Dances With Wood: Life With My Cookstove

Sharon September 23rd, 2008

As Bernanke and Paulson attempt to impress the urgency of the bailout on Congress with all the subtlety of a mob kidnapping (“Don’t actually read the plan or consider its implications, no time for that,  just give me my blank check or the markets get it”), and my congressfolk respond with all the subtlety they are capable of (“Re-election good….not getting re-elected…ummm…bad?”), while the markets teeter anyway, I’m taking a break to dream of the first fire of the season, and the soup I’ll simmer on the back of my cookstove.  Heck, a girl has to have a happy place when the world is going to hell.

Perhaps the single most visible symbol of the differences between my life and ordinary American lives is my wood cookstove.  So much of what we do to conserve energy is invisible - we don’t go places, we don’t use things, we don’t buy stuff. And the rest often looks fairly ordinary - lots of people have clotheslines, lots of people have gardens - and not necessarily for the same reasons I do.  But my wood cookstove, well that’s something rather different, something not in the kitchens of most houses.  Everyone who comes into my home stops dead at my Waterford Stanley and stares, admires, wants to know how it works.

I’m going to do a later post on wood heating and cooking in general, covering the climate impact, practicalities and dangers of using and overusing wood and the future of forests.  This time, I just want to talk about what it is like to live with wood, and particularly to combine the jobs of cooking and heating, simply because I know that thousands of people in the Northeast (who are particularly affected by rising oil prices) and all over the US (as people struggle with increasing gas and electric costs) are converting to wood, or considering it, and need to know a little bit about wood stoves in general, and perhaps about cookstoves in particular.

 Why choose a cookstove?  We have both a cookstove and a heating stove, although they only run simultaneously on unusually cold days or when we have guests enough to need to heat the whole house.  During much of the year, the cookstove is our primary heat source, particularly in the early spring and late autumn, when the worst of winter’s cold abates, but it is still chilly enough to need a source of heat. We haven’t yet started the stove for the autumn this year - since wood smoke is polluting, we try not to use it when it isn’t truly necessary.  But I’m looking forward to going back to dancing with wood.

If you are trying to decide whether to buy a cookstove or a conventional heating stove, it is worth considering what your priorities are.  Do you already live in a climate where you can use a solar oven or outdoor masonry oven most of the time (ie, somewhere sunny, fairly dry and warm?)  Then you probably don’t need a cookstove.  Do you have trees on your property or lots of sustainably harvested and carefully managed forest in the area, so that wood makes sense at all? 

Do you cook much?  Can or preserve?  If you live alone and rarely cook, I would go for the more efficient wood heating stove - remember, you can cook on one of those as well - you can put a pot of soup on the top of the stove, and even get or make a sheet metal oven to go on top of it that will allow you to bake.  It isn’t as precise, easy to control or as large a surface, but it can be done. On the other hand, if you live in a large household, preserve a lot and cook from scratch most of the time, a big flat hot surface and oven going all the time might be a huge blessing.  Also, where does your cooking energy come from? If you are cooking now with coal powered electric, replacing that stove with a cookstove might make a big dent in your emissions.

How much is cost an issue?  What kind of stoves are available to you?  New cookstoves are often a bit more expensive than new conventional woodstoves of similar heating ability.  If buying an older stove, be careful with what you are buying - older stoves of both kinds may be heavily polluting and inefficient. Used stoves are often available, but make sure you know what you are getting, and that they check out for a good tight gasket seal and are in good condition.  Also think about the costs and impacts of the wood you are using. If you live in a forested area, or can manage your own woodlot or track how wood is harvested locally, wood might make sense. In an area without a lot of woodland, where wood has to be trucked long distances, perhaps a stove using another fuel would be wiser.  Many woodstoves can be adapted to use pellets or corn, but I’m not aware of a pellet/corn basket that would fit the smaller firebox of a cookstove - although such a thing may well exist. 

