January 7, 2012

Now I'm Cookin'



Did you get that?



Does that mean what you think it means? Yup.


That means that Dan finally got the chimney pipe installed and we're at long last using our wood cookstove. Because the stove spent almost a year in Dan's workshop, we're treating it like new. That means half a dozen or so small, break-in fires to dry out the firebrick and cast iron top. These are prone to pick up moisture and in our humidity, that is surely the case. Plus, we don't think the original owner used it much.

I've had quite a few readers ask me whether this is a new stove or an antique. It was purchased new by the people we bought it from, and is still being manufactured by AGA MARVEL in Ontario. That was important to Dan, because it means we can purchase replacement parts if needed. Being new also means it has a UL listing, and had built in dampers instead of requiring a stovepipe damper.

This kind of damper is installed
in the stovepipe, versus...
click to enlarge

dampers that are built in to the stove.
Both types regulate air flow

We did look at a number of antique stoves first. While relatively cheap (in the $400 to $700 range), every one we looked at had problems: long gone door seals; loose legs; missing grates, missing firebrick, missing doors, missing plate covers; cracks in the fire box, oven, or cast iron top; pitted cast iron; and if they had them, the water reservoirs usually had holes. The companies that made these stoves are long since out of business, so finding replacement parts would be near impossible. We also researched having repairs done, but these would have cost more than the stove. And if the system couldn't be made airtight, it would have been a real waste of fuel, heat, and money.

We finally found my dream stove on Craigslist, a Waterford Stanley, but even used, it was going for more money than we had. Patience paid off however, and we finally found this one, a Heartland Sweetheart. It came with a water reservoir, and the sellers were including their double walled stove pipe, insulated chimney pipe, connectors, collars, caps, etc, plus a floor protector. We paid $2000 for everything, which I figured new would have been somewhere close to $8000.


I absolutely love cooking on it. Even a small fire heats the cast iron top over the firebox quickly. A pot of oatmeal can start to a simmer within five minutes. That's in one of my stainless steel pots. Cast iron takes longer to heat up, but that's where removing a burner plate and setting the pot into the hole comes in handy. I'm still learning damper settings as well as the temperature variations across the flat top. I love being able to regulate cooking temperature merely by moving a pot or a pan. I haven't tried the oven yet because we're still doing our break-in fires.


Another plus, the warming oven. I hate putting hot food on cold plates, but now I don't have to any more. The warming oven is wonderful to warm plates, bowls, mugs, and soften butter. I'll also be able to use it to start yeast and raise bread dough.

Best of all, my kitchen is warm now. I feel so blessed.

54 comments:

Stephanie said...

What a beautiful sight that is!! Congratulations!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! How cool is that -- a warm kitchen and a beautiful stove. Congratulations! Enjoy!

Jean - MN

tami said...

I now how long you've been waiting for this moment, Leigh. Congratulations!

Theresa said...

How wonderfully exciting!!!! It looks grand too, sitting there all pretty and useful. You ARE cookin!

Nina said...

A blessing indeed! I am envious of your good fortune with this. I'd love to have that model in my home! I's gorgeous. I'm so glad you finally got it fully installed. Happy Cooking!

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Congratulations! That must be a wonderful feeling to finally have it up and running.

Sherri B. said...

I am soooo excited for you!! What a beauty and it does everything too. That would be something that would make me feel very secure...keep warm and be able to cook anything, a blessing for sure!

Have a great weeekend! xo

Leigh said...

Thank you one and all. It's a very exciting thing to share. :)

Jocelyn said...

Oh yeay! That's a wonderful thing. I hope you enjoy it, and I am looking forward to seeing it in action a lot more. She's a beauty!

Laura Jeanne said...

This is wonderful! I'm so happy for you. What a beautiful thing to have in your kitchen. I would be pretty excited about the warming area myself--it's so practical and would be awesome for rising dough.

I can't wait to see how your first baking experiments turn out!

Woolly Bits said...

I still do the small warm-up fires with my stove every winter, after not using it during the summer. it's inside and won't get too much humidity, but still, I feel that going slowly is better for the oven in the long run. as for cooking - I think you have to "get to know" your oven to really be able to use it to its full potential, but it's fun to do, esp. if you haven't cooked on one before:)) lots of burned edges in the oven and splatter on the top later you will have figured it out perfectly - at least that was how it worked for me:) I still remember the cook in the school's holiday home - he had a huge oven like that and managed to cook for 60 plus kids and teachers on it - he was like a conductor with his orchestra (of pots that is)! as kids we found all the doors around the thing interesting, where you could warm plates, cook stuff slowly - or fry like mad on the very hot top! what an experience for "modern" town kids, who only knew mums electric cooker!

Dani said...

Leigh - I'm so happy for you :) Congratulations!

I have also been told that one should always light a cast iron stove with a kettle / pot of water on top - to prevent it cracking.

