Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Learning to cook on a woodstove

The wood cook stove was inspected in November and we've been using it for most of our cooking since then. Its not as easy as I imagined it to be.

Here at Joybilee Farm most of the available wood is spruce or pine. Unfortunately, its green and when it burns it smokes and doesn't give off enough heat to cook by (or even heat the room). In order to cook I need to fill the fire box with dry larch, or maple, or birch. But of course, we didn't realize that when we were filling the woodshed in September. So we have no maple or birch and very little larch. That explains why the little wood heater in the studio doesn't give off much heat -- its the green spruce we've been burning. Duh!

New Lesson learned: Prepare for winter with larch, and birch -- forget the pine and spruce as it doesn't heat the house.

Baking or roasting on the cook stove has its own learning curve. Unlike the electric stove, where you just set the control and the timer and walk away, the wood stove must be fed during the cooking time (did i mention the larch?). And fed carefully so that it doesn't over heat (Did I mention that toast can get quite black and set off the smoke alarms in 30 seconds when the oven is at 600C). But the cookstove will boil coffee and make toast in a power outage -- of which there has already been one in 2010--so there are advantages.

And when everything is working as it should the wood cookstove is shear magic -- meat is roasted tenderly with a dry heat that enhances the flavour. Bread has a toasty, crisp crust and soft tender crumb. And the warm joy that fills the house with the stove at its peak performance beats the january cold. If we could only get some dry larch.

And the stove has a water resevoir that keeps water at 90C for tea or washing, so no more need to radiate water for a cuppa now and then. In fact we have plans to remove the microwave and its radiation from our home this winter.

1 comment:

  1. oh, i can attest to the wood. larch is the only one for cooking. and green is useless, the pine and spruce aren't bad once dry. Larch is the only one for cooking though. Cedar will burn really hot and fast, but seems a shame to burn it at all. That first crackle in the morning is pure joy.
    Just found your blog and will continue to read.
    Keep the fires burning...
    your former neighbour ;) lara