How often are you prepared to tend things?  A cookstove necessarily has a smaller firebox than most woodstoves, simply because a lot of the space available is used for the oven - so while some stoves can be banked and kept going overnight, many cookstoves can’t.  Certainly, when you are cooking, if you need precise temperatures, you’ll find that you need to be able to be around, to feed the stove more often and keep an eye on things - it isn’t quite like setting the oven to 350 and walking away. It probably doesn’t require as much attention as you assume it does, but it does require more than electric or gas.  Also, are you prepared to learn how to keep your chimneys clean, prevent fires, cut wood, etc…

Finally, how worried are you about having a source of heat and cooking power that doesn’t require electricity or natural gas.  Since we have regular power outages in our rural neighborhood anyway, it is just commonsense not to depend on the electric lines for our heat (our oil furnace requires electricity to be used) or cooking.  If you aren’t worried about your fossil fuel supplies, or have a better, more locally appropriate alternative, maybe a cookstove isn’t for you.  The same would be true, even if you have these worries, if you don’t expect to be home to check on the stove regularly.

If you pressed me, though, to answer which of the above was the major factor for me in choosing a cookstove, I would have to admit, although a cookstove makes sense at my house, the primary factor isn’t anything so logical.  I just wanted one, and now that I have it, I find that I love it. 

Some of the things I do to cut my energy use and live more sustainably are fine, but I don’t feel passionately about them, but the cookstove is one of my favorite things in the world (milking goats and hanging laundry also fall in the category).  I love tending it - I actually love the regular interruptions to my work to go tend it when I’m the only adult in the house.  I love the intricate dance of adjusting temperatures and cooking, and the huge expanse of hot surface that entices me to start just one more pot.  I love canning on it in the fall, the way the warmth is almost too much, and the combined smell of the wood and applesauce.  I love the way I feel it helps me cook better - the way things taste when they come out of it, and the way its enticing hot oven and surface encourage me to cook, and cook creatively.

What is it like to use it? In the mornings, whichever of us is up first lights the stove - we don’t usually keep the cookstove going overnight, even though we can, simply because if it is cold enough to need a stove going overnight, we usually prefer the heating stove with its larger firebox and longer burn.  Sometimes we take a scoop of embers from the other stove, or if it isn’t as cold, we play match games with our junk mail and the newspapers friends save for us and the kindling that my kids collect all autumn.  It takes about 5 minutes to get the stove lit and be sure it is going, and another 20 minutes of hanging about doing other things, but checking on the stove and gradually getting it up to a proper burn before we can load it up and go about our business.   I think of lighting a fire as a kind of dance - a delicate balancing of materials and the temperatures outside, the air and the draw of the fire.  I love the symmetry, and most of the time, I love the challenge of getting it right.

Once we’re up and running, I immediately put the kettle filled with filtered water on the hob, and when it starts to boil, I’ll pour my first cup of tea and move it over to the coolest part of the stove which will keep the kettle hot all day long.  Since we often bake bread in the morning that we’ve set to rise overnight, many mornings the first project is to get the oven hot enough to bake bread, which is good anyway, since a short, hot burn will keep creosote from forming on the stove.  Meanwhile, the bread is put on for a final rise in the warming oven above the stove - a nice toasty spot that sends it bounding right up.  If you are in the market for a stove, the enclosed warming oven is a wonderful place to make yogurt, raise bread and dry mittens, or even dry pieces of wood for the next day’s fire that have been iced over or had snow melt on them outside.

Meanwhile, I will probably put something on to simmer on the stove - it could be a pot of soup or stew, or some applesauce - the kind of warm, hearty food that one craves in the cold weather.  Lunch will be ready when I want it.  The stove is good for multiple purposes - the kids come there to get dressed, I come to warm my hands after typing in a cool office and refill the teacup.  We can take the grate off and toast marshmallows or grill vegetables.  We don’t have a resevoir for hot water, my one regret about my stove, but occasionally we take a big stock bucket and bathe the kids in front of the stove anyway, just for fun, heating the water on the stop of the stove.  If the power goes out, we hang our solar shower bags up on hooks behind the stove to get hot for a bedtime shower.  And most days, the drying rack comes over near the stove so that we can rapidly dry our clothing, adding pleasant humidity to the air.

