OK, so this isn’t REALLY a recipe, but it was kind of like cooking and I didn’t want to make a whole new category for one post. So, it’s a recipe for the purposes of my categorizing.
Every week in the winter, I have to start a fire in the wood stove in our garage, so that The Man and his friends won’t freeze to death while they play D&D. As anyone who’s ever tried will agree, building a fire is not easy work if you don’t have lots of tiny twigs and wood chips or something to use as kindling. You can’t just throw a bunch of paper in there and put a log on top of it and expect it to burn. However, we don’t keep a lot of tiny twigs or wood chips around. Those that I do find get consumed pretty quickly.
Dr. Mom and Moll heat with wood, exclusively. This means they need to have a reliable way to get the fire started. So, they make their own fire starters. After my most recent wrestle with the fire (this afternoon), I decided to try to follow their lead and make my own.
Step one: Gather pine cones. If you don’t have twenty pine trees in your yard (like me), go to the park or take a walk or something. You are looking for smaller pine cones, nothing over 1.5 inches in height. If you do have your own trees, it’s best if you gather pine cones while your neighbor is walking his dogs, so that the dogs will notice you and bark wildly, and the neighbor can wonder why you are squatting under a pine tree with a basket, looking suspicious.
Suspicious neighbors are a small price to pay for pine cones.
Step two: Sort your pine cones into “dry” and “not dry”. Dry pine cones are open. Pine cones in need of drying are shut tightly.
Step three: Dry the pine cones that need it. Grab a junk sheet pan with a lip, line it with foil or parchment paper, and put the pine cones on it. Stick them in a 200 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for an hour or so, until they open up.
These pine cones need to be more open. Put them in the oven and teach them a lesson!
Step four: Melt your wax. This is where all those jar candles that only have an inch of wax left in the bottom will come in handy. Take one of those jar candles, and stick it in a pot of simmering water. The wax will melt slowly, and as a bonus, if it’s a scented candle, your house will smell great. My house smells like ginger and tangerine right this instant.
Watching wax melt is second only to watching paint dry.
Step five: Coat the cones. This is done in batches. I put a handful of pine cones in a disposable plastic bowl. Then I put on a pair of stretch gloves and grabbed the jar full of now melted wax. Then, I poured some of the wax over the pine cones. How much? I don’t know. I poured until it looked like there was enough wax to coat the pine cones.
My Hello Kitty stretchy glove never dreamed that it could be a hot pad!
Then, I grabbed a junk fork (seeing a theme, here?) and stirred the pine cones around until the wax began to harden and stick. This took a couple of minutes, but if you don’t stir, all the wax will just pool at the bottom, and that’s no good.
Looks appetizing, eh?
Step six: Cool. Once the wax was stuck well to the cones, I placed them on a paper bag that had a sheet of wax paper on it.
It's not granola, no matter what your hippie aunt tries to tell you.
Repeat steps five and six until all the cones are coated.
Step seven: Really cool. Your pine cones are probably still somewhat warm, and the wax is probably still soft. At this point, I moved the cones (still on the wax paper) to the junk sheet pan that I dried the cones on, and set it on the porch for a half hour. Of course, it’s 30 degrees on my porch right now. If it’s not nice and chill outside, stash them in the fridge or freezer for a half hour.
Step eight: Store. I stuck my cones in a lidded jar. They’ll live near the wood stove to be easily accessible.
It's a jar full of witch! Burn it!
Step nine: Use. I’m not going to go into detail about how to build a fire, sorry.