Thursday, November 28, 2019

Full Thanksgiving Dinner Cooked on the Wood Cookstove

Well, today was Marjorie the Margin Gem's first Thanksgiving.  She has baked pies for Thanksgiving every year since she was installed in 2012, but this was the first year since her installation that we hosted Thanksgiving.

Today was not our family's official Thanksgiving dinner.  That will be tomorrow when we all get together at my parents' home.  This was the year for my brother and sister's families to be with their in-laws. so since our get-together isn't until tomorrow--on a non-official holiday--my brother wanted to have one of those days where we all bring things we've never made before.  (Stay tuned for a post about one of the dishes that I'm making for the first time.)

While tomorrow will be fun and interesting, some of us were a little sad because we wouldn't have any of the traditional foods that we eat on Thanksgiving.  Therefore, Nancy and I hosted the traditional dinner today for just eight of us: Nancy's folks, my folks, my aunt and grandma, and Nancy and me.

Of course, this meant that I had the perfect opportunity to blog cooking a whole Thanksgiving dinner on a wood cookstove.  I have read a description of cooking on a wood cookstove as a "dance" as you move pots and pans around to the appropriate heat levels for where their respective foods are in their cooking process, and you can see from the movement of things in the pictures, that there are lots and lots of movements to this dance.

Last night, I cooked the cranberry sauce and put the bread for the dressing in the warming oven to dry out.

This morning, I got up early and baked the pumpkin pies.  The recipe for pumpkin pie that I used today is from my great-great-grandma, Mabel Ford.  I blogged it several years ago, and you can see it here.

This is a picture of the pumpkin pies when they first went into
the oven.  The firebox is open to prove that I'm cooking over a
wood fire.

The pumpkin pies after they were finished baking.
The next job was to make the fruit salad dressing, but since I'm going to make a separate blog post about that, I'm saving those pictures for later.

Then, I had to assemble the stuffing so that I could get some of it in the bird and put him in the oven.  First, I saute'd some celery and onion in butter.

Celery and onion frying in butter for the dressing.
After I transferred the cooked celery and onions to the bowl of the dried bread, I cut up the turkey's liver and fried it in butter too.  Yes, I know that is a large chunk of butter, but we put melted butter in the dressing anyway, and I've learned that if I fry the liver pieces in a lot of butter, they remain more tender than if they are fried in only a little.  The final dressing product is much better this way.

The turkey liver chopped fine and frying in a lot of butter.  It
will later be added to the dressing.
 Once I had some of the dressing stuffed inside the turkey, it was ready to go into the oven.  I used an oven bag this time, but I didn't think it helped make the turkey any more moist.  You can read my instructions for roasting a turkey in a wood cookstove at this post.

With the turkey in the oven, there was no room for anything else, and I still had lots of things that would need to be baked.  Thus, I had to get one of my stovetop ovens out.  In the picture below, it is heating up over the firebox.  On the open door of the warming oven, you see two pans of dinner rolls rising.  The turkey neck and gizzard are in the saucepan on the far right, cooking for the cats.

Then, it was time for a few more things to begin to cook.  The first pan of dinner rolls is baking in the oven on top of the stove.  The dressing is in a 9"x9" baking pan sitting on a simmering pad under the lid to the roaster. The pot on the left is the mashed potatoes, and the frying pan contains the syrup for sweet potatoes beginning to cook.

In the picture below, the potatoes had moved to the back center of the stovetop, the sweet potatoes had been added to the syrup, a pot of green beans had been added, and the dressing moved to the right because the stovetop is so busy.  The turkey was finished cooking, and was ready to be removed from the oven.

Then, the turkey was moved to the simmering pad on the back of the stove to await serving.  The dressing has been put into the stovetop oven, and the rolls have been put into the stove's oven.

I'm sorry that this next picture is a little blurry.  The dinner rolls that had been baking in the stovetop oven were nearly done when I transferred them to the cookstove oven.  However, they had not browned on top, so I put them on the top shelf of the oven.  The second pan of dinner rolls is beginning to bake on the bottom rack in the back, and the dish of scalloped corn is beginning to cook at the front of the oven.

It is important to note that the second pan of dinner rolls didn't brown very nicely on the bottom, so I later transferred them to the bottom rack of the stovetop oven beneath the dressing, and the bottoms browned perfectly.  I didn't get a picture of the little stovetop oven full of both dressing and rolls, though.

In this next picture, you will see that the green beans were removed from the stovetop and made into green bean casserole.  It is baking in the front of the oven while the scalloped corn continued to cook in the back.  All of the dinner rolls were out of the ovens by this time.

You still can't see the corn, but in this picture, you can see the edge of a round Pyrex pan on the top rack of the oven.  The sweet potatoes had been put into this pan, and marshmallows had been put on top.  The platter for the turkey was resting in the warming oven to take the chill off of it before receiving the bird.

I poured the drippings from the turkey into my Magnalite chicken fryer and made the gravy in that.  The dressing was basically done at this point, so the oven holding it was moved away from the firebox.  You can also see that the green bean casserole has the french fried onions on the top and is browning nicely.

The marshmallows on the top of the sweet potatoes had roasted to a fantastic golden brown and had been removed to the warming oven.

Meal preparations were complete when this last picture was taken.  The sweet potatoes are still in the warming oven along with the mashed potatoes and the gravy boat.  The dressing is staying warm in the stovetop oven, but the door has been opened to stop it from cooking further.  The gravy is finished and has been taken away from the firebox.  The vegetables in the oven are done, and the turkey was on the platter at the table.

Everything turned out quite delicious with the exception of the dressing, and that wasn't the cookstove's fault.  The sage that I put in the dressing was gritty.  How I figured out that the grittiness was from the sage is a long story, but has anyone else ever experienced that?  I bought the sage in a bulk foods store, and I won't be doing that again.

When my father-in-law walked in the kitchen door just before noon, he asked how the stove was working.  I told him that it was working just fine. It was, too, but I have to say that I cooked more Thanksgiving meals on the Qualified Range, and I have to admit that that was an easier stove to cook a large meal on than the Margin Gem.  I think the difference is that the Qualified responded more quickly to adjustments of the drafts and the additions of more firewood.  The Margin Gem responds to these things, but seems sluggish in comparison.  I don't know how to explain it any other way.

We had enough food for more than the eight people who were here, but to cook these same dishes for a larger crowd using only the wood cookstove would have presented some interesting challenges and demanded some different planning.  I'm looking forward to trying that sometime!

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

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