No Range? No problem. How to cook in your fireplace.

No Range?  No problem.


Way long ago, a long long time ago, before hair was even invented I had a stove.  That’s a range to you fancy folks.

It sat in the middle of my kitchen ready and waiting to go to work at all times.  Then I renovated my kitchen.

Now I have a stove that sits in the middle of my kitchen sticking its tongue out at me.  It’s not hooked up yet because of a series of disasters that involve gas, excitement and stupidity.  More on that later.

So for the past several weeks I’ve had to be awfully inventive with my meals.  That whole raw food craze can suck it by the way.  I’ve had the help of my niece and mother who have provided me with meals and I had a slew of prepared meals in my freezer.  Remember?

But I got sick of lasagna and ran out of quesadillas so I had to turn to another way to cook my meals.  I turned to my fireplace.

I’ve cooked hotdogs and marshmallows on my fireplace before.  Who hasn’t.  I love a good fireplace hotdog.  But I hadn’t cooked anything real.  Nothing you could serve to pretty much anyone over the age of 12.

I knew that technically it was possible to cook real food over an open fire I just wasn’t sure how to go about it.  Would the food burn, would it cook, would I set my arm hairs on fire?  This was real Laura Ingalls stuff, not pretend pioneering and I wasn’t sure I could actually do it.

I had Little House doubt.

But I eventually got hungry and adventurous enough to find the cast iron and put the pan in the fire.

My first night of fireplace cooking I made Cheddar Jalapeno perogies with fried bacon and onions, accompanied by a kale salad.  So how did I do it exactly?  You know, because I’m fairly certain there are thousands of you out there, in need of this information relevant to the year 1840.

First off, I fried my bacon in the skillet on a bed of coals.  When the bacon was done, and it came out fantastic by the way, no burning, perfectly crisp …  I set it aside and added my sliced onions.  The onions were cooked in the same way, thrown into the pan with the remaining bacon grease and fried until they were gooey and soft.

In the meantime I had to figure out a way to cook the perogies.  There are a few hurdles to overcome when making a real meal without a stove.  Pasta for instance needs to be cooked in boiling water and I don’t own an electric kettle.  I overcame this particular problem by getting water as close to boiling as I could in my 16 year old microwave.  The boiling point of water is 212 degrees fahrenheit.  My water got to around 200 degrees after cooking on high for approximately 17 hours.  Or so it seemed.  17 minutes might be more accurate but it’s kind of a blur.

As soon as the water is as close to boiling as you’re going to get it, (or you lose patience) pour it onto the perogies which you’ve set in a container that holds heat well.  Put a lid on it and walk away.  The perogies (or other pasta) should cook in about 15 minutes from the residual heat of the water.

When they’re cooked add them to the frying pan with your bacon and fried onions and put them in the coals of the fireplace again to crisp up the outside of them.

It all went down like this …


The great fireplace cooking experiment couldn’t have gone any better. The meal was easy and tasted great. Thanks in no small part to the really great perogies from the Costco perogie roadshow.

The night after the perogies I cooked french toast, bacon and canned peaches on the fireplace. Then it was peanut chicken satays with spring rolls and julienned carrots.

Then I made antojitos.

Then I made steak.

Then I remembered I own a barbecue.

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  1. Sharman says:

    It looks delish! Did you finish them off in one sitting cause I sure would have!

  2. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Ha..goofy girl..but that meal looks so good..besides..if you use the barbeque you have to stand out in the cold..Better to be warm in front of the fireplace…

  3. Pam'a says:

    Stop it, or you’ll start wondering why you need a kitchen at all… heh.

  4. Laura Bee says:

    Haha, silly woman. I make my perogies by defrosting in the nuker then frying in my iron skillet. (on my stove)
    My daughter would eat them every night if I gave in to her wishes.

    Now I want french toast, bacon & peaches. Sounds awesome. Out of eggs. Need a chicken or three. Need to bake some bread too. Fatten a pig. Grow a peach tree.

    Maybe I should get some sleep too…

  5. Linda Robbins says:

    I’m a little frightened by the bacon. It looks like a very unfortunate turtle. Or, more optimistically, sort of a bacon fleur de lis.

