19 May 2010

You Cook on WHAT?!

We just passed 8 months. Well over a year ago, A and I were in an antique store. He was raving about the beauty of the stove he had just found, and I was wondering where we were going to put it until we tore our kitchen up so we could put it in. It was PERFECT! The stove was sage green and looked as if it came straight from the factory. There was no doubt in my mind we would purchase it.

We left the antique store empty handed.

We spent the next three days doing research into OTHER stoves, even going to an antique stove warehouse where we saw stove stacked on stove stacked on stove. And then, after visiting "OUR" stove at least three times (we did the same thing with our house before purchasing it, by the way), we finally brought it home. Getting it in the house was a two man job (people in our ward don't answer the phone when we call...the first thing we ever moved into our home was an antique piano; that was a FOUR man job.), but move it in we did. It sat in the sun room as a great conversation starter - "Hey! My GRANDMA had something like this!" "Wow! That thing is in AMAZING shape!" "Are you really going to cook on that?!"

Finally, after 6 months, we called the same poor chap who had helped us move it into the house and asked him to help us move it into place in the kitchen. He must have forgotten how heavy it was, because he agreed. The stove sat, unusable, for another couple of months, until the hottest day in September 2009. It was on that day we finally put the last piece of pipe in to connect the stove to the chimney. And then we fired it up. Literally. We had pizza.

Because it took so long for us to get our stove in place, I learned several things about cooking. First: you can cook ANYTHING on the barbecue. Second: I love my crock pot. Third: Who says you can't make macaroni and cheese in an electrical skillet? I also learned that the most frequently stated comment to owners of an antique WOOD cookstove is: "My Grandmother used to make the BEST meals in a stove like this. I've never had a better meal."

I don't know about my grandmother's wood cookstove, as far back as I can remember she's had an electrical stove. I CAN, however, tell you about mine. Yes, I am 35 years old and I cook on an antique wood cookstove. My day starts with firing up the stove. On really hot days and during the summer, we give the stove a break and barbecue. If I have good, dry wood, I can get the oven hot enough to bake bread in within 20 minutes. Some days, the oven never gets that hot - like the day I made brownies and baked them at 120... for FOUR hours. Hey. They weren't burnt!

Cooking on an antique wood cookstove is really no different that cooking on an electrical or gas stove - except for the fact that you can't rest your hand on the side of the stove when cooking, and if one burner is on, the entire stove is on. I can regulate the heat by opening and closing dampers, or by adding more fuel to the flames. I can bake a loaf of bread in the same amount of time that a regular stove bakes bread, and I can roast the BEST chicken you'll ever have in your life. (I can also burn my buns on the stove - but that's another, more embarassing post.) A and I have commented that we really should teach our children about electrical stoves; that way they aren't TOO backward when they go to college - and it is for that reason that our glass-top stove sits in the basement where the children use it as a pretend stove for playing house. It's not plugged in, nor does it have an outlet that it COULD be plugged in to. Instead, it sits. In exhile. Not even next to its old friend, the refrigerator (of which we have two - both down in the basement and really not that convenient to the kitchen...)

I love explaining to other people how we regulate the heat in the stove. It's even better listening to our four year old explain to people the same thing. And I love using cast iron. It's an even heat, keeps my food hot even when it's not on or in the stove, and it's the easiest clean up in the world. The original non-stick.

The other day we had some friends come over to purchase eggs. They had never been inside the house before, and her comment was "You really DO cook on an antique stove! They told me, but I didn't believe it." The stove is perfect in our kitchen. It fits with the house. And it does. It looks like it's always been there. The best benefit is that I never have to worry about power outages. I'll always have a way to cook and bake and heat my home - no matter WHAT the weather. (As long as I have access to our wood, I've got heat and cooking energy.) Everyone should have an antique wood cookstove.

So... the next time you're in the area, stop by for some fresh baked bread. Or the best roast chicken you've ever had. You won't be disappointed.

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