Tuesday 5 January 2016

Rayburn & Me

I am still here!
No blog writing though because I did not seem to have the necessary words to write.
I think my head must have gone on some sort of holiday,
but then it had been a busy 2015,
with lots to think about,
lots of chaos in the house,
and a generally unquiet year all round.
But we do have a warm home, well, warm for France.
Back in the UK we were warmer, but then we had a house locked down tightly against drafts, and a central heating system which was on full blast when Lester was home,
because he worked in a hot office all day and didn't want to feel cold at home.
There was lots of times when I felt like I was cooking.
It was very unhealthy.
I was always suffering with colds.
Our home here is not quite so locked down against drafts,
but is much better than it was during the previous winters.
Most of all we now have internal doors which wafts of cold air struggle to get through,
plus we have the Rayburn which is making a good battle against the chills.
We now do not feel that winter is inside the house as well as outside it.
And to remind us of how it was in previous winters,
all we have to do is go into the room to the left of the front doors.
It does not have any heating.
It is how the house would have been if the Rayburn had not been saving us from the cold.
It is good to be reminded of how it was.
But we do not run the Rayburn all day, just from mid afternoon afterwards,
because the rooms we are using are holding their heat, although in comparison to our UK hot house it would probably feel quite chilly, but in comparison to having lived for several winters here without heating, it is cosy and comfortably warm.
It is also healthier.
The Rayburn heats three rooms, the sitting room and Half Barn via four radiators, and the kitchen through the heat from its body.
And then there is the little boudoir chair beside the Rayburn in which one can sit and cuddle up to this most splendid of heating appliances.
I can heat a pot of something up on the stove top, but have to be careful because the Rayburn is very vigorous in its enthusiasm to do the job. Burnt bottoms often happen if one is not watchful.
I have not yet found a cool spot on the stove top to simmer on.
Apparently one is supposed to put anything needing to be slow cooked inside the oven, that I have not done as yet because I don't have the right cookware.
And on the subject of the oven:
.....and that is all I have to say on the matter!!!!
Cakes? burnt. Tarts? burnt. Bread? burnt.
I look at the dial on the front of the oven door.
It says that I can 'Bake'.
I do.
It doesn't.
It incinerates.
So I look on the internet.
See that there is supposed to be something called a 'cold shelf' inside the oven.
I thought it was the floor of the oven, it isn't. It is a shelf which is supposed to be put above the food one is cooking if the oven is too hot.
Does it work?
As I say, on the subject of the oven
Meanwhile I continue to bake on the range cooker. Just switch the dials on, and the baking gets done.
Meanwhile, I love the Rayburn but not its fickle oven.
Anyone have any helpful hints for a wood burning stove novice?
Any help would be most gratefully received, bless you.
Now must be off and away
am late in getting into the back kitchen where the morning milk is waiting to be processed,
the dogs are waiting to be fed,
I must get dressed,
there is some canning of a stew which needs to be done,
Bye for now,
....and wishing you all the best for 2016



Cro Magnon said...

Our deVille cooker is much the same. There's a little temperature gauge on the front, but it lies. However, anything that goes into the oven in a cast iron Le Crueset pot seems to cook well regardless. Bread is always hit-n-miss. The top is just plain eccentric. We've had ours for about 15 years, and we're only just getting used to it. Good luck.

John Going Gently said...

And a peaceful 2016 to u vera x

Dawn said...

what fire bricks have you got inside, there are summer and winter ones, I tend to keep my oven between bake and simmer, sometimes i find to keep an even temperature I have it drawing through the back the twiddly knob on the front set to H rather than C the bottom draw dial is always closed and the top draw is set half open, we only have radiators upstairs running off it and our hot water so its going 24/7

Sol said...

Happy new year Vera!

Sorry I am no use with the oven mine is electric and it also has hot spots even with the fan. I have to put 2 pots of water in the bottom to stop my bread from burning. and irish soda bread seems to go dry...

Anonymous said...

mom learned to cook on wood stove when younger, 80+ yrs ago. she used to put a trivit under pan to lower heat

Ohiofarmgirl said...

yay for the Rayburn! i'm excited to see how you get it all worked out. i found a book on Amazon about "how to cook on a wood burning stove" and i think it had some information on the baking system of a traditional stove. might be worth a look to see? i'm sure there is a "how to" out there. and yep. i used to keep my city house warm.... now i like it much cooler. :-)

Marty said...

Your domestic differences are fascinating. I can't even imagine how to cook on a wood stove. I suppose I could have tried years ago since years ago we used a wood-burning stove to heat the house.

Kirsty said...

You're one step closer than me to cooking with your Rayburn, at least you can get yours to stay lit! x

Vera said...

CRO MAGNON, I am thinking of investing in a Le Crueset pot, but they are so expensive and are also heavy to lift, so I hesitate to make the investment. Fifteen years!.... I have been using the Rayburn for a couple of months and am already losing patience with trying to cook on it!

JOHN, peacefulness, always peacefulness...that is what I would wish for you!

