How Many Different Ways Can You Cook?

Cooking will always be a way of life as long as there is food to cook and people to cook it. With the construction of the outdoor kitchen underway, I have been thinking about different ways to cook. There are many, many ways to choose from, so I thought I would see if we could get a good conversation going. Like Frank says, we’re all in this together, and we always learn so much from interaction with the folks that stop by and visit here.

As I pondered this question, I came up with several possibilities. Here they are in no particular order.

We cook with propane in the house, and will be able to continue to do so until the tanks run dry. For now, it’s easy to call up a company and have them come and fill the tank. When that is no longer an option, we’ll have to come up with other alternatives.

We have our wood stove in the livingroom that has a flat top. It’s not ideal and isn’t meant to be a cookstove, but we can put a cast iron dutch oven on it and cook beans or soup. I’m not sure how well it would work for making a pot of coffee with a camping percolator, though. Yes, we really like our coffee, and until our supply runs out, we’ll be having some everyday, even after the SHTF.

Now we come to the outdoor kitchen. We will have a wood cookstove there along with a grill/smoker.

Another addition for quick cooking and heating will be a Rocket stove. Once we have everything set up out here, I will practice with all three.

An option for baking we have acquired is a Coleman camp stove oven. It folds down flat, so it isn’t air tight, and makes me wonder how effective it will be. It is about an internal 10 inch cube, so no 25 lb. turkeys. In one of the reviews Frank read, someone suggested putting bricks in the bottom to help hold the heat. We have firebricks to put in the wood cookstove, and will try some in the oven as well.

Another oven option is a Sun Oven, which we also have, but it hasn’t made it’s way out of the box yet. I’ve read about several people using them very successfully, including our friend Grace down the road, so it’s time I learn how to use this one.  

Of course there is always a campfire with a metal grate across it, or an open pit fire that you can hang pot over or put a rotisserie on. If you have the right cookware, you can cook all sorts of meals this way.

Another possibility is a small cast iron hibachi type of system. It’s small, doesn’t take a lot of fuel, and will provide a small, hot fire. Again, with some cast iron cookware, this would be an easy way to cook a quick meal. 

Now that we have different ways to cook, we need to think about fuel for all of those fires. Right now we have an abundance of firewood stored, but that won’t last forever, just like the propane. There will come a time when we need more wood, along with a way to cut and haul it.

There will also come a time when it may not be safe to cook because of the smell. If you are trying to keep a low profile for security reasons, the odor of cooking food would be a dead give away, especially to someone, or a bunch of someones, that are hungry. Then what do you do? Even the smell of a fire would draw attention.

On the other hand, if your retreat is your homestead then there are all sorts of noises that come with the territory. Your chickens make all kinds of noises, from crowing to singing the egg song. Your goats will holler good morning when they see you. The pigs will excitedly greet you asking for breakfast. Your dog will bark. Your radio will come to life with a greeting or message from down the road. Not to mention everyday conversation that comes with the activity of the day.

These are some of the things I think about as I go through my days. The sounds and smells of life are a rich addition to all we do. There may come a day when some of these things have to be curtailed for a while for our safety. If that happens, and you can’t cook, how will you provide adequate nourishment? Let’s face it, if a collapse happens in winter, it will be easy to see where the people are. There will be fires for warmth, and where there is fire, there is smoke.

So, what do you think? How many different ways can you cook, and will you be able to cook when the SHTF? Will it make a difference if it is winter or summer? Will it make a difference if safety is a concern? I have thought many times recently that two is one, and one is none. I’ve applied that to many things, including cooking, canning, gardening, clothing, animals, tools, radios, just about everything. That’s what brought me to this article about cooking. I want to make sure I have enough options to be able to put good, nourishing food on the table when we need it the most. I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts.

Until next time – Fern

Performance of Our Propane Cookstove with Battery Ignition

We shared our new battery powered, propane cookstove with you a while back. I wanted to update that information with it’s performance now that we have used it for a while.

First, the oven. I have checked the oven temperature with a hanging oven thermometer off and on, just to make sure the thermostat is accurate, and it is. The difference between this oven and our previous one, is that this new one takes more time. If I fix a batch of biscuits that normally will bake in 10-12 minutes, this oven takes 20 unless I increase the temperature. So things don’t bake like I am used to, and don’t taste quite the same. Another downside is that if it takes longer to bake, it uses more propane.

I wasn’t sure if I would like the open burners or not. I have used a gas stove with open burners before, but it has been a long time, and I couldn’t remember any problems accept the occasional piece of food dropped down through the hole. The top is easy to lift, prop open and clean under. So, we haven’t really found any downside to the open burners.

The burners are all the same size. I knew it would be nice to have a larger one, but figured this would be fine. They are all 9100 Btu, and just like the oven, take longer to cook things. Since the output on the burners is less than our old stove, I’m not sure if it uses more propane or not. Unless the meal I’m cooking takes a while, my cast iron skillet doesn’t heat evenly across like it did with a larger diameter burner that put out more Btu’s. For me, that is a negative. If I’m trying to cook a burger, I have to turn it around so all sides will cook and brown evenly on both sides. I have made the necessary adjustments, but if we had it to do over, we would have gotten a different stove.

