When Mother Cooks With Wood

“In the past century, technology has accelerated at a dizzy-ing rate.
Scores of machines have replaced the working and thinking of people —
and do them better.
These advances have freed us from countless, laboursome tasks,
creating time for more satisfying jobs.
But some tasks, though they take more effort,
offer greater rewards when done the old fashioned way.
That’s how an increasing number of cooks view the cookstove.”
– Woodstove Cookery, 1946


Outside my kitchen windows, the snow is swirling gently around and the cold wind is whisking through the barren tree branches. A sparking of snow is flitting down from the heavens and dusting the grounds around the home. The kitchen is warm and toasty … there is a big pot of soup simmering for dinner and biscuit dough waiting to be cut out.

The winter winds are still strong here in Ontario, Canada. We are north, no doubt, to many of my readers. We still we have a month of winter yet – and while I am excited to embrace the change and newness of spring, I am quite content to spend a few more months cooking at my favorite spot: my cookstove.


While many accuse me of living like the past [I suppose it is true] and tell me to get with modern times, there is something so lovely and wonderful about a hearty meal, all cooked with wood on the family cookstove.


Our stove, which we bought used a few years ago, keeps our kitchen warm and toasty. Without it, our kitchen feels so chilly and un-inviting. I am so grateful to have a warm fire in this room for the cooler months. In our province, it’s cold for quite a while and it makes using the wood cookstove so much more worthwhile.

Tonight’s meal is a pot of Poor Man’s Soup, or Stone Soup, as we call it. The recipe can be found in my wood cookstove book, however, it is very simple.


Truly … it is a big pot of beautiful scalloped or chopped potato soup. What hearty joy in a soup pot! We all love this soup – and it is so easy and simple to prepare. Peel and cube potatoes – any kind. Add broth and water to the pot. Stir in your potatoes, add some chopped onions for flavour … drop in lots of butter, cheese, sour cream if you want, parsley and any seasonings you wish. Lots of cheese loaded on top when it is time to serve make sit all the more heartier. Doesn’t it sound like a delicious soup to serve to a large or small family?

I call it Stone Soup – or Poor Man’s Soup – because you really do not need much to make this soup.  It stretches so very far. We make sure to make enough for lunch the following day.

{My mother gave me this gorgeous cast iron pot –
it’s huge and very heavy. I absolutely love it. }


The girls and I are reading through some of Edgar A. Guests poems for school. I absolutely love his poetry – we came across this lovely poem and it was very fitting to share.





When Mother Cooked With Wood

I do not quarrel with the gas,
Our modern range is fine,
The ancient stove was doomed to pass
From Time’s grim firing line,
Yet now and then there comes to me
The thought of dinners good
And pies and cake that used to be
When mother cooked with wood.
The axe has vanished from the yard,
The chopping block is gone,
There is no pile of corkwood hard
For boys to work upon;
There is no box that must be filled
Each morning to the hood;
Time in its ruthlessness has willed
The passing of the wood.
And yet those days were fragrant days
And spicy days and rare;
The kitchen knew a cheerful blaze
And friendliness was there.
And every appetite was keen
For breakfasts that were good
When I had scarcely turned thirteen
And mother cooked with wood.
I used to dread my daily chore,
I used to think it tough
When mother at the kitchen door
Said I’d not chopped enough.
And on her baking days, I know,
I shirked whene’er I could
In that now happy long ago
When mother cooked with wood.
I never thought I’d wish to see
That pile of wood again;
Back then it only seemed to me
A source of care and pain.
But now I’d gladly give my all
To stand where once I stood,
If those rare days I could recall
When mother cooked with wood.

-Edgar A. Guest

March 16, 2019 - 3:57 pm

Gigi Shirley, that is a lovely memory. Thank you for your encouraging words.