Imagine you're lovely and snug and warm now... :)

* Crystal * said...

Wow! That is one awesome stove!!! Pretty too :)
So happy you finally got it installed.

Alla said...

How wonderful! Congratultions! What a beautiful stove, I'm happy for you.

risa bear said...

We had one of those cracked cookstostves in the seventies (free for the hauling) and still miss it! Here's to a lifetime of warm plates.

luckybunny said...

Oh I love it! I'm so excited for you - it's gorgeous and I hear you about the kitchen being nice and warm now. I'd love to have one in our kitchen but it's too small. I use our woodstove which is right next to the kitchen, but it's just not the same as a big beautiful cookstove!

Renee Nefe said...

oh YAY! It looks wonderful!

Leigh said...

Jocelyn and Laura Jeanne, thanks!

Bettina, a conductor with his orchestra of pots, what a great image. I'm a pro at burnt edges, so I'm sure I'll do just fine learning that oven. :)

Dani, I'd not heard that. Interesting. The manual says to start with a small fire to warm it up first though.

Crystal and Alla, thanks!

Risa, I had one of those in the 70s too, LOL. Two in fact. One indoors for winter cooking, and one on the back porch for summer canning. I should really look into an old one for outdoor use this summer.

Donna and Renee, thanks!

Green Bean said...

Oh man, I am beyond jealous! So cool. Congratulations.

MaryContrary said...

I read this post to my mother and she was absolutely tickled. She said your stove looks just like the one she once had. I asked her how long ago thinking maybe it was when I was perhaps one or two. Well, I wasn't even here yet. That make it 64 years ago. When you noted that cast iron takes longer to warm up she started to describe how you could remove the plate--and then laughed as I continued reading that part. She said that the best biscuits she ever made were baked in that stove. Congratulations, and enjoy.

Neal and Laura said...

Very cool! We can't wait 'til the day when we've got one too... Might even be a decade still!

happy momma said...

You are very blessed indeed! I would love to have a wood cookstove, but so far, it's not happened. I can still dream. We heat with wood, but our stove can't be used for cooking, it has some kind of lining in the top that doesn't allow it to heat up enough. To get one that was designed for heating and also cooking was just out of our price range. God Bless

Judy said...

Great! I will be looking forward to more posts on your adventures in wood stove cooking.

Peaceful said...

YaHooo!!!!
It's beautiful and efficient Love it!! :D

Mama Pea said...

You are blessed! But you and Dan also get a lot of credit for your diligent search for just the right stove for you. (We make our own good luck?) What a beauty! IF we ever build another house (and I hope we don't have to!) I will definitely plan the kitchen so I have room for one of these. I had a battered combination wood/gas stove for umpteen years before we moved here (can you believe we moved it from Illinois to our first piece of property in Minnesota?) and I loved it. Nothing to look at but I sure used the wood part constantly in the winter time. I am so happy for you, Leigh! You truly deserve this gorgeous addition to your home. ENJOY!

Leigh said...

Green Bean, thanks!

Mary, how neat. Would love to have her biscuit recipe. :)

Neal & Laura, all good things come to those that wait. :)

Happy Momma, dream on! My wood heatstove isn't the best in the world for cooking either, though I have used it. A real wood cookstove though, is a blessing.

Judy and Peaceful, thanks!

Mama Pea, sounds like that stove was a real treasure!

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I'm so happy for you. I can feel the joy in your heart while reading your post. I showed my husband the picture of the stove with the fire burning and his response was "It looks like a cowboy sitting inside leaning on the wall." I had to look at the picture again and yes, indeed, I could see what he meant. Congratulations on your installation, you're going to have a cozy kitchen when the snow starts falling!

Sheila said...

envious! :)

Madeleine @ NZ Ecochick said...

Wow so beautiful. Well done on the great score! You're going to have so much fun on this. Enjoy.

Lynda said...

I just love it! You are one lucky gal! I can't wait to hear all your stories about cooking on it. My grandma always stuck her arm in the oven to see if it was the right temp for her pies...as a small child I thought that was the most amazing thing!

The Weekend Homesteader said...

This is so cool! Congratulations. And, what a great deal you got!

Ngo Family Farm said...

Oh my goodness! I actually squealed with delight when I read this! I'm still smiling :D How wonderful. Thanks for sharing your joy with us.
-Jaime

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

What a beautiful sight! I know your happy as can be and I'm happy for you..I can almost smell that pot of soup cooking with some bread in the oven ..How great is that...I feel the bumps rising from the joy :o)

Tom Stewart said...

Good for you! All the other comments are from farm wives. So hear is one from "The guys prospective"!
I WANT ONE TOO! But there is no room in this manufactured home!
Over the years in the Navy, thinking and dreaming of my "someday Homestead", a wood cook stove was at the top of my list of things to have/want!
But sometimes we have to change our dreams and we have what we have!
The stove is really nice and I'm glad you finally got it in (Dan to the rescue, again!)

