The Wonderful Wood-burning Cookstove

Mary D. Chambers' "The Secret of Better Baking" is the perfect how-to guide for using a wood-burning cookstove.

| January/February 1985

While rummaging through MOTHER'S 13,000-volume in-house research library not long ago, we uncovered (literally) an age-yellowed little slip of a book called The Secret of Better Baking. The period cover art showed a smiling homemaker with bobbed hair, a bowl of bread dough in one hand and a copy of The Secret of Better Baking in the other. Turning to the title page, we read that the book was "By Mary D. Chambers, B.S., A.M., Associate Editor of American Cookery, Author of Principles of Food Preparation, One-Piece Dinners , Etc., Etc., Etc. Copyright, 1925, Portland Stove Foundry Co., Portland, Maine."

This 59-year-old handbook turned out to be the most concise, entertaining source of wood cookstove selection/use/care/cooking knowledge we've seen — so, naturally, we decided to share parts of it with you. We think you'll agree with us that The Secret of Better Baking does reveal some valuable secrets of operating those somewhat finicky cooker-heaters and proves that some of the better things in life — such as the joys of preparing a delicious meal on a wood-burning cookstove — never change.

In one of the comedies of a generation ago, there is a love scene in which the hero picks up a leathery-looking object and makes a show of trying to bend it over his knee.

"What is it?" he asks.

The maid hangs her head in embarrassment, but replies courageously, "It's a pie. I made it."

"I'll eat it!" exclaims the delighted lover.

But the lady, with an eye to the future, recovers the pie and persuades the youth to prove his valor in less hazardous ways.

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