DAWN, thanks for the info. We have winter bricks in ours, but yours seems to have more knobs than ours does....we have one on the space beneath the firebox, one in between the firebox and the oven, and one up by the chimney. We don't use the Rayburn to heat water yet, we might eventually when finances permit. Hope your cria is still doing OK, and hope its mum is still with you in life.

SOL, it would seem that getting to know the foibles of our ovens is going to take quite a lot of patience! And wishing your all the best for 2016, and let us hope that we continue to strive in our endeavours to learn how to use our ovens!

ANONYMOUS, now that is a good idea for getting a pot to keep to simmer. A cast iron trivet I would think I need to get, so will have a look on Amazon! Thanks for posting up the idea for me.

OHIOFARMGIRL, Thanks for the info, and will have a look for the book on Amazon. I do have several Rayburn cook books which have many good recipes in them, but how to actually get the oven to keep at an even temperature is not spoken about.
You and I must be a lot healthier now we are not living in hot houses, even if sometimes we feel vaguely chilly!

MARTY, I am trying not to let the cooking abilities of our Rayburn defeat me! But even as a wood burning stove to heat the house it is well worth the cost and effort of getting it installed!

KIRSTY, oh dear, you really made me smile. Lester is the keeper of the fire, and he does do a marvellous job, so at least it does stay lit. I am sure that yours will behave itself eventually. But at least you do have a fantastic cake mixer, of which I am very envious since my nine month old mixer died a death before Christmas. And I am looking forward to your canning projects..... it is good to see a young person taking up skills which so many people can't be bothered with learning how to do anymore.

Ally said...

I put my big Le Creuset in the bottom oven of the Aga after Christmas to make turkey stock for soup. I remembered it five days later. I dont think my lovely big pot will ever recover.

Vera said...

ALLY, oh dear, that's not good. I did try cooking some mutton in it yesterday. It was eatable although singed. I didn't realise how I rely on my sense of smell to remind me when things are cooking, especially when the 'nearly burnt' smell wafts across one's nasal passages! Hope the pot cleans up OK.

Kerry said...

Only tried the wood oven once and the rice pudding did not stay in it's dish. After buying a range cooker, the old wood oven was sold and a wood burner is now in it's place x

Vera said...

KERRY, I couldn't do that, because the Rayburn was purchased from the UK brand new. It was Lester's idea. I would not swop the Rayburn for a wood burner and shall continue to plod along with trying to learn how to cook on it, meanwhile I just enjoy its warmth while continuing to make the cakes in the range cooker!

PioneerPreppy said...

Sorry it took me so long to comment. Death was knocking at my door!!! Well OK it was justa bad cold but it still felt like death :)

I hope you get the rayburn figured out. Some day I want one other than our small inside wood stove but I am sure there is a huge learnign curve so I am all about learnign off your curb!!!!

Vera said...

PIONEERPREPPY...... I, too, have been at death's door, possibly due to an allergic reaction to eating some chemical loaded chocolates I was given and couldn't resist. The sypmptoms were like flu, so I had to take to my bed as well. But you and I live to fight on with learning how to be preppers for another day now we are up and about again! As for me being able to help you with your future wood burning stove project....um.....not sure about that..... my learning curve in regards to using the oven is at 'stop' at the moment!

meadowlass said...

I wonder if you are running your Rayburn much too hot as generally you run them once they are lit and have settled down with the oven temperature on low to moderate so that means adjusting the wood being burned, the vent on the burner door and the chimney damper (by pushing it in more) That would explain why the hot plate is burning your food as you can generally always find a cool spot on the point of the hot plate that is furthest away from the burner. You will still get the heat in the cast iron casing which will warm the room even if you run it cooler. If you can you should also try and run it at a lower temperature but all the time when it is very cold as that will keep the room and the house warm. At night you fuel up and just like a wood burner as soon as that wood has caught close the door vent and push in the chimney damper nearly all the way and it will stay in overnight. Normally you only crank up the heat by opening the vent and the chimney damper when you first light it , first thing in the morning to get it going again, or you want to cook a roast joint or bake bread and then "turn" it down again. Bear in mind that I only have a 1950s Rayburn so your modern one might have different controls. It will also depend on the wood.
The cold plate is a solid, baking sheettype of oven shelf that if the oven is too hot you keep outside the oven so it is always cold and then you slide it onto the top shelf while cold so it protects the food baking beneath it as the oven heat from the fuel burner comes across the top of the oven. Once you get the oven temperature down you won't need a Le Creuset and there are in any case many ,much cheaper cast iron alternatives in France. You can use any oven ware to casserole in or do a slow roast for three hours in a low to moderate oven. It sounds to me as though your oven temperature gauge is accurate since it says hot and your food is burning but invest in a separate oven thermometer as it helps you to get to know your Rayburn and its foibles.

Vera said...

MEADOWLASS, thank you so much for taking the time to give this info to me, it is very helpful, especially the info about the cold plate. We do not keep the Rayburn lit all the time because the weather has been so warm and we have not needed the heat during the day, which means that I am not cooking with it much at the moment. But we shall be better organised next winter, and then I shall be using the oven much more than I am at the moment. I agree about Le Creuset, and think that I shall just get a large casserole dish, which should suffice, because Le Creuset is so expensive! Thanks again, you were a great help.