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Every year I try to post my current favorite things before Christmas because it's always nice to get ideas for trying to find the perfect gift. Anything I write about in these posts are products I use and love. We have a homestead with a huge garden and a few livestock and I love to cook and create recipes so I am writing this post with the homesteading foodie in mind.
Cash Back with Rakuten!
First, I have to share my favorite cash back service for shopping online, Rakuten. If you order through my Rakuten link today (cyber Monday), you will earn 20% cash back at lots of stores. I love getting cash back on things I was going to purchase anyway. I always check Rakuten before ordering anything to see if they have cash back for the particular store. They usually have a discount code for the store too. Join for free through my link and get $40 when you spend $40!
I'll start with kitchen gifts first and share some of my favorite things that make my life easier in the kitchen.
We have this Teyga clean/dirty magnet (affiliate link) on our dishwasher to let us know if we can load dirty dishes or if we need to unload. Since we are a family of 6 with so many people using dishes and the boys unload the dishwasher, it really comes in handy. It is very sturdy and has a strong magnet. You simply flip it over to switch from clean to dirty.
I love a good plaid cotton tablecloth. The tablecloth pictured is my favorite. I got it at Kohl's last winter. Kohl's does have some pretty nice cyber Monday deals. You can also get 1% cash back through Rakuten. My second favorite tablecloth is a red check Pioneer Woman tablecloth that I found at Walmart last summer. My affiliate link is for Amazon, but if you can find it at Walmart, it is less expensive there.
If you are into making pastries and candy, a marble board (affiliate link) is a wonderful gift. I love using it to make pie dough. It helps keep the butter cold while working with the dough. And if you are a food blogger, it makes a very nice background for overhead shots. I received one like this for Christmas last year and love it. Mine is the larger 16 X 20 size so I can roll out large sheets of dough.
A slow cooker (affiliate link) is a godsend, especially if you have a family to feed. I have potato soup in mine as I write this since today is a busy day and we still have potatoes from the garden. I have a simple crockpot slow cooker that I have had since we got married almost 20 years ago. It works great. A friend told me recently that her non crockpot slow cooker which replaced a crockpot one she had previously used doesn't heat up as well and that it takes a lot longer than what the recipe says. I have used my sturdy crockpot slow cooker (link to a similar crockpot) hundreds of times and it is still going strong.
My sister recently wrote a post on her blog Honing a Healthy Home about freezer meals of which many are also crockpot meals. Check it out for ideas on simplifying dinner preparation. Here is a quick link to my slow cooker meals.
If you are shopping for a gardener and they home-can their produce, they can always use canning supplies. In fact, canning lids are often sold out in my local stores. Jars and rings can be reused, but lids have to be new to make sure they seal properly. A set of new canning lids (affiliate link) would make a great stocking stuffer for anyone who cans. A Ball Blue Book (affiliate link) is essential for any home canner and is always a great resource. I have three of them. The Blue Book is a great gift idea for someone new to canning. For a personal touch, you could gift pretty canning labels (affiliate link). My aunt sent me a really cute set from Current.
My sisters gave me a simple Kitchen Aid Immersion Blender (affiliate link) like this one a few years ago and I can't believe how much I use it. It is so handy to simply blend in the pot when making soups and canning. I use it to blend salsa, apple butter, and pear butter when canning and use it for many of my soup recipes.
I treated myself to this compost bin (affiliate link) this fall because I was using a cheap basket from the dollar store and often had fruit flies. When I am putting up produce, I fill this bin daily, sometimes more than once a day. It is sturdy, the kids run the compost out to the compost pile for me and it holds up great to their wear and tear. It is a lot bigger than my old bin so it holds a lot and it has a charcoal filter in the lid which reduces smells. It is attractive which was important to me since it would always be on the counter. I wanted something with a classic farmhouse look. I have been using this bin for several months and really like it. I use these compostable bags (affiliate link) to line the compost bin.
Cheese cloth (affiliate link) is a great practical gift that would make a nice stocking stuffer for the homesteading foodie. It has so many uses...as you can see, I use it for straining honey.
Seeds (affiliate link), plants, and trees are useful gifts for homesteaders. There is always a project to plan and many of these projects revolve around planting. We plant a huge garden every year and are working on building up a berry patch and orchard. Someday I want to plant a perennial garden in front of the house. There are many mail order options for shipping plants to people. We actually ordered our blueberries from a family owned farm in Kansas. My father-in-law shipped bulbs to our son for his birthday this year since he is really into plants. Another great gift would be a gift card to the local garden center.
About a year ago, I ran out of my regular moisturizer which I ordered through the mail so when I was in Walmart I decided to see what was in the natural products section so I wouldn't have to wait for an order to arrive. I found Egyptian Magic (affiliate link) and decided to give it a try. Now this is the only moisturizer I use. I LOVE it! After using it for awhile, I thought my skin looked brighter and healthier. I am 45, but look younger than my age and I think this moisturizer will help my skin to look youthful for a lot longer. It feels greasy when you put it on, but after rubbing it in, it just makes your skin feel so soft and doesn't feel or look greasy at all. I think my makeup goes on so smoothly after I moisturize too. My husband has asked for this multiple times in the winter to combat dry skin.
