Tuesday, November 24, 2009
cooking on the wood stove
Since we are heading into the winter months where we will have a fire in the shack the majority of days, I shift the majority of my cooking inside and to the top of the wood stove. The inside stove is not a cook stove type model it is simply a run of the mill older style wood stove.Once the chill of winter sets in good,I would say about 85% of our cooking is done on the wood stove, 10% outside on the cook top and oven and 5% crock pot. We figure why burn wood outside and in the cold when we have a perfectly good cooking source in the warmth of the house. I have found over the last few years that one can dang near cook anything either on it or in it. most things cook in about the same amount of time as what they would cooked on anything else so long as the stove is hot. If it is just heating up as you cook then things will take longer. Its fun cooking on the wood stove, it just takes some practice to get accustomed to. I can say, that it sure is nice to not have to depend on that four eyed monster in the kitchen.
The simplest things to cook on the stove top are beans, soups and stews.Nothing easier than throwing a pot of something on all day and letting it slowly simmer. Chili is pretty easy as is rice, oatmeal and cream of wheat.Tortillas and other flat breads are quite simple as I simply use the top of the stove to cook them.
For breads, cakes and such I place another pan over the top of them. You will most likely have very brown bottoms on things , but if its all you have then you make do. Another method to take a large dutch oven with one of those round meat racks in the bottom. Sit your bread pan down in the dutch oven (on the rack) and put the lid on. It will stop that thick bottom that I mentioned because it leaves a gap for the heat to circulate around the pan and not directly react on it. I have found cast iron pans to be the best for baked goods. It keeps the bottoms from getting quite so brown. Heat the pans up well before you throw your mix of cornbread or cake etc in the pan..
For frying foods or cooking steaks, burgers etc, a cookie sheet works well. If you have only heavy pans to use, sit them on top of the stove to heat up good before you cook in them. A small spray of Pam or light brushing of oil on the pan helps keeps things from sticking and makes clean up easier.
Deep frying is not possible that I have found. The oil just wont get hot enough to do french fries and fried snickers (yes we on occasion subject ourselves to this type of GMO, HFCS, fat laden goodness), but the good news is, even that can be solved. You simply use a shallow thin bottomed pan and a smaller amount of oil and turn as needed.
For some things I just wrap them in foil and place on top of the stove and turn periodically. I do taters, squash and other assorted veggies quite often using this method . Speaking of foil,you can wrap whole potatoes in foil and toss them in one side of the fire box on top of coals you brush over to one side.You can do this with other veggies as well or you can simply throw your dutch oven on in there for a while.Experiment with it and see how much you can do. It is a great use of a cooling down, non raging wood stove. I generally use this method when we need to . to let the fire die down to take ashes out.