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.
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. 🙄 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.