Cook with Wood {update}


“If you’re going to do things the homesteading way, everything takes a little bit longer and so you plan.
You have to plan to be there, to feed the fire, to keep it going.
It’s another of those things –
we’re so far removed from homesteading {life}, you just have to bite your lip and do it.”
– on cooking with wood, 21st Century Homemaker

It’s been about a month since we switched stoves sand moved to cooking only with wood.
When we purchased the wood cookstove off kijiji, I had a tiny thought in the back of my head that perhaps,
perhaps with a newborn coming, with many children already,
that perhaps learning to cook with wood should have waited for another season.
You know, when things would be more calm, perhaps, even easier.
But then I quickly squashed that thought and pushed it aside.
And I am so glad that little doubt did not take over my mind!

Cooking on our cookstove has been *fantastic* so far!

We – both Abby and I – are loving it. It brings such heat to this part of the house. It cooks wonderfully well. It is a joy to start it up in the morning – there’s something about waking up to a dark, quiet house, before everyone is stirring, and tiptoeing downstairs to start up the embers and coals leftover from the night’s fire. It does not take long to heat up the kitchen, waking up the household to a much cozier, warmer environment, with the smell of breakfast cooking (or burning, as we burned our stovetop granola the other day). Cleaning and maintaining is not much more work than a regular woodstove (same cleaning applies with ashes, chimney, etc.)

Right now, there’s curry beef stewing on the stovetop for dinner and soon, rice will be steaming away.
{Recipe posted at the end of the blog post}

I do think one of my favorite perks is having boiled water ready for tea all the time! The pot is always hot.

We are burning kiln dried wood, which we store beside the back door and near the stove, from a local source in the cookstove – it’s a great option as it’s smaller pieces compared to regular firewood – perfect size for our stove. Easy to manage and build a fire quickly. Every morning, Abby wakes up and brings a tractor bucket full  of wood to the backdoor for me. [Perhaps next year, we will stack the wood closer to the kitchen door, but we were not aware we would be using a cookstove this year when we organized the wood last fall.]

We do not have a lot of cast iron pots but that will take time to build our collection. Cast iron can be expensive! We have one small frying pan (found at a thrift store) and a HUGE frying pan (found on kijij). This frying pan is massive – it stays on the stovetop most days and cooks nearly all three meals for me. A great find!
(Who needs the gym when you have a frying pan that weighs 25 lbs. without food in it!?)

I truly have not found it too hard adjusting to cooking with wood.
We have burned one batch of muffins and once, our baked potatoes took a few hours too long to bake -but other than that, it has been fine. If I can get the oven to be sitting at 300 degrees F even, it is pretty good to bake or cook with. Since the woodbox is on the left side of the stove, making one side of the stove hotter, rotating the pans or dishes is sometimes a good idea to ensure even cooking.

Here is a great website entirely on wood stove cooking. I think I’ve ready every blog post.

The best part is the company that will often come to sit by the warm stove, waiting for dinner as it simmers and cooks away …
… little hands helping hold the baby or,
if a grown man, strong hands bringing in more wood, checking the firebox and ensuring the fire is blazing.
There’s just something about the warmth of a woodstove – people are drawn to its cozy, body-warming heat.

P.S. I saw this quote and it made me grin:

“The nation needs to return to the colonial way of life,
when a wife was judged by the amount of wood she could split.”
W.C. Fields

I do not split our wood (yet?) but you never know .. there may come a day …

P.P.S. As Erin requested, here is the simple recipe we put together for the curried beef pictured above:

Simple Coconut Curried Beef with Steamed Rice

-drop a generous dollop of coconut oil to  melt on your skillet or frying pan -once coconut oil is melted,  brown some onions and then brown some beef cubes
– add in a dash of paprika, lemon juice, curry, cumin, a tiny bit of salt (optional) and beef broth
– you can be creative … we even added small diced up potatoes as the girls love potatoes,
along with various other vegetables, such as carrots and corn
– stir in a jar of stewed canned tomatoes
(ours were home canned but I’m sure any diced tomato, fresh tomato, anything would work)
-let all ingredients come to simmer together

– Steam up some rice
-serve together with warm naan bread and you are set for a lovely winter dinner!
My husband likes his dishes hot, but he’s the minority in the family so he is served his dish with a jar of hot sauce on the side.

January 18, 2016 - 7:19 am

Gillian Keeper @ the Homestead – for now, we plan on using it still in the summer months. We shall see how that goes. We live mostly outside in the summer anyways, so maybe it will not be so bad to heat up the kitchen for cooking and baking. I am looking forward to doing some canning on the stove, though! I usually can outside, but we will see if I can do all the prep work, cutting, packing, etc. outside and then pop the jars inside for the processing.
Jim, I would be honored to be featured – thank you! I love your site- so much great information for woodstove cooking!

January 17, 2016 - 11:29 pm

Jim Gillian,

Thanks so much for your kind words and link to my blog. I would love to feature your Oval in a “Reader’s Cookstove” post if you would be interested.

BTW, your photography is beautiful! Wish I had that kind of talent with a camera.


January 17, 2016 - 11:33 am

Keeper At The Homestead Love this post!!! This makes me long for the day when we’ll have our own wood cook stove. I adore your mitten and the quotes. So you use this one for heating and cooking? Will you continue in the summer or switch to electric or another alternative?

January 15, 2016 - 6:41 pm

JES Your stove is beautiful! We have been wanting one too but are waiting for a local auction to provide… After reading this, I am even more inspired! Thank you for sharing with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! 🙂

January 14, 2016 - 12:05 am

Kate Love this post and I miss the ever-boiling pot of water! I was surprised that it was so easy to adjust to the woodstove for cooking, it just takes more attention and a but more. Thanks for a fun adventure! xoxo

January 13, 2016 - 11:31 pm

Rebecca It looks fantastic in your kitchen! I love seeing little glimpse of your home ❤️

January 13, 2016 - 10:33 pm

Heather Amazing post! Love that last photo 🙂
Also love that the kettle is always hot for tea!

January 13, 2016 - 5:07 pm

admin Hi Erin! Sure thing! I posted the recipe … it’s one we have modified so hopefully it suits your taste! 🙂

January 13, 2016 - 2:57 pm

Erin That stew looks amazing! Post up the recipe or email it if you get time, I’d love to try it!

January 13, 2016 - 11:20 am

Lauren Gillian, I so enjoy reading your posts here, always. I feel so cozy just hearing about your cook stove cooking adventures.