 Once the stove is going, and if there’s not much food to tend, I usually visit it once every hour.  It doesn’t have to be done quite that often, but I find that it helps me avoid getting engrossed in work or homeschooling and forgetting about the stove entirely.  Plus, the break - getting up, bringing in some wood or poking up the stove and adding wood - is pleasant.  I fill my tea cup again, fill the kettle and check on my simmering thing then too.

Lunch and dinner somehow seem easier with the cookstove to me - it is so simple to put something on to cook when I’m tending the stove anyway.  The structure and discipline of dancing with wood bring food along with them.  And the rich smells of food that comes out of the woodstove oven seem to make things even more delicious.  We eat in the dining room, basking in the warmth of the cookstove.

This reminds me that where you put the stove, and the shape of your house, will also affect your decision about having a stove.  You could put your cookstove in the garage or somewhere away from the kitchen, I suppose, but that will likely create a good bit of hassle for you if you do - carrying food that is bound to be spilled sometimes, running back and forth for things.  So if the kitchen - or a room right off of it isn’t a place you want to be, having a cookstove might not be for you. For us, we have a good sized older kitchen with room for the stove, and right off of it is the dining room where most of our homeschooling is done.  The stove concentrates us in the kitchen and dining room, which is lovely - it makes our public space more public and collective - we are all together, often working on different projects.

When we’re doing a big cooking project, with things in the oven and going on the stove, this requires more attention, a familiarity with the vagaries of our draft and the best strategies for heating up quickly.  Learning to use a cookstove does take some practice, and will probably involve a few mistakes as you master the idiosyncracies of your particular stove.  I think I burned things once or twice, and underestimated the time for something at least as often, but it was a surprisingly short learning curve, and you shouldn’t be intimidated by it.  It wasn’t nearly as hard as I expected it to be, and the learning was a lot more fun. 

You’ll want a plentiful supply of potholders and wooden utensils, since these don’t transmit heat, and cast iron cookware is the nicest and easiest to use on the stove - but since I like wood and cast iron better anyway, that’s no hardship for us.  Other than a few basic fireplace tools and a tight metal can for storing ashes, that’s really all you need. 

During the daytime we all gravitate to the stove, both to tend it, to enjoy the enticing smells and to be warmed by it.  At night, we shift the stove to warming the bedrooms - that is, we put bricks into the oven (we soak them in water first)  where they get hot.  The bricks are then carried upstairs, wrapped in flannel, and put into the children’s beds to radiate warmth to the sheets, and then gradually warm up their feet as they cool down.  We also heat water in hot water bottles, and rice bags to warm the kids.  Since we do not really heat the upstairs - we all prefer sleeping in a colder room with plenty of blankets - this means the pleasure of getting into a cozy, warm bed without the fire risk or magnetic field risk of an electric blanket.  Later, we’ll do the same thing for ourselves. 

If we do keep the stove going overnight, there’s an art to banking it - it takes a little time and practice again.  Otherwise, we fill it up before bed, and then just let it go out - because our stove is cast iron and tight, the stove will still be quite warm to the touch most mornings, even hours after going out, still radiating heat into the kitchen. 

All of it, to me, feels like a dance - occasionally clumsy or awkward, but often delicate and oddly freeing, despite the structures it imposes on my day.  It seems odd that one of the secondary (after the husband, kids and other family of course) loves of my life is green, squat, named Stanley,  and often too hot to touch ;-) , but so it is. 