  6. Grammy says:

    You can cook any pasta by bringing a pan of water to boil, adding the pasta, giving it a stir, turning the heat off, and putting a lid on the pot. Let it sit for 20 minutes, give or take, and it’s done. I know this isn’t how real cooks do it, but it works and for people who are new to cooking (my daughter) or without a proper stove (you) it’s fine. New cooks so often have the pasta pot boil over, or they cook it till it’s mush. Neither happens this way.

    As for your fireplace delights, I am impressed and envious that they all turned out so perfectly. And, even though we (your loyal followers) know you’re just a tad crazy and like it that way, standing outside cooking on the BBQ in the weather you’re having would get you hauled off — to the hospital for hypothermia or the Funny Farm or both.

  7. cathy says:

    OK, going into Mom mode for a thought: charcoal burning INSIDE??? doesn’t that make CO? as in carbon monoxide?? Best to stand in the cold for a while and make nice with the barbie; you don’t want all of us fighting over who gets to deliver your eulogy.


  8. victoria says:

    Thanks for always making me laugh!!!!

  9. Barbie says:

    OMG! The comments are as good as your funny post! “Drunken turtle or Fleur de lis” LOLOL.
    SO very impressed with your fireplace cookery! Laura Ingalls would be proud! ….Now do a roast!!

  10. Jane says:

    Thanks for the tip about cooking pasta without boiling it for 15 minutes! I always cook hard boiled eggs that way. Can’t wait to see your new kitchen!!

  11. Lin says:

    Bloody brilliant laura…er I mean Karen.

  12. Claire says:

    You make me smile!

  13. magali says:

    That looks delish!
    Did you really make Antojitos in the fireplace too?!

    • Karen says:

      Yes. Those were easy though. Really with antojitos all you’re doing is heating them up and getting them crisp on the outside. EAsy over coals in a cast iron skillet. ~ k!

  14. Jody says:

    Wow. You constantly amaze me. Have you tapped your maple tree and are boiling it down for maple syrup? Pancakes with maple syrup over the fireplace would be amazing.

  15. Tigersmom says:

    I’ve been waiting for inventive cooking posts ever since the kitchen renovation began. I figured you would be grilling everything, but if the weather is still looking like your new spring dress post nothing would cook before you would freeze. Leave it you to find a way to do it indoors. And a way to make it look not only appetizing, but photo-worthy. Laura would be proud.

    We had family in town a couple of weeks ago and on Saturday we went to a park and were actually hot in the sun with the temp being in the eighties. The next day my husband was grilling steaks for us all at our house in the snow in temps in the twenties. Nutty!

  16. Su says:

    really impressive. Did you know you can cook pierogis in butter in the cast iron skillet?? Pretty darn good, too….. But like your tag line says ‘it ain’t that hard’…. maybe you need an electric skillet. Handy thing….. just saying

  17. karen says:

    skillet pizza is awesome! I use the pizza dough recipe you gave us readers a while ago. Put a little corn meal in the skillet and lay in the crust. It only takes a few minutes to brown on the under side. Flip it, then add toppings (pesto, sundried tomatoes and feta is great!!). cover and move higher from the flame until the toppings are hot and cheese is melted. yummmmmmmmmmmmmm

  18. Mary says:

    Resourceful, thy name is woman – er Karen!

  19. Denise says:

    Wow, good job..those perogies look great. Sadly I’ve been almost in the same boat since Christmas when a wonky 5 day power outage and the resulting power surge fried my electric range. We decided to make the switch to a gas range…which has been back-ordered 2 months. Not to brag but I do have one burner that works..ha ha..but sadly my BBQ cover in still encased in ice and snow, effectively holding my BBQ hostage. We are so tired of mushy slow cooker food and stir fries on one burner…so looking forward to having a working stove. Maybe you should invest in a cast iron Dutch oven…we have one for camping, you nestle it into the coals of a fireplace, place a few coals on the lid and you have your own little “old school” oven. Good Luck !

  20. Helen Schmidt says:

    As usual an absorbing read with a giggle at the end. Another morning I end up smiling before 8am! thanks.

  21. Karin says:

    You had me at older than hair and sealed the deal with the BBQ. Thanks for the giggles πŸ™‚

  22. I am so envious of your fireplace. I can’t even get out to my firepit as the snow in the back pasture is way past the top of my Bogs! I saw a glimmer of hope for about a week and then we had another blizzard! I try to stay as far away from my stove as possible, but soon my live-in chef will be out of town and I’ll be looking for those Costco perogies!

