Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Kitchen Dream Fulfilled

Meet Stanley or Stan for short, my newly installed wood stove which on this cool but sunny morning is keeping my large kitchen/dining and family room cosy and warm even though we have full length glass doors and a large expanse of white tiles (great for summer not so warm underfoot in winter!).

It has been a dream of mine for a long time to have a country kitchen with a traditional wood stove. Even before I was married I would cut out photos of kitchens from the English decorating magazines. I still have that scrapbook from the late 1980's. Most of the kitchens had timber cabinets and Agas or Rayburns. Those kitchens were classic farmhouse kitchens - they have not dated and the only indication that these were 80's kitchens were mug trees on the benches and the occasional Austrian blind at the window!

My husband also loves the old wood stoves and in recent months as winter approached, we started discussing installing a wood stove against the stone feature wall in the family room. I even dared to ask the price of the new Rayburns at the barbecue store. I somehow kept myself from saying 'How much?' or 'Are you having me on? I could have a whole new kitchen for that.' I brought home the brochure and dreamed a little more!

So it was onto eBay to check out second hand stoves for sale and there were a few but pick up only from Victoria (a very long drive!) and instructions to bring 4 strong men! Little did we know that some friends had an old wood stove sitting under their house that they had purchased 10 years ago with the intention of one day restoring and installing in their kitchen. We approached them - would they be willing to sell? The answer was yes! We found another strong man to help us lift the stove onto the ute and a few weeks ago Stanley came to live with us! He needed a little work but was not in bad shape at all for an old guy. You can still buy new parts for these stoves - they are still being made.

He is of Irish descent!

When the shadows are being cast across the room and the cat has come in you can be sure that the sun has slipped behind the clouds and it is starting to get chilly again. We lit the stove for the first time yesterday - the cat and Stan are going to be good friends! I even baked my first batch of bread rolls - not too bad, a little brown on top but it is early days for me learning to cook on a wood stove! Thank goodness for agrarian blogs - there is one homesteading blog which shows you in words and pictures how everything works, how to clean it, how to bake in it and this particular lady also owns a Stanley. Let me know if you would like the link.

Now we do live in Australia - we will not be making use of Stan during our hot summer months so he is not a replacement for our modern stove. Stan has an Italian girlfriend and she lives just around the corner!

Meet Sylvie - the Ilve! As we were in the process of putting Stanley back together our previous smaller, cheaper stainless steel stove was in failing health. Cakes were taking an hour to bake and were still soggy in the centre, roasts were taking all day. We thought it was just a faulty thermostat but when my husband took it apart for further examination it was a poor prognosis - the electrics were 'stuffed' in his words! I was not quite ready to attempt cooking all our family's meals with the Stanley and as were in the process of redesigning the kitchen we decided to purchase a new stove - my husband insisted it had to be quality and practical for our large family and take into consideration that we do sometimes cater for crowds when we host family celebrations at our home. A trip to the store which specializes in stoves was fruitful as this particular Ilve was heavily discounted.

I have been giving Sylvie the opportunity to prove herself over this last week and can report she cooks like a dream! The best cakes, muffins and bread I have ever made and the pizza function produces perfect pizzas. I am in kitchen heaven! I love the old wood stove but I also love the new Ilve and believe they can coexist happily together in this family home.

Stan is a little jealous but I'm going to give him the chance to prove himself with my next sourdough loaf. Have you ever tasted wood fired sourdough bread? It is something else! But have to say, Sylvie baked yesterday's sourdough beautifully - a better rise, better crust and crumb than all my previous loaves.

So expect more kitchen posts and more recipes in the days to come. We are in the midst of planning an 18Th birthday celebration for my son. The guest list reached 86 yesterday - I did not realize we knew so many people! The stoves are going to be busy. I am going to be busy!

The old white fridge has been moved out of the kitchen to the office/library which means a few more paces but it is actually not that inconvenient. It needed to be moved to accommodate Sylvie and the original layout of the kitchen was not good - a fridge next to a stove is not a good idea but this is the configuration we had to live with when we bought this house.

My husband wants to make the office into a walk in pantry but I have chosen for the shelves to hold books for now rather than tins of tomatoes. I would love a walk in pantry - it is another of my kitchen dreams together with a dresser to hold my favourite china.

My beautiful china which awaits a dresser on which to display it - one day!

Another extravagant gift from my husband. A set of Scan pans, they are, in my opinion, objects of beauty. He rarely brings me flowers or chocolates - he knows the way to my heart is pots and pans, dishes and stoves! He did not know he would need to buy his wife a new stove to use these on when he bought them. I highly recommend them.

More things from my home which I love - books, china, a vintage sewing machine and patterns - all found at garage sales!

