Welcome to the Product Review page!
Once in a while, I come across something that is just such a great thing, I want to share it. I have found some great products, websites and classes that are beneficial.
On this page you can review my thoughts on products I use; websites I visit; classes I take, and companies that I patronize.
JUST SO YOU KNOW: I am an affiliate for some of these companies. When you click on a link and place an order, I may receive a commission – but this does not affect your cost at all. (For more information, please see my Disclosure page).
Affiliation with a company is one of the ways a blogger and/or website earns money off of their sites. By purchasing a product, you are supporting them.
If you see a Green link, then I am an affiliate with that company or website.
KEEP IN MIND: I do not offer warranties, guarantees, returns or any other services that a company may or may not offer. If you have a problem with a product, website or company, please direct all of your correspondence to them.
With all that said, take a moment to ‘window shop’. Check out my thoughts. Visit the sites for costs and more information.
And by all means, if you do purchase something, let me know how it works for you!
I am one of those who loves to read. From cookbooks, farm related How-to’s, fiction and non-fiction alike, I can spend hours between the cover of a great read. These are all some of my favorites!
Beekeeping can be intimidating for someone who has never done it before. Fortunately, there are great books out there to help you learn the way to do it. Amber Bradshaw’s book is the best!
Amber takes you step-by-step through the process, and helps you to feel like a pro in no time. Here is some of what she covers:
- Just the essentials―Learn everything you need to know to begin your first colony―written with brand new beekeepers in mind.
- Modern beekeeping―Start your colony off right with guides that feature the newest practices and current, natural approaches.
- Learn to speak bee―Clearly defined terms and a complete glossary will have you talking like a pro beekeeper in no time.
Grab your copy of Beekeeping for Beginners, and enjoy your journey towards those first jars of sweet, delicious honey!
The Ball Book of Canning has long since been considered the Bible of canning and preserving food. I have the old one, but when this version hit the shelves, I was standing at the checkout stand.
From beginner to old timer, this book is beneficial to anyone who wants to preserve as much of their food as possible. The instructions for beginners is clear and concise, and includes the tools you will need.
This was my go-to book when I started pressure canning. So far, I haven’t found one recipe that isn’t delicious – and I have made at least 60% of them. I can’t wait to tackle the other 40%. If you do any canning at all, this book definitely needs to be in your kitchen!
Just so you know – my copy of this book is one of the older ones. The link above is for an updated copy. This one is still available, so you do have an option.
If you love baking bread, then you need to have one or the other on your shelf. This is the first book I reach for when making bread. Each recipe is preceded by an interesting description, and broken down into ‘by hand’ and ‘with a mixer’.
He includes several types of starters, and a wide variety of breads. My favorites are by far the Loyalist (a blueberry bread) and the French bread.
But then, again, I love the Tabasco Cheese Bread, the Turnipseed Seed Sisters White Bread, the… There is a bread recipe for every meal, every appetite and every occasion in this great book!
In this cookbook, Ms. Jordan truly ‘gets’ comfort food. The categories are broken down by seasons, and include the foods that fit with the weather.
I am not a big fan of gravy, but have always wanted to learn how to make a good milk gravy. Imagine my delight when I found an easy recipe for it on page 211.
Even better, there was a photograph on the opposite page that showed a plate of chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes and green beans – a truly classic Southern meal. Yep. Those are my drool marks right smack dab in the middle.
Another great feature in this book are some personal thoughts and tips, such as Welcome to the South: friendliness strictly enforced, Why I don’t Need Diamonds, and Did You Know you can Freeze Apples?
Reading these stories tells me that this is a true Southern Woman, not someone who just wishes she could be from the South.
Next up for me is Lela’s Fried Pies – something I have wanted to learn to do and do well for quite some time. And this recipe makes it look as easy as, well, pie!
To a Southerner, History isn’t just something we learn in school – it’s also a family member. We take our history seriously, and never more so than in the kitchen.
Stacey Little takes four generations of her family’s recipes and shares them with others. Recipes for Chicken and Dumplin’s, Fried Okra and Kentucky Pecan Pie are interspersed with stories such as Wisdom from the Peanut Man and Why Christmas Trees Don’t Have to be Green.
While reading all the great stories and recipes, I almost felt as if though he was pulling out a chair and saying, “Have a seat. Dinner will be ready in a minute.” The few recipes I’ve tried in this book hit the Southern nail on the head.
When taking the recipes I have made to a gathering, I am always asked for the recipe. Now, that’s a true sign of a great dish!
Although most of the recipes in here are a twist on familiar dishes, they include ingredients that are either already in your refrigerator and pantry, or are easy to find in the grocery store aisle.
