I recently moved into a “rustic cottage” near the easternmost point in the USA. I moved in through the pouring rain in the midst of a 3-day rainstorm on the first of June, an especially unpredictable weather time in Maine. No one had lived in the cottage sinWood Cookstove (1)ce last August, so the cottage was musty, damp, and raw. The large woodstove, I knew in advance, was unusable due to the heaving and settling of the house independent of the woodstove’s firmly placed chimney foundation. As a result of this unmatched motion inspired by the dynamic clay ground, the stovepipe was too short to reach the hole into the chimney—a useless woodstove indeed.

Fortunately, a wood cookstove in the kitchen appeared to be functional. With a little experimenting (which involved filling the house with smoke several times–“fortunately” there are no obnoxious smoke detectors…), we warmed up the house ,beat the chill, and began to dry out the air.

This wood cookstove has a small firebox, about 2’ x 6”, on the left side of the unit. The damper at the base of the chimney must remain open while the stove heats up to allow the smoke to get sucked straight up the chimney. Once the fire is hot, that damper can be closed to allow the heat to circulate through the oven to the right, then up the chimney. Removable disks across the surface of the stove allow cooking options from high (on the left) to low (on the right), and from high to low within each surface depending on what size disk is removed.

Wood Cookstove (2)

We did all our cooking on the stovetop despite the presence of a propane-powered oven/stove three feet away for the first few days when the added heat created paradise in the small house. I even ventured to bake some corn muffins in a small cast iron muffin pan, which were delicious despite the difference in heat across the oven. Now I know when and where to rotate baked goods in this forest and human-fueled wonder!

Corn Muffins