|Fire Starters, made from paraffin, scrap beeswax, dryer lint, and paper egg cartons|
|Our Colony Hearth Fireplace Insert|
|The optional cooking surface|
I got a good deal on a used Colony Hearth fireplace insert towards the end of last winter. The only catch was there was no firebrick inside the stove. I bought the necessary firebrick, but there was a certain amount of grinding and cutting required to make it fit in the stove. I got halfway through that process last spring when the store got busy and the fireplace insert dropped quite a few places on my priority list. The recent cool weather has moved that job right back to the top of the "To Do" list. I've got another minor problem to fix before the new stove will function properly. The person who designed our fireplace thought it would look nice if one side of the mouth of the fireplace were to be recessed several inches. Artistically speaking, that may have been a good idea. I don't have an opinion on that aspect. However, the fireplace insert won't draw properly unless the resultant gap can be plugged to force all of the chimney's draft to come through the insert. My friend Quentin, who knows how to fix practically anything, has an idea how to make that work.
This particular fireplace insert has a door that can be easily lifted off so that it can also function as an open fireplace if desired. It also has a nice flat area on top of the stove that can be used for cooking. That feature will be very popular the next time we lose power for several days. I'm looking forward to having a serious wood stove in our living room. The fireplace didn't provide much in the way of heat and mainly served for esthetic purposes.
I also am anxious to try out the fireplace insert as a bread oven. Our bishop, a serious bread baker, has taken to baking bread in their fireplace insert. He developed the technique from necessity as they had a power outage once last winter while he had bread rising. His effort to salvage the bread turned out so well that it became his preferred method of baking. He simply builds a good hot fire, lets it burn down to coals, then pushes all of the coals to the back of the stove and plops his bread dough right onto the firebricks. He says that he gets as good as spring from the insert as from his regular oven. Bishop Nielson also has a little magnetic thermometer attached to the outside of his fireplace insert so he can better determine the temperature of his bread oven. I was interested enough in baking to capture my own wild sour dough starter, but I have only dabbled thus far in baking bread. I would like to bake bread more often, especially now that the weather has turned colder.