Thursday, June 17, 2021

Cooking on the Hayes-Custer in the Summer Kitchen Again

Nancy has pronounced me crazy.

My insanity is not news, however.  My longtime, loyal readers and certainly those who know me personally had no doubt arrived at this conclusion long ago, so that is not the reason for this blogpost.

The reason for this blogpost and the reason that Nancy has pronounced me crazy are one and the same.  She made her proclamation when she saw me hauling a large skillet of cauliflower out to the summer kitchen a week ago Saturday.  

"You're cooking out there?" she said incredulously.

"Yes," I responded.

She looked at me strangely.

"I've told you how much I don't like cooking on that gas stove," I said, shrugging.

"You're crazy," said she.

Guilty as charged, I guess.  I've said before on this blog that no method of cooking compares to cooking on a woodburning cookstove, and now that I don't have to give it up for the summer, I don't plan to.

I had posted on May 22nd that we had turned our electric water heater back on.  However, we had some cooler weather after that, so I fired the Margin Gem again for a few more days.  We left the electric water heater on, but we used the valves in the basement to alternate using water heated electrically and water heated by the Margin Gem.  Once the first of June rolled around, however, the weather got quite warm again, so I have not had a fire inside the house since then.

I've put a two-burner electric hot plate on the reservoir of the Margin Gem in the house kitchen--something that was done quite frequently in history judging from the pictures I've seen.  I've used this for only very light cooking here and there.  Any serious cooking and baking has been hauled out to the summer kitchen.

I really think this Hayes-Custer is quite fuel efficient.  On just a few sticks, I can do quite a bit of cooking and baking.  Speaking of baking, I think it does a beautiful job of it.  In the picture below, I left the goods in the oven about three minutes too long (my fault entirely), but isn't everything a beautiful, uniform golden brown?  I didn't have to rotate anything during the baking time, either.

Bread and rolls coming out of the oven on the Hayes-Custer.  Notice how 
small a fire was required to keep the oven hot.

Oh, and I wish someone would explain something to me: Why do I like cinnamon rolls that are made out of bread dough so well?  I make very good cinnamon rolls using my own variation of my aunt Meme's recipe.  For Monday Market baking, I mix up 15 batches of those rolls, five batches at a time.  People stand in line to buy them.  But, when I'm baking bread for just Nancy and me, I sometimes make one loaf's worth of the dough into a pan of cinnamon rolls.  That's what I did in the picture above.  And I love them!  They have less fat and less sugar in the dough; they are not nearly so light.  In fact they're downright chewy, and I savor every bite!  But why?

Anyway, the picture below is my first ever attempt at tater-tot casserole.  It was very good, but I'm just not a huge fan of tater-tots.  I would like to try it as the recipe originally said, which was to make it with sliced potatoes.  We'll see.  Didn't the Hayes-Custer do a nice job of browning the tater-tots, though?  Nancy doesn't like vegetables to be in the casserole, so the two saucepans over the firebox have home-grown peas and sweet corn from our freezer in them.

During Covid-19 quarantine time, I learned to make hamburger buns from scratch.  The ones that I made on Tuesday of this week were the best batch ever.  The secret?  I think it was the fact that I used bacon grease in them instead of Crisco or vegetable oil.  I've never done that before.

The buns didn't taste like bacon at all, but they were very tender.  They look a little brown on the top, but they were actually just perfect.  I made them for the barbecued shredded pork that you can see in the smaller saucepan directly above the oven.  I made the shredded pork out of some that I had canned on the Margin Gem back in 2017.  The sandwiches were very delicious.

When I start a fire to do some cooking in the summer, I try to take advantage of the fire as much as possible in order to be more efficient.  The black saucepan on the warming shelf has hardboiled eggs in it that are being timed before their cold water bath.  The saucepan over the firebox was water coming to a boil for cooking pasta for a salad.

The last picture is of yesterday's breakfast--and supper and today's supper actually.  The pancakes and part of the bacon were the breakfast.  The rest of the bacon and the chicken breast hidden inside that small cast iron skillet on the back of the range all went into the aforementioned pasta salad.

Breakfast cooking on the Hayes-Custer wood cookstove.

There has been much more cooking done on the Hayes-Custer already this summer, but not every occasion has warranted a picture.  As you can see, the stove has been busy, and I must say, it's been very cooperative too.

I've got a series of posts using this stove coming up, so stay tuned!

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