42 Responses to “Dances With Wood: Life With My Cookstove”

  1. Pine Ridge says:

    Sharon, I’ve got to admit, I’m envious. We don’t have the room to dedicate to a seperate cookstove, and wood is our only heat so we like being able to bank the fire to burn all night. We just replaced our original woodstove this spring for one with a cook top. Our older one had a baffel under the top and would only heat water but not boil it. having a cooking surface on top was really a must for us so we went with a Vermont Castings Dutchwest model. It seems to be a nice compromise (we’ll see once we fire it up).

    I also love heating with wood. I like getting the fire going in the morning, knowing it will be toasty warm before my coffee is done. I like how the kids huddle around it when they come in from playing. I love being able to dry shoes, boots, clothes in front of it. Heck, I even use my woodstove blower to dry my hair, lol. Who knew they were good for so many things :)

  2. homebrewlibrarian says:

    I am one of those people for whom a cookstove would not work. I live alone in 600 sf of space and work full time out of the house. On the other hand, a regular heating stove is a possibility - an expensive one, mind you, but a possibility nonetheless. Last week I had a fellow from the heating stove store stop by and spec out the costs of installing a wood stove. Because of the second floor unit above me, a chimney would have to go out the wall and then up past the roof edge. The installation of the chimney alone would be about $4000. The whole thing including stove and hearth pad would be over $5000. As this would be only for back up heat in case of a long power outage (something that doesn’t happen often yet), needless to say, I’m not racing right out to have one put in. Think I’ll start saving for next year.

    Some day when I am no longer a wage slave and the interior of my unit is made more open, I’ll consider a cookstove. I’m not sure which is a happier image - no longer working or having a cookstove!

    Kerri in AK

  3. Eva says:

    We have a cook stove from 1896 - still works great. It was rescued by our neighbors from going to the dump like so many others in the 60′s. I just started using it for a morning and evening fire. It is the heart of our home. I love it (it’s the only “thing” love). Using it is easy because I work from home and can tend it. From now until spring I will use it exclusively for cooking and baking.

  4. Pica says:

    When we lived in a 30s cabin in Santa Barbara there was a cookstove; I loved it. Now we live in a place where it doesn’t make sense in terms of available wood and sun (we use the solar oven daily) but I did love that horrible El Niño year with soup simmering on the stove all day…

  5. Shamba says:

    What lovely essay, Sharon!

    cheers, Shamba

  6. Throwback at Trapper Creek says:

    Beautifully written - there is something about a cookstove, the heat, the usefulness and the wonderful products you can cook easily. I find somethings I can only make on our cookstove and get consistent results. The radiant, indirect heat makes all the difference. Not to mention we are heating half our house at the same time.

  7. Becky says:

    I have fond memories of the “old-fashioned” Kachelofen. Ours took up a good portion of the living room. Talk about multiple use appliance. Boots and shoes were dried below the ofen’s legs in the living room, the least hot area. The fire chamber was fed from the kitchen. Conveniently, so was the oven hatch to bake or cook whatever. Even higher up and accessible from the living room a vented hatch for drying trays of fruit or whatever needed drying. The very top, just under the ceiling, was for the cats to snooze on. I guess, in our small living room, there was not enough space for the ultimate tiled bench many Kachelofens have.

    Yesterday, while I briefly entertained the *shock and awe* and what could be next kind of a thing, like depression, national emergency and martial law…, anyway I came across these videos from 91 year old Clara cooking Depression area meals:

    Little did I know, many of my meals barely make the cut. That could be good news…

  8. Greenpa says:

    Ah, Sharon, you’re making me hot.

    I confess I long for a wife who loves the woodstove as I do- alas, both of mine have had “issues” with it.

    Which is one point I’m not sure you mentioned- there are some folks who just don’t seem to be able to adapt, when coming to it as an adult. Even after years of working with it, both my wives would/will occasionally lapse into “but I fed it!” - thinking it was dealt with; when in fact they fed it 45 minutes ago, and the adjustment is long since inadequate. “Cold turkey” has multiple meanings.

