Summer is in full swing here in Texas. We've been spending much more time on the farm now that we have the shell of the cabin built. Being on the farm on a consistent basis has made for some experimentation when it comes to cooking with no electricity or running water. There are only so many days that a person can handle cold prep food until you start thinking how to cook a hot meal. I had gotten pretty good at cooking on the campfire until the Texas heat settled into town.
Have you ever wanted a hot meal, but had no kitchen? Cooking on a campfire has always been my solution. But have you ever experienced a Texas summer? Cooking over a campfire is the worst during the triple digit days. So how do we beat the heat here at Stoffels Family Farm yet still have a hot breakfast without a traditional kitchen? We cook on a rocket stove! This stove uses cinder blocks and creates a funnel of heat up to a burner where you can cook food in skillets. The heat is concentrated in one spot so it reduces the amount of heat you feel while cooking. All you need are four cinder blocks and some smaller red bricks.
You Tube continues to be a great source for how-to videos, and how to make a rocket stove has been extremely useful! Here are the two videos we watched when trying to create our own rocket stove.
The main problem with this video is the requirement to have an H-brace cinder block. I took an entire day driving around the metroplex to different locations in search of one. I couldn't ask over the phone because no one even knew what I was talking about. This should have been a warning at this point. Even with showing them the picture, I had employees taking my phone with the picture to their managers asking if they had the cement block. So after a long frustrating empty handed search I decided to look for a different solution to the H block.
Our farm has an area of land that has random red bricks left over from the original farm house that was built back in the '20s or '30s. These bricks come in all shapes and sizes. Some are whole rectangles that look like new while others don’t even look like a shape at all as they have been worn down over time. So I decided to see if I could use these bricks to create the H block that would support the air flow for the small heat source. These bricks worked great for creating the h shape for the rocket stove. It was very helpful that some of the red bricks were small enough to fit as the middle wall.
Another benefit of the rocket stove is that it takes a lot less wood to create a flame to cook your food. With a hand full of twigs we were in business. The fall back is that twigs burn quickly so we had to add wood often to keep the heat source strong enough to cook the bacon. Our eggs cooked swiftly with only a little extra wood. One other thing that we noticed was that we needed a gap at the corner of each burner so that the air could move and keep the fire going. In the end we had a great breakfast with minimal wood and heat out put. I call this a win-win for sure.
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