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For those of you who don’t know, these stoves were what people cooked on before we had gas and electric ranges. Since we have been living with my husband’s grandmother (another story for another time) this is what I use a lot of the time. She has had one for her entire life and still uses it regularly. The big wind storm we had in the area left us without power for the past 4 days (and counting), so I have been using ONLY the cook stove during this time. And let me just say – it’s a blessing to have something to cook on when you don’t have power. So let’s talk about what it’s like to use one…
To start off, you have to know how to build a good fire in order to get it hot enough to actually cook anything. Getting the fire going and keeping it going at a good temperature are probably the hardest part of using a cook stove.
Once you have the fire going, its a piece of cake…Sort of. The other thing I initially struggled with was the fact that you can’t control the temperature. If it wasn’t hot enough, things would take too long to cook. If it was too hot, everything would burn up the moment I turned my back. Over time I learned some tricks to help with this. You can move your pan further away from the hot side of the stove if its too hot to keep things from burning and to keep things cooking evenly. If the stove is not hot enough, however, you have to go back to step 1 and work on building up your fire some more. Basically, it’s better to have it too hot than not hot enough.
So the benefits – why would you actually want one? Well, as I mentioned in the beginning, you can use it anytime, even without electricity. This is a huge advantage if you, like us, live somewhere that is very low priority to the electric companies (aka. longer periods you’re left without electric in an outage before they decide to fix it). It also heats your kitchen up, which is really nice in the winter (but not as nice in the summer). One last thing I love about it – it keeps my coffee the perfect temperature while I’m cooking breakfast. I just leave my cup of coffee on the side further from the fire and it’s perfectly warm when the food is ready!
I’ll be honest, I never thought I would have a chance to use a cook stove. In fact, before living here I’d never even seen one being used! While it’s a challenge to use at first, you get the hang of it eventually and its sure coming in handy right now. I’m not even sure if they sell them anymore, but I’m glad I got the chance to experience using one.