March 16, 2019 - 3:01 pm

Shirley My Grandma taught me to cook on her wood stove. Those long ago memories still warm my heart. Her food was sooooo good! The beautiful photos you have so kindly shared with us today will be scenes that warm your children’s hearts many years from now.
How blessed they are to have the riches of such a lovely mother and home life tucked in their hearts and memories.
And we are blessed to peek into the beautiful home you share with us.

God bless you


March 11, 2019 - 2:12 pm

Molly Love your post, each post is like a breath of fresh air from the noisiness of our modern days. I too long for a slower pace of life. While I do not cook with wood, I surely hope my girls will one day remember the warmth and delicious aromas that come from our kitchen. The kitchen truly is the heart of the home.

March 8, 2019 - 4:32 pm

Gigi Diane, yes, soup simmering away is wonderful! And propane is expensive here, too. I would much rather use wood!
Here is the link for the dress. It is so comfortable. I love wearing floral dresses!

March 8, 2019 - 4:31 pm

Gigi Laura, yes, I agree – when I found out we were getting the cookstove, besides make bread in the cookstove, my second thing to do was place a rocking chair beside it!

March 8, 2019 - 3:31 pm

Diane When I was married we heated with wood only for the first 10 yrs. (35 yrs ago) We continued to heat with wood up until a few years ago with radiator heat as a back up. I can remember setting soup pots on our wood stove to save gas from our stove. Propane was so expensive for us back then. I love the smell of wood burning in the house. So cozy and very warm. Love these pictures GiGi. Makes me want spring to come a little later. It’s really snowy yet here in Michigan. That dress is so pretty too. Could I ask where you found it?

March 8, 2019 - 1:31 pm

Laura Smith I’ve never used a cook stove but looks very cozy. I love your rocking chair in the kitchen. That is such a wonderful place for mother to be found rocking in her kitchen.

March 8, 2019 - 6:13 am

Gigi Hello Ruth, yes, I do all my baking and cooking on this stove. In the summer, when we find it too hot to run it, we shut it down from about June-early September, and I cook outside in our back porch/summer kitchen on a propane stove.
Your memory of your uncle is lovely. Chili is the best on the cookstove! I’m sorry to hear of his passing. I hope you are able to remember the good times together.

March 8, 2019 - 2:45 am

Ruth Hi! Do you do all your cooking and baking on the woodstove? If so, that’s amazing!! We had a fireplace insert at our old home, and there’s nothing like wood heat to warm you up. Your post reminds me of a memory of going to my uncle’s for ice skating. He had a little shack where he had a woodstove for cooking. He would make chili on top of it and hotdogs, which we enjoyed after iceskating. He just passed away a few days ago, so this really brought back a fond memory. Thankyou.

March 7, 2019 - 11:54 am

Gigi What a lovely memory, Teresa!

March 7, 2019 - 11:54 am

Gigi Oh, it would be fun for you to have, right up your alley! But you are in such a warm state, maybe you would not use it as much … still, it’s a great skill, I believe to have. I cooked on top of our back room woodstove for a year to show my husband I was serious about cooking with wood, so I could convince him to get the cookstove for the kitchen. 🙂

March 7, 2019 - 9:55 am

Monica Lovely, lovely, lovely. You and the cookstove! This might be my favorite blog post (pictures) you’ve done. I love everything about it. You are in your element, my friend. P.S. I may have shown my husband this and asked him for a woodstove…for the future…he said “very nice”…maybe I can hold on to hope??? Hugs! Have a lovely day. You are blessed!!

March 7, 2019 - 12:49 am

Teresa@ Simply Farmhouse What a lovely post, my grandmother cooked on a stove like this. We used to live in a 200 yr old farmhouse and in the kitchen was a wood-burning stove. Once our electric was knock out for 13 days from a ice storm and I enjoyed cooking on the top of this wood stove. This stove warmed our kitchen and it was the farmhouse main source of heat. There was many cozy days and nights i would sit in front of the wood-stove rocking our little ones or reading books. We’ve moved since then and I have missed having the warmth of the wood-stove. Thank you for such wonderful memories that a wood-stove brings to a home. Hugs!