My favorite place for clothes is Lands End. I order tall clothes for myself and they always fit. They have incredible sales pretty frequently. If you sign up for their email list, you will always know when there is a sale.
Today you can get 60% off your order at Lands End and free shipping. Use code BIGDAY. Plus if you order through my Rakuten link today, you will earn 20% cash back.
I love my Pact Organic socks! Everyone needs socks and these are the softest, sturdiest socks. I first found out about Pact organic from a blog review I wrote a few years ago and I have loved them ever since. They also have great sales this time of year and if you order through my link you will save 20%. You can read my full review of Pact Organic here. These Christmas sock gift boxes are only $10 today for cyber Monday!
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I hope you all find the perfect gifts for your loved ones and have time to enjoy the Christmas season and celebrate God's greatest gift, Jesus. Merry Christmas!
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On of the best things about Thanksgiving dinner (besides the turkey) is homemade gravy made from pan drippings. Homemade turkey gravy is so flavorful and simple. You can prepare it in just a few minutes while the turkey is resting and get it on the table in plenty of time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Turkey Gravy from Pan Drippings:
1/4 cup pan drippings (from the turkey roasting pan, make sure to get some fat)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Pour fat drippings into a skillet.
2. Add flour and stir in until blended.
3. Gradually add broth.
4. Cook and stir with a whisk over medium heat until gravy comes to a boil and starts to thicken.
5. Continue cooking, stirring frequently for another 3-5 minutes until thickened.
6. Salt and pepper with fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.
Makes about 4 cups gravy
Some things you may need:
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Nothing says fall like pumpkin pie. But before you make the most delicious, mouthwatering creation of creamy pumpkin filling with aromas of fall spices wafting through the house, you have to make a good pie crust. This never fail butter pie crust is my favorite all around pie crust. It's flaky, buttery and full of delicious flavor.
This has been my go-to pie crust for several years now, but the one I had been making wasn't as good as it could have been and if I am going to go to the trouble to make a pie crust it should be really good. My husband who really should be a food critic, determined that the crust recipe I had been making was industrial and lacked flakiness. He was right. This pie crust is so much better!
So I decided to try my hand at my Aunt Carol's Never Fail Pie Crust again with a few tweaks. I had abandoned this recipe because it called for shortening which I avoid buying since it is such an unhealthy fat. I use real butter in place of shortening. To make the dough easier to handle, I freeze the butter ahead of time and use ice water. The result: A delicious, flaky pie crust made with butter instead of shortening.
Can you freeze leftover pie dough?
Yes. If you have extra dough leftover, simply press it into a ball and store in a zipper seal bag or container in the freezer. Make sure to label with the date and contents. When ready to use thaw in the fridge for several hours or even overnight.
Can you make pie crust ahead and refrigerate it?
Yes, you can make your pie crust ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze it. I often make pie crust the day before I need it and either press it in a ball shape to roll out later or form it in a pie pan, cover with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out and refrigerate overnight. This is really helpful when entertaining or planning a big holiday meal.
Rolling pin (affiliate link)
Pastry blender (affiliate link)
If you are really into making pastries, you might consider a marble board (affiliate link) to help keep pastry cold when working with it. I received one like this for Christmas last year and love it. Mine is the larger 16 X 20 size so I can roll out large sheets of dough.
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed (2 1/2 sticks)
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, well beaten
5 Tbsp. ice water
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1. Cut up butter and put it in the freezer for a while before starting.
2. Cut butter, flour, and salt into coarse crumbs with a pastry blender. This takes a little of work since the butter is frozen. You can also process this step in a food processor.
3. Combine egg, vinegar, and water. Pour liquid into flour mixture all at one time.
4. Blend with a spoon just until all the flour is moistened. If it is crumbly, just start pressing it together with your hands until it becomes a soft ball of pie dough.
5. Roll 1/2 of the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Fold flattened dough in half and then in half again so that it can be easily lifted into the pie pan. Lift the dough into the pan and unfold so that it covers the pie pan.
6. Press the dough into the pan and trim and shape the edges for a one crust pie. For a two crust pie, pour filling into the pie. Then cover with top crust, seal and shape the edges.
7. To bake without filling, generously prick sides and bottom of pie crust with a fork to prevent the crust from collapsing into the pan. Or line with foil and pour pie weights or dry beans onto the foil to weigh the crust down and prevent it from shrinking into the pan.
8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown at 425 degrees. If I use pie weights, I bake for 15 minutes and then bake for another 5 to 7 minutes after removing the foil and pie weights. If making a two crust pie, follow baking instructions in the filling recipe.
This recipe makes enough dough for two pie crusts.
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Since we grew green beans in the garden this summer, roasted green beans quickly became a favorite side dish. These green beans are so good...I have seen my kids eat them like French fries. Plus they are really easy to make, you can get this dish on the table in 30 minutes or less.
We planted three rows of beans on cattle panels and were amazed at the abundant, continuous crop for several months. We enjoyed lots of green beans, sold some at the farm stand, and froze several quarts for winter.
Welcome to Home Ec @ Home
Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science teacher turned food blogger. I love God, my family, and food. You can usually find me in the kitchen preparing family friendly, homemade recipes and taking lots of pictures.
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