Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cooking...... the old Fashioned way.

Since I heat with wood, I made the decision to do my cooking primarily with the wood stove, early on. It only makes sense that since I'm heating the cabin I should make the most out of the heat provided.
I use my wood stove from late September (at least partially), until mid to late may, so that leaves me a very short window in which I need to use propane. Honestly building a cook shack would let me use wood year round, and there are day's even in summer where a fire could be built to take the chill out of the air.
The cooking with wood relieves the pressure of needing a constant supply of propane, and other than special needs (popcorn and such), I rarely use the propane stove for any length of time.
I have found that most anything can be made in my wood stove, if you remember that cooking becomes a visual thing as opposed to a timed thing. Since heat is difficult to regulate in a modern fashion, one must make inspections, and often adjust and turn the dutch ovens to cook evenly. This is not a big deal however, and is just the way you get used to doing things.
Most of my cooking is done inside the wood stove in dutch ovens. The large 10" cast iron oven is placed on the grate, off to one side of the fire to allow for the needed air to be pulled through the stove while the smaller 6" oven is placed on top of the larger one. In this way I can bake bread or biscuits while making enough stew or such to make a filling meal.
On top of the wood stove I keep two stock pots to supply me with a steady source of hot water. Behind them next to the chimney I keep the coffee pot. The percolator removed, I simply place water and a heaping scoop of coffee in the pot and let it slow simmer until ready. there in no need to get the water boiling to make coffee. While by coffee may be a bit refined, once it is strained for grounds it will get you through the day.
My diet is simple and so is my cooking. Many of my meals are of a stew type consistency and revolve around three basic base ingredients... beans, rice and potatoes. Meat is usually added sparingly in these recipe's as I have portion protocols that I try and adhere too.
To start a basic recipe I simply add the beans and a large amount of water to the dutch oven and place in the wood stove. During a typical winter day they will be done by noon.. earlier if I presoak them. Remembering to check the water level often. Once they are near done, I will (for example), add potatoes, diced into sizes of a regular dice, and to the proportion I deem adequate. It is at this time that I readjust the water level if needed, add whatever soup stock that matches the meat I will be adding. I season, add dried peppers, whatever and replace in the stove. I will check every 1/2 hour or so until done. I'll remove the dutch oven and then place it back in the oven for a bit before dinner, to bring it back up to temperature.
One note on cooking rice in these type dishes is that it tends to turn a bit mushy if left in too long. So add the rice a bit later than you would potatoes.
If you want a regular bowl of rice just place a steel bowl with the appropriate amount of rice and water and place it in dutch oven, in the wood stove. Keep an eye on it and you will find that you can make a perfect bowl of rice right in the wood stove right in it's bowl!
In fact pasta can be cooked as well. I bake salmon, and halibut and steaks as well, as baked potatoes.. It is no different than any other oven... just visual, that's all.

This pic shows the location of the dutch oven in the stove...

Chicken in the process of being cooked!