Thursday, July 22, 2010

Living in a cloud

Its certainly winter here at the moment, mind you we have had some extremely beautiful days too. Plenty of rain, the sort of rain we USED to get (the local rain figures are up around the 150mm mark for most months of autumn and winter, compared to less than 100mm for the same months in the last few years).

Up here in the hills, we often end up being in a cloud, a thick mist that sticks around for days on end. Its quite surreal and very hard to capture with the camera (although I do try).

I love the mists, although I must say days of it really mess with your mind and give me a headache, as my eyes try to focus.

The wheel is turning again, signs of early spring are all around.... More hens are laying, wattle flowers are starting to appear (although the landscape is yet to turn it glorious yellow), and the daffodils are popping out of the soil... Oh, an the spring/summer seeds have arrived in the mail. I am going to ignore the signs, and hang onto winter for quite some time, I have yet to spend a cold and miserable day indoors spinning by the fire, enjoying hot soup like I had dreamed of doing - I suppose I am too much of a workaholic to do that!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

the joys of cooking on the woodstove

Over the last year we have had the pleasure of learning to cook on the woodstove. Our stove is an old Stanley traditional. We got it second hand, and it had had a rough life. It also came to us in pieces!

Woodstove cooking is not as quick as using gas or electric stoves, and you do need to get the wood, chop it up and put it in, rather than simply turn a knob and paying bills. Sometimes it can take an hour to get it going nicely (usually when I am rushing because I didn't light the stove early enough and its almost tea time).


On the small amount of wood it uses, it cooks (the equivalent of about 4-5 hot plates plus the oven at the same time), heats the room and our hot water, dries the clothes, keeps the bread warm while it rises and boils the kettle. I don't think there are many appliances that can do all that with the one input of 'fuel'. And the fuel can be grown on our land!!!!

It also lends itself to slow cooking, you can cook chutneys for hours, cook dried beans the day before you need them while the fire dies off for the night, stews can cook all day on the 'cold' side of the stove (Woostoves usually have a 'hot' section directly above the fire box, and then cooler areas moving away from it - so rather than turning the stove down to simmer, you just move your pot).

It bakes bread nicely, and we have cooked all sorts of cakes and biscuits in it. I keep my sourdough starter on top of the stove on the plate warmer rack (which gets used for lots of things but never for warming plates - there is always something on it!!!)

We love our slow combustion wood stove, and have used it through the summer (we found running it every 2-3 days to bake the bread was enough to keep the hot water hot). Summer use is just a matter of keeping the flue open to let out the heat rather than retaining it in the stove.
To me the woodstove is a 'symbol' of the slow, simple, back to basics lifestyle, that we are passionate about.