I'm not dead.
I wonder how many blogposts I've started with that sentence.
No matter. I'm not dead, just busy.
Never fear, though. I am still cooking with wood.
I've been using the Hayes-Custer cookstove out in the summer kitchen several times per week. With the exception of a batch of ketchup and tomato juice, I've done all of our canning so far this summer out there, too.
In the picture below, you can see my red cast iron skillet with a batch of chicken frying in it. Potatoes are simmering in the taller Saladmaster kettle on the back of the stove, and a vegetable is steaming in the small Saladmaster saucepan on the far right side in front of the teakettle.
Astute Saladmaster fans will recognize that both of those pans should have long handles on them. My grandmother purchased these pans in the 1960s, and they have been well-used. The handles had started falling off before I inherited them, but I come from a long line of cooks who have continued to use cookware with missing handles, and I'm not about to get rid of a perfectly functional piece of Saladmaster just because the handle is no longer there!
Due to the high price of propane, I have been studiously avoiding using it for cooking purposes since we quit firing the Margin Gem on a regular basis back in May. Thus, any cooking not done on the Hayes-Custer has been done on an electric hot plate or on the vintage electric stove we have in our basement. To date, the electric rates in our area have not risen, but I imagine that may just a matter of time. We do have to use propane for the baking we do for the Monday Markets, however.
I don't want to start a political debate here, but I have been following the prices of propane and heating oil across the nation, and I predict that a lot of wood is going to be burned to heat homes this coming winter. Because of that, I just want to take this opportunity to once again tout the benefits of a woodturning cookstove. These amazing appliances are made to cook and bake, but they can also heat your hot water and warm your home, and they can do it very economically.
Of course, along with wood heat comes concerns about safe installations, chimneys, insurance, and in some places zoning regulations. Please remember that with the exception of the zoning rules, the other concerns are surmountable and, in my opinion, easily offset by the cost-savings of heating with wood.
Another benefit of the woodburning cookstove is your increased independence. If you have any means whatsoever of gathering your own fuel, you are much less dependent upon whatever other energy systems the majority of Americans use to prepare their food to eat. In this day and age, I feel that is very important, and it contributes greatly to my peace of mind. Because you can easily waterbath or pressure can on a cookstove, you also have the means to preserve food too--so long as you have access to water and the necessary supplies.
All right, I'll get off my soapbox now as I need to get outside and shut up my chickens.