The 1951 Hotpoint was delivered to a used appliance store to hopefully be refurbished and resold shortly after we began serious work on our kitchen in 2011. I will admit to having been sad to see it go. However, it had some quirks that Nancy found particularly unforgivable, and the new plan for the kitchen doesn't allow any space for it anyway. The good news is that because Marjorie the Margin Gem is an airtight cookstove and is able to easily hold a fire while we are gone, I've begun to experiment with having her cook our dinner while we are gone to church.
In The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery, Addie Norton is quoted as saying, "If I put a fire in that woodstove and go out of the house, it's not gonna get hotter. It's gonna get cooler. That wood's gonna burn up and it's not gonna hurt nothing." For the most part, I would say that is true. The exception is that if you fuel the fire right before you leave it, the fire will first get hotter and then will get cooler. In an old style cookstove, this cycle will take less time, and the extremes in the hottest point and coolest point in that short cycle are most likely to have a wider gap between them. In an airtight stove, the burn time will be longer, and the extremes of temperature will not be as discrepant.
Knowing how the heat of the stove will behave governs one's decisions regarding how and what to cook when you are having your wood cookstove cook "automatically." For our initial experiment, I chose pork roast and mashed potatoes. I seasoned the roast, put it in our red spatterware roaster, and slid it into the oven. The oven was running at about 400 degrees at the time that the roast was put in.
The potatoes were peeled and quartered and then put in a Saladmaster saucepan with a vented lid. I chose that particular pot because I could put the lid on it tightly, but the chances of the potatoes boiling over were lower because the steam vent on the lid would have reduced the chance of that happening. I was also only cooking a small amount of potatoes, so the pan was plenty tall in order to provide additional protection against boiling over. The potatoes were placed between the rear middle and right lids.
|Pork roast in the oven and potatoes on top of the stove|
ready to cook while we are gone to church.
I then filled the firebox with large pieces of wood, turned the damper down, and completely closed the drafts. We left at about nine in the morning and got back home at about 12:45. When we returned, this is what we saw.
|Cooked potatoes that were still very hot but no longer boiling.|
They did boil, though. You can tell that by the starch that is clinging
to the sides of the pot.