The outdoor cooking kitchen is complete! L-R: New built-in table, Loven, rocket stove. Oh, and camera-shy Penny.
I learned many things at the side of my chef friend Catharine. The most important thing I learned is “Heat is heat.”
Sure, we can dream of having zoomy gas-fired indoor ranges with ultimate control. In a past life and if I were a cajillionaire and there was no such thing as global warming (that’s a lot of “ifs”) I might gladly install an Aga or–better–a Lacanche in my kitchen; surely, I would have to reinforce the floor to hold one. But really, heat IS heat. Catharine cooked the most fantastic meals on the humblest of kitchen stoves. And I left my spendy red-knobbed range back in Minneapolis: now I bang pots on a 1967 electric Hotpoint range (maybe $100 when it was new). It’s not the equipment, therefore, it’s the will.
And heat. With experimentation, one can cook everything in our outdoor kitchen. The rocket stove is truly third world technology and likewise was the simplest thing to build: I used 66 bricks, one 24″ long, 4″ diameter stove flue, one 4″ flue elbow, one bag of concrete and one and a half bags of mortar (as I am a horrible mason; a good one would’ve built it with one bag). I already had the grill grate, and for a lid I purchased the 16″x16″ red concrete patio paver…this little stove cost me a whopping $65 with had-boughten materials. Building it stretched two days: concrete slab on day one, oven chimney on day two, about five total hours of my time.
New potatoes coming up
Like the masonry oven, there is a learning curve (where ISN’T there a learning curve) but this isn’t a steep hill to climb. It uses skinny waste wood too like all that stuff that falls from your trees after a storm. Get out your cast-iron skillets, your big boiling pots. Use it like a barbecue. It’s chow time!
Notes in the comments!