In my kitchen

Hanno has picked the last of the oranges and we have a bucket full sitting outside the kitchen door. We'll use them in the coming days to make the finest orange juice we're ever likely to drink, then the orange season will fade to black and we'll prune the tree to open it up a bit for the next season. Further down the garden, our flock of hens are producing so many eggs. It's like they're trying to make up for the months when the nests remained empty. I'm so pleased to have fresh eggs again. Eggs tie so many meals and sweet treats together. We have them for breakfast, for baking, for deliciously warm baked egg custard and to give away. Everyone loves backyard eggs. We still have about 10 passionfruit on the vine but soon they'll be gone, we'll prune the vine back and wait for another good crop next year.

Eggs and oranges are very simple, ordinary foods but when they come from your own backyard, they taste much better.


I cook almost everything from scratch but I don't want to spend all my time in the kitchen. I use a collection of appliances that help me, and I cook double batches, so even though our food is home cooked, there are days when I'm just heating up rather than cooking. I don't make puff pastry or filo, but I make all the other pastries we eat. I also make bread, cakes, biscuits, pies, sausage rolls, jams, pickles, relishes, sauces, cordials and every meal we eat is made from scratch. I don't expect everyone to do the same and when I had young children and I worked, I didn't do it either. But now I know it's the best food for Hanno and I and I'm prepared to spend the time and effort to make it happen. I do take short cuts though. I make enough for at least two meals when I cook so I'm not cooking every day. Sometimes we eat the second portion the following day, sometimes it goes into the freezer to be brought out on those days when I'm tired or busy and after a short time to defrost, another home cooked meal is on the table. That's another reason we need a reliable freezer.

A large tray of lasagne made last week - Hanno, Jamie and I had half and I sent the other half home with Kerry for their dinner. Jamie thought it was great because he had lasagne twice in one day.

A very moist banana cake with passionfruit icing for last week's morning teas. Some was sent home with Kerry.

Our appliances are valuable assets and they have to be looked after so they last as long as possible. I also research my purchases and make sure I'm buying a good quality, energy efficient product that does the job and is easy to use and clean. This week I cleaned the fridge and the oven. The oven is an easy job because we have an AEG self-cleaning oven. Hanno takes the sliders out and I soak them in Disan (oxybleach) in the laundry tub. Then I clean the glass door and finish off by wiping away the ash left after the oven goes through the cleaning cycle.

 This juicer stays on the kitchen bench during the orange season - mid-June till mid July.
I bought this about six months ago when my larger bread machine broke down. This one makes a smaller loaf, which is why I chose it, and takes a three cup mix.
Electric kettle, large and small food processors. The small processor is used nearly every morning to crush nuts for Hanno porridge.

I have never been faithful to brands and on occasion I've tried Aldi and other cheaper appliances which haven't worked for me and were returned. Now I have a collection of appliances that are reliable and really help me with my kitchen work. My needs have changed in the past couple of years. Now I need some of my appliances to do more - like the self-cleaning oven and a cooktop that turns itself off if I forget. I have Kitchenaide large and small processors. We use the small processor every day for crushing nuts, making small quantities of breadcrumbs, finely chopping onions, garlic, chillies and herbs. I have a Kenwood mixer with a strong motor and a meat grinder attachment, a Kitchenaide hand mixer, Breville juicer, Sunbeam bread machine, Miele dishwasher, Electrolux fridge, Breville microwave, Kitchenaide electric kettle, Sunbeam slicer (for bread and cold cuts), and a Breville electric knife. I'm going to sell the slicer because I haven't used it since I bought the knife. 

The new induction cooktop.

