Thursday, June 11, 2015

First Time Cooking in the Summer Kitchen in 2015

I know I'm an odd duck.  I'm used to it, and I'm fine with it, so please don't point it out. 

We had started the electric water heater in the early days of May, and I started whining to Nancy about how much I missed the wood cookstove after only one day of cooking on gas, so we've had Margery the Margin Gem cookstove going intermittently.   On May 30th and 31st, for example, I had a lot of cooking to do and so had fired her up.  One of the things that I cooked on those days was a caramel cheesecake--stay tuned for the upcoming post!  However, I had been cooking mostly on the gas stove since then.

Sorry, but I feel the need to vent a little about our propane range.  You see, I was raised in a home with an electric stove; in fact, the only person on both sides of my family to have a gas stove is my aunt Cheri, who has simply had gas stoves at various times during her many travels and moves.  Nancy, on the other hand, was raised with a gas stove, and her grandmother also had one.  Thus, since I got the wood cookstove that I wanted, the modern gas range next to it is the compromise that proves my love for my wife.

Of course, my opinions weighed heavily in our choice of the gas range, and I think we chose well.  I'm just surprised and frustrated by a couple of the characteristics of today's gas range.  I've cooked on only four gas ranges: the tiny, ancient, unbranded one in our church basement, the 1950s Crown in my parents' basement that we use to freeze sweet corn, the new one in our kitchen now, and the old Hardwick that my grandparents installed in our basement years ago in case of an extended power outage (used twice in my recollections of growing up here).  When we gutted our kitchen in 2011, I cooked on the Hardwick for about a year.  I don't mind cooking on old gas ranges, but our new stove (and every gas stove that is available on the market now) has the cooking vessels sitting so far above the gas burners that the amount of heat that escapes up the sides of the pots is just unreal.  Also, I'm continually surprised at how much heat comes out of the oven vent!

All of this is to say that in the 95 degree heat that we had on Tuesday, I was not excited about cooking supper in the house, even though the air conditioning was on.  The thought of all the heat that comes into the room from the gas range was enough to make me want to have just a bowl of cold cereal for supper, but our nephews were here, so we had to be more responsible and balanced in our meal choice.  Hence, the boys and I trooped down to the summer kitchen and started the Riverside Bakewell.

"But, Jim, wasn't it already 95 degrees in the summer kitchen before you even started the stove?" most sane observers would ask.

Well, yes.  It was already hot in there, and we made it hotter.  I already told you that I know I'm crazy.

We cooked some marinated chicken and macaroni and cheese (which with carrot sticks and fresh strawberries constituted our supper), and then I baked banana bars down there afterward.

Supper cooking on the Riverside Bakewell cookstove.

So yes, it was hot down there, and yes, the summer kitchen is a full 75 paces away from the house kitchen, but cooking on a woodburning cookstove just feels right.  If I could explain it any better, I would.  Surely some of you loyal readers who have your own cookstoves know what I'm talking about and could agree with me in the comments section below so that I don't have to feel quite so weird, right?

I don't know the history of the Riverside Bakewell cookstove as I bought it on an estate auction, but when I'm cooking a meal on it, I can't help but wonder how many meals it turned out before it was put out to pasture for a time.  How many Thanksgiving dinners did it cook?  Did it help keep a family from freezing to death in the notorious winter of 1936?  How many corncobs has it consumed in its lifetime?  As you can see, I have an overactive imagination.  Anyway, add one more meal to the count!


  1. Jim - I totally get this. Can't wait to read the upcoming recipe[s].

  2. Very sensible. I am thinking how you got to have your cake and eat it, too. Cooking on your cook stove and then spending the rest of the day in a cool living space. What can be better?

  3. Thanks, ladies, for validating my sentiments! I'm hoping to get the caramel cheesecake post done in the next few days.

  4. Jim,
    Are you familiar with a wood/gas stove by the name Stewart? Hoping I got a good one! Thank you!

    1. Heather,
      Congratulations on the new stove! I'm not familiar with Stewart stoves, but a quick Google search has made me very curious. At some point, I'd like to do a "Reader's Cookstove" post about your range. Please e-mail me at so that I can send you the standard list of questions.

  5. No, Jim. You are not an odd duck for liking to cook in woodstoves. I consider the practice quite different, but very enjoyable! And cooking is all about having fun while making a favorite meal or two. So, do use what works best for you! And I agree with your bit about the cooking stoves today, so much heat escape and just dissipates into the room. We could use a little more efficiency nowadays. Anyway, thanks for sharing a piece of your mind.

    Lindsey Mckenzie @ BuchananFireAndOutDoor