I’ve been trying to make my homemade woodgas stoves work with pellets. I’m still figuring it out. People like this guy are able to produce flames of 1500 degrees F with pellets in small can-built stoves. My stoves haven’t been so carefully made, but they’ve performed well enough with sticks and chips and chunks. Pellets, though: I keep having them go out less than halfway through.
This morning, since I don’t have to be at work until noon, I decided to try my little stove with another load of pellets to cook porridge, a favorite of mine for breakfast.
First, something about this porridge: I ate conventional oatmeal made from rolled oats when I was younger, but I never was fully converted to the texture, and after a while I decided I didn’t like it much. Then I tried Scottish oats, and I fell in love with them. I’ve had steel-cut too, which are nice, but I most definitely favor the texture of the coarse-ground groats when they’re cooked thoroughly. I like to buy the groats whole and then run them through a hand-cranked auger grinder at a loose setting.
There’s something else I do: I add plenty of salt to them near the end of cooking, and I season them with herbs. My standard recipe is a bit of ground rosemary and sage, and then maybe some pepper and butter in the bowl when I eat them. Sometimes I’ll add nutmeg too, though I find I like that best with thyme.
Well, after getting the pellets started, I put the water on, in one of my outside pots. It’s shallower than I like to use for porridge: I stir with a spurtle and I like to get it poked way down in. But this was what I had.
The gas jets flickered faintly and fitfully: it was hard to get a picture of them. Their insubstantial blue color seemed like a good sign, but they were destined to disappoint today.
In went the oats, and they simmered away happily for a while.
By the way, this was about three parts water to one part oatmeal: in this case 2 1/4 cups to 3/4. While this was cooking I prepared the seasoning: a few rosemary leaves,
ground up with some salt
and a couple of sage leaves.
I took that out to where I thought my porridge was simmering, to find that the dang stove had gone out. This has not happened when I’ve used other fuel, so I’m not sure what I should be doing different with the pellets. I like the idea of using pellets. I like being able to burn scavenged and salvaged chunks and sticks too, but pellets are so convenient and compact. I like their smell, I like paying five dollars for a forty pound bag. I wonder if I need more or bigger intake holes.
Somehow, Lucia stoves manage to burn for up to 6 hours on a load of pellets. So it can’t be only a matter of the fuel being packed too tightly: those stoves are much larger than mine.
I’ll keep posting about my experiments with them. Meanwhile, here’s what I did with my porridge. I stirred in my seasoning
and then I ate it.
People are often surprised when I tell them how I season my porridge: Americans aren’t used to having savory oatmeal. I’ve been eating it this way for years and I won’t go back. Try sage and rosemary in yours, it’s delicious.