We had a new cooktop installed a couple of weeks ago and I've been teaching myself how to cook on it. The temperatures adjust instantly and the high heat is very hot. But at the other end of the scale, the lowest heat will keep a pot warm without burning and the next level up gives me a wonderful gentle simmer with tiny bubbles every so often indicating the slowest of cooking. The first thing I made on the stove was pouring custard, which I burnt, and Hanno had to use a wire brush on his electric drill to clean the saucepan. πŸ™„  But that taught me a good lesson and since then everything has been fine. I'll do a follow up post with my new cooktop soon so if you're interested in buying a new cooktop, it might help you in your choice.

55 comments

  1. Rhonda The best thing I love about the induction cooktop is it is so easy to clean. I also forget I have something on so love the timer. I learnt to use that after a similar saucepan cremation.

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    1. Yes, I love that it's so easy to clean, Bernie. It's such a time saver. I'm slowly learning to use the timer. I like to stand and stir so I'm not using the timer much yet.

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  2. Lovely kitchen you have. I bet it smell very homing and lovely.
    Coffee is on

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  3. I agree Rhonda, there's nothing quite like a home grown orange. I am in the process of pruning my dwarf orange tree, having taken it out of the pot as it was root bound and planting it into the ground. Do you prune your orange tree back quite a bit, or is it just a light prune? Your food looks delicious, as always. Have a great day. Margaret

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    1. Citrus usually don't need much pruning, Margaret. If you've cut back the damaged roots on your mini tree, you'll need to cut back a bit on the top too. However, now you're moving locations, I'd prune to shape the tree, get rid of any damaged or dead wood and open up the middle to let the sun in. That's what we'll do with ours. It's very busy and the sun isn't getting in to middle of the tree - hence, no fruit in there. Aim for a vase shape with an open heart.

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  4. Wonderful information. Just wondering what kind or brand of toaster do you use. After 6 yrs our is mostly toasting on one side. Thanks

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    1. For the past 4 or 5 years, we've had a Kitchenaide toaster but I won't buy another one. It is reliable and works every time but it toasts very slowly. Most of my small appliances are Kitchenaide but after research and using one, I didn't want a Kitchenaide mixer and got a Kenwood instead. I love it. Before our current toaster, we had a Tefal that was good but it died after about 5 years. I think a toaster should last longer.

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  5. Oh Rhonda I chuckled at the idea of Hanno using his wire brush on his drill to clean the pot!

    I love that your stove turns itself off, what a great idea. So helpful for kids cooking too. William once left my stove top on and when I came in from outside, the wooden spoon in the pot was glowing red, the pot was black and the house was filled with smoke. Needless to say there was no salvaging that little pot and it gave him a fright.

    Im missing our citrus trees this winter, hopefully by next winter we will have started our orchard. Fresh juice is the best!

    xx

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  6. Hi Rhonda, My dad switched to using a microwave in his eighties. I didn't know citrus needed pruning. After doing so, my Meyer lemon tree has oodles of tiny green lemons. It hasn't for years. Thank you. Your new cooktop sounds interesting. I have a vintage stove from the fifties that I had redone to use less gas. It will last the rest of my life, if I can use it safely.

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  7. I sat down to read this with a warm, scratch-made cinnamon roll beside me, for dessert. I'd realized I needed to use some zucchini ASAP, and since I was going to use the oven to make zucchini bread (in addition to sautΓ©ing enough to have with rice and eggs for supper), I decided to make the cinnamon rolls as well. I'll wrap the zucchini bread loaves for the freezer, since we'll eat the rolls this evening and tomorrow (with two young adult men in the house, the baked goods get eaten fast).

    I'm a huge fan of our appliances -- I refer to them as our electric servants! I ground the wheat for my baking, then used the bread machine to make the dough for the cinnamon rolls. As soon as the was mixed I dumped it out and put in more fresh wheat and other ingredients to make a sandwich loaf for tomorrow -- I let the machine mix and bake that since I was busy with the zucchini bread, cinnamon rolls, and supper. I used my food processor to grate the zucchini, and then my stand mixer got a workout mixing the zucchini bread batter, and then later the icing for the rolls.

