Wood stoves are the topic of the day. I spent all day yesterday, well, not ALL day, but enough to count as a major portion, researching wood stoves. I even drove to Milford and spent over an hour looking at them, and learning what it is I think I want/need.
Cast iron, enameled, soapstone, Jotul (sorry, I don’t know how to make that “o” with the line through it), Vermont Castings, Hampton, Morso (again with the “o”??) and finally Hearthstone. There are too many choices and specs, for a person of a small mind such as myself, to comprehend. It’s all so contradictory.
What I have learned is that if I’m going to stay in this house this many hours a day, I can heat it efficiently with propane and/or wood in the fireplace. The wind was howling last night and the fireplace will only burn so long without attention. I awoke to a fine dusting of ash on everything. The wind had blown down the chimney when it cooled and the ashes from the fireplace spewed out.
If I have to give up my hearth, it better be to something that looks decent in my setting. Let me just say there are some highly functional stoves out there that are just plain UGLY! The classic Vermont Castings-types are lovely and come in great colors but I’m not looking for another piece of furniture.
Then I hit upon the soapstone option. Looks good, understated but refined, proportions will work, price is in my imaginary budget.
The biggest question of all? Can I cook on it? Yes, I mean really cook. At least 3 nights a week I put together my” Rube Goldberg” version of a grill in my fireplace. Rube, for those not familiar, was a cartoonist and inventor who drew complex gadgets that performed simple asks in indirect, convoluted ways. My Dad was fond of referring to Mr. Goldberg…
Back to cooking. I have two bricks that need to be positioned just so on either side of the wood grate in the fireplace. I balance one of the grates from my outdoor grill across these bricks, positioned over the flames at optimum height. My prized purchase is one of those wire baskets with two parts and a handle for cooking burgers over a grill. That sits on top of the Bar B Que grate, above the flames. I must say I have gotten very good at timing. Most steaks turn out juicy and pink in the middle. Lamb chops are divine over the smoky wood and the fish I’ve tried have turned out quite acceptable.
It takes some fancy foot and knee-work to flip the basket or unload it without getting grease everywhere but the hearth is raised and large enough for me to maneuver around on. Which brings me to the number two “con” for getting a stove. (The number one is that my budget is imaginary.) Without the hearth, even if the stove opening were large enough and I managed to rig up a grill, there is no “counter space” so to speak. Guess I will just dream of soapstone elegance a while longer.