Memories of Mary Louise Deller Knight’s Wood Stove





My Grandmother, somewhat of a warrior, would bring in armloads of split hardwood and kindling every morning and evening and pile it in the wood box beside the old wood stove. There were six round covers on top of the stove and you could take one off if you needed a really hot place to put the frypan, as it would fit right inside the biggest hole. The little shelves on either side at the top was where I dried my mittens in the winter.

Grammy said the trick of cooking on top of a cook stove was knowing where to place your pots, and to shift them around to get a decent temperature. She always said there was a “sweet spot” on the top of her stove, and that the plates over the fire box were the warmest. Her boiling pots sat directly above the firebox; and the place for stewing, which was an all day event, was just a couple of spots away.

When she made bread the warming oven was a good place to let bread dough rise and it was also the spot she warmed cold plates and serving dishes before meals. Grammy always said you just couldn’t put food on the stove and leave it, and it just wasn’t practical for women who had a job– which she frowned upon too.

Grammy would giggle when I would mention that her tiny electric stove in the corner  held everything else but cooking pots. She said she would rather fry eggs on a wood stove than on an electric range as the wood stove produced the most wonderful meals: baked beans, fresh bread, and lots of roasts and stews. Not to mention delicious cakes, pies and cookies of all kinds.

Muffy, their cat, would always be asleep on top of the wood box, except when I came in. Then she would hightail it under the stove and I would crouch down and try to pull her out to no avail. Grammy always had a little clothesline in the corner of the kitchen behind the stove for drying her dish towels.

It still intrigues me that a woman could spend her whole life cooking for generations on one stove. It’s metaphoric, I suppose. Mary Louise Deller Knight never got rid of her wood stove until the day she moved into a senior residence on South Street. The next day in the now empty house, the stove stopped being the centre of  activity in her small kitchen. Summer days of sitting in the warm kitchen while she baked a cake and constantly wiping her forehead while I drank fresh lemonade were now just memories.




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Ashes to Ashes and Spins of the Washing Machine

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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