April 5, 2015
At the end of October 2014, we installed a Kitchen Queen 480 wood cookstove in our kitchen. Since then we have been using this stove not only for cooking, but also as the sole source of heat for the house. Since the heating season is almost over, I thought I should provide an update on how the stove has performed.
Heating – the large firebox on the Kitchen Queen is the main reason we chose the stove. Our house is well insulated and it easily keeps the 2,200 square feet toasty, even in Manitoba’s chilling winter weather. Now that the weather is warming up, we can get away with a nice toasty fire in the morning and another in the evening.
Cooking – While the Kitchen Queen has proven its worth in heating the house, it is sold gold when it comes to cooking and baking. I love the large stainless steel cooktop. There is always plenty of room for all the pots, kettles and frying pans I can care to heat at one time. Slow simmer at one end, hot boil at the other. It also comes with summer grates, which allow you to make a smaller fire to heat the cooktop but not the oven. We have not tried using them yet, and truthfully I have no idea where I hid them. It is unlikely we will use them, as I don’t plan on using the stove in the summer.
Oven – the oven is large and although there are no turkeys roasting in my oven, it easily holds a large roaster full of yams or granola. I love baking in my Kitchen Queen and have had great success with cookies, bread, buns and cinnamon rolls. The oven can hold a large baking sheet or four loaves of bread. The Kitchen Queen has four different damper controls which allows for great temperature control. I found it remarkably easy to keep a consistent oven temperature. The oven does not seem to have any hot spots and I don’t find it necessary to turn things in the oven for even browning. Although I do find the oven to be hot and generally bake at a lower temperature than the recipe calls for.
Warming ovens – Warming ovens were one of the must have’s on our list when we were shopping around for a stove. The one on the firebox side is toasty warm and can keep a meal or pot of tea hot. The one on the oven side is cooler and perfect for rising bread. I was thrilled to discover that they could also act as a dehydrator and work great for making yam chews for Hanna. The shelf above the warming ovens also provides space for rising bread or just keeping a jar of honey or coconut oil liquid.
Water heating – We purchased a water coil with our stove but have not yet installed it as the plumbing is not yet hooked up in the house. For now, all our hot water needs are met by a large pot on the stove. Next winter, the water coil, which runs through the firebox, will heat the water in the water tank and provide our domestic hot water throughout the house. While I am content with my basin of water for now, next winter I should have the unbelievable luxury of a hot shower.
Wood storage – We have a large wood storage area in the kitchen, just next to the stove. It is a floor to ceiling cupboard with space for paper, kindling, small logs and bigger firewood. It is very handy to have several days’ supply of wood nearby and I am very glad we built this into our kitchen plan.
Lessons learned – No matter how you slice it, a wood stove is messy. Wood needs to be carried into the house, and ashes out of the house (the Kitchen Queen burns very efficiently and the ash can needs only to be emptied every other day). In hindsight, black granite tiles were not the best choice for the hearth, although they look stunning when they are polished and clean. A better choice would have been mottled grey granite.
All in all, we couldn’t be more pleased with our choice of wood stove. There is nothing quite like pulling up a chair and sitting in front of the fire with a hot cup of tea on a winter’s evening.
Wishing everyone and happy and blessed Easter.