The first one I made at home was a big hit – Cheesy Ranch Potatoes, and I can’t even believe how quick and easy they were to prepare.
This cookbook is formatted into Menus, which includes everything from a main dish to dessert, making it easy to plan your own meals for a day or week.
One thing I really enjoy is the different tips given throughout the book, from 52 weeks of Food Storage and the Crazy Dinner Tradition, to How to Make a Menu Board.
I can’t wait to try more of these recipes, and this is a book I’ll refer back to for some great ideas for family get-togethers!
In the Kitchen
Brand: Cook N Home
Our friends, Vicki and Mike, grow and sell fresh blackberries, and blackberry products. While searching for some time-saving methods, she came across this Juice Extractor at Amazon and ordered it.
She was amazed at how easy it was to use. Knowing that I do a lot of canning, she bought me one as a gift. All it took was one batch of blackberries to know that I loved it.
It comes in five parts: The water pan, the juice ‘catcher’, the steamer basket, tubing (with a hook for the side of the catchment bowl – not included), and a lid.
Fill the water pan approximately half-way. Insert the juice ‘catcher. This piece has an open cone in the center to allow steam from the water pan to reach the steamer basket.
Fill the steamer basket with washed and stemmed fruit. Be sure to only fill it to just below the top line of steamer holes. Put the lid in place.
Attach the hook on the end of the tubing to a large bowl. Be sure to position the opening so that the juice will flow into the bowl. (Sorry – I had to add this, as I learned the hard way!)
Your bowl really needs to be large enough to hold 8 to 10 cups of liquid. I use a large 8-cup measuring cup that I purchased years ago from Pampered Chef.
Turn the burner on to low to medium heat. Depending on how full your steamer basket is, it can take from 1 to 2 hours to complete a batch.
When the juicing is done, pour your juice into one-gallon jugs. Be careful, as the juice may still be very hot!!!
Once cooled, the jugs can then go in the refrigerator, or in the freezer for later use. If I have a lot of fruit to work with, I usually juice everything on one day, then can the next.
What I love about this steamer:
- I don’t have to work around jelly bags and bowls on my counter or on my kitchen sink.
- Working with a jelly bag can take half a day or more, just for the juice to completely drain.
- Once your juice is ready, you have much less sediment.
- While the steamer is doing its job, I can do other things.
- It is simple to assemble and use.
- Clean up takes about 10 minutes. I just wash the separate pieces in hot soapy water, then dry off and put away. Okay. Fair disclosure. It takes me 10 minutes, UNLESS I have spilled juice on the counter and down the front of the cabinets, like I did yesterday.
If you do a lot of juicing and canning, this juicer more than pays for itself in time saved. I would consider it an investment well worth its price.
Company: New England Cheese Making Supplies
Affiliate: New England Cheese Making Supplies
When I first began milking, I quickly figured out I would have to learn to process all that milk. At first, I just did the simplest thing possible – butter.
But milk quickly adds up. To learn more, I purchased a copy of Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheesemaking. From there, I began to order cultures and supplies from the company she owns, New England Cheesemaking Supplies.
Quite a few items also ended up on Christmas lists. There is not a single product that I have been disappointed in. At one point, I did have an issue with getting my buttermilk to thicken.
All it took was an email enquiry to get an answer, and the problem had nothing to do with the product.
What I Love About this Company:
Products – from cultures to equipment, you can find all the supplies you will need in one place. Muslins, rennets, culture, molds, utensils. You name it, they probably have it.
Help – I did have an issue with my buttermilk getting thick. I emailed the company, and in less than an hour I had not only a response, but also a solution. As it was, I also got a lesson in the acidity of milk – I just needed to add a little.
Additional Information – you can also sign up for emails, which offers you recipes and other information to improve your cheese-making skills
Quality – I have ordered or been gifted several pieces of equipment – from curd knives and slotted spoons, to molds and measuring spoon. All are of top quality and reasonably priced
Shipping – All of my orders have come quickly – within 10 to 14 days of ordering. There were a couple of orders that came much quicker.
Other Resources – on the web page, you will also find sections on Learning, For the Beginner and other great resources for making cheese at home.
One of the things I think is best about this company is that you don’t have to have a milk cow to order from them.
If you want to try your hand at making cheese, if you are a homeschooling parent, or if you are a grandparent who wants a different but fun way to entertain the grandkids when they come to visit, New England Cheese Making Supplies offers some great kits – from Mozzarella and Farmhouse Cheddar to Goat Milk and Mascarpone.
Most everyone will be able to enjoy making cheese at home!