    I'm quite interested to see how it goes for you with the induction cooktop. We have gas now, but as soon as we get the mortgage paid off (before the end of 2020!) we'll save for a solar electric system, hopefully installed by the end of 2021. Since gas is non-renewable we've decided our replacement stove will be induction. I do have an induction burner in our camper van, but just the one and I mostly use it to reheat food I cooked at home.

    It's so good to have you back! I had missed your return, but happened upon the website to look at a rhubarb recipe a few weeks back, and there you were!

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    1. Your kitchen sounds a lot like mine. And boy do I know how much teenage and young adult boys eat! Of course you don't want to steer them towards processed chips and biscuits, so there is always baking of some sort to do. Appliances are like electric servants. I can only do what I do in the kitchen because of the appliances I've chosen to buy.

      I wish I could email all the people who used to read here to tell them I'm back. Oh well, as long as I have a few hearty souls to chat to in my comments, I'll be a happy woman. Thanks for coming back. xx

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    2. Sunshine Alternative Mama, I am considering buying a grain mill to grind my own flours because I do so much baking. How do you find yours? Was it worth the investment? I would be very interested to know. Thank you, Noni

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  8. Is there anything more Aussie than passionfruit icing?

    I had to laugh about the wire brush on the electric drill too. My wife keeps trying to get me to use the drill to clean the shower - she loves tools! Maybe when I'm too old to do a good job I'll give in...

    Madeleine

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    1. No Madelaine, there is not. I think they should test new citizens to make sure they know the recipe.

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  9. I don’t have a lot of appliances (no microwave etc) but I love my Kenwood stand mixer which I use several times a week to make bread dough and my Vitamix blender for making nut and soy milk. Most of my other appliances are manual vintage models, a small glass juicer, a spong coffee grinder, breadcrumbs get made by drying the bread in a slow oven and popping in a cloth bag and beating with a rolling pin πŸ™‚ I also love my vintage slow cooker which I use as a double boiler to make overnight oats. This is a life saver as I have one starting work at 4am, another who eats at 530am and then myself at around 730am. Perfect steel cut oats for all of us.

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    1. Kenwood mixers are excellent. I forgot to say I have a Crock Pot brand slow cooker. Noni, have you ever used your slow cooker to make porridge?

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    2. Essentially that is the overnight oats. I tried various ways and tried using rolled oats but I have found that the perfect long cooking way is to use steel cut oats in a pudding bowl which I then place in the crock pot which has water in it up to the level of the oats and water in the bowl. I use 1 cup oats to 3 -4 cups water. This makes perfect porridge for all of us eating at different times and doesn’t over cook the edges.

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  10. I'm looking at getting an induction cooktop so I'll be interested in that post.

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    1. Same here, we will install a new kitchen in August since our kitchen is 43 years old. We will install an induction cooker instead of a gas cooker in our new kitchen, so I'm loking foward to your experience with your induction cooker.

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  11. Rhonda, it took me a while to get used to the induction stove and it is great that it turns itself off when the saucepan is taken off. Lately my crockpot has been used a lot as it is so good for soups during winter. I hope that crazy Gracie has stopped running up the hallway like she was on Instagram πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  12. I have the same breadmaker! Have had it for at least 9 years. I use it for the first knead and rise. Happy Cooking and Eating, Michelle in Wellington, NZ.

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    1. First knead and rise here too, Michelle. It's a good machine.

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  13. Thank you for the tour of all your appliances Rhonda. It really helps me identify areas were I could use another appliance. I have a large food processor but how easy it would be to have a small one for those small jobs. Will put this on my wish list. I am also looking at ovens so your experience with your self cleaning one is invaluable.

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  14. We don't have an orange tree, Rhonda, but today I foraged six juicy oranges from an old tree along a road where I walk and a neighbour gave me a bag of limes for his garden in exchange for some perpetual spinach and fudge. I love to give away food from our garden, even when there isn't much there's always something to spare. I made a lasagne today too, with lots of chopped spinach in it, most of it went in to the freezer. Meg:)

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    1. We have perpetual spinach here too, Meg. What a great plant! It's good to have a neighbour you can swap with.

