Farewell to My Sunbeam Toy Oven-Pizza Bake N Grill Winner!

When we moved into this “new old house” in January 2013, it meant we didn’t have a real kitchen and had no idea it would take almost 4 years before we would  For all this time I have managed to create some pretty amazing dishes thanks to the little 19 litre capacity $80 or so Sunbeam Pizza Bank N Grill Oven which I affectionately have referred to in my posts as my ‘Toy Oven’.Sunbeam pizza bake and grill ovenI decided to buy this just in case it took a little longer than anticipated to do our renovations, I would have been burnt at the stake as a witch in mediaeval times, it took so much longer than anticipated. This little oven along with 2 butane gas camping stoves, our hooded BBQ  (Sunbeam as well as it turns out), a larger gas ring for big jobs like preserving and tomato passata, 2 slow cookers and we haven’t missed out on anything, even making our own sourdough bread very week.

New gas cookerWell, now that I have my beautiful new Falcon double oven with 5 gas burners, I can bid my ‘Toy Oven’ a fond farewell. I haven’t yet decided whether or not to keep it to take when we go camping (if there is power supply) or to piff it but that seems wasteful when it still works (and oh so well!). Unfortunately the poor thing is in such a preloved state that it isn’t up to scratch to offer to someone or donate to charity. It may even become the mud pie oven for when kids are in the back yard.

I cannot believe how well this little oven has performed over these few years, my only negative comment is that I could only make a couple of things at a time, so large quantities when required of biscuits, muffins, party foods like sausage rolls and mini quiche had to be made at my daughters place or at work. Luckily those times were few and far apart so not too much of an issue.

Thought I’d honour this little ‘Toy Oven’ recapping and revisiting some of the food it has churned out for us over the last few years.

My first bake in the oven was spinach and ricotta muffins, tick.Spinach ricotta muffinsSome mini pavlovas served with brandy snaps and fruit. See, only 6 at a time can be cooked.Mini pavlova Mini Pavs in tin

Many small roasts and meals where the meat was cooked in the slow cooker and the veggies roasted in the little oven have been made. This was Dorper lamb we bought in South Australia cooked in the slow cooker and veg in the ‘toy oven’.Roast Dorper Lamb I even sterilised some jars prior to preserving food. These were used for bottling some Christmas Puddings, very successful!Sunbeam Pizza Bake N GrillMany batches of potato, kale and feta rolls.Kale, Potato and Feta rollsThe most amazing slow cooked quince I have ever tasted, this was delicious!Slow Roasted Quince Quince RecipeSometimes fitting cookware in was a challenge. This slice tin was made to fit with the aid of a spanner or such.Making tin fitand you couldn’t quite fit the Dutch Oven in with the lid on.Dutch Oven in Toy OvenSometimes I had to split cooking methods, like here where the meat was done in the ‘Toy oven’ and the veg in the BBQ.Roast lamb Jamie OliverSome more meringues but I was getting better at fitting in more than 6 in a muffin tray. I got  7 in by using the pizza tray.Nigel Slater cinnamon meringueI still managed to bake the pieces that I use to assemble my Christmas gingerbread house in.Gingerbread house 2014 Gingerbread house piecesMany different varieties of foccacia.Peter Reinhart foccaciaTarts, this is a blood plum tart.Blood Plum Tartand my all time favourite, lemon tart. alice-medrich-lemon-tartPies or in this case, piesties.Piestiesand of course my passion, sourdough bread.Barbecue breadEven with only having had this little ‘toy oven’ I managed to turn out 2-3 loaves, sometimes more, of sourdough bread every week. I would not have believed this unit was capable of being such a great unit until I tried it. There has been white, wholemeal, rye, fruit, grainy, pumpernickel, hot cross buns, baguette, pizzas, bread sticks, flat breads and more. The only way I could bake in this toy oven was to use a Dutch Oven, this reduced the exposure of the dough to the heating elements thus reducing the likelihood of it becoming toast before it was even cooked. I also faced the challenge that the lid didn’t fit in because the handle/knob just made the unit too large for the baking chamber. I remedied this by removing the knob and filling the hole with some bread dough. Every now and again I would replace the dough and it worked extremely well.

