Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Essential Preparedness Tools of the Trade Part II - Wood Cookstove

I may have mentioned my love affair with our wood cookstove (a time or two) before!  I LOVE it! It is the heart of our home.

We bought our stove about 13 years ago and have never regretted it for a day.  Ours is a Pioneer Maid, manufactured by the Amish in their barn.  We bought it from Lehman's Non-Electric prior to the Y2K nonsense and had it shipped with two Baker's Choice cookstove's purchased by our neighbors at the same time (greatly reduced the shipping costs).  The Baker's Choice is made by the same folks, but is a smaller model.

A perfect breakfast!
After drooling over the cookstoves in Lehman's for a couple of years, we decided on the Pioneer Maid for numerous reasons.  The Maid is larger than any other wood cookstove on the market.  The firebox is HUGE.  We can easily put 5 to 6 pieces of 16" chunks of wood at time in the firebox, which is handy for keeping a fire overnight or when we are going to be gone for longer periods of time.  It is airtight, unlike all of its antique counterparts, which allows us to stoke the stove and allows for better control when baking and cooking.  The stove is completely repairable (heaven forbid it break) because is is entirely constructed out of mild and stainless steel.  In fact, our stainless steel top cracked near the lid and we just welded it up.  We have never had another problem with it!  Our stove has an 11 gallon waterfront on the side of the stove so that we always have hot water at our disposal.  We even have a water jacket that goes into the firebox so that we can plumb it into a hot water tank for all of our domestic hot water use.  We don't have this feature hooked up, but we would love to hook it up some day and say good-bye to the propane tank!  We bought the warming oven option with our stove rather than a warming shelf.  I don't know how people live without this handy feature.  Our dinner plates are always warm and I just pop a plate full of food in the warming oven to keep it warm until everything else is ready.

Filling the water reservoir
I can't tell you how many times we have run out of propane or battery power, or both, and had to rely solely on the wood cookstove for hot water, hot food and a warm shouse.  Our stove has been a laundry-mat, a hot water heater, a room heater, a microwave, a dryer, an animal hospital and an auto-clave.  It is where our family clusters when the winter winds howl and were our meals are prepared.  The wood cookstove is where I can our foods, melt our wax for candle making and mix up soap.  It warms our children, our towels and our feet.  It drys our boots and gloves and pasta.  It bakes our bread, helps our dough to rise and has rejuvenated more than a few hapless farmyard critters.

I can live without electricity, without running water and without a flushing toilet.  I can get by without refrigeration, a clothes dryer and even a washing machine.  But my wood cookstove is a gift from God.  In it, He provides us with heat, food, hot water and great comfort and security.

If I had to have only one End of the World tool, it would be my Pioneer Maid.  I would leave behind china and generators and solar panels, but our Maid is my servant girl.  She provides warmth and sustenance to this modern day pioneer family.

Our wood cookstove is an Essential Preparedness Tool of the Trade.


  1. I Love the stove.. wish list! I have a odd lil thing to ask though now don't LOL but how in the world did you get your biscuits to look like that? mine rise but not that high I think my husband would like them better like that... sorry side bar Many Blessings to you & yours! Learning alot reading your blog

  2. Can you do another post with detailed descriptions and pictures about what each knob does, etc. I know cooking on a wood cookstove is a learned art, but we are planning on purchasing one soon and need all the details that we can get! Thanks and love your blog!

  3. Save the Canning JarsNovember 3, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    I remodeled my kitchen THEN a few months later decided I wanted a wood cook stove. (oops).

    I needed to find something I could bake bread in AND keep the house warm should we lose electricity (we're total electric).

    And where was I going to put a cook stove since there was now no room in the kitchen? Talk about a problem!

    In the Lehman's catalog I found an Australian model called the Nectre Baker's Oven, ordered it and put it in the den. It is SMALL and the firebox will only take 8 or 9 inch logs. But it is mighty and will get the job done (heating the house, baking in its oven, and 4 saucepan top cooking).

    I felt I had really accomplished something wonderful after it was installed, and there was a sense of relief knowing we would stay warm and eat well. Three days after installation, we had an area record snowfall of 10 inches (Okla.) and I was one happy woman that I had insisted we get a wood stove. (Ladies, pick your battles. A hand pump for the well and a wood cook stove are worth "fighting" for).

    So even if you only have limited space, there are models out there to meet your needs. A wood cook stove is within range of just about everyone.

  4. Hi Enola, I second the request of "Anonymous" is the above post. I am curious about how to control the temp in a wood cookstove. Also, how do you manage cooking in the summertime when the weather is hot?

    I also wanted to comment that I am continually inspired by your blog, and particularly the beautiful baked goods that come out of your kitchen. I know that to you, this is just daily life, but to those peeking in, we recognize what an artist and craftswoman you a really are. Your family is truly blessed!

  5. How about this title for your future cookbook (you have started writing it, haven't you?):
    "Wood Cookstove Mastery - What to Cook & How"

    I'd buy several copies, and hope you'd autograph them for me. ;)

    NoCal Gal

  6. GertyGoose;

    I will write a post about biscuits! I don't think it is silly at all. It took me years to find a decent recipe.

    Anonymous & Shawna;

    I will write a more detailed post tonight! I took a lot of pictures. You will have to let me know if I leave anything out.

    Save The Canning Jars;

    Isn't a little forethought a wonderful thing? It is awesome that you were able to weather the storm in warmth with the ability to cook. Way to go!

    NoCal Gal;

    You're killin' me here! I have always wanted to write a cookbook, but somehow, between keeping house, homeschooling, and sewing and mailing out 48 Naturally Cozy Pads (just today), I can't seem to find the time!!!?!!

    Enola Gay

  7. My DH was looking at Lehman's last night and came across the wood cookstove that you have. They now have one a little bigger. We are shopping for one. I bought a book about 5 years ago on how to cook in a wood stove, but I sure would love to see your input on the topic. The things you pointed out as important to you, were the things I had on my list (water reservoir, warming oven, large oven [for cooking my thanksgiving turkey:)]). I might add the water heater attachment now too, I didn't even know there was such a thing until you mentioned it.