One of the biggest struggles on a farm is to get organized – especially when it comes to ideas and planning.
As an avid gardener, I can easily plan a garden in my head. But remembering what to plant, where to plant it, what companions a given plant likes or doesn’t get along with – all of this can too easily become a blur.
As with all things, gardening takes very careful planning. When I saw Joy approached me about becoming an affiliate, I took a hard look at her Printables. And I was amazed.
There is not one thing that hadn’t been covered. I knew I had to have this, and feel strongly that it would be beneficial to all gardeners. So I signed up. Here are some of the things you will find in the pages:
- Seed List – This gives you a place to write down the year, plus make a list of all the seeds you have and where you ordered them. I have ordered seeds in the past that I love, but have forgotten where they came from. Now I don’t have to worry about that!
- List of Vegetables to Plant – I have my standard favorites, but each year I love to try something new. Some are great for spring/summer gardens; some do better in the fall and winter. This helps me to keep track of what is going in my garden, and when.
- Companion Planting – One of the most beneficial things you can do in a garden. Joy breaks it down with a Main Crop column, and then three others to add the best companion plants. This is especially beneficial if you plant multiple rows of an item.
- Succession Planting – there are a couple of helpful pages on this. We all want our gardens to produce as long as possible, and to make it work, you need to learn to plant successively. Joy offers a page of succession planting suggestions, as well as a worksheet for your own garden.
- Spacing – This is a handy page to have, as it gives you information on what kind of spacing you need for a given plant.
- Yearly Task Checklist – Growing a garden doesn’t mean planting in the spring, harvesting, then walking away. To have the best garden possible, there are things you should do all year long. I love this section!
What I love about this product:
- I can print off an original, and then make copies for each season/year.
- It is easy to follow.
- I can three-hole punch the pages and keep them in a notebook. I can also take it a step further and add sections for each year. This is beneficial to me as I can look back and see what has done well; which tastes the best; and keep track of my seeds – all in one easy to find location.
- Great layout. It is colorful and has plenty of space for entries.
- Cost Effective. I have seen garden ‘diaries’ in the stores. Each one is usually good for just one year / one garden. With Joy’s, you make an initial investment, then can make copies of the original for as long as you want to garden. Those in the stores are usually bound, and not easily reproduced without destroying it.
Once I get each garden/year in my notebook, I also plan on adding a separate page for notes. Did it do well in my climate? What pests did I encounter? How can I can/preserve/dry or use this in cooking or baking?
This doesn’t really affect the garden portion, but it will help me keep all my thoughts in order. And just maybe it will keep me from going overboard when ordering seeds!
As you can see, I am an affiliate with Joy. With that affiliation, I am able to offer a 10% discount on your purchase. Just click the title ‘Garden Planning Printable’, and it will route you to her site.
If it asks you for a coupon code, just enter THEFARMWIFE10. If you still have problems, just let me or Joy know, and we will get it corrected right away!
Gardening can be an expensive undertaking. As a frugal gardener, I look for ways to cut my spending. One of the best ways I have found is to purchase heirloom seeds.
Most heirlooms are indeterminate, and if you save the seeds, they will grow back true to type. With hybrids, most seeds will revert back to a parent plant – which could be one of two or twenty, depending on how many were used to get the desirable traits.
With hybrids, so many times flavor has been ‘weeded’ out in order to get other traits to emerge – size, color, shipping ability. For me, most fresh produce in the grocery stores have little to no flavor. With heirlooms, you get flavor first.
I first ordered seeds from Mary last year. I ordered an assortment – vegetables, herbs and flowers.
I was not disappointed. I had a 99% seed germination rate. Each plant grew ‘true to type’ – in other words, I didn’t plant a tomato and get an herb. Yes – that has happened with other seed companies.
What I love about this product:
- Selection – Mary has a wide variety of all classifications – vegetables, herbs, flowers, grains and fruit
- More than just seeds – She also offers gifts for the gardener, soil amendments, Seed Combo packs and Tinctures
- Her blog is a link on her business page, which offers great information for any gardener
- Price – her regular prices are in line with other companies, but Mary also occasionally offers a selection of seeds for just .99 cents. This rotates among her normal offerings, so keep checking back. One consideration on this: You do need to order a minimum amount for this offer – but just consider that most seed packets are a minimum of $2.75 to $3.00.
- Packets – even her .99 cent packets have more than enough seeds for any home gardener.
- Shipping – I received my order within 10 days. Seeds come right to your mailbox!
All I can really add here is that I honestly love Mary’s seeds. I haven’t ordered anything else as of yet, but plan to do so in the near future. When I do, I will let you know what I order and what I think about it!