Dough plug Dutch OvenThere are so many more great things that have been churned out by this little oven and I have really enjoyed revisiting the relevant posts. I am so appreciative of the beautiful space and equipment I have now, it is hard to understand how I managed to create anything really.

There were a few times when I was taking bread to a party or we were entertaining here that I needed to resort to using the Sunbeam barbecue for baking bread. I got the method pretty well down pat after a few attempts and would happily bake this way again if necessary. I will admit though, it has knocked the poor old barbecue hot plates and grill around. I might end up keeping this unit just for bread. We’ll see.Sunbeam BBQ Bread Sunbeam BBQ BreadWell, the poor little old ‘toy oven’ is nowhere near as pretty as she was a few years ago but by goodness, what a run she has had! I don’t think these units were designed to get quite the workout that this one has had. I think the price is now up around the $120.00 mark but if you need a unit that is versatile, reliable and fun to use I can’t recommend this highly enough. Thanks, my little ‘toy oven’, it been fun.

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In My Kitchen, July or August?

Although our lovely IMK hostess Maureen is recuperating and no ‘formal’ IMK is in place for a while, there are quite a few of us who are still enjoying doing a post under the IMK banner. We wish Maureen well and hope she is back on deck very soon. Here is my ‘In My Kitchen’ for July or is it August? I never quite know if its about what happened the previous month or what’s on the upcoming horizon.

My very first In My Kitchen post was a little rundown on what limited facilities we were coping with and plans for the future vision. I am pleased to say we have come a long way (over a long time) in finally establishing a good working kitchen.

We recently travelled to Greece & Turkey and these are a couple of things I brought back as momentos. From L to R, a second-hand tap just like the ones you see on all the ablution washing stations on Turkey outside Mosques and call to prayer points. This will end up in the garden somewhere and I love it! Then there is a clay pot, some  assorted rolling pins and paddles that are traditionally used for transferring the delicious gozleme to the cooktop and off. I’m finding them very handy as little bread peels. See how well they blend in with the gorgeous bench tops?

Turkish souvenirsOn the right is a clay dish that is used for placing on the top of dolma or dolmades as they cook. Does the same job as a plate but I like the memory of buying it at the Çanakkale market. The shiny little dish below is for presenting little treats to guests, things such as Turkish delight, small pastries etc. I found a set of these in a catering store in Istanbul for 18TL (the set) and in the tourist spots I noticed they were selling for 25TL each. Happy with that find. I have a little bowl full of Ouzo lollies that we bought in Greece ready for anyone that takes a fancy.

Ouzo lollies I  did manage to bring a couple of Turkish plates back. I must admit I was a little disappointed with the shopping opportunities. At the limited places we visited, things were either cheap, or really expensive and not what we considered great quality or value. Love the colours of this plate and it reminds me of the hot air balloon ride we did at Cappadocia. IMG_8636This hand painted plate is very different but I just adore it.Turkish platesIn My Kitchen is the first loaf of bread baked in the new oven. This was baked Saturday and it’s now Wednesday and I had a slice tonight with just a smear of butter. Delicious!IMG_8659The view of cupboards (actually they are all drawers) in the island where the sink and dishwasher is going.IMG_8647New oven and a few more drawers. Why can’t anyone put labels on straight?IMG_8646 Below is the last of the makeshift kitchen. The ‘toy oven’ has been relegated to the shelves and most of the other stuff on this set of shelves will be going to the op shop or chucked. My bread books will be displayed onnsome shelves beside the chimney and the bread ‘trolley’ will probably sit in the chimney alcove.

IMG_8656 The existing wash up area is about to become a thing of the past (hallelujah!) Those beer bottles are not my breakfast dishes but some I tipped old sauce out of while clearing things out.IMG_8655I have an impending sense of being clean and organised, I like that!IMG_8653So, what’s in your kitchen this July? Or is it August?

Winter doldrums so let’s get cracking inside!

Wow, the weather has been woeful here in Gippsland! Your wouldn’t venture outside unless you absolutely have to. So we didn’t! Breakfast in the lounge, looking out at the rain, hail and wind. Not inviting to venture out at all.

