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The joys of a wood cook stove!

 
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5 years ago our horse burned up! And down....so when our new house was built we splurged and bought a Kitchen Queen wood stove with a nice oven and cooktop!  I’m 63 and am re learning this is art!  It’s much fun...remembering how my Baba ( grandma) regulated the temperature etc has been a joy!  

I just wondered if those of you with a cook stove would share your wisdom!

Happy Holidays

J

 
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I dreamed of one for years and years, and when we started looking for a house to buy or build, installing a wood cook stove in the kitchen was always essential.

I love having this simple technology that cooks our food, heats our home and hot water using wood from our land.

Because of all the wonderful things the wood stove does, it's been really easy to go off grid with a tiny solar system.
 
Janet Reed
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Here’s mine...what does yours look like?
CD3824C5-034B-48D4-B744-C498CE3A862E.jpeg
Kitchen queen stove
Kitchen queen stove
 
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Nice stove, Janet! It reminds me of the one my grandmother had. Also, nice metal flower and vine artwork hanging on the walls next to and behind the stove! Where are those from?
 
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This Foster Opal is my third (I don't like to move them when I do)



When we bought the first one the owner said to clean the hot surface with goose feathers but I never tried it.



 
Janet Reed
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I am wondering about the goose feather thing if anyone can explain.....
 
Kate Downham
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Here is my Rayburn.
400-woodstove.jpg
[Thumbnail for 400-woodstove.jpg]
 
Janet Reed
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Kate Downham wrote:Here is my Rayburn.

u

That is truly lovely?  So....could you say what all the doors do?
 
Kate Downham
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Top left is the firebox door. The firebox extends downwards to where the line is on the bottom left door, where there's a removable ash box. There's a grate in between these two compartments, and the lever next to them shakes it to give better airflow.

The round thing on the bottom left door is an adjustable air intake.

Top right is the cooking oven door. Bottom right is the warming oven, which can also be left ajar to dehydrate things.
 
Kate Downham
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https://www.homewoodstoves.co.nz

I like these ones a lot. If I ever had to replace the Rayburn and had the budget for a new stove, I'd pick one of these.

 
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Janet, congratulations on your beautiful new cookstove! Mine is a Heartland Sweetheart, purchased because it was locally available at the right price. Needless to say, I love woodstove cooking. I've heard cooking on it likened to a conducting a symphony orchestra, and I have to agree!

Every wood cookstove is different, so it takes practice to learn its nuances. I assume you have an owner's manual for yours? That will help learning about the various dampers and their functions. I found it still took some experimenting, and will also say I'm still learning.

Not sure about the goose feather, except that it was probably used to sweep ashes and crumbs from the surface. (?) Do keep the cast iron surface well seasoned, just like a cast iron pan.
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Heartland Sweetheart wood cookstove
 
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Beautiful cookstove, Janet. We looked at those, but we would have to do a major kitchen remodel to fit it in. We have one area of wall space left where we can install a cookstove, so size was a limitation. Instead, we bought a Vermont Bun Baker XL. It is much smaller than the ones already pictured in this thread. It should arrive in a couple of weeks. For insurance purposes, we can't install it ourselves, so we have a professional who will be installing it. We can't wait!

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Janet Reed
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Kate Downham wrote:Top left is the firebox door. The firebox extends downwards to where the line is on the bottom left door, where there's a removable ash box. There's a grate in between these two compartments, and the lever next to them shakes it to give better airflow.

The round thing on the bottom left door is an adjustable air intake.

Top right is the cooking oven door. Bottom right is the warming oven, which can also be left ajar to dehydrate things.



Thank you so much!  I do think it is absolutely lovely.
 
Janet Reed
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[quote=Jim Guinn]Beautiful cookstove, Janet. We looked at those, but we would have to do a major kitchen remodel to fit it in. We have one area of wall space left where we can install a cookstove, so size was a limitation. Instead, we bought a Vermont Bun Baker XL. It is much smaller than the ones already pictured in this thread. It should arrive in a couple of weeks. For insurance purposes, we can't install it ourselves, so we have a professional who will be installing it. We can't wait!

[/quote]

That looks wonderful! We did install ours but had to have it permitted and then inspected....let us know how you’re liking it!
 