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  15. Great to read Rhonda.

    My husband recently asked me if I wanted to buy a bread maker and I declined, thinking I already have enough appliances, but it's been interesting reading just how well used your appliances are.

    I bake my bread, gluten free, in the oven the old fashioned way, and it's lovely in winter but in summer I can see how useful having the bread maker would be.

    Do you find it hard when your appliances finally give up the ghost though? I have a well loved Sunbeam Mix Master that is 10 years old and I really want it repaired so I will pop down to our towns next repair centre day to see if it can be brought back to life.

    We are a two toaster family (g/f & non g/f), Coffee Machine, Toastie Maker (how life happens without one of these with kids is beyond me) and food processor family. A good quality food processor has been my best investment so far.

    Now for some research into bread makers!

    Viv

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    1. Hi Viv. I don't bake in the bread maker. It kneads the dough and sits for the first rise, then I turn it out, knead for 30 seconds, put it in a bread tin and bake in the big oven.

      I'm okay replacing an appliance if the technology has improved and the new version is more energy efficient. Energy efficiency is one of the important things I look for and our energy bill tells me that our two person family, with frequent visitors, uses the same power as a one person home.

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    2. Hi Viv :) I used to bake gluten free and honestly, the bread machine isn't a good help with that. Most have pans that are too big, so the GF bread sags in the middle (and is often undercooked, or if you get it to bake through, the outside is overdone). Does your GF bread recipe freeze well? If it does, maybe you could bake enough for 1-2 weeks on one day so that you don't have to use the oven so often.

      I had to google "toastie maker", and while I did buy one when my boys were younger (they were super popular here probably 12-15 years ago), I gave it away after using it twice, lol.

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    3. Only 10yrs old!? ;) My Sunbeam mixer is over 50! It was my mother's.
      But yes, its impossible to replace an old appliance with similar new.
      They're different shapes, textures, MO's, I hate it, always causes anguish.
      My old Sunbeam food processor is aging and has a crack in the plastic bowl so when I saw a good alternative at HN's two yrs ago I got it. However I'm still using the old one! New one sitting in its box unopened! Main reason being I realised once I got it home it won't fit in the same spot because its too tall so that will upset the whole kitchen bench setup. My bench space is severely limited (about as much as a tiny house has) and if I have to take more space for the new processor, I won't have any room for my cutting board.
      Being disabled, I keep a lot of stuff on the bench so I'm not bending and reaching inside cupboards all the time. I should have returned the new machine straight away because it cost a lot but my son assured me he would make a shelf......still waiting!

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    4. Hi VΓ­v
      Would you be happy to share your gf bread recipe please (if you see this)? I don’t have a bread machine & I’m finding it difficult to find a recipe that works.
      Melissa

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  16. I also cook enough to freeze leftovers or eat later in the week. We are travelling at the moment, and our first four evening meals while we're on the road have come out of the freezer, so they'll just need heating up - I brought a soup, a beef stew, some sausages and cumquat sauce, and a pasta sauce which I'll just have to cook some pasta for. Very fond of my freezer!

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  17. Good evening Rhonda! We have returned from our adventures.The high here was only 13 deg with rain hail and wind so missing the lovely mild winter weather on the Sunshine Coast already.The scenery was stunning but I was taken aback by all the high rise buildings on the coast and the traffic when we headed inland was so school holiday busy! I am a coastal born and bred person but I definitely loved the pretty sub tropical inland villages best. Using 'worm juice' seems to be helping my plants,particularly the ones grown in pots.

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    1. Hi Jenny. The coast is a different place to what we found 22 years ago when we moved here. Our little town feels like we are miles from anywhere. Christmas holidays are the worst. Locals finish their Christmas shopping in early December and don't go back to the coast till February.