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This weekend has been a good opportunity to start preparing for when the back half of the house comes off. Forget the fact we haven’t yet got a date locked in, forget the fact we haven’t had council approval. I just had to do something that made me feel as though we are moving forward cause it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it. I am over the stinky old kitchen cupboards so what the hell? Off to that very large green shed to buy a couple of shelving systems. These things are very handy and once the reno is done they will be able to go in the shed/garage or be sold. Makes life easier at the moment and I need that.

The spare bedroom that had a robe in it that we’ve used as a pantry cupboard, has had the robe moved out to store other crap elsewhere, the bookshelves that were useless have been removed and we have put two sets of shelving in. One as a pantry storage and the other to take most of what has been in the revolting kitchen.

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Old bookshelves about to come out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book shelves replaced by this unit. The cupboards on the left will be where my ‘toy oven’ and toaster, kettle etc will go while the reno happens.
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This shelving unit replaces an old robe that had been used for pantry supplies. This stores about double than the old unit and you can actually see things!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With these units set up it meant we could start removing some parts of the old kitchen. I suggested Mr ATMT hold back a bit as I’m not sure what gaping holes will be exposed if we just knock the lot down and with temperatures at minus 5 I’d sooner stay warm. We have a history of opening a bottle of something and becoming very creative with demolishing. As I age, I’m more cautious, so we’ve started with removing the doors and drawers first. Eeeew, it’s disgusting! The light is on in the ‘toy oven’ as I’m drying some of my sourdough starter as described by Celia. Seems to have worked pretty well. Why should I be surprised? Everything Celia does works well, she is one amazing lady!

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I still managed to do a couple of bread bakes. I made pumpernickel

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and a couple of loaves of Chad’s Robertson’s basic country loaf. These are 30% rye, 70% hydration and I’m happy with how they have worked.

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For dinner tonight I made lamb kofta using Rick Stein’s recipe from his ‘India’ cook book. Served with a yoghurt, mint and cinnamon sauce and some home-made chappatis, it was a treat to just sit in front of the fire and enjoy. I must admit I found it a bit daunting thinking about what we actually have yet to do at this place. I’m sure a bit of sun will make it all seem a bit better.

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I have to remind myself that this is meant to be a fun project, I’m not really feeling that  at the moment. I do however, know that things could be a whole lot worse, a reality I’ve experienced way too close to home over the last couple of weeks. Although I’m grumpy and frustrated I do appreciate our good fortune in relation to health and family. With a bit of luck the wind will drop, the sun will come out and I’ll be able to get outside tomorrow.

 

 

Living without a kitchen tips.

It is now just over a year since we moved into this ‘new old house’ and everyone seems quite surprised that we have coped so well with little to no dedicated kitchen. This is what we faced, not too bad you think? The old burnt out oven was taken out so we could fit in a fridge. The cupboards absolutely stank (still do to some degree) of old timber, damp and smoke and I wasn’t going to put anything in them! The original lino flooring was taken up and I literally brought in a gurney and pressure washed the room. That was fun!

Kitchen

We bought a couple of sets of shed type shelving for storing most things and  I use an old wardrobe in a spare bedroom as a pantry. So this old kitchen room now only has a fridge, a table and chairs and a camping table with my toy oven on it. The microwave and the toaster I was brave enough to put on the existing bench,  a sink that does have hot water available but if we  need to get cold that has to come from the bathroom. Not sure if I’d follow the same colour scheme when we redo either (bright pillar box red inside the cupboard doors)! What do you think?

How it works

I think we have only used the barbecue about a dozen times and have  fired up the combustion oven twice. Reflecting on this I thought I’d share a tip every now and again for people who either don’t have or don’t need a fully decked out kitchen. This may be due to a whole multitude of reasons, camping, holidaying, touring, renovating, house sharing, faulty appliances and I’m sure there are so many more. I must admit I’ve been re-thinking about what I actually WILL need when designing the new kitchen. I definitely know the oven is a given, it has been driving me nuts with only the little Sunbeam Bake & Grill Benchtop unit, which I have been cheekily calling my ‘toy oven’. Don’t get me wrong I am quite amazed at how well this little unit has performed. It is just annoying that when I make something I have to do it in many small batches or find baking trays and tins that fit in, the standard ones are just too big. Now that I have a few that work well it is a lot better.

