We have a really great wood cook stove. I would love a large Pioneer stove complete with warmer, water heater, and oven but I guess we need homesteading baby steps. We needed to learn to use this wood cook stove to heat the house and to cook on. Our stove is from the early seventies. It is half propane and half wood. So, if you didn’t want to heat up the house you could use the propane side. Propane is expensive so we opt to use the wood side as much as possible!
I had peppered folks with questions anxiously before we moved in. I bought a “Cooking on a Wood Stove” cookbook. I was a smidge paranoid about being able to pull this old homesteader’s art off. Turns out cooking on the wood stove is easy as cooking in the microwave. Really, if you have a sense of temperature and a feel for the food (if it’s burning it needs less heat, if it won’t boil, it needs more…) then it is easy. It is a matter of height when it comes to cooking on a wood stove burner. If the fire is smoking hot, then you may need to lift the pans to get the temperature you desire. For instance, a pan of trout to be seared gets put directly on the stove in the cast iron skillet. A small pan of sauce goes on a trivet on the stove. It really was much easier than I expected.
The hard part? Getting the stove going in the first place! After our entire life thus far with electric or gas stoves and furnaces, we were a bit rusty on starting the fire. We smoked up the house, had frustrating moments, and didn’t know which way the flue was open.
Jim came over and held his hand back under the pipe from the stove, you could also use a mirror, and saw that when the lever was down, the flue was open (you can see a bit of daylight or feel air). Inside the oven door is another lever that can be pulled out to let air in from the side of the stove. I had always thought that the flue being open was to keep the house from flooding with smoke. This is true with fireplaces but not with wood stoves. The air helps ignite the flames. So, when you are trying to get the fire going, the flue is open. On our stove, once the fire is going some, I close the inside flue in the door. Then as it really gets going and the larger wood is on and set, the flue handle on the pipe gets pushed up. This is when the heat stops going up the chimney and begins to heat the house. The cats gather around the stove and sleep wherever they can find pulses of heat. It makes this homestead complete.
We are by no means experts yet, but here is an easy step by step of how to start a fire in a wood cook stove.
Now place cast iron of Dutch oven of beans on and smell it simmering all day on the fire. A wood cook stove creates the essence of hospitality and coziness in a homestead.