Posts Tagged ‘1950’s Dixie V cookstove’

Well, it took three guys to get the Dixie V cookstove up the entryway stairs and into the house…but we did it. Yes, being primarily cast iron, it’s that heavy…not simply awkward. Here it is:

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I’m not sure we need them, but we put bricks beneath the stove anyway, as a heat shield. We still need some kind of a heat shield in back of it, but that’s easily arranged (sheet metal). Will just finished putting in the stove pipe, so his tools are still about. It is wonderful to have some drier air in which to dry laundry, as well as the stove itself making cooking so much easier. It takes a special technique to cook anything on a barrel stove, without modifications and a good welder.

The large, double-oven stove next to the cookstove is no longer safe to use, as mice have been at it for the past 20 years. Alas – it was an especially nice stove in its day.

Well, I can look forward to baking again!

Update, June 2015: It turned out that we didn’t need the bricks underneath – that they were simply a nuisance and extra weight. Also, even without them, the floor started to sag, so we bolstered it with a metal pipe downstairs (basement). You can partially see it here:

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There are good boards at the top, to keep it from punching through the ceiling, and help distribute the weight. Eventually, this ceiling needs something else done with it, anyway.

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For the last two years, Will has given me a lump of coal for Christmas. You know what that means, right? Every naughty little girl or boy is supposed to find a lump of coal, or a switch, in his or her stocking come Christmas morning.

I am sure Will thinks I deserve another lump of coal this year.

Of course, there have been the other gifts – kitchen items (which I wanted and needed), clothes and jewelry (he has good taste, usually), special foods, good times…

But I appreciate the coal with a simple gratefulness. It feeds a hungry cookstove, and allows me to care for my family’s needs. It provides the beauty of fire, which our souls grow fat on. It means a warm home and warm fellowship.

And the fact that my husband wants to tease and take care of me this way says, I may have been my average self this year…but he’s been great!

Thank God for the coal in my stocking.

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This is the mudroom as it has no doubt stood for many years (minus K-10 the German Shepherd). It is a nice mudroom.

Random#25 099Only problem is, the attached kitchen is rather small. It has a nice propane stove, however, with six burners and two ovens. I would like to put our Dixie wood-and-coal cookstove in, though, as we use it most of the year, and prefer it to any other kind of stove.

With my favorite shelves added along the wall between the dining room and kitchen, and the south wall full of cabinets (hurray!) that leaves not much but a walkway from mudroom to dining room.

So…I would like to build a new mudroom. Nothing fancy; just an unheated space across the whole front of the house, about 10 feet deep, divided into two sections. On the right hand would be a space with a laundry sink, in which I could also put my wringer washer. (Wringer washers can be amazingly efficient.) There would be a place on the ceiling fitted to hoist up a deer or whatnot, for butchering or hanging. There would be a floor drain, for…messes. Will could also process all his raw dog food mixtures in here. Along the east wall (front), there would be quite a long space in which to stack a supply of dry firewood. In the other section, to the left of the front door, would be a summer kitchen/canning kitchen.

Here the old propane stove from the current kitchen would go, and I would want a wide bench, with shelving underneath, suited for processing large batches of food, and storing large cooking pots, canners, and so on. A potting bench, for the spring planting season, would also be highly desirable. Ideally, I would want windows along the north and south walls, which, if done right, could even facilitate getting baskets of produce into the house, without having to track through the front door continuously. There would be a nearly straight shot to the basement, and hence the cellar, from the front door, however.  This summer kitchen would be twice as deep as the butcher/washing section, as the house is not even across the front. This means that a winter clothes closet would fit nicely along the south wall, where it wouldn’t risk getting spattered with blood from butchering. Of course, all floors would be cement – easy clean, few worries.

I’ve introduced these ideas to Will. He thinks they sound nice. (Translated: He has no commitment to the plan, but wouldn’t mind if it magically put itself into action.)

Naturally, that would leave the old mudroom as a place to spill over from the true kitchen. This is important, as, if we choose to have electricity on-grid (not much of a probability), I will keep two refrigerators in the “mudroom”, along the south wall. One would be for household use, and one for dairy. A herd of milking does can produce several gallons of milk a week, and I prefer to make cheese in five to ten gallon batches.  At any rate,  on-grid or off, I’ll need someplace (with controlled temperatures) to deal with the milk.  Also, it would be great to have someplace to put a work table, as the counter space is limited. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Then – ahhh…at last. With these improvements, I’ll have a kitchen where I can cook without working around every project and family member in the house. Actually, two kitchens.

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We got a lucky break last September. Actually, I don’t believe in luck, so let’s call it our Creator’s interest in us.

An acquaintance offered us a great stack of firewood for cheap – cheaper than we could have cut it ourselves, accounting for time.

The man we bought our German Shepherd stud dog from had a micro-burst go through his yard, and it knocked down several old elms. He cut and stacked the wood, and all we had to do was to come pick it up within a given length of time.

We arrived, and there was much more than we could fit on one trailer:


We had to leave almost half the pile there for somebody else. Still, it was a great start to stocking up for the year, and everybody got into the act.


Tyger helping to stack the wood on the trailer.

Tyger helping to stack the wood on the trailer.