Janet Reed
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Leigh Tate wrote:Janet, congratulations on your beautiful new cookstove! Mine is a Heartland Sweetheart, purchased because it was locally available at the right price. Needless to say, I love woodstove cooking. I've heard cooking on it likened to a conducting a symphony orchestra, and I have to agree!

Every wood cookstove is different, so it takes practice to learn its nuances. I assume you have an owner's manual for yours? That will help learning about the various dampers and their functions. I found it still took some experimenting, and will also say I'm still learning.

Not sure about the goose feather, except that it was probably used to sweep ashes and crumbs from the surface. (?) Do keep the cast iron surface well seasoned, just like a cast iron pan.



That is a beautiful stove! And love the rack up above.  

You are exactly right when you say each stove has its own character!  I consider myself a good cook but the last few days my stove has beat me up quite handily.  Learning the oven is a great project for this time of year.

Baking in it has brought back countless memories of my family waaaaaasay North in Canada on the prairie and the countless wood cookstoves those women cooked and baked tremendous food in.  I feel privileged that we can carry on that tradition.

 
Janet Reed
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Kate Downham wrote:https://www.homewoodstoves.co.nz

I like these ones a lot. If I ever had to replace the Rayburn and had the budget for a new stove, I'd pick one of these.



Wow!  Do I love that cast iron stove!  Two ovens would be outstanding. Thanks for sharing this.  It was wonderful for me to see them cooking with their pans, pots etc.  I am lusting after that cute copper kettle on the stove with the wide spout?  Is that something you see often in NZ?

And it appears their is a lot of enameled cast iron?  My new favorite. I have piles of cast iron but am just collecting the enameled cast..old of course.

Thanks again..would love to see more NZ cooking!
 
Kate Downham
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The enameled cast iron cookware is more common in Australia than regular cast iron, although it all comes from France. Enameled cast iron is my favourite surface to cook on.

In heritage displays here there's some old cast iron stuff to see, but I think it just stopped getting made here at some point, so the only way to get that kind of cast iron now is to import it from the US. There's not much of it around in second hand shops.

I also use the cast iron hotplate of the woodstove directly to cook things. It is so good for getting a good sear on steak when it's hot, and for cooking pancakes when there's not as much heat.
 
Janet Reed
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Kate Downham wrote:The enameled cast iron cookware is more common in Australia than regular cast iron, although it all comes from France. Enameled cast iron is my favourite surface to cook on.

In heritage displays here there's some old cast iron stuff to see, but I think it just stopped getting made here at some point, so the only way to get that kind of cast iron now is to import it from the US. There's not much of it around in second hand shops.

I also use the cast iron hotplate of the woodstove directly to cook things. It is so good for getting a good sear on steak when it's hot, and for cooking pancakes when there's not as much heat.



There is very little enameled cast iron here of quality....I absolutely love it so I’m collecting the old stuff.  But, we have absolute gluts of black cast iron old and new.  I have cooked on it my whole life and inherited some great pieces.  I won’t buy the new stuff from China. Some of the old stuff carries quite a price with collectors etc but if you’re patient you can pick it up at yard sales. Same stuff.

Sooooo...you’re cooking steaks etc right on the stove top?  Nice!

Beef?
 
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We checked out the Kitchen Queen and watched the Obadiah videos showcasing it but it was just too big for our little yurt. It looked and sounded like a really nice stove. We ended up with an old, abused Waterford Stanley that has been heating our yurt and cooking our food for 5 years now despite its age (35-40yrs) and various long-term injuries. Right now, I'm drinking coffee that perked on the stovetop while breakfast is cooking. I can't imagine a better life than this.
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Wood type is a major consideration.  One of my grandmothers used aspen exclusively because it burned clean and not too hot.  As I recall she would throw in an occasional piece of oak to boost the heat, but it wasn't too often.  Oak also is a very clean burning wood.  My other grandmother used juniper.  I remember going on trips with this grandfather to gather juniper for her stove.  He took nothing but an old '55 chevy pickup with racks, an axe, and willingness to work, and boy, let me tell, you that was work!  Juniper is also a clean burning wood.  It appears to me that these old timers knew what they were about because they never burned pine or other soot forming woods in these stoves.  Both stoves were Majestic stoves.  One of my aunts, (first grandmother's sister) also had a Majestic, but this one was plumbed for heating water.  These mountain folk were "off grid" before it was 'chic'.
 
