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.
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.
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.
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.
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.