Firewood is such a big part of the way we live, that I find it difficult to tell how much of a blessing this was. We have two wood stoves in the house, and they provide virtually all our heat. Besides this, we were swamped with construction jobs toward the end of September, and the Creator knew we could not take a lot of time to gather wood. We had been using our cookstove off and on for a week already.

We managed to get about half of the trailer load stacked, clean and dry, in the wood room downstairs.

) )

It is a bit messy – but then, it’s not a parlor. The beams are necessary to stabilize the flood-damaged walls. (That’s why it’s not a parlor. 🙂 )

By the 23rd of October, we were glad to have done this, as (one of my favorite things!)… we had a blizzard:






Hardly enough to go sleighing...but it was beautiful.

Hardly enough snow to go sleighing…but it was beautiful.

By the next afternoon, it was nothing but mud and memories. Still, we’re ready for the next one.

P.S. – We had ice on the insides of the windows yesterday morning…even the one near the kitchen stove pipe. Jack Frost in residence makes me feel ready for Thanksgiving…and at long last – Christmas! If I didn’t have so many crafts going already, I’d find some wrapping paper and make some new snowflakes for my windows. Oh well – Jack Frost will have to decorate by himself for a few days.

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This friend watched, and chatted, while I ground fresh wheat flour…


…mixed the ingredients…kneaded the dough…then rolled and baked the tortillas.

He seems to find it amazing that I delight to spend my time so much on food for my family, and just shook his head when I pulled homemade goat mozzarella from the refrigerator, to make the quesadillas. He didn’t ask how long that took to make. 😉

He didn’t stick around for lunch…maybe some other time. He had only been waiting for Will, and missed him.

But I thought you might like to see how I do tortillas.

Now, mind you, mine are not like those of Miss Rosa, who first taught me. Hers are white-flour soft, and shapely, and her hands absolutely fly when she begins the rolling and baking. But then, perhaps after I’ve been making tortillas for fifty years, mine will be prettier than they are.

In the meanwhile, my family and I still enjoy them.


Process –

Begin by heating about 1 cup water  until nearly boiling. Put in a medium mixing bowl 1 1/2 cups white flour, and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour. Add 3 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Stir thoroughly. Add 1/2 cup or more shortening/butter/coconut oil (the type of grease may effect the amount required), and squash it into the flour with the back of a metal spoon. Alternatively, I use my Ulu knife to chop it in (I’m my own food processor).

When the mixture resembles course meal, pour in some hot water. The amount depends on atmospheric conditions and the type(s) of flour used, and cannot be given. Experience is the best teacher here. If in doubt about how much to pour in, begin with 1/2 a cup, and go from there…but know that as soon as the water cools down at all, it becomes more difficult to work in properly, and the texture of your dough will not be as nice. If your water is sufficiently hot, you should see a kind of froth forming on top of the flour. Stir immediately and thoroughly, and don’t worry about overworking the dough – you’ll be kneading it in a few moments. After you think all the water has been absorbed, work it a minute or two longer, then determine if you need another drop. The dough should not be sticky, as tortillas that are too sticky are almost impossible to roll.

Now, for the kneading. You can knead the lump just like bread dough, using your palms to thrust it into itself for maybe 10 minutes, or you can give it 400-500 strokes with a sharp knife. I usually do a combination, using the kneading motion to set it into itself well enough to stay together when I knife it, and then again toward the end of the process, to round the edges and prepare it to be pulled apart into balls.

If you use a knife, it should take less than five minutes:


Next, make the dough into balls at least as large as golf balls, then let them set in the bowl to rest a few minutes. 3-5 is usually enough. I use this time to clean up the table, prepare other items, or catch my breath.

To roll a tortilla, set a ball of dough on the table or other other smooth surface, and slighly flatten it. With a dowel or heavy rolling pin (I like marble), roll one stroke up, then one stroke down, then flip the piece over, repositioning it one quarter turn. Actually, I think Miss Rosa did but one rolling stroke each time, flipping the tortilla almost constantly. However you do it, the idea is to get it round, smooth, and quite thin. Flip and roll, flip and roll…round your edges or give it another stroke where needed…flip and roll. Practice will make you an expert.

The kids and I usually roll the batch together, with Billy doing about one tortilla to my three, and Tyger eating most of hers. 🙂


They usually are not round, and often have odd holes or dents…but they taste good.

Next, I toss them onto a medium hot dry griddle, or the center surface of my cookstove, and roll another one while I wait for them to bake. Experience will teach you exactly what temperature you prefer, and when to flip them. On average, I leave mine about 60 seconds on the first side, and 45 on the second. Depending on your stove and preferences, you may leave yours up to three minutes on the first side, or as little as 30 seconds…if you like them somewhat chewy and spotty, over a high heat.


Guess what? Remove them to a plate, place a warm towel over them, and you’re done! Put beans and steak strips, or egg and sausage in them, roll them up, and chow down.

Or, layer them with cheese, and put them on baking sheets into a moderate oven. Before adding the top tortilla, fold it in quarters and cut it with scissors, for a pretty “snowflake” through which the cheese can bubble.



Before baking.


We chose to serve ours with soup, for dipping and sipping.

Ah… Satisfying.

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