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I know some fire boxes get burned out from coal use but maybe charcoal brickets could provide ease and be long-lasting without being as hot as coal.


 
Janet Reed
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Mike Sved wrote:We checked out the Kitchen Queen and watched the Obadiah videos showcasing it but it was just too big for our little yurt. It looked and sounded like a really nice stove. We ended up with an old, abused Waterford Stanley that has been heating our yurt and cooking our food for 5 years now despite its age (35-40yrs) and various long-term injuries. Right now, I'm drinking coffee that perked on the stovetop while breakfast is cooking. I can't imagine a better life than this.




What a great pic! Thank you so much for sharing that.obviously the perfect stove for you... I have to admit I am fascinated with the total variety of stoves.  Now I must research Waterford Stanley! Also coffee here...pork chop sizzling.  
 
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Congrats on your new stove! I have the same model as you. The Amish share the plans with their counterparts, therefore it's manufactured under a variety of different names, with slightly different finishes, depending where you buy it. Mine is called a Baker's Choice.
We use ours as our sole heat source and to cook in our tiny home. Unfortunately our water reservoir leaked pretty much from day one because it warped, and although we have repaired it a few times, I finally stopped using it altogether because I couldn't stand the lime scale and ash dust in the water. It's really hard to keep it clean when it's always  hot!
I've learned you want to keep smaller sized pieces of wood readily available to quickly adjust the heat and ensure it doesn't longer. My husband would disagree. He likes to throw in a big log, open the ash door, get the cabin as hot as Hades, and cook in his shirtsleeves(which even then is ridiculously hot). It may be because he is a chef and working in a blazing hot kitchen is an everyday occurrence.  Think a little larger than kindling.
Wood type does matter if you have that luxury, with some woods giving more sustained or quicker heat, but since we live in Northern Canada, we are limited to softwoods for the most part. I do find the coniferous give good quick heat that does off quickly as well. For cooking, I do use the ash door as a major tool to get a better draw and quickly get heat. I've also learned that unless you are using the oven too, keeping the flue damper open is just as effective in getting the stovetop hot but has the added be edit of not radiating as much heat from the whole unit.
I've learned that I can bake just about anything after much experimentation. Temps in the oven is more luck than skill, but somehow my baking always turns out.
I do recommend getting some extra firebrick and laying them on the bottom of your oven to encourage heat to stick around. However, setting cookware right in top of those stones doesn't always work when making something like a cake for example. Use the racks to ensure airflow and avoid crispy crusts.
I also purchased a Korean grill from a thrift store (I think it was the 'as seen on tv' brand, to flame BBQ by removing the disc over the firebox and putting the grill in its place. It fits perfectly and as long as you have a good draw, it will not smoke.
I also have a big 7l kettle that is always full on the stove, humidifying the room and making hot water readily available.
All in all, I am four years in with this stove, using it everyday to heat and cook when the temps fall below 15C, and am finally feeling proficient with it. I love it and an always so happy now when it gets cool enough to fire her up. Who knew I would ever be excited for summer to end?
 
Janet Reed
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Thank you so much for all that!  And it’s not just the CHEF!  I have a millwright who opens the draft on the bottom..chucks it full and runs me out of the house!

I was just remembering smaller wood after I “ darkened” a meatloaf, a cake and some rolls.  I got to thinking that my grandma used small pieces of wood through the stovetop when she was baking...not the hunks the old man wedges in!  I consider myself a good cook so your advice is well taken and I’m working on opening 5he oven draft and keeping a constant temp.

This is the first year I’ve really tried the oven and it really is a joy.  I shut the electric heat off permanently this winter because I retired and I’m home.  The stove does keep our house toasty..ii push the heat around with fans.

We burn red fir, tamarack and some black pine.  The red fir and tamarack will drive me out if I’m not careful....and would you take a pic of that Korean grill for me?  And your stove of course...I’d like to see the grill!

My mom was from waaaaaay North Canada...where are you?
 
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My friend who sells Himalayan Rocket Stoves here in Ladakh uses his little Rocket Stove for heating the space, but once it's there they also cook on it. Here's chapattis, and elsewhere I've posted video of them doing tandoor style roasting in a slightly bigger one.
2-Cooking-chapatti-in-Himalayan-Rocket-Stove-Eco-mini.jpg
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Janet Reed wrote:would you take a pic of that Korean grill for me?  And your stove of course...I’d like to see the grill!

