear out, ever and it uses a weight for the pressure. I love using mine! I have a smaller size than most of my friends, but I’m thrilled with it because it’s just the right size for me and not too heavy for me to handle with my muscle weakness. We bought this about 15 years ago and it works beautifully and consistently.
Don’t let the name dissuade you if you do not use soy, this milk and soup maker works for nuts, legumes, veggies and more. I use this to make almond milk (this is the only machine on the market that can make nut milk without heating it!) and I make 9-10 batches a week. My daughters and I are dairy-free and I use the almond milk for all my cooking and baking as well as for drinking. I love that you can make porridge in the G4 as well as non-heated non-dairy milks. This model, the G4 is the easiest, fastest, most options, simplest cleanup (no basket!!) available. Factory-direct savings here.
Please read my detailed review here.
One of the most fun, manual tools I have and love to use is the spiral vegetable slicer. Previously known as the Spirooli, the name is used by a different company and the brand I bought was Paderno. The 3-in-1 slicer makes delicious gluten-free Zoodles (don’t know what they are, check here!) as well as spiral-cut potatoes, onions, eggplant and any firm veggie. Because this is a manual (non-electric) slicer, it can be used anywhere and without power. It is sturdy and easy to clean. Please read my detailed review here.
I have tested and reviewed many makes and models of grain mills over the years and this one, by far, is my absolute favorite and the one that remains out on my counter to use at a moment’s notice. Easy, fast and efficient, the WonderMill makes it possible to use home-milled grains and legumes for my baking needs, including the gluten-free needs. Milling at home saves a great deal of money over buying flour, as well as creating the most nutritious flour product because I am milling it fresh and using it right away, instead of getting it from a shelf where it most likely is rancid. I prefer the WonderMill because it works so beautifully and quickly, and because of its design it is very clean and does not spit flour in the air or around my kitchen (very important for a mom with 2 children who has asthma). I also love the non-electric version (see below). Please read my detailed review here.
This is a MUST HAVE for us and for people who ask me which ONE mill to get for every day and for emergencies, this is the one I recommend. And yes, I have other manual mills, from the very small to the very large, and I honestly prefer the Wonder Junior Deluxe. It does more than even the super large manual mills that cost 4 times as much. Because the WJD has 2 sets of milling heads, one set is stone for dry grains and legumes, and the other is steel burrs for oily nuts and seeds, there is SO much I can mill with it. In addition, the Wonder Junior Deluxe has a drill bit adapter that fits on the back and you simply attach a drill (we have a cordless drill that we can recharge with a solar charger) and the drill powers the mill if you do not wish to crank it by hand. This is the one non-electric mill that I use and recommend. Please read my detailed review here.
I love my VitaMix and I use it constantly. Seriously. We had to get more containers because the ones we had were always full! I resisted buying the VM for many years because I thought (wrongly) that it was simply an over-priced blender and any blender could do what the VM could. However, during treatment for cancer, we were away from home and I needed to have certain things because I could not eat, so we decided to invest in the VitaMix. The first time I used it, I knew it was not like any blender we had used before, it was and is amazing. I use it for everything from dry grinding to making nut butters to making ice cream to chopping up produce for the chickens. We’ve had it for years and it still powers on, every day!
We purchased a less expensive dehydrator early in our marriage and it worked well enough, it had a thermostat temp control and a fan which was on the bottom, but sometimes the drying was uneven and it seemed to take forever to get things really dehydrated. The Excalibur, 9 tray dehydrator is pretty basic but it has the fan in the back so it evenly dries all 9 trays and the motor is VERY powerful and it dries more efficiently than our previous models. The thermostat goes from 95 degrees, for drying my fresh herbs, all the way to 155 which is the safe temperature for dehydrating meats and poultry. I’ve written about dehydrating grass-fed ground beef into Hamburger Rocks and the Excalibur does a fantastic job!
Our first Foodsaver was back in 1990 when we lived in Alaska,. At that time it was the only affordable home vacuum system available and it worked wonderfully. However, the Foodsavers wore out with us and we had to replace them often. Over the years, we noticed the quality declining and recently purchased the latest model. The one we received would not seal part of the time, so we got a replacement. This one did the same thing. Upon doing some research I found this is a common problem with the newer Foodsavers. So, I don’t recommend the newer Foodsavers, but if you can find an older one at a thrift store, I would grab that.
