12/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Going Old School: Amish Gadgets For The Modern Kitchen

Some of the greenest tools you can add to your kitchen are also the oldest. The following list comes from the Lehman"s catalog, an Ohio-based mail order company that caters to Amish families around the country. It's one of the few places you can get everything you could ever need to run a home without relying on electricity. Which makes it a favorite source of wares for modern homesteaders, off-grid rogues, and green city dwellers alike. Call me frugal, but in a time of shady economics, it's kind of nice to know that you don't need another outlet to make waffles.

And that's the real advantage to these kitchen items -- they don't need to be plugged in. They'll last forever and run on the power supplied by your own hands. And in a world where most people foam at the mouth over the newest thousand-dollar coffee maker from Williams-Sonoma, they're also a breath of fresh air. Here are some of my favorites:

The Natural Peanut Butter Mixer
Hate it when your natural peanut butter separates into weird gelatinous butter/oil compounds? Me too. This little tool screws onto your standard jars and mixes it up in no time. Simple, cheap, and easy. A great solution that won't bend a cheap spoon and makes the food you already have in the house more appealing, and dare I say, fun?

The Beginner's Home Canning Kit
You don't need a three-acre garden to can your own own preserves. You can spent twenty dollars at the farmers market and can all the pasta sauce you could eat in a year. This kit from Ball includes everything you need to get started with a water bath canning operation in your apartment. And hey, homemade jams and jellies with a nice ribbon make a great gift for the upcoming holidays... (hint hint)

Cast Iron Waffle Maker
Nothing tastes as good as home-cooked meals in cast iron, and that goes for waffles, as well. This low-tech alternative to the plug in beast that you hate cleaning makes great breakfasts. It also inspires you to stay in and cook on the weekends, which means you'll have a home pantry stocked with healthy organic flour, eggs, sugar and butter. Why not enjoy them the old fashioned way? Ice cream not included (but don't hold back on my account, son.)

Pie Birds
If you love baking pies, but are used to the fruitier ones' insides boiling over and making a mess of your oven, these tiny birds placed in the center help to regulate the steam and keep things in order. It's a timeless, now nearly extinct kitchen knick-knack which deserves a comeback. And who doesn't love seeing a pie right from the oven with a bird in the center keeping watch?

Your Very Own Butter Churn (yes, really)
You don't need a cow. Just go to your local natural foods store and get some organic heavy whipping cream and churn away. Home churned butter makes your baked goods and pancakes ascend to a new level of consciousness, and you can also pack your handmade creations into decorative molds for display at holidays or any special meals. Also, it would probably be the perfect topper to those waffles you're already planning on making, eh?