The Wood Cook Stove (now we’re cookin’!)

IMG_0373

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!

IMG_2784

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.

flue is open
Flue is open.
Newspaper is crumpled tightly and placed in bottom across the firebox.
Newspaper is crumpled tightly and placed in bottom across the firebox.
Place smaller twigs, leaves, pine needles across newspaper.
Place smaller twigs, leaves, pine needles across newspaper.

SAM_0112

Small branches are crisscrossed across the kindling.
Small branches are crisscrossed across the kindling.
Doug lights the newspaper that is furthest from the pipe as the air will swoosh it from front to back.
Doug lights the newspaper that is furthest from the pipe as the air will swoosh it from front to back.

SAM_0116

After the kindling catches, add small pieces of wood, then a larger log.  Blow into the fire to make it catch more.  Once the log has caught, close the flue.
After the kindling catches, add small pieces of wood, then a larger log. Blow into the fire to make it catch more. Once the log has caught, close the flue.

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.

6 thoughts on “The Wood Cook Stove (now we’re cookin’!)

  1. I have but a one month experience of cooking woodstove to heat a house-it was not a good one! LOL I was in Ava, Missouri for one month as an artist is residence for a papermaker. The artist lived in the top level of an old farmhouse and I lived in the lower level. My small apartment ( two rooms) was heated by a wood burning cook stove. I didn’t have any trouble starting the fire but this stove used up its wood every three hours. That meant I had to get up in the night every three hours to fill it with wood if I wanted to stay warm. I soon got exhausted! Meant for cooking but not meant to heat the house.

    1. Oh no, that is how it is here too! We learned of a type of wood that will burn hot all night. It is expensive but we are going to try to get some for the very cold nights. My idea of cold has changed and with the well insulated house (never had one of those before) we are getting used to it. We can unromantically go to bed in wool sweaters and 57 degrees here feels like 68 degrees at our old house. I may wonder by spring what the heck I got us into but it is an adventure!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s