One of the comments on our previous stove post mentioned Premier stoves. They have a larger selection of stoves with battery powered ignitions, which was the reason we bought the Hotpoint. In our research for this type of stove, Premier never came up. If it had, we would have bought one, probably like this one

Overall, the quality of our stove is lower than we would have liked. It doesn’t appear to work as efficiently or effectively as the stoves we have had in the past. The quality of the stove reminds us of one you would find in a cabin that was used for camping or vacation use, not everyday cooking or canning. But, if the power is out temporarily, for an extended period of time, or forever, we will still be able to cook, at least until the propane runs out, and that was our goal.

Is this stove meeting our overall goal? Yes. Would we like for it to be a heavier quality stove? Yes. Do we wish it had one larger and one smaller Btu burner? Yes. Does the battery ignition work? Yes it does, and it works quite well. When we installed the stove, we put in a 9 volt rechargeable battery in the battery slot, and it’s still working fine to this day, which is a little over three months now. This time the old adage, ‘experience is the best teacher’ applies. We didn’t know anyone else that had ever had a battery powered ignition on a propane or gas cookstove, so we just had to find out for ourselves.

Until next time – Fern

Our New Battery Powered Propane Cookstove

Frank has told you before about the problems we were having with our propane cookstove. The electronic panel that controls the oven, timer and clock kept going out. The cooktop burners still worked fine, but the oven would not heat to the indicated temperature, or keep an even heat, or would heat way past the indicated temperature. We were always told it was the electronic control panel. So we replaced it instead of buying a new stove, after all, we bought this stove new in 2008, and it should last a long time, right? Not right. After replacing the control panel for the third time at $150.00 each, the third replacement didn’t work for over a week. Time’s up. We needed a new stove, but after the experience we had, we didn’t want a stove with an electronic control panel. 

Do you know how hard it is to find a new stove without an electronic panel? Almost as hard as trying to find a washer that doesn’t decide how much water you need to wash your clothes. Almost, but not quite, because we did find one, even though it may be the last one. We had chosen a particular model and asked our local appliance store if they could order one, they tried, and it had been discontinued. So, we found another one and asked the same question. They had one left in the regional warehouse, and that was it. This model has also been discontinued. We don’t know if they are still available anywhere else, or if a new similar model will be built. Even so, we wanted to show you this stove and explain why we chose it.

 
This is not a top of the line stove. In fact, most people would consider it to be on the other end of the scale. But, you know what? I am just tickled pink. It is plain, simple and battery operated. No, it doesn’t have any moving parts or talk or flash or even beep. But if the power goes out, I can still cook and bake to my heart’s

content, all because of this 9 volt battery. The ignition strikers all work off of this battery, even the oven. Yea! I have always wanted an oven that would work when the power is off. Now I have one, and I consider it to be a very important part of our preparations for the hard times ahead. Yes, I know that most cooktops will light with a match when the power is out, but very few ovens will. I feel fortunate to have one of the few ovens that will light when the power is off, very fortunate.

 

Here is a tour of the stove. It is a Hotpoint. All four burners have the same BTU output. The burners are not sealed, but the top is easy to remove and clean.

 

 

 

The oven lights similar to one in a travel trailer or camper. You hold the knob in for 10 seconds then set the temperature and make sure it lights.

Rechargeable battery
Battery charger

All of the burners and the oven can be lit with a match if the battery dies and there is not a replacement. The battery compartment description indicates the use of an alkaline battery, so we stocked up on a few. The manual indicates the battery will last two to three years. We would rather use rechargeable batteries, but when Frank contacted the manufacturer, he was told to only use alkaline batteries. The reason is that an alkaline is 9 volts VDC, and a rechargeable 9 volt is actually 8.4 VDC. Our battery charger will work off of a regular wall plug in, but transforms the power to 12 VDC. We operate ours directly from Frank’s radio power supply, which is 13.8 volts or 12 volts. Using rechargeable batteries will extend the length of time we are able to use battery power for many different things if the electricity is down for any length of time, including the stove. Yes, Frank’s power supply is 110 volts, but we also have a 12 volt solar system for the long term. And, yes, the stove works fine off of the rechargeable battery. Another yea!


I’ve been waiting for this stove for a long time. Frank’s back surgery slowed things down a little bit, but it is here, it is working, and it’s exactly what we have wanted for a long, long time. I have not tried to bake anything yet, since it just arrived this morning. If there are any problems with the oven I will let you know, because tomorrow is Saturday, and Saturday is biscuit day. I look forward to not wondering when they will be done and if they will be gooey or burnt. And besides that, Frank really enjoys our Saturday morning biscuit tradition, and I enjoy providing them for him. It’s all part of the blessings of marriage and family traditions. He spoils me rotten with the things I want, like this stove, but in return, I get to spoil him with biscuits. Isn’t life grand?

Until next time – Fern