Hot weather cooking

So, we’ve cracked cold weather cooking and baking at our house, as the Esse Ironheart woodstove has proved to be a pretty perfect kitchen companion as well as an incredibly efficient and clean heating source for our home.

Black lab puppy lying in front of Ironheart woodstove

We’ve learned about what we need to do to make the most of its incredible potential in our home (built out of insulated concrete forms), although I now realize that my November post, reflecting on those learnings, failed to mention a key purchase that we needed to make.

As I noted in that post, our Ironheart came without hob lids, which are pretty fundamental in helping to control the amount of heat given off by the woodstove. Our new lids arrived a few weeks ago, and all we need to do is secure the hinges and we’re ready to go.

Hob lids for an Esse Ironheart woodstove

Equally important, however, and somehow missed from my November post, was also the purchase of the extended wood burning insert. Our Ironheart came ready to burn coal, as would be the norm in many UK homes. We burned wood in it right from the start, and were impressed by how little wood we needed to burn, as noted in a post called Our Esse Ironheart daily burn. The amazing fact is, we can burn even less wood by using the insert intended for wood burning – the very idea is wonderful.

Esse Ironheart extended wood burning insert

The insert arrived today, and my husband is lovingly handling it and preparing to install it in the woodstove as I write. He frankly can’t wait for cold weather and the need to light the Ironheart each day.

When I first started to think about creating a post on how we’d handle cooking in the hot months – when using our Ironheart would be unthinkable and our conventional electric oven would heat up the house to pretty unacceptable temperatures – it was still winter. We were many months into searching for an old woodstove with a baking oven that we could use outside. Such a purchase has eluded us. They regularly come up for sale on community websites, but seem to be sold before we can even get to look at them (that is, the ones we are interested in). We looked at one in person last fall, but were disappointed to find it not fit for purpose thanks to years of neglect and missing parts.

A chance encounter with a magazine just last week led us to a ceramic charcoal grill, the Kamado Professional Charcoal Grill by Vision Grills. There are other versions of this ceramic egg-shaped grill on the market, but we read the reviews extensively and liked the price point. This novel-looking barbecue mimics the cooking capacity of a woodstove, even baking bread and other baked goods.

Vision Grills Kamado Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Longer term, we’d love to be able to buy a second Ironheart to use outside, but at $10k, we just can’t do that right now. Less than $1k for the ceramic charcoal grill was just about right for us, and it’s feeling like a pretty good investment. We’ve already done some traditional barbecue fare on it, baked a first loaf of bread, and allowed the boys to satisfy their craving for s’mores, which would otherwise be impossible this summer, thanks to a continuing ban on open fires in our community.

We’re now feeling that we can be totally self sufficient when it comes to cooking, as the Ironheart takes wood, and we’re in a position to make our own charcoal, both renewable fuel sources. With the woodstove for the cold months, and the ceramic charcoal grill for the hot months, we’re feeling pretty set.

12 thoughts on “Hot weather cooking

  1. Wow, it looks really versatile, I went and read the reviews on the Can Tire site. How great that you can bake in it! Baking is not something I can do on my gas bbq…though I have used it for canning once or twice.

    1. Those reviews really helped us to make up our minds. Being able to bake in it the same way that you can in a woodstove or conventional oven was the real deal sealer. Outdoor canning sounds so extremely sensible – would you do it again?

      1. Yes, absolutely – I almost did it for the jam session, but that morning turned out to be quite cool, so we stayed indoors – it IS handy having the sink/tap/utensils right there. Downsides to outside are the wasps and no sink. Friends of ours used to go camping in the Okanagan for 2 weeks this time of year, canning all the produce they bought right there on their camp stove (a Coleman), so they wouldn’t lose any to spoilage bringing it home.

      2. Yes, it’s the absence of a sink outdoors that really makes it less than appealing for me. Which makes what your friends did on their camping trips all the more impressive!

  2. We have the Big Green Egg, a similar toy, and have baked pies, tarts, bread, pizzas, etc, in it with great success, as well as using it to bbq everything one would normally bbq. The temperature is much easier to regulate in these ceramic bbqs than it is in a gas bbq because it’s so heavily insulated, I think.
    We love ours, and would never go back to gas. Have fun with it!

    1. We only found out about the BGE after discovering ours, and read about all of our options intensely before deciding which to buy. They are wonderful things. Apparently we’ve been living under a rock in this regard!

  3. You all continue to inspire, thank you. At my NM home the Lower Farm cooking is done on an antique wood burning cook stove. I have electricity in the house and resort to a hot plate for quick summer meals but have also gotten pretty good with the propane BBQ outdoors making pizza, pies and all manner of other eats. Nothing quite so nice as you have but I’m working on ideas – and you continue to inspire. Again thank you.

    1. Many thanks for the kind comments, as always. We were frustrated not to be able to find an old cookstove to use outside, as that would have been much more in keeping with what we’re trying to do here, but something new that seems to be well constructed and sound was a decent second-best. Your outdoor cooking efforts sound pretty delicious! I love the sharing of ideas and experience – thank you.

  4. I am in France and I’ve just received my ironheart but without woodburnig insert and without hob lids.
    I would really like to buy those like yours. Where can I get them ?

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jullien, and congratulations on your new Ironheart. Sounds like you had the same surprise that we did, receiving your Ironheart without the correct woodburning insert OR the hob lids. That was a real learning process for us! We bought our missing parts through a Canadian dealer that imports and ships those parts for Esse. I had a quick look on the Esse website, and there are a number of official Esse dealers in France. One of them should be able to order and ship the parts that you need. Good luck! http://www.esse.com/stores/locations.php?address=france

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