  23. Connie S. says:

    hahaha- luv reading your posts ! I get to start my day with a Laf .
    you rock Karen πŸ™‚

  24. Jebberjay says:

    Hi Karen. My name is Jebber Jay and I would like to invite you to do Survivor with me. Kitchen Reno Survivor. I promise to be your ally. I would never kick you off the kitchen island.

  25. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    You are one amazing chick…thanks for the post. I LOVE perogies too.

  26. Vicky says:

    While my kitchen is under construction, I have a electric skillet and an oven. Not a lot of fun. It’s too cold in Detroit to barbeque plus it’s snowing again today. I’ve learned that you can pretty much cook anything in the skillet that you need a range for. I don’t have a fireplace but I would use that if I did. We’re about 2 years away (slight exaggeration) from the kitchen being done, I’m afraid. My husband is doing the work himself and it is a slllloooowww go.

  27. Kelly says:

    I was the only kid in Grade 5 who used to come home to find lunch mom cooking lunch in the fireplace. My mom didn’t have a BBQ so she did the steaks and hamburgers and even pots of baked beans with molasses in the fireplace. I was also the only kid in Grade 5 who’d come home to find lunch was weird stuff like swordfish. Don’t quite know how she did it, but she used to make her own pieroghi’s too but those NEVER in the fireplace. Not sure I’d trust Costco on something as important as pieroghi’s. Better to find a Ukranian church and pay the babas to make you a few dozen, I think. A waste of calories otherwise!

    • Karen says:

      These are actually pretty good. I hear you though. We used to have a Ukranian store in town and that’s where I got my perogies. Store bought perogies always have way too much dough around them. ~ karen!

  28. Debbie says:

    The fireplace method sounds better than the BBQ! Loved this post!

  29. I love reading your posts. They always are hilarious!

  30. Robin says:

    You’ve mastered Cave woman cooking 101 it seems…bet you can’t wait for your stove to be ready to go! I know I’d miss mine if it was more than a week.

  31. Jeannie B says:

    I would never have thought of cooking in my fireplace. Well done Karen! Looks really good. I’ve been without an oven since before Christmas when the clock control failed. Stovetop still works and I’ve been using a toaster oven for baking. But, as soon as the snow goes, I’ll have to make a decision to replace the stove or repair it. Cost is almost the same.

  32. Luanne says:

    Fun stuff! BTW – you recently asked about tea/coffee – when I was working towards making the switch, the hold-up was boiling water. I, also, didn’t have an electric kettle. I’m so happy that I went ahead and made that change – it doesn’t look as fancy as the shiny silver one on the stove-top, but I surely have tea and other boiled water items way more often.

  33. Marion says:

    Looks delicious! Someday when I have a house I plan to have the fireplace rigged so I can cook in it (I don’t know what they’re called, but I want one of those swinging metal arms that I can hang cast iron pots on).

  34. Mari says:

    I learned to boil things in my electric skillet when I had no stove. Works better than the microwave . LOL
    I had not used the electric skillet in years before the remodel and I have not used it in the 4 years since the remodel but I kept it because of that great discovery.

  35. toekneetoni says:

    Looks delicious! Very resourceful as always!

  36. Patti says:

    You’re Wonder woman I tell you! I never would’ve thought to use the fireplace to cook…genius! I bet it was fun too. Btw, I put frozen perogies right into a buttered skillet, 5 mins on each side and they’re cooked through and brown, no need to boil.

  37. Bols says:

    I forgot what your old stove was – are you doing the conversion from electric to gas now? Please enlighten me on the issues with the gas hookup so that I know what to expect.
    When should one have the work done? I have gas in the house (for heating) but I understand there will have to be pipes run that would connect it to the gas stove – should I have it done before I purchase the gas stove or after?
    I am asking because I am planning to buy the new gas stove when buying a new kitchen and this may add to the time the new kitchen will be operational (since I don’t have Grant as a neighbour). πŸ™‚

  38. Sheri says:

    I managed for several months without a stove. I borrowed a one-burner hot plate from my mother for skillet dishes. The other dishes were prepared with a carefully planned combination of microwave, crock pot, and toaster oven.

  39. Ruth says:

    I seem to recall that the last time we ‘spoke’, you had snow on the ground…. BBQ = no bueno (Especially since I also recall that you had a bad enough time trying to light said BBQ on a warmer occasion. Ahem.)

