Before we moved to Alaska, I had cooked on a wood stove once, for practice. And it wasn’t even good practice either! Our wood stove in Washington was more decorative than for heating or cooking. Coming to Alaska was a huge change, as nearly everything we cook out here is done on the wood stove. We do have a propane stove that gets used occasionally, but I’m not particularly keen on cooking outside in negative temperatures. I’m also a relatively lazy cook. I used to be the queen of ‘lets go out!’ rather than cooking dinner. Because of that I love any fast and easy recipes and love one pot meals. I cook quite a few things in just a 10″ cast iron skillet. I thought I’d throw together some tips and tricks for cooking on a wood stove, as well as a few recipes we use often.
Tips For Cooking On A Wood Stove
- Use small pieces of wood when building a fire for cooking. It’s easier to control the temperature that way. Small pieces will light faster, raising the temperature.
- Adjust the dampener to quickly change the temperature. Close it down to cool the stove, and open up fully for quick heat.
- Keep the fire evenly spread through the stove. That way there won’t be hot and cold spots in the skillet.
- Speaking of skillets, use cast iron! Cast iron transfers heat really well, so the food will cook evenly.
- Start cooking before hunger sets in. Cooking meals on a wood stove is not a 5 minute task. Waiting until hungry usually means being hungry for another half hour to hour. There is always the possibility of eating while cooking, but that doesn’t work for every meal.
“Quick” Easy Wood Stove Meals
I like fast food, and I’m not really a fan of cooking. Baking on the other hand I love, so I try to throw some baking into most meals. Some of our favorite meals on the homestead include cottage pie, biscuits and gravy, chicken enchiladas and hamburger chili. I’ve included estimated cooking times, but keep in mind every fire is different.
Cottage Pie – 30 minutes
This meal includes hamburger, vegetables, brown gravy, garlic, mashed potatoes, shredded cheese, and Italian seasoning. Measurements depend on how many people are being fed (and their appetites!). If I want left overs for two, I use 2 lbs of hamburger, cooked and drained. I then add cooked/canned vegetables. Usually I use corn, carrots, onion, diced potatoes and peas. To this I add one packet of brown gravy (someday I’ll use homemade gravy), garlic and Italian seasoning to taste. After mixing this all together and simmering for a bit, I’ll top the skillet with mashed potatoes and shredded cheese. This is Kyle’s favorite meal out here!
Biscuits and Gravy – 1 hour
This meal time can be cut if the biscuits are baked ahead of time. I usually make them the morning of, and cook them in our Coleman Camp Oven for soft biscuits, or a cast iron pan for crunchy biscuits. My biscuit recipe calls for 2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 stick butter, 3/4 cup milk and a dash of salt. It makes 6 palm sized biscuits and is perfect for 2 people. I mix everything together, then add milk. After baking the biscuits I smother them in country sausage gravy. Add bacon and eggs on the side and breakfast is served!
Chicken Enchiladas – 20 minutes, make ahead meal
Because Kyle and I don’t have refrigeration most of the year I use canned chicken to make enchiladas. One large can of chicken usually makes 2-3 enchiladas, depending on how full they are stuffed. Added to the chicken is diced onion, cheese and enchilada sauce. I usually make a 10 minute enchilada sauce of chili powder, tomato paste, salt, cumin, onion powder, garlic, oregano, chicken stock and flour. I don’t have any measurements for it, just taste as I go. Store bought enchilada sauce works great too! I place the enchiladas in a heat safe dish and cover them with more enchilada sauce. They can be eaten as soon as they are heated, or left near the wood stove to slowly soak in the flavor. I usually make them right after breakfast so lunch is just serve and eat.
Hamburger Chili – 30 minutes
Another easy favorite of ours is hamburger chili. This is a “one pot” meal. I usually use 2 lbs of hamburger, cooked and drained. Then I throw in diced tomato, corn and black beans. Added to that is garlic, onion, oregano, salt, chili powder and this fiery 5 pepper seasoning. I often bake cornbread for this meal as well.
Have fun cooking!