Natalie said...

hurray hurray for your completed wood stove installation. I am excited for you. Thank you so much for sharing the pictures.

Michelle said...

Doing a happy dance for you; dreams DO come true!

Renee Nefe said...

We're having a cold snowy day here and I sure wish I had your stove behind me right now.

Funny, I saw a pot bellied stove at the flea market the other day, but didn't go check it out. It was really small, not much wider than the stove pipe. I assumed that it was probably not functional as they were dragging it into place.

Sylvanna said...

How gorgeous! Have fun.

Mary Ann said...

Oh how wonderful! My grandmother's wood stove had a warming drawer, and I always wished I had one!

Wooly Knits n Bits said...

We have the exact same one. We installed it when we built in '95. The kitchen was designed around this stove. We love it too.

Woody said...

Very nice. Pizza rocks from a wood stove.

Paula said...

Oh very cool, and good for you!

Ya wanna hear something kind of freaky? My captcha phrase word verification word is "cinder".

How appropriate is that?

badgerpendous said...

Reminds me of the summers I spent in the mountains in Oregon as a kid. We'd come in after playing in the rain/tromping through the woods/etc. and warm up by the stove.

Such fond memories! Thank you!

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Absolutely brilliant! Congratulations :)

chimney pipe said...

That is a beautiful sight!
Congratulations!!!

Leigh said...

Janice, thanks! It's true about the flames. Kind of like pictures in the clouds. :)

Sheila & Madeleine, thanks!

Lynda, I've read about different ways to tell oven temp. I think I'll just get an oven thermometer. :)

Thanks Candace!

Thanks Jaime!

Ginny, any excuse to keep the stove fired up. :)

Tom, that is so true about how things sometimes work out. We've had to adapt our dreams to our reality as well. I'm very thankful though, that this is one thing that worked out.

Natalie and Michelle, thanks!

Renee, some of those really small stoves were made for coal, so they didn't need to be as big. The original fireplaces in this house had little grates for coal. I don't think they ever used wood to heat the house.

Sylvanna and Mary Ann, thanks!

Wooly Knits n Bits, how neat is that! Actually, our stove is a focal point as well. In fact, we didn't begin to plan the kitchen until we had it!

Woody, oh yum! That ought to be my first baking "experiment." :)

Paula, so good to hear from you. How funny about your word verification!

Badgerpendous, what great memories you must have. Interesting to think that you needed a wood fire to keep warm in the summer.

Tanya, and chimney pipe, thanks!

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Leigh, so excited for you ! Every post of yours is more knowledge in my brain. Many thanks

Ozark Homesteader said...

Leigh, what a gorgeous, practical stove! I am so happy for you. I hope one day we'll have a similar one. Meanwhile, I get a little enjoyment out of what I now think of as indoor roasting and bread-baking season, when I don't hesitate to fire up our propane stove to let it heat the house while I bake.

I have one question. Pardon me if I missed the answer earlier. How is your insurance company liking the stove? We've heard mixed results with home owner's insurance and wood stoves.

Tombstone Livestock said...

Congratulations, stove in, wallpaper in the nook, things are coming together for you, I'm sure the wait was worth every minute of it. Enjoy.

Benita said...

I'll say you are blessed. I can hear the fire crackling and feel the warmth from here. Goodness I envy you that stove. A place to let bread rise would be a godsend!

Leigh said...

Donna, I just love to share what I learn. :)

Ozark Homesteader, thanks! Insurance companies aren't always cooperative it's true, but we've not had any trouble. I think that's where having a newer stove with all the UL listings for the stove, heat shield, and floor protector help.

Tombstone Livestock, thanks! It does seem to be coming together, doesn't it? The visual progress is the most encouraging. The stuff you don't see (wiring, insulation, structural repairs) less so. :)

Benita, it is wonderful to eat breakfast in a warm kitchen! Our weather hasn't been terribly cold lately, so it's only getting moderate use. Still, it makes a difference.

Kim Tillyer said...

Hi. I've just been given an old Sweetheart stove so I'm so excited to find your blog. I'm about to read everything you've written about it.Your blog looks great and I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder quote too.I mentioned you in my writing today www.witchmountain.wordpress.com x

ellen pierno said...

hi Leigh

we just bought a used sweetheart stove in great condition. i am so excited because i have been cooking on a lopi for years and this is just so amazing.

so far, the only problem i have had is cleaning the surface of the stove. it will be used lots, so i need to know how to do it. we read the directions, but it didnt clean that well. any tips? thanks ellen

Leigh said...

Ellen, thank you so much for the blog visit and comment. Cleaning the Sweetheart's surface hasn't been easy for me to perfect either. The cooktop is cast iron, so I clean it like cast iron. I scrape and wipe it with clean cloths or paper towels, and keep it oiled. The nickle I'm finding harder to keep shiney. I'm still looking for a product to clean it.