    Basically they still want it to be like a gas or electric range, where you set the heat, and it stays there. Not so, not so.

    I DO love it, all the ways you mention- plus perhaps a few more. :-)

  9. Ani says:

    I guess I’d say that I have a love/hate relationship with my stove. I don’t have a wood cookstove- well did pick one up years ago that needed to be rebuilt but after it sat around under a tarp in the front yard for years I concluded I wasn’t going to get around to it any time soon so I gave it away- a sweet little Home Comfort one too- but I have 2 regular woodheat stoves.

    I do use their tops to cook on- really good for keeping the kettle warm all day, soups, etc. I like the heat part, the cozy hanging around the stove, drying the gloves on the rack bit- but it does take a fair amount of hauling wood, cleaing out ashes, tending the stove etc- so I am aware of it taking time that I use for other things when it’s not woodheat season. And then there is the chimney cleaning- which I will get to this week I hope- got to do it before I fire it up this season and a gross job it is……

    So thus my love/hate relationship with the beast. That said, I drool over Waterford Stanley’s……sigh…..

  10. NM says:

    Beautiful. Makes me dream of doing the same thing, although at the moment, with both of us working full time outside the home, it wouldn’t work. And I might tend to be one of the “but I Just fed it!(s)” A monster eats all my time. Partly all those evening meetings my work involves…
    But maybe someday.

  11. Survivalist News » Casaubon’s Book: Dances With Wood: Life With My Cookstove says:

    [...] Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » Dances With Wood: Life With My Cookstove As Bernanke and Paulson attempt to impress the urgency of the bailout on Congress with all the subtlety of a mob kidnapping (”Don’t actually read the plan or consider its implications, no time for that, just give me my blank check or the markets get it”), and my congressfolk respond with all the subtlety they are capable of (”Re-election good….not getting re-elected…ummm…bad?”), while the markets teeter anyway, I’m taking a break to dream of the first fire of the season, and the soup I’ll simmer on the back of my cookstove. Heck, a girl has to have a happy place when the world is going to hell. [...]

  12. nika says:

    As my crappy electric stove that has been planned for obsolescence is obsolescing I curse the plan and the obsolescence. (or is that just a mid life crisis?)

    I need a new stove and would LOVE a wood cookstove but I just can not afford it right now.

    Instead, I am going to be googling for manuals for my stove and then learn how to fix the damn thing.

  13. Abbie says:

    My grandmother has cooked on a wood stove for ever. Only recently, after my grandfather died and she was not as able to take care of the fire, did she get an electric stove.

    Fortunately, my uncle lives nearby and keeps her fires stoked for her in the winter, so she can use it for heat and cooking.

    We’re planning to buy a new woodstove this winter, but it will be in the basement. We’re tying it in with the heating system, so it will more efficiently heat our house, but we won’t be cooking on it. Maybe someday we’ll get one upstairs.

  14. AppleJackCreek says:

    I have a small heating stove that I use for heating up water or simmering stew, but it’s not meant for ‘real cooking’ and I hope to replace it with one of these:

    I like that it will fit in the small space I have (it’s about the same dimensions as my little heating stove), and then we could move the heating stove to another part of the house that needs a heat source.

  15. AnnaMarie says:

    I wanted a wood cookstove in the worst way but with only 750 s.f. on each level a wood heat stove made more sense. I did a small compromise and got one with a cooking insert. It’s enough to put on a few pots, use a grill insert and grill a steak or put on the my large lodge griddle and make flatbread, oatcakes or any number of flat goodies.

    The expense of putting in the stove is outrageous but I figure it’s about a two year payback with using less oil. Now if I could just get the dang thing installed!!! The installers here are wayyyy behind and I refuse to turn on the oil heat.

    Thank all that’s holy for two dogs at night!