  40. Call Me Patty says:

    Karen you’re a survivor……where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  41. Diane S says:

    Ahhh…reminds me of my college days making a four course meal in a coffee maker! But the fireplace is more fun. Kinda like camping! With a Boy Scout son we have perfected cast-iron pot cooking and love it. But ya know…you can boil water in a pot over the fire as well. I think they did that in the 1840’s too! ;D

  42. Berry says:

    wrap potatoes in foil, bury in coals. It’s a pity you don’t have a flat topped cast iron dutch oven, you can do just about anything with one of those. You can wrap a small cut of meat in foil with garlic and seasonings and roast it in the coals. If you are feeling very adventurous and have a peg on the mantle, you could do a rotisserie roast. (string through roast, hang on peg, twist string to turn) This is a pretty awesome book if your stove will be a while…
    You’d want to get it from the library – out of print sadly.
    You can bake bread in the ashes with no pan – just plop your dough on the ashes and heap more over the top. You should get almost a pretzel bread result.
    Does your skillet have a lid?

  43. Berry says:

    Take a loaf of bread, hollow it out, add a small cut of meat, a little oil or butter, and herbs and spices. Wrap in foil and bake in the coals.

    Bury carrots, onions, pretty much any root vegetable in the coals. (Don’t peel.) Roast until soft. Brush off the ashes and peel. Platina suggests tossing the peeled carrots with oil, a touch of vinegar, and a splash of wine. Very yummy.

    I really enjoy hearth cooking. πŸ™‚

  44. I am so impressed! The food looks fabulous. It does sound like a lot of work to me and I cook home cooked meals from scratch most nights for my family of five. I think I would be eating a lot of salads, sandwiches, take out and soup. Actually that’s what we did during our kitchen gut/reno (and I was pregnant with a toddler). But I did get very sick of take-out and restaurants.

  45. Julie says:

    by the way the “Costco perogie roadshow” is awesome!!! πŸ™‚ side burner on the bbq…totally the way to go πŸ™‚

  46. Rondina Muncy says:

    As someone who reads historical documents on a daily basis, I can honestly tell you that Laura Ingalls probably never thought of whipping up some perogies with her fried bacon and onions. (“Probably” is always inserted as a qualifier, since we don’t have proof positive that she didn’t.) Your Canadian is showing. First, you forgot you had a barbeque. Then, you called it a barbeque. And you spelled it with a “c.” It’s a grill, a pit, or a smoker. (Tennessee and Carolinas may have more terms.) You most likely own a barbeque grill. The fireplace experiment needed a grill. Also handy in power outages, especially with side burners.

  47. Gillianne says:

    Lovely! Fun… sometimes… to time travel backwards. We’re in northern New England and can manage stews and reheats on the woodstove, but we also have a fireplace. Perhaps most useful in times of power outages: the two-burner propane-fueled campstove. Highly recommend, for camping and for kitchen renovations!

  48. Deirdre says:

    BBQ – hahahaha, didn’t even think about that since we still can’t see it beneath the glacier of snow out there.
    Me: Look honey, we have maple trees in the back yard. Let’s make maple syrup.
    Boyfriend: No way, its too difficult and we have so many places to buy homemade syrup around here.
    Me: Don’t be silly, we can make it. I’ll check on my Artofdoingstuff site (my personal google).
    Me: You’re right honey, too difficult – lets go for a drive and buy some fresh Ontario maple syrup.

    Thanks for your honesty, advice and great laughs Karen.

  49. kelli says:

    oh my, I bet your house smelled heavenly! And you betcha we’re paying attention to this because when the zombies* come, all our technology goes out the window. And then we’ll need to know how to cook a good perogie. At least we won’t have to share with the zombies.

    seriously, is there anything you can’t do???

    *aka SHTF, EMP, WORL, etc.

    • Karen P says:

      OMG, too freakin’ funny! I admit I had to look up your acronyms… guess I’m not playing enough apocalyptic video games, but I AM worried that the world is quickly heading toward chaos and without the rule of law (WORL, for those who were clueless too). I too am relieved to know I can make perogies in the event the SHTF πŸ˜‰ Now to grow something more than herbs so I can have something to actually cook in my fireplace. Don’t trust myself to raise chickens… I love eggs, but I love chicken nuggets even more!!! Ha!

  50. Leslie says:

    I love your indoor camping adventure food. Probably better than shoveling the snow off the barbecue anyway.

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