I have a confession to make. I don’t regularly cook on a wood-burning stove. I did occasionally when we heated with wood and the stove we chose could also be used for cooking, but I still did most of my cooking on a lovely electric range, saving the wood-burning kind of cooking for soups and hot dishes that require long, slow cooking without much attention required.
So I’m not an expert.
But my mother often told stories of learning to cook on a wood-burning stove and how she had to learn all over again when they moved from Hibbing, Minnesota to the city when my high-school-principal grandfather changed jobs. She said it was a difficult transition. I’ve always been glad for that education into cooking the hard way!
When I reviewed a novel in which a pioneer woman quickly whipped up a batch of cookies for visitors, I didn’t quite know what to say because the author obviously didn’t know that cooking with wood requires hours of hard work. Starting a fire, making sure it’s the right temperature, baking a ‘try’ batch (that the kids get to eat), and then — finally — actually baking cookies. I managed a nice review by merely mumbling something about ‘slightly inaccurate’ descriptions of life back then.
I’m very careful when I write about a life that I know little about. I usually stick to stories of places and times I’m familiar with, though I realize that won’t work for authors who write historic fiction.
Read the Wilderness Women stories and you’ll see whether I manage or not. Two are out now, The Pathfinder, and The Snow Queen, and they are full of details of living in the north woods. Not living here in pioneer times because I wasn’t around then, though I think I could do a fair job because of all those stories from my mom, but the nice comments I’ve gotten from readers say I’m doing okay.