"The Proper Thermodynamics of a Warm and Happy Home"
With autumn came a desire
for hot food and familiar dishes.
This would have been fine, for Igor
knew how to cook, except that the castle
came equipped with a stove that was
altogether outside of his experience.
He burned the muffins.
He burned the oatmeal.
He even managed to burn
the big pot of stew.
The roast came out
burned on the outside but
raw on the inside.
Victor found Igor sitting
at the table trying not to cry.
"What's wrong?" Victor asked.
"Sorry, sir, I ruined supper again,"
Igor said. "This sodding stove
hates me, or else is possessed
of a devil, I'm not sure which."
"I don't really believe in devils," Victor said,
"so let us see what may be done about the stove."
The appliance in question was a vast, complex device
made of cast iron with all kinds of different doors and
lids and tanks and other paraphernalia, even before
the shining array of copper pots, kettles, and spoons
that sat on top of it or hung from various hooks.
"Take everything off of the stove," Victor instructed,
"whilst I go find a lab book for our kitchen notes."
By the time Igor had cleared the stove of
all its extra equipment, Victor came back
with book and pencil in hand.
"Now what we're going to do,"
Victor said, "is measure what
the stove does and record it,
so then the results will be
So they took temperatures in
various places, checked to see
how the wood was burning,
and boiled a pot of water.
Then they boiled some potatoes,
taking one out every five minutes
to find out how long they took to cook.
They toasted bread in the oven hatches
to discover the warmer and cooler spots.
They tapped hot water from the spigots
and measured its temperature as well.
It took a week, all told, for Victor and Igor
to test everything they could think of, but
by the end of it Igor succeeded in cooking
a perfect supper, as familiar as ever.
"I'm almost sorry to reach the end
of our kitchen experiments," said Igor.
"They've been a lot of fun."
Victor looked around at a room meant
to feed a whole castle full of people.
"Well," he said, "we haven't done
the stone ovens or wall hearths yet."
"I'll get the log book," Igor said with a grin.
* * *
This is the awesome stove in the castle.
Thermodynamics apply to cooking. The more you understand, the more you can do.
Testing new kitchen equipment applies to ovens, stoves, and other appliances. There are tips for exploring a stove and calibrating an oven. Woodstoves require their own special handling.
Boiling potatoes and toasting bread are two quick, easy, and effective ways of testing cookware.