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  18. I have just started using a bread maker. I let it do it all, including the baking. Haven’t yet tried it for anything other than a normal shape loaf and cakes, in a hurry. It uses less electricity than even my smallest oven.

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    1. I used to make bread in my bread maker too. It did the whole lot for me. Its years since I was able to knead dough, so the addition of the breadmaker to my kitchen was a bonus.
      But now most days I can't slice the crusty loaf anymore so I stopped making my own bread.
      I chose that time to significantly reduce my carb intake. Now a bought loaf of sliced bread lasts 4wks in the freezer, taking a slice as required.
      I miss fresh crusty bread but maybe my health is a little better without it.

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  19. This is a good post Rhonda and I've also enjoyed the comments. I've never thought of myself as an appliance nerd, but I guess I am! I've been without a microwave for the last 3 years (just didn't replace the old one) and while it's a bit inconvenient, I don't know if I will get another one. Knowing exactly how you use your bread maker is helpful since I'm thinking about getting one. Like the other reader, I like to avoid turning the oven on during the summer, and that was one of the reasons I was considering buying one. Do you ever bake the bread in it, or do you always bake it in the oven after the knead/rise? I don't know much about induction cooking, so I'll be interested to learn by your experience (also loved the story of Hanno's cleaning solution - that is creative problem-solving right there!). Beth in MN

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    1. Hi Beth. I have baked bread in the breadmaker but it leaves a hole at the end of the loaf which I didn't like. The bread itself was okay. I wouldn't be without my breadmaker. πŸ™‚

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  20. Hi Rhonda, always love reading your posts!!
    I was just wondering if you have heard of a wonderbag??
    I would love to have alot more appliances but we live out on a property on stand alone solar and I have to be careful.
    I came across this wonderbag by chance one day, brought it and absolutley love it!!
    It uses no power and works the same as a slow cooker, I have made apple crumble, potato bake, stews, silverside,rice pudding and lots more in it.
    It was designed to help woman such as in Africa, to not have to spend so much time cooking over fires and collecting wood.
    They look lovely too😊

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    1. Hi Joanna. I haven't heard of a wonderbag. Do you leave it in the sun to cook by solar power? It sounds like a handy piece of kit. Thanks for letting us know about it.

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    2. No you don't leave it outside, it sits on the kitchen bench.
      No solar power, just a very cleverly made bag, fully insulated.
      Such a simple but wonderful thing.
      Your very welcome!!😊

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  21. Hi Rhonda, we picked our first oranges from our small tree last year. There were only 3 but they were the nicest oranges we had ever eaten. I was amazed at the difference in taste from shop bought ones, which was all I had ever had before. There's no going back after that lol. I love your new cook top and it sounds wonderful to use. Take care :) Kate (Tassie)

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  22. My mums new home has an induction cook top and for the life of me i couldnt work out how to use it haha although when she finally showed me it does seem like a great idea.

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  23. We ended up getting a Thermomix. Mrs resisted for years bt after observing the sheer amount of food pre that happens in our house zIjust went and got one. It gets used everyday and it works hard. We also have 2 crockpots (one is a huge one for cooking up multiple batches), breadmaker (Ist knead and rise only), big family frying pan, Kitchenaid, basic microwave, benchtop grill/oven and juicer. They all get used often. Our Aldi pressure cooker has just gone to to the big steam cloud in the sky after 6 years .... not sure we need to replace it however.