  16. NM says:

    I meant to ask, above, but forgot. Seems like I remember you mentioning awhile back that you have carpal tunnel syndrome; using the heavy cast iron pans doesn’t bother you? Do you have any tips? I gave up my beloved cast iron when I developed carpal tunnel. It’s gradually getting better, but for awhile there, I could barely lift a coffee cup, and picking up really heavy things still does a number on my wrists. Someday I hope to knead bread again, too; do you manage that, as well?

  17. squrrl says:

    Ahhhh…sigh. I sometimes leave my Lehman’s catalog open to the Waterford Stanley for days just so I can look at it now and then. I hate my electric stove with a burning (sorry) passion-I figure the wood stove couldn’t be any harder to control the heating on-maybe easier. And while I don’t have a woodlot, my neighbors, who are like family, do, and it really would make sense to heat with wood here, I think. I dream of being able to have the kettle on all day, or setting yogurt going in the warmer. The smell of wood burning is one of my top two or three favorite smells ever.

    Trouble is, I also dream of baking my own bread with flour from my own grain mill, and I _have_ the mill, and the bread doesn’t happen. I suspect that the wood stove would be painfully similar. I’m afraid that a combination of toddler and natural laziness would make regular maintenance of a fire an iffy proposition, and I think my husband shares my fear. Plus, the learning curve for picking and installing a stove/stoves (Is one stove too little to heat this house? Are two too many? What kind of cleaning/reopening/repair do the chimneys need? Which stove/stoves would be best? Can we do it ourselves, or if not, who should we get to do it? And so on…) is so steep, and the expense too great to risk mistakes.

    On the other hand, what kind of risk are we taking by not getting one? The electric stove isn’t exactly Energy Star, nor exactly new. Cooking on a Coleman long-term isn’t appealing. I would adore a masonry rocket stove, but that’s a project that’s really too far beyond our ken, I think. Ufff. Well, one thing’s pretty sure…it’s not happening for this winter.

  18. risa b says:

    Our house has an unused and probably dangerous chimney buried in the wall behind the electric range. Someday we’d like to pull off the wall board, brick down and brick back up properly, with a real lining, and go back to using wood in the kitchen, like we did in the seventies (on a homestead about seventy miles from our present location, which is closer to town).

    In the mean time, we heat with wood, and that stove is in the dining room, not the living room (where an unusable fireplace stands bricked up, with a dinky oil-filled space heater sitting in front of it), and that’s our family center all winter, the dining room corner. More and more we’ve gone back to cooking on it; soups, reheats of all kinds, water for spit-baths, and all around, nearby, hang boots and wet winter clothing, drying out. It can’t fry or bake but it stays really busy.

    New wood cook stoves cost the moon but you can still grab them off trucks heading for the scrapyard; one way to do this is put a wanted on Craig’s List (especially if you are in town); another is to put up a request for leads to one on the cork board in front of the local country store (if in country). Don’t be too direct with country people when hunting for favors, cheapies and freebies; say: “Do you know where I might be able to find … ?” This leaves them free to tell you there’s one in their barn, or not, without being put on the spot.

  19. Traci says:

    I LOVE heating our home with our soapstone stove. We have been (well, mostly the boys & my husband) splitting and stacking for weeks. I keep walking out and staring with adoration at the security that is our neatly stacked wood.

    I haven’t cooked anything except water, but you have inspired me! I am going to start with soup & stew.

    Oh, how I love the change of seasons and Fall most of all.

    Vancouver, WA

  20. emeeathome says:

    I remember with great fondness the time when I lived with a woodfired Aga. Cooking things was such a laid-back pursuit. And we had unlimited hot water.

    Oh! What blissful days!

  21. Zucchini says:

    This caught my eye:

    “Do you already live in a climate where you can use a solar oven or outdoor masonry oven most of the time (ie, somewhere sunny, fairly dry and warm?)”

