Saturday, February 14, 2015

In Praise of Woodstoves

Every winter I get to indulge my inner pioneer woman by lighting up the wood stove in my kitchen first thing in the morning. It heats the kettle, warms the milk and cooks the porridge (or corn grits, a holdover from my days living in North Carolina). And then, as the day goes on, I'll put on some soup and make a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. The surface area is not large but it fits a few of my smaller pots very nicely. Apart from all that, though, it boosts the warmth to an otherwise chilly corner of this old house.

Over the years I've developed a thing for cast iron cookware, especially the well seasoned vintage pots and frying pans I find in thrift stores and antique markets. Of course the enamelled ones are fancy and usually good to go as is - it's the bare, untreated old iron that will need a little TLC when you bring it home.  A good scrubbing (no soap), oiling and heating make the best non-stick surfaces for cooking and my tastes buds tell me that food cooked this way is just all around better. The only warning I have about cooking with untreated cast iron is to never, never, never use any acidic ingredients (tomatoes, wine, etc) in your cooking as that will draw out the iron into the food and you will taste it. It's harsh and bitter and unsalvageable as I found out years ago when I added some wine to a nice sizzling pan of chicken. It was horrible. Otherwise, though, for fun and flavour and old-timey flair, cast iron is amazing.


Connie said...

The wood stove looks so cozy and warm. I remember my mom and grandma cooking with the old iron skillets. Good memories!

Trish said...

So much wisdom! Nothing beats the tried and true methods of past generations.