It has been worth the wait. It seems slowly but surely all my dreams are being fulfilled in this place. We have lived in so many places and packed up the boxes so many times when rented homes proved unsuitable or were sold by the owner. I can remember longing for somewhere to be settled, a place to call home which would be the place my children would have the fondest memories of and always want to return to. We are now planning for that future, the renovations are for the long term, when in the not too distant future, God willing, grandchildren will sit around our table. We are not planning to downsize! We need to upsize! The living room is being renovated to accommodate another sofa (involves moving a door). A window seat is planned for the corner window in the family room. All these renovations are planned with people in mind - places to sit and talk over cups of coffee, a warm kitchen that welcomes and produces home baked food to nourish the people I love.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my new stoves which are going to help me so much as I start to upsize my cooking for this big family that God has blessed me with. Wish I could find the SD card for my camera - had to use my son's 3.5 megapixel Olympus for these stove shots - sorry they are not the best quality.

Do you have experience of cooking on a wood stove? I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time,

With Love and Joy

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Renata said...

Oh Ann - Stan is just gorgeous! I also long for a wood stove - we've also been scouring ebay for the last year, however a friend said they have one in an old house on one of their farms & I should have a look at it, so when Dave has some free time we plan on taking a look!
I also like your other new stove - in fact I think we have very similair tastes in kitchens - wooden bench tops, wood stove - big oven to cook for lots of people! (we do have big plans for our kitchen one day - but as with everything we need time & $$)
Hope you have a lovely day & enjoy your baking!
I'd love that link to the agrarian blog
Renata :)

count it all joy said...

Ann, I just love your new stoves! You must be in baking heaven:) The house renovations sound exciting also, I can't wait to see and read how it unfolds. As for woodfire ovens - I just adore them. Growing up, our family spent many happy holidays staying in shearer's quarters on farms. They all had woodfire stoves. You haven't tasted scones or damper, until you've tasted them out of a woodfire stove! I wish you many happy hours of baking. Meredy xo.
p.s. love your china - you really need to visit eBay for a dresser to display such loveliness. xo

simplelife said...

grr just typed a big comment and lost it!!
Oh well just wanted to say that I think I'd be very comfortable in your kitchen. Stan is gorgeous and yes really yummy things come from wood stoves. Sylvie though is also pretty special. I'm looking forward to seeing just what you make for your very fortunate family.
I'd love a link to the blog too, please.

cheers Kate

Louisa McFarland said...

Wood stoves are the best things to cook on. I grew up with one and we have one in our home now. They cook the best roasts, you can put a frozen leg of lamb in the oven in the morning, keep the oven slow to medium heat and it is cooked to perfection for your evening meal.

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

The website/blog where I found excellent articles on how to use and cook on wood stoves is www.homesteadgardenandpantry.com. The posts on cook stoves are under the 'non-electric' tab at the top of the page. There is also quite a lot of information on canning,preserving and other self-reliance topics for those who might be interested.

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Ann I have Kitchen Cooker envy!
The last big farm house we lived in like your kitchen had both on offer side by side.
Nothing better than sitting there with the cooker warming the kitchen and having a cuppa....
Oh I love kitchens....

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the purchase of your stoves. They are wonderful and ideal for your family. Enjoy and they will be a wonderful blessing in the years to come. In the next couple of years (God willing) we would like to get onto some acres and I would love a woodstove too. My mother has had a woodstove for many years and initially I did not like them but now have changed my mind. It took her a little while to work it out with the temperature.Looking forward to your future posts and all the best with your renovating.

Tammy said...

I really enjoyed reading this post! Congratulations on both your new ovens. It sounds like you are using and enjoying them well. : )

Camille said...

What a fun post Ann!! How wonderful that you have such great stoves...you will enjoy them BOTH I am sure! It's strange for me to read about you and winter setting in as we await summer. It's been unseasonably cool this spring...and summer has begun the same way. Enjoy your cosy kitchen as we open up the windows to let the breezes in! :)

My Grandma exclusively used a wood stove and was (apparently) a fabulous cook! I have no experience in that department. Do enjoy your journey of learning the art of it!

Your home is lovely. It "feels" welcoming. I like that you said the reason behind all the updates and improvements are the visitors you anticipate welcoming into your home. Precious!


American Home said...

Ann, Your stove is wonderful! I love everything, the sewing machine, the pans.... You have such a quaint beautiful home~
Someday when you have time I would love to have your detergent recipe.....which you mentioned on my blog. We love making soaps.
Have a wonderful day. Your words are truly inspiring.
God bless you.

Fruitful Harvest said...

To cute Ann~
I love your stoves!
Stan and his Italian girlfriend!

I would love to come see your kitchen one day!

I also like your table setting!

Today I'm going to a tea shop with a friend....the shop is holding a class on all the different kinds of teas and how to brew or steep them.

Have a great day Ann....on your beautiful garden of Eden with your wonderful family!

Peace and Love,

Lady Kara said...

DROOOOOLLLLL!!! I LOVE your STOVES!!! *gasp* oxygen...I need oxygen...


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