    Okay, I’m coming out from lurking to ask for help/more info on this. I have been seriously considering asking for a solar oven for Christmas. I live in Central Florida, where it’s very sunny and warm, but fairly wet at least half the year. Would a solar oven not work well in a humid climate? Heating the house is pretty much a non-issue here, but I have no cooking options if we lose power (not even a fireplace!). Right now I’m looking at the oven as a keep-the-house-cool/energy-saving device, since we happen to be on a priority circuit (water treatment plant down the street) and almost never lose power, but obviously I need options for when the you-know-what hits the fan. Any thoughts/advice? Thanks!

  22. Gracie says:

    Ah..what memories you stir. My grandma had a wood cook stove up to the 70′s. They also had a stove in the living room. They also the cook stove when necessary and only used the other stove when it got really cold. She usually got up at around 4:00 am. and started bread. It was always first in the oven. I can remember also, how hot it was in the kitchen when she was cooking for the whole family, because she would cook all day long. Pa was always cutting wood.

    I will post pics on my blog of my grandma and Pa (grandpa). They lived a hard life, but they were extremely happy people.


  23. Linda says:

    Yes, I also have a Waterford Stanley and am amazed how much they have gone up in price since I got mine 10 years ago. Love mine. Just read an article on food prepping, is it hoarding or not…guess with events going as they have I am gettting rather cynical..find myself fantasyzing about stuff such as if anyone tries to take my home canned food - have specially prepared jars most accessible. Jars loaded with laxatives or perhaps ones canned about one-fifth of the required time. Should give someone something to shout about.

  24. Sharon says:

    Zucchini, the solar oven will work fine whenever it is sunny. A humid climate should be fine - I was just thinking that people might not want to be outside cooking over a fire pit/masonry oven or trying to use a solar oven in the rain ;-) . But yes, they work in all climates - it is just a question of how often you can use them. They are also quite simple to make - there are many, many plans out there - here’s one I like:


  25. katef says:

    I am totally new to your blog and couldn’t have found a better post to start with! I am dreaming of a wood stove when we renovate our old farm house early next year. It is going to cost us a lot of money and we are tossing up whether it is something we should find the money for or not… I’ve never seen a wood stove up close, let alone cooked on one, but I just have this great desire to have one… plus it will have a water jacket and connect to hydronic heating for the rest of the house, and we have a small property and hope to be self sufficient in wood eventually… so I feel like it is the right thing to do. Now, reading this glorious post I am even surer! Thank you

  26. KM says:

    Really lovely post, Sharon. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  27. Brenda says:

    Sharon - your post made me warm and fuzzy all over :-) I’m regretting that I didn’t put in a cookstove last spring when I had the chance (but I didn’t know then what I know now), but I plan on soups and stews simmering on top of our free-standing wood stove this fall and winter. Yum!

  28. dances with wood: life with my cookstove | Dismantle Civilisation says:

    [...] informative article from Sharon Astyk about wood-fired cook stoves. Why choose a cookstove? We have both a cookstove and a heating [...]

  29. Green Assassin Brigade says:

    I spend many a summer with my grand parents who cooked with wood and as nice and cozy it was in the winter, on a hot summer day it was brutal to live with. As a result many of the old homes in the area (northern Ontario) still had a screened in cook houses attached to the house with a second stove for summer cooking/canning, they were also useful for Thanksgiving and such as it gave you a second oven to warm pies, bread etc while the turkey cooked. Not really a minimalist lifestyle with two kitchens but if you have the space and the $ this can be a much more comfortable way to live with wood.

    Is it now law that woodstoves have catalytic secondary gas burning designs? and where can one find testing on the exhaust from these stoves?

    I just bought a sun oven a couple months ago and it works quite well but I can’t see surviving on just one for any length of time. I guess it’s just a learning curve considering I’m one of those every burner gets used kind of cooks, but I find the size constraints of the solar cooking awkward. I’ve got too many big treed neighbours so this is definately an emergency tool for me and not something I can use constantly or rely on but I still feel it’s worth the cost even for “just in case”

    Sadly I’ve not been able to keep up with my reading for the PA book club due to my involvment in the ongoing Canadian election, I hope to be back in Nov

  30. April says:

    Ooooh GREAT post. I want to print it out… sharing it via my Google Reader will have to work for now.