My mom was from waaaaaay North Canada...where are you?



I'm on the Montreal River,  NW of Lake Temiskaming. There's certainly farther North than me, but I'm 6 hrs north of Toronto, Ontario.

Pics as requested...and I apologize for the mess...we just harvested goats and I'm in the middle of rendering lard, making stock, boiling water for dishes and of course the requisite pot of coffee is always on!

I couldn't demonstrate the grill, since the stovetop is full, but you see it here in it's two pieces. The ring, catches the cooking fats. It will set in the front hole, right over the flames, when you remove the disc from the stovetop. The grill sets right on top of the ring and has a convex curve to it which guides those fats to the drip ring. I use tongs to carefully remove it when hot and it's worked well.
Another two things I use to make cooking on the surface more manageable, are a pot diffuser for the coffee pot that's always on, and a metal rack that allows me to keep any pot warming without but ing. I've included a pic of them as well.
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Janet Reed
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Marjorie Vogel wrote:

Janet Reed wrote:would you take a pic of that Korean grill for me?  And your stove of course...I’d like to see the grill!

My mom was from waaaaaay North Canada...where are you?



I'm on the Montreal River,  NW of Lake Temiskaming. There's certainly farther North than me, but I'm 6 hrs north of Toronto, Ontario.

Pics as requested...and I apologize for the mess...we just harvested goats and I'm in the middle of rendering lard, making stock, boiling water for dishes and of course the requisite pot of coffee is always on!

I couldn't demonstrate the grill, since the stovetop is full, but you see it here in it's two pieces. The ring, catches the cooking fats. It will set in the front hole, right over the flames, when you remove the disc from the stovetop. The grill sets right on top of the ring and has a convex curve to it which guides those fats to the drip ring. I use tongs to carefully remove it when hot and it's worked well.
Another two things I use to make cooking on the surface more manageable, are a pot diffuser for the coffee pot that's always on, and a metal rack that allows me to keep any pot warming without but ing. I've included a pic of them as well.




Well!  I leaned something today!  I had no idea that thing was a pot diffuser.  Makes great sense.  I see them at thrift stores and never thought...

That grill looks outstanding. Now I’ll be looking for that!  

Proud to say I made some items for Thanksgiving in the wood stove oven without failing!  

Thank you for your help.  One is never too old to learn!

Mom was from waaaay North Alberta.  Prairie that.
 
Janet Reed
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Thank you all that have replied.  This has really been great.....so far!
 
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Very cool stoves everyone!  I love the look of a real country kitchen.  Question is how do you manage cooking/baking through the summer months and still keep relatively cool?  Weather out here gets over 100 deg often in summer, so it would be a challenge to "fire up the stove"!!
 
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Denise Cares wrote:Very cool stoves everyone!  I love the look of a real country kitchen.  Question is how do you manage cooking/baking through the summer months and still keep relatively cool?  Weather out here gets over 100 deg often in summer, so it would be a challenge to "fire up the stove"!!



Some people have summer kitchens...places they cook in away from the main house. My Aunts all had wood stoves in summer kitchens so the house stayed cool.  Some of us cook early and plan our time to cook when it’s cool .
Others might use alternative cooking methods in the summer.

Thoughts?
 
Leigh Tate
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Janet Reed wrote:Some people have summer kitchens...places they cook in away from the main house. My Aunts all had wood stoves in summer kitchens so the house stayed cool.  Some of us cook early and plan our time to cook when it’s cool .
Others might use alternative cooking methods in the summer.

Thoughts?


I'm a huge fan of both summer kitchens and alternative cooking methods. Our summers here are just too dang hot to use the cookstove (our typical summer highs here in the southeast average in the upper-90s, with lows in the mid-70s). My summer kitchen is actually my back porch, which is where my electric stove resides to keep cooking and canning heat out of the house. Even so, I try to use my solar oven as much as possible, and my husband loves to cook on the grill. I also have a little rocket stove cooker, and recently made a haybox cooker, which I've been experimenting with. Our plan is to eventually make a more complete outdoor kitchen, with a rocket oven and a smoker. I'm looking forward to that.
 
