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Cookery and masonry

I had been planning to work with the house outer siding this weekend. Two full working days should be enough to get it mostly done. Well, here we have a yearly habit that one of the neighbours calls the chimney-sweepers, booking them for a cluster of houses along our road. And it turned out that this autumn the chimneys will be swept the next Monday. That made me change my plans.

The situation with the chimney was left in a "to be fixed later"-stage. I had taken the kitchen stove half a metre away, so that I can thoroughly check the connection to chimney. And up in the attic I had deconstructed a section where the parallel chimney connects to the main chimney. Which means that there was a hole in the chimney. That hole had allowed me to inspect the inner structure of the chimney, finally getting more accurate picture of the channels and their relations. So, now when the chimney-sweepers are coming, I felt that it is about the time to make decisions and to get things done. Yesterday I was working with masonry - I made a minor improvement with the base entrance of the stove, and I patched the hole in the attic. That leaves the smaller room without a chimney. The main room has one connection for the stove, and an opening for air ventilation. Well, then there is also an another channel inside the chimney, the ventilation is connected to that, but there is also an another entrance for that channel - it is just hidden somewhere under the decorative plastering. If I find that another entrance, it would allow me to have two fireplaces in the main room - a stove for cooking, and some sort of oven to keep the room warm.

For the summer I've been mostly cooking outdoors. Last year I built a make-shift rocket stove, using red bricks stacked on top of each other without any cement. A rocket stove is a simple and a fast device - it is basically a L-shaped structure. You burn fire in the horizontal channel, and the heat goes up the horizontal channel. On top of the horizontal channel you can place a grid for a kettle or a pan. I remember that last summer I watched couple of youtube videos, and someone said that ordinary bricks can be used for the entire construction. I tried that, but learned that after few months of daily use some of the bricks started to deteriorate because of the strain of high temperatures. So, this spring I thought I should buy some bricks which are specially made for fire chambers - they are more expensive than ordinary red bricks, but they endure higher temperatures. Then, when we did the roasting pit experiment with Sami, we used stones from the old fireplace I had deconstructed. So I realized that I can try those same stones for a rocket stove.

I made the horizontal channel of the old fireplace stones. I think that the highest temperature is in the corner, where the horizontal channel turns upwards. So, upwards from that on I used the ordinary red bricks. Since I was not sure if this construction works well enough, I once again made it without any cement, just placing stones and bricks on top of each other. During the summer I've found that construction rather handy. As the top of the horizontal channel is made of flat stones, it can also be used for cooking. For example, today I first placed a kettle on top of the vertical channel. When the water was boiling, I added broken buckwheat kernels and then placed the kettle on top of the vertical channel. The flat stones were already hot enough to keep the water near-boiling. I placed the big pan on top of the vertical channel, and fried some chopped onion and zucchini. While I was frying the veggies, the buckwheat simmered, and everything was ready at the same time.

For a dessert I made pancakes. I don't eat sweet stuff that often, but since the weather forecast had said that this is likely to be a last warm weekend for this year, I felt that I have to enjoy it properly. I had bought a packet of ice-cream. (Well, yesterday it was full moon, after a sauna in the midnight I sat on my yard, wearing a gown and a blanket, eating some ice-cream while watching the scenery illuminated by the moon.) I made a simple dough with water, wheat flour and eggs. The dough needs to sit for a while, so I went gathering blueberries. After half an hour I returned with a nice amount of berries. I re-kindled the fire and threw some butter on the big pan. After a while I got a small heap of pancakes - this method of frying them on a big cast-iron pan is called muurinpohjalettu in Finnish, a traditional summer food. I cooked a mug of coffee. Under the oak I enjoyed my sweet summer dessert - yum it was good!

Now I have the kitchen stove properly re-installed. So, after the chimney-sweeper has visited, my indoor cooking will be secured for the coming winter. I'd guess that just cooking with the indoor stove will be enough to keep the house warm in the autumn. I'll only need electric radiators when the temperatures get colder in November / December. So, there's still time to get the walls fixed and a proper electric socket installed.

A version of a rocket stove
A version of a rocket stove
Pancakes, icecream and berries
Pancakes, icecream and berries
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That's pretty cool. I have been thinking about fixing up a similar sort of outdoor cooking setup at my house, to keep from overheating the house in the summertime. :D

I am thinking a fire pit in the front yard, perhaps made with an old wheel rim. And then on one side I can build a small stone flue to build a small fire inside of and put pans on top of when I don't want to build a big roasting fire.

Does the lower part of yours where the saucepan is in the picture, does it get hot enough there to cook on? Or do you just use it to keep things warm and only cook on the flue top?

To get hot water for washing the dishes, I fill two big kettles with water. One goes on top of the vertical flue, and the other on top of the thin flat stone ceiling of the horizontal flue. But I have never tried if the heat of the stones would be enough to bring the water to boil. Then, on the other hand, not all the cooking methods require actual boiling temperatures, so I'd guess the horizontal flue would work for slow cooking, like simmering a stew. I have also noticed that the stones stay hot for couple of hours after all the fire is out - that's a proper improvement compared to plain fire.

Hey Erkka, do you dry food as well? I think that it is a good way for you. Like drying fishes and fruit for winter.

I have never tried drying fish, but that is something I'd like to learn. Maybe one year - there is always so many things to do, so many things to take care of, so many things to learn =)

Usually I dry broad beans and mushroom for winter. And sometimes apples, if I get plenty of them.


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