    We just bought this wood cook stove for our soon-to-be-built tiny house and I am looking forward to using it, although I know there will be a learning curve. I am definitely interested in getting dough to rise overnight and cooking it in the morning; that sounds fabulous!

  31. Friday Favorites :: 9/26/08 Edition « Two Frog Home says:

    [...] A wood cookstove is on my list of wants.  Someday, maybe, I’ll have one, for now I’ll read about how others use wood cookstoves in their daily lives. [...]

  32. Carolyn says:

    Just jumped over from 2 Frog Home. I wanted to say Hi and nice blog!

  33. Kim says:

    Great post. I want and will get in due time a wood cook stove. I have a room and a chimney for it and our own wood supply. I have never thought to cook on my other stove but I will try that this winter. Thanks for the good info!

  34. Tea, and Gnomish Devil Moose Brew « Herbert’s Kitchen says:

    [...] « R.I.P., Paul Newman Tea, and Gnomish Devil Moose Brew September 29, 2023 Sharon Astyk’s wonderful post about her relationship with her wood burning stove is well worth a read. It also got me thinking about my relationship with [...]

  35. Will Douglas-Mann says:

    I’ve just stumbled across your website.
    We have just installed a warmsler wood burning range after years of dithering. This German munufactured cooker runs on wood from our farm, we recon it will save us about 2000 litres of oil each year. It seems to give a better quality of warmth and our bread tastes better than ever. we have enough hot water to satisfy even our three teenage children.
    The only problem is that at a rough estimate we will need to devote three of our ten acres of land to growing wood for fuel. Here in the UK we have only half an acre of land per head of population!

  36. crotchity old person says:

    sharon, have been reading your website at my daughter’s suggestion…
    while i do agree we need to begin to adapt our greedy, selfish, high-consuming, world-ignoring lifestyles, i must tell you honestly, been there, done that and FUN? not so much. grew up with the kitchen pump, the wood cookstove, the wood heaters, the chamber pots, the broom, the milk cow, the garden, the canning…while these things have their moments of charm and satisfaction, and no doubt high moral value, I still remember the
    simple joy of a hot bath in a “real” tub, for the first time, and the summer I didn’t have to can 900 jars of produce in 90something heat, standing over a redhot stove, in an unair-conditioned kitchen…
    living off the grid is very hard work. my mama had health problems and died young. years of carrying water up a flight of stairs to do laundry in a wringer washer was one reason. also, what about the milions who have neither the health, strength, land, learning, or opportunity to “return to the land?” I think you over-romantize the whole thing.
    It may be coming, but at 61, I don’t anticipate the drudgery with delight.The Good Book says, “moderation in all things” and, for me, that includes being green.

  37. Dorothy says:

    And, here I am, thinking of the Waterford-Stanley we have no room for! I just looked at the price of them, and I was amazed! Maybe I can call the chimney guy and hook it up in the basement to my fireplace? I think I’ll check on that, as he did a good job relining the chimney to the upstairs fireplace and installing a woodburing insert. It would be wonderful to have a really good place to cook…of course, I’ll have to get three men and a horse or something to get the Waterford Stanley OUT of the old house, first! THEN, I will have to convince hubby that it will be good to have a “new” focal point down in the basement…

  38. Friday Favorites :: 9/26/08 Edition | Two Frog Home says:

    [...] A wood cookstove is on my list of wants.  Someday, maybe, I’ll have one, for now I’ll read about how others use wood cookstoves in their daily lives. [...]

  39. Micah Mccumbee says:

    I read a lot of blogs but this one really surprised me very positively.

  40. Green Tea Good for You says:

    Great post!

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