Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bakers’ Choice

firewoodDuring the winter we heat our home with wood. For many years while I was growing up, the primary heat source in my family’s home was from an old wood stove in the kitchen. My grandfather had salvaged the stove from a local junk pile, and, after a little work on it, it kept my family warm during many cold Illinois winters. Well, in that old house, it kept us warm when we were near it in the kitchen. We didn’t heat the bedrooms in that house.

The first winter after we moved to Kentucky, I installed a wood stove. The previous occupants in the mobile home that we currently live in had put in an insulated chimney through the roof in the kitchen area. I moved an old wood heat stove that was in the garage into the house, and we heated with that. I removed the old electric furnace and made a pantry closet where it had been located – we weren’t going to use it (the duct work served as an interstate system for the resident mice, let alone the amount of electricity the furnace would be sure to consume).

After two winters of heating with that old stove, we purchased a new wood stove, one with which we could heat our house and cook and bake. Bakers' ChoiceAfter doing some research, we decided that we would be better off with a new stove rather than buying an old one with unknown problems and difficulties. The criteria we used in determining what stove to buy were price and capability of heating our home. We ended up buying a Bakers’ Choice wood cook stove.

We love our stove! It’s utilitarian, designed by an Amish man for heating and cooking – just what we wanted. It’s also one of the least expensive new wood cook stoves available.

With the Bakers’ Choice, we can cook and bake. It takes a little getting used to in order to cook on a wood stove. You can’t control the heat as readily as a gas or electric stove. You are able to use the entire cook surface, which is more than on a conventional cook stove. You soon learn that different areas are hotter or cooler than others. So, you move your pot to where the temperature is what you want. We cook everything on our stove. Anne even cans – hot water bath and pressure – on it.

The ovenUsing the oven also takes getting used to. The temperature is slower to respond to your inputs than a conventional stove, and it’s harder to get the heat exactly as the recipe may call for. You’ve got to be flexible. You also need to remember to turn what it is you're baking during the process because the oven often tends to be hotter toward the back and on the side toward the firebox.

We also purchased the hot water reservoir that is an option for the stove. It holds about 7.5 gallons of water. While using the stove for heat, we keep the reservoir filled and use the hot water for washing dishes.

fireboxAs far as heating our home is concerned, we seldom are cold. The firebox is nicely sized, allowing a fair bit of wood to be put in it at one time. The stove is also airtight, allowing the burn to be controlled quite well. I load the stove at night before going to bed and set the draft control so the fire continues to burn slowly (we only need some heat during the night). Eight or ten hours later in the morning, there are still plenty of coals and/or wood in the stove so that it’s very easy to get a good hot fire going to warm up the place.

During the last two months, we’ve cooked and baked exclusively on our Bakers’ Choice. We’ve actually turned off the circuit breaker for our electric cook stove since we’re not using it.

drying sheets near the stoveOur stove is also useful as a clothes dryer. We hang clothes on drying racks near the stove rather than use our propane clothes dryer. We’ve also dried herbs and food by hanging them from the ceiling near the stove. It’s definitely a useful part of our home that we would be hard put to do without.

Supplying the stove with enough wood during the winter isn’t a problem. There are lots of trees available for firewood in this area. We’ve mostly cut firewood from the tops of trees on neighbors’ properties that were left after the properties were logged. This has been good wood that would otherwise just lay there and rot. I estimate that we burn less than three cords of wood a year (a cord is a 4’x4’x8’ stack of wood).

There’s nothing quite like the heat from a wood stove when it’s cold outside. It’s a kind of warmth that you can just soak up and enjoy. No forced air furnace could ever duplicate the comfort of wood heat. Being able to cook with the same heat is great, too.

6 comments:

Ann from N. KY

Thank you for the great post about the wood cook stove! I have been looking at them for quite some time, and would like to put one in our home. I was wondering, how much clearance from the walls do you need for the stove? I would think it would take up a lot of room, so how do you work around it? I had the Bakers Choice on my possibility list, so I was really excited to find your post about it. We live in a modular home-it came in 2 pieces and then slid over a full basement.

Paul B.

Thanks for the great write-up. These stoves are brilliant in my opinion. I especially like the new ones that come with the glass firebox doors - you can easily manage the fire by simply glancing in. Also, these cookstoves are to some extent safety equipment: if the power is out for a long time, you can still eat and stay warm.

Sally Davis

We bought a similar stove for our house. The brand name is Ashland, also Amish made. We got the water reservoir as well, and use it for all our hot water needs all winter long.

I wish somebody had told me how wonderful these stoves are many years ago. I was a little bit skeptical about cooking on it, but we find baking and cooking simple.

Sally

dp

I've decided to turn off comment moderation (had it on for comments on posts over 28 days old). I missed moderating ya'll's comments.

Different stoves have different clearance requirements. The specified clearances for the Bakers' Choice are 48" in the front, 25" in the rear, 25" on the left side (firebox side), and 18" on the right side. There are some stoves that have much less clearance requirements.

Josi Bunder

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