Homesteading Oven

“MOM!”  Summoned, I went into the kitchen where Emily, Shyanne, and Shyanne’s boyfriend, Dillon stood fanning the stove after shutting it promptly off.  Shyanne was trying to bake a cake.  I had to admit I noticed something was wrong prior to this with the gas stove but sometimes ignorance is bliss.  It doesn’t light….until four minutes later when it explodes.  It can certainly freak you out if you have watched any daytime television show where the people were burned when the stove actually blew up.  I admit, I have watched such show.  A long time ago, but it still haunts me.  So, the stove is permanently out of use.  I can use the cooktop, but after asking around and trouble shooting, the old oven is kaput.

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Simple, buy a new stove, right?  Wrong.  We are in our lean months.  Oh, and I mean lean!  No farmer’s markets until mid-May.  Reserves are slight and there is no shiny new gas stove in my near future.  Our landlords cannot afford one either so there we go.  Ask and you shall receive, I am a pioneer!  With a gas stove top.

It was quite the adventure menu planning and making the grocery list.  I could not choose anything that had to go in the oven.  No casseroles, no bread, no broiling, no baking.  I managed a two week menu plan using only the cooktop.

I remember the days of my youth when I was new to the outside world, fresh out of my parent’s house with no stove.  I was so thrilled with my new independence and plug in coffee maker, I didn’t seem to care.  But, now, Italian bread calls my name as well as enchiladas.

solar oven

I have been looking at solar ovens for years.  They run around $350.  Not tremendously less than a regular stove.  My friend loaned me a book last week on building my own.  Ironic.  That was before my stove died.  I grew up in a household where women did the housework, cooked, sewed, tended to the children, and the garden.  The men worked, took the trash out, mowed the lawn, and fixed stuff.  I do not know how to build a birdhouse, let alone a solar oven.  Unfortunately, Doug grew up in a household where they called somebody.  We have work to do on that end of our homesteading journey.

We could build a solar oven, or buy one, but will it bake?  I have read that they work great.  That in an hour you can have fresh bread.  Just set it out facing the sun and wallah.  What if it is cloudy?  Or below zero?  Or if chickens perch on it?  I think I will open up the book Sandy loaned me and see what it would take to build one.

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Could I put a bunch of cinder blocks together with a hole in the middle and set fire to it and heat it up then sweep the ashes out then stick a ball of dough in there and then bake it?  Much like a horno that we admire in New Mexico?  Could I put mud over it and make it look adobe….or I guess it would be adobe at that point.  It would need a door.  Hmmm.  What about during our fire bans every year?  Back to the solar oven.

I have cast iron pans.  I have a stove top.  I can make tortillas, flat breads, and dumplings.  I can make soup, sauté, heat up in a sauce pan.  I can make two weeks of meals with no oven while I figure out how to build a contraption that looks like a space ship.  It may raise a few eyebrows around us.  That’s okay, the neighbors already think we are little special.  I can already smell the fresh bread.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. I believe that your landlord is obligated to provide you with a working stove unless it states otherwise in your contract. Or you are not obligated to pay your rent. Or, perhaps this is just a very temporary situation.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I think they are as well. In Colorado though we have to call the health department in order to make the landlord to something. They truly do not have the money so we don’t have many options!

  2. Anna says:

    Being a Girl Scout leader and outdoor woman my whole life I have used a cardboard box oven many, many times and if you take care of them you can cook in them for quite some time. Cheap to make too. Here is a link for making it….
    http://www.macscouter.com/cooking/docs/BoxOven.pdf – the style I have always used is “The Copy Paper Box Oven”. For holding your pan with dough or batter in it there are lots of alternatives other than a wire coat hanger (which I find flimsy) , a couple of bricks on end, heavy duty metal skewers, small grill rack, etc. Use HEAVY DUTY foil, even double it and it helps to last longer. Have fun with it and make some tasty stuff!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Thank you SO much!

  3. LuckyRobin says:

    You can cook bread in a crock pot or a rice cooker. The crust will be soft, not hard, and it won’t be dark, but it can be done and it’s pretty good once you get the timing right. Just google bread in a crock pot.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I will! Thank you!

  4. I went 6 months with only the stove top. Sounds like your stove was a bit more forgiving then mine as mine would not shut off after the mini “explosions” trying to get it started.

    A few things to remember
    – BBQ, they come in handy if you are not trying to do it in 2 feet of snow. Bread tastes great “baked” in one
    -shuttle chef or slow cooker will cook just about everything that your oven would have done, the rest can be done on the stove
    -yes your menu may need adjusting but not by much. Even pies & tarts can be done on a BBQ
    -pan bread is great but fattening 🙂

    1. Farmgirl says:

      That is interesting that you can bake on the BBQ. I need to learn more about that! Thanks!

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  6. Karon Wurst says:

    I have not used my oven for the last 3-4 years for economy’s sake. I save my propane for heat and hot water. I use a bread machine to make bread. I cook a lot of crock-pot meals. I do however use the stove-top for cooking, but the oven is the thing that uses so much fuel. My reasoning is economics. My husband has only been on his job for 3 months, and it was 6 months before that that he was working temp jobs. This was our only option.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Those are great ideas!

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