With winter in full force we have a fire going in our wood stove pretty much all of the time. The wood stove is our main heat source. Originally we had planned to install a lovely antique wood cook stove but decided that while it would do the job for cooking it wouldn’t be adequate for heating our house. We were able to find a very nice wood heating stove in a Facebook buy and sell group. It’s lightly used and still in excellent shape. On the top of the stove is a little trivet that allows extra heat to escape out. The rest of the top of the stove gets warm also but not as warm as the trivet. We’ve been putting the stove top to use!
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The first time Joe came home and I had a stew going on the stove he questioned if it would work. Admittedly, so did I. It did work and wonderfully so. And it’s so easy.
Soups and Stews
Because soups and stews are so easy, and economical, we have these just about every day. Often for lunch but sometimes for supper.
I usually start the soup or stew on the regular stove top especially if I’m usually onions, carrots and celery in the soup. I saute these three together with a little coconut oil and stew meat (if using) then add my broth or water salt, seasoning, and any other uncooked veggies such as potatoes. I bring everything to a boil, turn off the heat and move the pot to the wood stove. I always cook with the lid on to hold in the heat and keep ash from landing in the pot when the wood stove door is open to add more fuel. Toward the end of the cooking time I’ll add any quick cooking veggies or additional ingredients plus adjust the seasonings.
The boiling first on the stove top gives it a good boost and helps with cooking everything quickly. Quickly is really a relative word… it still takes a couple of hours depending on how hot the fire is. I view the wood stove as a slow cooker.
As I type this out I have a pot of broth simmering on the wood stove. I do what is essentially a perpetual broth a few days a week. I used to do this in my slow cooker and love that it works just as well on the wood stove. Here’s what I do:
Day 1: Early morning I put my bone(s) in a pot and cover with water. Add a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar. Set it on the wood stove trivet and let it boil. Then move a less hot spot. Before bed I ladle off a quart or more of the broth. I like to leave about a quart in the pot. The pot then goes in the fridge (we’re actually using our new uninsulated and quite chilly addition as a walk in cooler/freezer right now so I put it out there). The jar of broth that was ladled off is moved to the fridge and ready to use.
Day 2: Early morning I move the pot back to the stove, add more water and a little more vinegar (less than day 1). I repeat the process from day 1.
Day 3: Put the pot back on, add water, vinegar and on this day I *might* add veggies scraps that I keep in the freezer (onion and carrot peels and ends, celery tops). Repeat the rest of the process from day 1 & 2.
Day 4: Repeat of day 3 with additional new veggies scraps added.
Day 5: This is the final day of my perpetual broth. It’s a repeat of day 4 except at the end of the day all of the broth is all strained off and the bones are thrown away. The veggies scraps are put in the compost bin.
This method insures we rarely run out of gut-healthy bone broth. This bone broth is the basis for our soups and stews during the week and also used in other dishes.
Beans turn out wonderfully on the wood stove! I soak the beans overnight, pour off the soaking water and give a good rinse, then add fresh water or broth. Bring to a boil on the stove top and then move to the wood stove. It takes about 8 hours to cook beans like black or pinto. Lentils cook in just over an hour — of course these cook times can be quicker or slower depending on how hot your fire is.
I like to cook meats in advance to keep on hand for quick soups, stews, casseroles, sandwiches, etc. My Instant Pot works quite well for this but with our shortened days we don’t always have enough power from our solar system to use the Instant Pot. Stewing the meats on the wood stove works quite well and the results are wonderfully tender. I put just enough water over the meat to submerge. I don’t usually start the stew meat on the regular stove top. Instead I start them on the trivet with my fire quite hot, lid on. The pot will boil. Once it does I move it off the trivet to a spot that isn’t quite as hot. Several hours later it’s ready and delicious.
Oh my! This turns out good. I lightly flour and sear the roast on the cook stove in a little fat. Then add water to just about cover and bring to an *almost* boil. Then move to the trivet on the stove. A few hours later I’ll add veggies such as chunks of carrot, onion, celery, turnip, potato, parsnip, etc. Not all just whatever we have on hand. After adding the veggies I’ll often move it to the back of the stove to let it finish at a simmer. So good!
Heating up leftovers on the wood stove is super easy. No different than using a stove top other than allowing for extra time. I’ll sometimes use my Dutch oven as an oven and put a little water in the bottom then place several small dishes inside to heat. I like to use a canning jar ring to lift the dishes off the bottom of the cast iron. Works great!
My new obsession is baking on the wood stove. Our unfinished kitchen lacks an oven. I put off trying to bake on the wood stove for some time not sure it would work. It does!
The inspiration for this comes from Traditional Cooking School and this post Fresh Bread on the Wood Stove. I’ve made cookies, brownies, biscuits, cornbread, pan bread and lovely loaves of artisan bread on top of the stove. The timing can be a challenge to figure out. It’s not like putting something in a 350 degree oven and it being done 20 minutes later. Something that helps with this is getting a nice hot fire by using small chunks of wood as opposed ti larger pieces.
Something to watch for, moisture tends to accumulate on the lid of the Dutch oven which can make the item seem like it’s not done when it really is. I ran into this making brownies the other day. There was moisture on the top and I thought the brownies weren’t cooking when they were really almost overdone.
The artisan bread loaves can take several hours to cook but turn out wonderfully. I’ve even taken the bread to a couple of neighborhood gatherings they turned out so well.
If you have a wood stove I hope this post is inspiration to try you hand at preparing meals using it. It is such a wonderful and frugal way to cook. If you wood stove is already heating your house you are saving the use of something else.
Have you cooked on your wood stove? What’s your favorite thing to make?
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