Below is a picture of the woodburning stove. I took it with the door open so you can see the fire. The wall behind it is covered with sheet metal for safety (it was actually left over from some of our summer projects, which I referred to in this post). The sheet metal was something else we got for free that a friend from town gave us. It’s pretty awesome how much you can do with free stuff if you just save it and are creative). There are cinderblocks piled on either side of the woodstove, again for safety, so we don’t accidentally burn ourselves. But it also absorbs and redistributes the heat. You can’t see them, but under the woodstove is a bunch of fire bricks. My floor is bare wood right now, I have not had the chance (the money, really) to tile it yet.
The enameled cast-iron pot on top of the stove has pulled chicken being cooked in it. Yes, I can cook on top of this, although we are just learning the ins and outs of doing so. For example, I can only really do slow-cooking, I can’t cook anything fast like eggs. I have an electric skillet for that. But anything that takes about 4 hours or so, like pulled pork or stew or chili, is great on the woodstove. Because of the temp being somewhat inconsistent, its best to brown the meat in the electric skillet first, then throw it in the pot on the woodstove.
I still need to get a gas stove and convert it take propane; then I will actually have an oven to bake in! In any case, I don’t think I’m going to buy a microwave ever again. It’s too much of a temptation to start buying shitty packaged food again and we’re trying to eat more whole foods and cook from scratch. Sometimes we have to get food from the local food banks, so we already end up with packaged over-processed junk food-type stuff from there a lot. I’m not getting a microwave and adding to that problem. Living out here is about creating a whole different lifestyle, and a microwave doesn’t fit into it.
I also want to create less trash; have you ever actually considered how much trash you generate? It’s an amazing amount. You don’t realize it till you have to go a few months without trash pickup and have to resort to burning your trash. All our single-meal, single-serving foodstuffs, snack-size candy bars, trail-mix packages, milk cartons, juice boxes, Capri-sun packages, all come in plastic wrapping that is toxic to the planet and piles up in landfills. Burning it isn’t great either, I don’t like putting it all into the air, but what else could I do when I didn’t have trash pickup or a truck to take it to the landfill? It was eyeopening.
The other purpose for the cinderblocks is to remove something from the cooking surface when it’s done. That’s a kettle on the left. The cinderblocks are warm but not hot enough to burn. If you are wondering what the orange thing behind the kettle is, that is a cat butt. Sarah* and Ben* had two cats with them, Gabriel and Ichicho (that’s Japanese for “strawberry”, but I just call hime Itchy). The orange one is Itchy. Yeah, our tiny cabin not only has four people and two dogs in it now, it has two cats. At least Sarah* and Ben* don’t have dogs. And Itchy and Thor play together really well. Mostly Gabe stays in the loft and avoids the dogs, but it works out.
Below is a picture with the door of the woodstove closed. This was right after I cleaned a bunch of the ashes out of the stove, but before I swept, so its all over the cinderblocks and the floor.
That’s all for now. Happy New Year, and Happy Homesteading!
*All the names of my friends and neighbors have been changed for their privacy.