Why my Next Kitchen will Have an Indoor Cooking Fireplace
When you think of a fireplace in the house, you normally think of it in a living room. It’s true, fires are cozy and heat up the house, some might even say they’re decorative. But a couple hundred years ago fireplaces played a major role in the kitchen. Namely, this was how you would cook your food! We still enjoy cooking over fire in the form of outdoor smokers and grills. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could have an indoor cooking fire? With a cooking fireplace you can achieve the same level of flavor as in a grill or smoker, also also use it to bake, griddle, and roast. Genevieve Taylor gives some yummy recipes for cooking with fire in her book The Ultimate Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook. As I type this from inside my snow-covered chilly house in New England, I for one, would certainly enjoy an indoor cooking fireplace.
Cooking on an Open Fire
Generally, when you think of a fireplace, you don’t think of it as anything more than a pretty and warm addition to a family room. But you can also use the flames in a fireplace to cook!
The open flames and real smoke in an indoor cooking fireplace means you can get that smoky, charred, caramelized layer when roasting vegetables, you can crisp up bread dough like a pizza, and you can cook meat to get that smokey wood taste. A fireplace in the kitchen is an under-appreciated way to level up your flavors, and connect with the art of cooking.
Cooking with fire is part of our history as a species, and we have cooking to thank for becoming the (mostly) intelligent, aware, humans we are today. So it’s no wonder we, as humans, are drawn to fire, and enjoy the idea of cooking on it. You can make some delicious recipes over a fire, such as my campfire favorite, Clam Polenta.
This video below shows some techniques for cooking on an open fire:
Some cultural foods and certain recipes also require a cooking fireplace, as many are ancient recipes that don’t use modern cooking technology. Having a cooking hearth in the kitchen will open your culinary options to many more recipes and cultures. Pick up this cookbook for more ideas about how to cook with fire on an indoor cooking fireplace.
Save Energy With Natural Heat
The main reason fireplaces are a popular feature in the home may because of the heat it generates. A fire will instantly make the whole room nice and cozy. I wish we had a fireplace this winter, as half our house’s forced-hot-water heat froze up in the bitter cold! A fire would have been much more reliable – and MUCH cheaper than our gas boiler, which in mid-winter is 7x the cost of heating the house in October – ouch!
However, if you don’t have multiple fireplaces in your home, heating your whole house with just one can be a bit tricky unless you have a gas fireplace with a built-in fan. If you have a real fireplace, you can actually buy an exterior fan to circulate the heat, like this stove fan. The fan will disperse the heat around your house quicker and more evenly. Having a fire going means you can turn down your central heating, or turn it off completely (unless your hot water heating pipes are at risk of freezing!). A fire will let you save loads of money on your energy bills in the winter, especially if you chop your own firewood, and can quickly pay back the cost of installing the fireplace.
Security When The Power Goes Out
A fireplace is also a great safety net during power outages. Especially if you live in a rural area, power outages are common during the winter storms or bad weather. This can leave many people in dangerous situations with no heat or electricity. But, with a fireplace in your kitchen, you can heat up your home, have light, and you can cook on it, and boil water! It’s essentially the perfect safety package to ensure you’re comfortable, can still eat a hot meal, have clean water, and stay warm during a power outage.
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