Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wood Stove

Today's picture shows a woman cooking in an old wood stove. The picture was taken in 1909. It looks like she is baking bread.

You know, I bet the food that came out of the old kitchen's we are looking at this week was better than the food coming out of most of the superkitchens in McMansions today. Today, people tend to be more interested in what their kitchen looks like, than how good the food is coming out of it. Truth is, the stove above, in the right hands, could turn out a meal like none you have ever had.


  1. Re: "Today's picture shows a woman cooking in an old wood stove."

    She would need to be in the oven if she were 'cooking in an old wood stove'. What temperature is needed to cook a human?

    I couldn't resist. ;-)

    Good question about the meal she could turn out. Todays' foods are stripped of their nutrients as well. I imagine that stove produced some mighty fine dinners.

  2. My mother made enough bread for 8 kids. As a 16 yr old boy, I had no idea how much work it was to knead the dough until I tried to help her do it one day. It nearly killed me:-) Not only is baking bread hard work, its more art than science. A very difficult task to get done correctly.

  3. I would say it looks like she is pretending to bake bread.

    Like Brother Dave, I couldn't resist. ;-)

    This photo is of special interest to me, as my house was built in 1909- the very year the picture was taken. By today's standards my kitchen is small and cramped and inefficient. I can only imagine how much smaller it would have seemed with the wood stove in it! Still, I am sure the lady of the house managed to make wonderful meals there;)

  4. As Brother Dave said, prepackaged food is stripped of most of its nutritional value. I think there are so many overweight people today because they are trying to find enough "food value" and end up consuming more calories than they need. Most people today don't cook - they warm thing up. I've had younger women absolutely astonished that you can make "Jell-o" or a cake without a box! Ah-mazing!

  5. The best part about cooking on a wood stove is that it heats the house as well. Mine had a hot water tank on the side, and depending on how you arranged the fire, could cook several things at different temperatures simultaneously.

  6. PJM:

    You’re right – I’ll bet the meals were better, and healthier.


    Your kitchen may be small, cramped, and inefficient, but I’m sure it’s no worse than what mine was (until I tore it out last month.) Nonetheless, I’ll still miss that 1930s kitchen.

    Lady Anne:

    Many people today are overweight because they are too busy too cook and they eat junk food (or prepackaged food) all the time. And their kids spend most of their time in front of a computer instead of playing outside, or they’re engaged in “scheduled” activities and “play dates” with the “helicopter” parents hovering in the background ready to intervene at a moment’s notice.

    My uncle was a doctor who always said things as they were, with no sugar coating. Once, a patient asked him what exercises she could do to lose weight, and he said, “JUST PUSH YOURSELF AWAY FROM THE TABLE.”

    We all thought that was a riot.

  7. I find the following very true:

    To Those of You Born 1930 - 1979

    1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's!!

    First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

    They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn't get tested for diabetes.

    Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-base paints.

    We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.

    As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes

    Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

    We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

    We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this.

    We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And, we weren't overweight.. WHY?

    Because we were always outside playing...that's why!

    We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

    No one was able to reach us all day. And, we were O.K

    We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

    We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's and X-boxes.. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms . WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

    We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

    We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

    We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

    We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

    Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment.

    Imagine that!!

    The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

    These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever.

    The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

    We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

    If YOU are one of them - CONGRATULATIONS!

    You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.

  8. That lady is pretending to pull baked bread out of an oven. That must be an advertising picture. How about pictures of REAL kitchens.

    It doesn't matter what kind of stove a person uses, it's the cook who makes the difference. And don't forget, someone had to frequently clean out the ashes.
    Cooking is more healthy now if people chose to do it. The availability of fresh or frozen vegetables and fresh milk means that people can eat nutritious fruits and vegetables year round. Remember rickets? Children who did not get enough vitamin D from dairy and green vegetables could be deformed for life. Sure their mothers cooked on woodstoves, but they didn't eat well.
    In the 60's, my 5th grade teacher who was in her 60's talked about how everyone overcooked vegetables and potatoes in her youth but "nowadays" food was cooked better.
    At the same time, the old man next door was from Italy. He said as a child all they ate was polenta and lard. They could only afford butter, cheese or meat on rare ococasions like birthdays or holidays. They had a little vegetable patch in an empty lot. His mother nursed him until he was over 4 just so he'd have milk. He said he never ate well until he came to the USA and what a garden he grew! Beans and herbs and artichokes plus mushrooms in the cow barn.
    My grandmother and great aunt were fantastic cooks, they both learned to cook on wood stoves but they loved their gas ranges. So easy to control the heat and they didn't have to clean the ashes.
    My father said in the wintertime his whole family of seven lived in the kitchen and one adjoining room because the stove could only heat the kitchen thoroughly.

  9. Definitely looks like an ad -- I don't think I'd be holding a hot loaf of bread like that so close to the oven door.

  10. Whether the photo is an ad or not, I like it.

    And it's true, it's the cook who makes the difference. And I'm a lousy one.

  11. i hafta laugh at people i know, big fancy kitchens, and all, but i could out cookem all over an open fire, skill is hard to beat.

  12. oh ,, and smartgirl ? how did we ever survive ? im still laughin,,what you said is oh so true,,

  13. Note to Dan: You are wrong about bread - it's the science and quite simple at that.(This is true of most baking: white sugar vs brown, margarine vs butter, different flour types, if you understand their properties, you understand the results.)
    When I was 11 years old my father said, "It's time you learned to bake bread. All my sisters baked bread when they were your age." He handed me a Sunset Bread How To book and a Fannie Farmer cookbook. I asked why wasn't my brother also going to learn ? He said baking bread for the family was women's work. Although he was a trained chef, he was not a baker. His uncle ran a bakery and he wanted bread like Mom and Uncle Tony used to make. So I figured it out from the books and everyone loved the bread. (My foccacia and cinnamon rolls were especially popular.) If I could learn to bake good bread mostly from books at a tender age, it's not that hard. It does take elbow grease to knead, but if you do it regularly your muscles adjust. From bread I moved on to cookies and cakes. Don't be intimidated by bread making.
    Now, don't think my father was sexist for decreeing that only the daughter would bake. Ironically, though he refused to teach my brother how to cook, and was annoyed when my mother tried to teach him cooking basics; my father also taught me some carpentry, electrical and plumbing skills. 30 years later: someone gave my brother a bread machine. It turned out a nice loaf, but my brother decided he wanted to know how to make "bread from scratch". So I explained the science behind it and demonstrated how to knead then handed the dough over to him and he got exhausted and went back to the bread machine.

  14. My grandmother cooked on a nearly-identical stove, even after getting a second, electric, stove in the late 60's.

    The wood fire added something to the finished product. Probably just the combined scents wafting through the kitchen and dining room. But the food was always better when it came from that stove.

    Eventually, it's service was reduced to baking bread, which it still did several times a week.


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