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My family (Mother, Luisa, and Nila) cook on a wood cookstove. Most were black but some were fancier. The Carter house has a fancy cookstove, and the Carter women all know how to run it perfectly. Fresh-baked bread, light cakes, sugar cookies, a beef roast. Mother, Luisa, Melinda, and even Kate know how to operate that thing.
Most cookstoves have a warming tank alongside the stove top, where one can always find hot water ready to go for dishes or other needs. When Taffy foaled back in 1882, I ran inside to fix her a hot bran mash after the birth. The warming tank came in handy that night.
The ranch hands always cut the wood into stove-ready lengths so they can easily fit into the small firebox. The smoke goes out the back and up and into a chimney or stovepipe, like any other wood stove. The women who cooked on it could regulate the oven and stove-top temperature to a precise degree by adding and controlling the fire. They knew their stoves as well as modern women know theirs.
And now we come to my Black Beast. I love my new home on Memory Creek Ranch. I’m sure Riley bought the best he could afford, but it is not like this ad. We could never afford ten dollars down and ten dollars a month for a fancy woodstove. This stove from Kalamazoo is something I can only dream of. It even looks like it would love to cooperate with me. See that lovely water warming tank on the right? And those cabinets above to keep things warm for supper? And it’s blue!
I’m afraid the Black Beast and I are uncompromising enemies. No matter what I try to cook, it burns. Or the fire goes out. Or the smoke puffs down the stove pipe and out the fire box . . . just when I’m trying to stuff another piece of wood into that teensy box. I can no more control the beast than I can control a wild bronco.
The black beast looks pretty. It stands there so smugly! Riley and it have an understanding. It even has a warming tray and warming cabinets. But behind the black beast’s innocent-looking façade lurks a dark and sinister character.
I only know one thing. I am determined to tame the beast. One of these days (maybe when I’m old and gray), I will be able to bake bread as light and fluffy as Mother’s and cook a beef roast in the oven without it burning on the bottom and staying raw in the middle.
Yep, one of these days . . . (sorry, I’m still signing my name as Andi Carter so bloggers who have not yet read the older books don’t get confused.)