Mini Pavs in tin
This is the size tin I am limited to. Ok for just the two of us but when I have to ‘make to take’ it is a challenge.

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My list of absolute must haves to cope more easily are:

  • A little butane gas camping stove. Unbelievable how reliable, efficient and handy this has been. Bought it for $14.00 and refills can be bought at BIGW for $8-$10 for a box of 12. Great for cooking using the wok on, griddle, frying pan, saucepan if needed and anything you normally cook on a gas jet.

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  • Microwave-Don’t use it excessively but it has proven to be really handy for many short-cuts. See my recipe for fluffy microwaved scrambled eggs.
  • Slow cooker-This would be up the top of the list along with the gas stove. I have discovered so many uses for this that I’ve become a bit of an addict looking for new ways to extol its virtues! I actually have 2, a small and a large. Useful for making stock, soups, curries, roasts, quince paste, baked potatoes and pasta sauces.
  • Good basics of toaster, kettle and fridge.
  • Goes without saying that good knives and pots are essential too, I’ve changed my thinking completely with pots and mostly use cast iron ‘fake’ Le Crueset for large sizes and small camp ovens for small. Experience has demonstrated that you don’t get what you pay for all the time when it comes to kitchen ware. As for knives I get kiwi brand from asian supermarkets and they are rippers. I’ve never used knives that are so good, re-sharpen well and are so cheap it doesn’t matter if you lose one or leave it somewhere. Large cleaver style are about $10.00 at Springvale market and small paring and handy veg knives range from $2. I so rarely use my expensive knives now I feel guilty seeing them on the magnetic knife rack.

It is frustrating, it looks bad but it will make it all the sweeter when we eventually get to this part of the house and renovate. Meanwhile I’ll not complain too much about the state of affairs, I can still enjoy some favourites like my fluffy microwaved scrambled eggs. They really are delicious!

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How to make microwaved scrambled eggs.

Ingredients

  • Eggs (2 per person)
  • Milk -1/4 cup per egg
  • Salt & Pepper to season
  • Mustard (1/4 tspn per egg)
  • Parmesan cheese finely grated
  • Parsley finely chopped to garnish.
  • Crack eggs into microwaveable container.
  • Add milk, salt & pepper and mustard and whisk till blended.

Now, slow down a tad and listen:

Using a large spoon, gently turn the mixture working from around the side of bowl ONCE and then across the middle to complete a figure eight, only do this once. BE GENTLE!!!! The aim is to NOT break up the eggs, just to get the uncooked mix more exposed. You should see signs of egg coagulating (thickening/cooking) in some spots.

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Put container back into microwave on half power for 1 minute increments checking after each minute. Do the stirring once pattern again VERY GENTLY. Time will vary depending on number of eggs in bowl. I find for 4 eggs 2 minutes on high then 2 minutes on half power seems to work ok. When there is only a little mix uncooked and mix is still a bit on the wobbly side, let sit while you cook your toast, grate your cheese and chop your parsley. Serve onto toast, sprinkle with parmesan and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Can’t go wrong! These were served with freshly made tomato pickles and they tasted great too.

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First bite of the cherry!

The cherries I have been eagerly awaiting to ripen seem to be ready for picking, so tonight I had a shot at the first target.

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Just lovely!

Missing my kitchen 😦

It’s coming up to a year since we moved into the ‘new old house’ and I am really struggling with not having a kitchen. Not so much from an appliance point of view but I am going nuts not knowing where things are. Several different boxes in many different places and it’s frustrating the life out of me. With it being time to doing the Christmas Puddding and no stovetop to use I set up a gas burner in the laundry,

IMG_2071Mixed up the beautiful recipe of my mum’s (without raisins, thanks to bloody Coles). Which went into pudding bowls andIMG_2068

IMG_2070because our numbers are low for Christmas lunch this year I put some of the pudding mix into my Fowlers Vacola Pudding jars. Here the jars are sterilising in my majestic oven! All turned out well. IMG_2065While the puddings were bubbling away in the laundry I was caramelising some onions for an onion and goat cheese tart I was making the following day. This was happening in the lounge room on the camp cooker while watching a DVD.IMG_2073

Last of the garlic harvested.

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Great crop of garlic this year. plenty for us and for using as gifts. Smells fabulous!