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Old 01-08-2013, 12:14 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
23,307 posts, read 28,108,786 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatanjaliTwist View Post
Hiya Suzy. Nice to see you! Hope you had great holidays!

My mum did the same... coal, cast iron stove. Amazingly, I don't recall anything which was baked or roasted that ever burned. Then again, she spent her life in the kitchen. If we had that much practice, we'd be professional chefs!
Hi Pat!

Our family had a great time, thanks!

I never actually watched anyone cook on a wood fired stove. I just marvel that it was possible.

I did watch my grandmother combine the sugar and shortening for a cake with her fingers --- no mixer.

One of my mother's brothers rendered me high praise one time when he said I cooked just like my mother and their mother, though I think he was being kind.

I can cook most of what my mother did. Not biscuits, though. She did not have a recipe. And the perfection of her pound cake escapes me.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:36 AM
 
Location: Cody, WY
9,545 posts, read 10,855,846 times
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My mother was born in 1903 so she learned how to cook on a wood stove. She showed my late wife and me explaining that the fire was all important. It had to be full of glowing coals, not flaming. It's worth spending time on it. Adjusting temperatures of items on top is easy. Just move them around the stove; the edges are much cooler than the center. To get a spot really hot just pile asbestos pads around the rest to concentrate the heat. The difference between a moderate and hot oven becomes apparent after someone spends just a little time near a cook stove. If I were going to use a wood-fired stove I'd need to adjust my cooking habits but the thought of using one doesn't terrify me. I'd eat just fine.

I've seen combination wood and gas stoves that have gas burners as well as a firebox for both part of the top and the oven. Oven thermometers came into use during the latter days of cook stoves.
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:55 AM
 
Location: rain city
2,958 posts, read 11,331,267 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
One thing that amazes me is the concept of baking breads and cakes with a wood fired stove. My grandmothers did it, and I understand the heat of the fire was judged by testing it with your hand, but then I look at the dial on my oven and set it to 350 degrees and wonder, "How did they do it?"
I've cooked on wood stoves. Actually in a lot of ways it's better than new fangled electric and gas equipment.

Wood stoves do take a bit of practice. But what's great is that you can use the whole stovetop and oven once you get a consistent fire in the woodbox. The entire stove is 'on'. You boil water on the burner directly above the woodbox in minutes. Farther to the back and the other side you can keep things simmering. Most old wood stoves had compartments above the cooking surface to keep things warm and raise bread dough.

Modern appliance are actually less flexible than all the things you could do at one time on a wood stove.

The only downside is the wood. Most of the wood cookstoves had small fire boxes so the wood had to be split up into pretty small pieces, and then of course you have to keep a box of split pieces in the kitchen so you can pinch them into the fire as need be.

But the stove itself and cooking on it are really pretty great.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:20 AM
 
11,256 posts, read 43,233,221 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
One thing that amazes me is the concept of baking breads and cakes with a wood fired stove. My grandmothers did it, and I understand the heat of the fire was judged by testing it with your hand, but then I look at the dial on my oven and set it to 350 degrees and wonder, "How did they do it?"
With experience with a given stove, it's pretty easy to judge the size of the fire in the firebox and relate that to the oven temps ...

One does not simply get a fire going and assume the oven has reached a baking temperature when you don't have a temp gauge. It's easy to place a pan or baking sheet in the oven and test it to see if the oven was hot enough ... a drop of water on a 325-350 F surface "skitters" across the pan surface as it boils off. If you're doing other cooking at the time, it's obvious what the relative temps are across the hob and you know pretty quickly if the stove is getting hotter or colder, so the oven temp will vary along with that, too.

I heat my house with a Waterford Stanley woodstove and do most of our wintertime cooking and baking on it. Much preferred to our nice gas range/oven, the temperature range across the stovetop is a pleasure to cook with and much faster for cooking or boiling as needed while having more moderate temps for slow cooking at the far end away from the firebox. The oven is a pleasure to use, can readily achieve and regulate at the 350 to 400 F range as needed.

I've used several older wood and coal cookstoves and every one of them, without exception, has been very easy to fire up, control, and regulate for cooking and baking. Some easier than others, but most stove designs were pretty well thought out by the turn of the 20th century .... they used a lot of thermal mass to keep the temp a bit more uniform, every one of them was a heavily built stove.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:22 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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Thanks for the insight, azoria and sunsprit.

I would think a wood stove would make for a hot job here in GA in the summer!
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:33 PM
 
Location: Temporarily, in Limerick
2,898 posts, read 5,185,535 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
I would think a wood stove would make for a hot job here in GA in the summer!
That's why they call it Hotlanta. Yuk, yuk, yuk. Feel free to shun me.

I'm loving all these stories. I recall what most are saying, even though it's been years since I was a kid & mum was in the kitchen with her apron... haven't seen one of those in years either. These tales are making me feel... old. Still & all, I like gas cooking & dislike that every apt I've had for the last several years has an electric stove... they don't even call it a stove, it's a range. Why? What the hobbit???! Who cooks with electricity!

Great stories... carry on!
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Old 01-09-2013, 05:40 AM
 
Location: St. Louis
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I remember reading another way to test the temp on those woodstoves. You got the fire to where you thought it should be and then you'd test it with your hand--you'd put it just inside the firebox and hold it and count the seconds before you had to hank it out. That was your temp. Now I guess everyone's hand was a little different but with experience you'd learn.
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Old 01-09-2013, 05:47 AM
 
Location: Big skies....woohoo
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I found a cookbook in my parents' attic. There is a great recipe for peanut butter fudge. YUM One step says 'remove from fire.' hahaha
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:14 AM
 
Location: Temporarily, in Limerick
2,898 posts, read 5,185,535 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepka View Post
I remember reading another way to test the temp on those woodstoves. You got the fire to where you thought it should be and then you'd test it with your hand--you'd put it just inside the firebox and hold it and count the seconds before you had to hank it out. That was your temp. Now I guess everyone's hand was a little different but with experience you'd learn.
Yes, I recall that, too. Also, my mum had an old iron with a thick material cord & no settings... I think it was Martha Washington's. Sometimes it needed to be cooled down because it would burn the 'test cloth' or whatever it was called... a piece of heavy, off-white, canvas-y material she set the iron on or placed on top of clothing to iron through it... I guess so it wouldn't burn.

Clothes were mainly cotton in those days... today that iron would melt 3/4 of my closet of nylon, lycra, poly, rayon, linen. She tested it by licking her finger & quickly touching it to the iron. I vividly recall the sizzle sound. She still continued to do that sizzle test when she got her first steam iron... wow, no more spray bottle to iron clothes! To this day, I test my iron & cast iron pans with the sizzle test, regardless of heat setting. Just an old habit. My nieces think I'm daft.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:35 AM
 
1,459 posts, read 2,217,727 times
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I think what constitutes "old timey" is as much a function of whether you are really a cooking family from way back, or not. Mincemeat is a little old fashioned, but there are three different brands of it available in a large Northeastern grocery store during the holidays, Nonesuch year round, and I've made it myself (with suet!)

Old school techniques such as saving the grease from bacon and keeping it in a can near the stove (and as saturated fat is revealed not to be the demon it was made out to be, I feel sad that people have abandoned this.) I've rendered lard before, but prefer to buy a really high quality product from Dietrich's meats, as there is no better fat for pie crusts. No, not even butter.

How about corncob jelly? That is making due with what you've got.
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