As far as new vacuum sealers, the one that is most affordable after the Foodsaver, but is a world apart in quality, workmanship and longevity is the Weston Pro 2300. This was rated #1 by America’s Test Kitchen and it lives up to its top rating. I have used the Weston Pro 2300 for continuous vacuum sealing in bags, and in jars. The Weston pro has an outlet for a hose which connects to a jar lid sealer and to a canister where you can reuse old jars (such as salsa or jam jars) to vacuum seal your dried foods.
The slow cooker has definitely changed over the years. From the early, simple crockpots to the current high-tech, programmable slow cookers, these kitchen friends can definitely make cooking easier. I use my slow cookers often and I have several, in different sizes. I sometimes have more than one going at the same time. I even bake homemade, whole-grain bread in it. That recipe is on my website. I don’t care for the programmable models, or even the high-tech models, I have found the simple, manual style to be the most accurate for my uses.
The reason I use the Hamilton Beach brand is that their stoneware insert has tested clean for lead. And I use the Cook ‘N Carry and the Stay and Go models because the lids snap down and lock which makes them not only perfect for transporting to covered dish suppers, like our Oneg at shul, but also the snap-on lids create a better seal and a better cooking environment where the food does not overcook or dry out due to moisture loss. I found this out when making my meat stocks in the slow cooker, I did 2 batches side by side, one slow cooker was the Hamilton Beach regular lid and the other was the Hamilton Beach lock on lid. The broth in the slow cooker with the regular lid lost moisture and the meat became dried out and I needed to add more liquid as it cooked, while the snap on lid slow cooker kept the meat moist and rendered a beautiful stock.
Stovetop Popcorn Maker
(and Coffee Bean Roaster)
Having tried several lightweight stovetop popcorn makers, which ended up having the gears strip, I am thrilled with this non-electric solid, heavy stainless steel popcorn popper. Not only is it perfect for our stovetop, but it is the only one I’ve used that is heavy enough to use over a fire and grate. In addition to popping corn beautifully, this popcorn maker roasts green coffee beans into to rich, roasted, aromatic coffee at home. The best way to store coffee is in unground bean form and the best bean to store is unroasted green. So, using this popcorm maker for roasting coffee beans is an extra bonus!
Once we have roasted our lovely organic or Fair Trade green coffee beans, it’s time to grind them into grounds to brew. Using the French Press coffee maker (below), we grind the beans more coarsely than for other coffee makers, so having our own mill is important. Not only does milling the coffee beans at home ensure freshness, but we can choose the best grind for the brewing method and only choose the amount to mill that we want to use right then, so the rest of the beans stay fresher longer. For storage, having the whole beans and milling them just before brewing is the way to go for the longest-lasting product AND of course, the best. What I like about this little manual mill is that it is so easy to grind, the glass mill has a rubber bottom to keep it stationary while grinding, and the ceramic burrs are very responsive to coarseness adjustment. It also comes with a solid top, so you can store any extra in the mill, in the fridge.
My goal with this purchase was to have on hand a non-electric coffee maker so hubby could have coffee when power is out, but equally important, was a coffee maker that made amazingly delicious, smooth, not bitter coffee. This stainless steel French Press excels on both counts. It is pretty, sturdy, double-wall insulated and in just 4 minutes, makes a wonderful, smooth pot of coffee. When our eldest daughter moved from college to her apartment, she asked if we could lend her our old electric coffee maker out in the garage because hers was packed up and she could not find it and she needed her daily coffee. Instead, I loaned her our Freiling French Press. When my daughter unpacked her electric coffee maker in her new home, she gave the electric one away and kept my French Press! I replaced it immediately for us. It’s that good. Please read my detailed review here.
Disclaimer: There are NO affiliate links in this review.
Vickilynn Haycraft is an independent Product Reviewer. She does not sell products or accept payment for reviews. The products reviewed are either purchased by Vickilynn Haycraft or provided for review and all reviews are unbiased regardless of how the item was obtained.
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