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    1. Clissa T
      My husband bought fruit fly netting and it is great. He moves it round the fruit trees as necessary and we have no problem with stung fruit. JillN

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  24. My citrus trees are groaning under the weight of fruit but now taking particular medication, I'm not supposed to eat too much acid fruit.
    Also I was in hospital at the time I should have been applying fertilizer to produce the sweetest fruit. It's not as sweet as it could be so I don't want to give it away.
    If I get woofers, they'll eat a fair bit of fruit too.
    I'll juice some oranges and lemons for the freezer and maybe make a bit of mandarin marmalade and the horses will get some as well.
    Yes I also think once this fruit is finished, it will be the ideal time to significantly reduce the overall size of the trees. Some having reached over 4m high, they were almost too big to net this year.
    The oranges are a late variety and with the tree netted, they'll hold on the tree well into spring as long as the fruit fly leaves them alone.
    I hang both male and female bait stations but didn't get to replenish the bait during the recent rain this time. I think it might have run out unfortunately which could have given the flies a chance to wreak havoc in the orchard.
    Time will tell.

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  25. hi Rhonda, I haven't stopped by in a while I'm not on the blogging circuit much at all these days. I'm studying and working casual hours as a Florist. We are getting a new kitchen next month and an induction cooktop is a part of that plan, so your little bit of shared story was a timely heads up for me. I still enjoy your writing as much as ever and hope all is well with you both and your family. love and light. Tammy. x

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    1. Lovely to hear from you again, Tammy. I think I'll do the induction cooktop post next week. I hope to see you again then. xx

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  26. Gosh I love your posts and very much look forward to the day we can do some bits and pieces to our home.
    I'd love to know how you make your own cordial? We have an absolutely loaded grapefruit tree and would love to utilise them somehow. Any other ideas?

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    1. Hi Rebecca, thank you. Fruit cordial is just a sugar syrup mixed with pure fruit juice. Search in my side bar for "fruit cordial" as there are many recipes on the blog. You could also make grapefruit marmalade, use segments in salad and I would juice it and drink the fresh juice during winter. Personally, I LOVE grapefruit in all forms but if you're not so keen on the sour taste, make up a sugar syrup and add some to the juice to sweeten it. Good luck!

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    2. I use Rhonda's cordial recipe, but serve it with diet tonic water and lots of ice. It makes a beautiful "adult" tasting soft drink. All my friends love it. Great with lemon, lime, orange and lemon and lime cordial, so I bet it would be great with grapefruit.

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  27. Hi Rhonda
    Thank you for sharing about your stove top, we are currently updating our kitchen & went with gas. I appreciate your induction cooktop though and will keep in mind for when my children are older as it might be useful to have the timer.
    I don’t have a lot of kitchen gadgets as until now I haven’t had the space. I have a Thermomix as it has replaced a number of other machines. I use it to cook meals but also to make snacks, bread, pizza, desserts, coconut milk, etc. we bought it when we realised my dietary needs weren’t going away.
    I also have a crock pot, I had been looking for one I could use to brown the meat and then slow cook. It took a long time to find one without a Teflon coating, because I make broths. It has been used so much since I returned to work - I especially love slow cooked roasts & then we just need to put together veggies.
    Unfortunately our orange tree didn’t produce much this year but our elderly neighbours did. I spoke to him yesterday as his fruit is often uneaten & we will pick a lot of it this weekend. I will make some orange cakes & cordial for him in return (if he likes the taste otherwise I’ll make him some bread & meals).
    Melissa

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    1. I couldn't see a reason for a Theromix if the kitchen is already set up but if you're replacing other appliances or starting from scratch I think it would be very useful. Great neighbours and a lovely little thanks from you.

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  28. I have a lot fewer appliances, but due to allergies I have had to double up on some like toasters. I can't rely on a freezer here anymore. Several bad winters with long power cuts (5 days) meant I lost so much good food. Need to do more canning. Saving for a good breadmaker for the gluten bread. Have made all our strawberry jam for the coming winter, almost time for the wild blueberries in the forest and currants in the garden. Have a lovely weekend, Pam in Norway

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  29. I actually purchased the 'big brother' to your bread maker this morning. I am looking forward to making a new loaf in it. I did have a much older model and found the element smelly after use and was concerned it would not be healthy to continue using it. I paid $10 for it at a local op shop so no complaints from me!

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