Sunday 1 April 2012

Favouring the Wood Stove

Every so often, we talk about buying a wood-fired cook stove or a wood stove designed for cooking and baking.
The price of the units usually finishes the discussion.
They are likely worth the cost, but could the money be better spent on a greater solution?
And, so ended our last conversation about the Vermont Bun Baker soapstone stove.
It's a beautiful unit to be sure.
It is, however, very expensive for a stove that only heats 1000 square feet and has an oven intended for modest batch sizes.
I would still prefer a boiler to heat the entire house, and a wood-fired oven that could turn out enough bread to sell.

At the same time, the hydro bill came in and is getting away on us.
Our greatest consumer is the kitchen stove.
All of our food is made from scratch, including our bread.
That really eats up kilowatt hours.
Having talked again about doing more cooking on a wood stove, we thought it was time to try harder to use the heat that we already produce.
Though we have used the wood stove for bread, it is a little tricky.
There is a plan in place for building an oven into a large stove that we will be using outdoors.
In the meantime, we can still use the stove top for as much cooking as possible.

To make it easier to handle pots and pans around the wood stove, I have modified our fire wood rack.
Having a small counter top next to the stove will help juggling the hot cookware.
It will hold trivets, oven mitts, utensils, hot lids, an so forth.
It could even be used for food prep, though really, the kitchen isn't too far away.

The original fire wood rack is just a box frame built with 2x4s.
It holds the wood that's ready for burning.
All I needed to do was to put a top on it.
It did hold our mitts and scarves and gloves, on the top.
That stuff can be moved to the porch; wet items can be dried on the hearth.

I used reclaimed lumber that I had in the pile.
It just needed to be hosed off and then dried.
No stain required.
No finish either.  
I may treat it with food grade oil, but we'll see.
I have yet to try the oil and beeswax furniture polish.  
It just needs something to keep from being stained by spilled food.

Taking small steps and making simple changes can give you the perspective and experience needed for bigger decisions.
Of course, it helps if you can make the small steps simple.


  1. Why not build an outdoor bread oven?
    I once saw one in Quebec that was quite a roadside business/attraction.
    I have heard of communities running them too as a co-operatives.
    I have enough poplar on my property to fire a commercial bread oven for years and enough roadside traffic to keep a bread making collective in dough LOL!

    1. That's a good idea and we hope to do that before too long.
      Many of the simpler designs I have seen are not really suited for this country.
      Ideally, I would build something that could also heat our hot water.
      In fact, the really fancy bread ovens have a steam feature.
      I'm working on that.
      Oven/Barbeque/Boiler/Smoker/Hot Tub heater - all in one.