There has been no dearth of advice and instruction about returning the American home to a wood-burning paradise, but as the experts inform a new generation about forgotten forest energy lore they have shamefully neglected the kitchen range. Anybody would think all we ever ''het'' was the parlor. We soot and dampers and how to remember the telephone number of the fire department, but nobody tells how Mother used to fight her way through family to get to the midwinter kitchen stove with a pan of biscuits. In the fine days of arboreal fuel, deep under banked snow, the kitchen was the home and the range was its hearth and heart.
Oh, there were parlor heaters, and even little tin persuaders in some of the bedrooms, but if somebody cares to ask what was done about the bathroom - what bathroom? On Saturday evening the tub was fetched from its peg in the shed, the children were laundered close to the hopping range, and the elders managed somehow after the young-uns went up to their torture with bed socks and hot bricks. Nice cold water from the pump was tempered with nice warm water from the reservoir (hot water tank) on the range, and as hot water was used more cold water was added to the tank. By now the kitchen is steamy.
The thing about the kitchen range is that nobody had to go into the front room to attend it, and, as Mom was cooking most of the time anyway, she might as well be fireman. So the range not only answered sustenance but made heat, and by opening the door into the dining room a meal could occasionally be enjoyed there too. Once a month or so. The kitchen table, instead.
And why hasn't one of these fuel experts told how to make the breakfast oatmeal? Oatmeal, not rolled oats - and hardly instant. Use a double boiler (bain marie now in the updated food news) and toss in enough oatmeal for the family. Porridge. Stir with some water until smooth, place top in bottom of boiler with the bottom boiling away. Front of stove until reaction fills kitchen with nourishing effluvia. Then, as bedtime approaches, move double boiler to back cover of stove for overnight. Stoke firebox, check dampers, see that wet mittens are taken from oven and suspended on cuphooks on mantel, wind the clock, put out the cat, see that water tank is full, give oatmeal one last stir, take hot water bottle, and go to bed.