The recipe I gave you from my Blue Ribbon Cookbook has a glaring omission. It should start, first, light a fire in your stove. If I was lucky there would be some kindling by the woodpile, otherwise I would have to search for splinters of wood and bark (we weren’t allowed to cut kindling). The lemon cookie recipe says bake in a “quick” oven, that would be a hot oven around 375 degrees. It takes a while for the oven to build temperature. The quickest way is using the smallest pieces of wood. There is definitely an art to building a fire.
When I started baking everything was mixed by hand; butter and sugar whipped to a creamy softness, egg yolks beaten, whites whipped. I still have a bump on my right fore-finger from years of vigorously creaming butter. You were very involved with the food you prepared. This physically connection to food gives you an awareness and appreciation of the process. Today when I am teaching someone how to cook a dish I like to remind them to look on food prep not has a chore but part of the enjoyment of the food you are going to eat.
Cookbooks that promise you a meal in five minutes using three ingredients may have their place in our busy society, but they are not doing you any favours. The food lacks depth, missing layers of flavours. It’s cooking without soul. Buying processed food; chicken breasts in a box, pasta in a bag, bread with so many preservatives you can keep it for a year, is so sad. It’s food that frequently doesn’t even nourish your body, let alone your soul. And it’s expensive.
Would I give up my electric stove, standing mixer and food processor. Absolutely not. What I’m writing about is enjoying the process. Enjoy buying your food. Enjoy cooking it, and most of all enjoy sharing it with your family and friends. If you don’t love to cook, you should ask yourself, why?
Would I bake again with a wood stove? Absolutely yes! Bread, cookies, pastry, all bakes better in the dry heat of a wood oven.