Monday, January 24, 2011

Cleaning The Cookstove

When we built our home twenty seven years ago, we knew we wanted on old cookstove, so designed a space for it between the kitchen and dining room - all a part of a great room - an L shape with an end space we call "the keeping room". People often think it's my main cooking stove. They seem relieved when they find out I've got a regular range with an oven and glass cooking surface - it's in the kitchen's island, and I'm loving the flatness of the glass top (new a few years ago), adding to the islands food layout as we tend to serve most meals buffet-style. And I've also got a combination convection/microwave, AND a toaster oven - both in the same built in wall shelves next to my pantry entrance, near the refrigerator. My kitchen is nice and big, but my work triangle is nice and small, saving steps. (Read the book Cheaper By the Dozen - the father studied saving steps in many work arenas, and was instrumental in changing the old large kitchens where slaves/servants worked, to energy efficient family kitchens.)

Well, it's time again for me to empty the stove's ashes. I only have to empty the ash bin this time. Every Fall, in preparation for Winter, I fully clean the stove. The old man we bought the stove from showed me how to care for it and told stories. Cookstoves have a small fire box, the ashes falling into the bin below. Above the firebox, especially at the back would be your "high" burner, more "medium- high toward the front, and as you slide pots to the right, you're getting a cooler heat for simmering. The chrome-plated decorative circles at the back open down for another warming place, and then there's warming ovens above the cook surface. When not cooking in the oven, I leave the oven door open for more heat to enter the room. When cooking in the oven you need to move foods around as there's hotter spots there too (it cooks pies better than my regular range!)

If the ashes are removed from around the oven, scraping the sides of the oven, which I only need to do once a year, the oven gets more heat. If water were in the water reservoir to the right, it would heat too, as they did in days of old for washing up - but it's rusty looking and we don't need it, other than a nice look and setting surface.

To the west of us is a hill, so in the winter the sun sets around 4pm. We have lots of large windows since most of our days are sunny - solar heating. But most days I'll start up the stove come 4, for taking off the chill. And cloudy days I usually burn it all day and will utilize it for cooking. It sure comes in handy if the electricity is out! And such a nice atmosphere.

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