Michael Helmersson
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Denise Cares wrote:Very cool stoves everyone!  I love the look of a real country kitchen.  Question is how do you manage cooking/baking through the summer months and still keep relatively cool?  Weather out here gets over 100 deg often in summer, so it would be a challenge to "fire up the stove"!!



We have a separate small cabin that is screened all around for air flow with another wood cookstove for the summer time. We also do our laundry there in the summer and take refuge from the bugs throughout the day. Back in our yurt, we have a single burner alcohol stove for morning coffee and occasional light cooking. Our average annual fuel (alcohol stove) usage is 15-20 liters, costing about $60 per year.
 
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We are covered up with too many projects .... like everyone else I suppose.  We have used our back deck as a summer kitchen for canning and are in the process of partially enclosing it.  We have intentions to but a small wood cookstoves. The problem is the trade offs.  It would have to be hooked up to our living room fireplace. The debate continues regarding blocking our fireplace for the sake of a cook stove on our LR.  The option is to hang chains and brackets in our fireplace for Dutch Ovens.
 
Janet Reed
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Marjorie....I bought that KoreAn grill yesterday!  Oh Boy!
 
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Hi everyone!  So wonderful to have found this thread- I was thinking of writing one myself.  We found a used Esse Ironheart and installed it here at the homestead.  We live in a "high" altitude desert (only 3600'/1100m, can't really boast with this crowd) with ponderosa pine and juniper as our primary fuels, some douglas fir sneaking in as well.  When we got the Ironheart, the "Esse tool" didn't come with it, and I never got around to peeking under the Hob.  When we'd try to use the oven, with the older model slide out (off)/slide in (on), we'd get pretty heavy smoke out of the top air intake right above the firebox.  It was a lot more finnicky than I was expecting from such a "finely tuned" cookstove.  Well, when I finally got under there, the volume of creosote was unreal.  I scraped it and sucked it, and then the oven worked like a dream.  My understanding from the internet research I've done is that wood type isn't as relevant as proper seasoning/dryness/heat of fire in terms of creosote generation.  Any thoughts on this?  I wish I could have access to hardwoods, but the black locusts are small and are years away from being ready to be culled for firewood.

Also, any practical tips to stovetop use versus oven use?  I keep a bin of split wood nearby to load up when we want a quick fire for stovetop use, but haven't figured out how to turn a medium sized fire into a rager for the oven just yet. It seems I need set out with a raging fire to get the oven hot, and can't dial in manipulating the fire size to get into oven mode when I please.

Not sure if this will work, but here's our friend:
 
Jeremy Allen
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Oops, need to upload it...  I'm still new here.  :\
IMG_0085.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_0085.jpg]
 
Janet Reed
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Jeremy Allen wrote:Oops, need to upload it...  I'm still new here.  :\



Wow that is a beautiful stove!  

People like different wood or wood based on what’s available where they live.  I have black pine, p-pine, red fir and tamarack and cedar for kindling.  Each seems to have its own personality.  We use what is available each year and cut Tamarack for the coldest months. People say they won’t burn pine or birch or whatever.  It all burns. We mix pine a lot with fir and tamarack.

if you are using seasoned wood ( dry) I believe the key to less creosote is a hot fire. We don’t ever have a smoldering fire no matter what we burn. We clean out the ash regularly and build hot fires. Even if the fire is small it’s hot.

In 5 years I have no creosote buildup to speak of.

That’s the way we’ve done it for our lifetime.  

All I can say is that oven cooking on a wood stove is an art I am learning.  Each stove, wood and the cook being unique.  Just fiddle with it til you get it.  I actually don’t need a raging fire to heat my oven as I have a separate draft for the oven.  Maybe you do too?  Or maybe someone has the same stove that can help?

Bon Apetite’!
 
Kate Downham
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My strategies for summer cooking...

Opening lots of windows and cooling the house down that way.

Minimising the time that the stove is on and just cooking everything in a short burst then - e.g. canning, heating water, and baking while cooking lunch at the same time.

Looking at the weather forecast and picking the cooler days to do stuff that needs a lot of woodstove time.
 
Jim Guinn
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So disappointed. I just heard from the company that the wood cook stove I ordered in October will NOW not be available until January. The shipments have been delayed from Australia due to Covid-19. Very frustrating!

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