Why fire up the gas or electric range when the trusty old woodburner is waiting—warm and ready—to serve your wintertime cooking needs?
Over the past several winters, I've come up with quite a number of homegrown recipes designed especially for cooking with wood. Three of them have become family favorites, and I'd like to share this trio of woodburner meal maps—one for each of the day's three repasts—with you. (Mind you, I prepare these dishes on my trusty old wood cookstove, but they can also be done up on the top of any well-fired box-type wood-heating stove . . . if you're willing to experiment until you hit upon the correct time-and-temperature combinations.)
These through-the-day meals are sure to delight the hungry mouths around your house, too. So slide that simmering teapot to the back of the stove, grab your ingredients, and let's get cooking!
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat or unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 1/2 cups of milk or fruit juice
3 tablespoons of honey
1/4 cup of cooking oil
1 apple, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Blend the milk or juice, honey, eggs, and oil in a separate container. Stir the wet and dry mixtures together, and add the chopped apple and the sunflower seeds.
Now, set a heavy skillet or griddle on a medium-hot stove top. When a drop of water will dance on the heated surface and then evaporate quickly, you're ready to start cooking. Coat the bottom of the pan or griddle with cooking oil, and pour in a large spoonful of your mix. Fry each cake until its edges are slightly dry and its top bubbles, then flip it over to cook the other side. (For best results, use a large spatula and turn the cakes only once.)
Serve your pancakes topped with butter and maple syrup . . . or make your own sweet sauce by adding hot water to a jar of homemade preserves until the concoction reaches a syrup-like consistency.
2 cups of water
3 tablespoons of tamari
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of brown rice
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup of chopped tomato
Bring the water to a boil. Add the tamari, bay leaf, 2 tablespoons of butter, and the rice. Let the seasoned mix boil vigorously for 5 minutes before moving it to a cooler place on the stove—or placing it on a trivet—to cook slowly for approximately 40 minutes. Just before the rice is done, sauté the chopped onion and pepper in a tablespoon of butter over medium heat until they become limp. Add the cooked vegetables and the chopped raw tomato to the rice . . . sprinkle individual portions with Parmesan cheese to suit your taste . . . and serve the dish with a bread of your choice.
For this treat, you'll need to proportion the following ingredients to the number of servings you wish to prepare . . . about 1 to 2 cups per person, depending on the appetites around your house:
Now, combine these spices, rubbing them with your fingers to blend them and bring out their flavors:
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of coriander
1/4 teaspoon of cardamon
1/4 teaspoon of ginger
1/2 teaspoon of sage
1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon of basil
1/2 teaspoon of celery seed
1 teaspoon of cumin
Set the spices aside. Slice the vegetables, not including the peas, thinly and toss them gently. Next, chop the almonds lengthwise (you may also want to toast them in a hot oven for 10 minutes). Then precook the peas in a pot of water until they're just tender.
Once you've completed these preparatory steps, pour 1/4 cup of sesame or peanut oil per serving into a cast-iron skillet and place the pan on the stove. When the oil is good and hot (you'll know it's ready if an onion slice will start sizzling as soon as it's dropped in), add all the vegetables except the peas. Cook these fixings for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, and then sprinkle on the blended spices. (Start with a healthy pinch per serving, adding more as you like.)
When everything's cooked to your satisfaction, it's time to eat. Top each helping with a spoonful of almonds and cooked peas. You may also want to serve the meal with brown rice or noodles, and to put tamari or soy sauce on the table.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For an excellent guide to buying, installing, caring for, and using a wood cookstove—complete with scores of taste-tempting recipes—consider Jane Cooper's Woodstove Cookery: At Home on the Range.
And those of you who don't have a wood cookstove—but would like to take advantage of your airtight box stove for range-top winter cooking—may want to look into The Airtight Woodstove Cookbook by Dale Darling and Julia Van Dyke. In addition to the impressive collection of mouth-watering stove-top recipes, this book includes directions for building your own stove-top oven.