The Old brings life to the New

Often when I post here about recipes, talk to friends or share pictures many ask me “You must have the most amazing kitchen with all the bells and whistles!” In my old kitchen I did have top of the line appliances. But I always dreamed of an old ranch kitchen where pots of stews and soups would warm the air with spices, and aromas of a hearty feast and an abundance of homegrown crops would be canned and preserved to last through the season. Or fresh baked bread would make ones mouth water with anticipation. But that was just a dream…

Then the year 2007 came to be. I had just graduated from culinary school, the glimmers of retiring were upon the horizon as a faint dream.  It was then that I got my first glimmer of the stove of my dreams. Oh it was a beauty, but not within my grasp. It sat within another’s kitchen. Oh how I coveted the magnificence of such a stove. To have something such as this to create, to have it inspire with it’s history and stories. And Lo! The opportunity arrived and the coveted stove became mine to own.  

I present to you my 1934 Magic Chef Stove –

1934 Magic Chef Stove

1934 Magic Chef Stove

Yep I cook on a stove that is 79 years old. It is so basic and just wonderful. I must point out her lovely legs. We set them on the bricks to bring the stove to counter level. I don’t know of a stove more sexy than this. There is a robin’s egg blue stencil over a buttercream yellow porcelain finish. Let me share with you some of the features and then the nuances.

It has 4 small burners so large pots you have to get creative.

It has 4 small burners so with large pots you have to get creative.

The burners are very small and the ones in the back are restricted due to the lid of the stove having sidewalls. This means you can’t put tall or wide pots on these back burners.

How cool are these 'knobs'!?

How cool are these ‘knobs’!?

These are the knobs that control the burners and the far right one feeds gas to the oven.

Storage under the burners.

Storage under the burners.

Under the burners (the 2 doors you see in the first picture) is some wonderful storage. I keep all my cast iron pans here because it’s dry and the warmth from the oven keeps any/all moisture from reaching them. You see there is also a drawer above for utensils. How cool is that?

The handles are so beautiful.

The handles are so beautiful.

My stove is not only so incredibly practical but beautiful with it’s details. These are the handles. They are on each of the doors below the burners and on the oven and broiler and begs you to peek inside while something is baking or simmering.

Yes this is a pilot light.

Yes this is a pilot light.

I want you to all to go open up your broiler or a drawer that is on the bottom. Do you see an open flame? Well these are called pilot lights. They are ignited 24/7 waiting for you to turn the gas valve to open and bring the oven to temperature. I wasn’t sure how I felt about having an open flame 24/7, but now I’m totally used to it…I think..ok ok so when we go away for a few days I make hubby turn the gas off just in case.

While I have a vent over the stove this is where the heat vents from the oven. Makes a great house heater in a pinch.

While I have a vent over the stove this is where the heat vents from the oven. Makes a great house heater in a pinch.

Once the oven is heated up the excess heat escapes from a vent right above the stove. And let me tell you it’s not subtle. There’s a lot of heat coming out of these little hole. It’s great in winter as it really helps warm the front of the house. In the summer, not so much which is why I grill a lot.

Side Bar – Ok I see you’ve noticed the the RCA dog salt and pepper shakers. Are they not adorable?! My dear father in law used to repair TV’s back in 1945. He obtained these cute little things and I thought they just fit perfectly with the old stove.

This dial is how to control the oven temp.

This dial is how to control the oven temp.

This dial is located on the right side of the stove. It controls the temperature of the oven. It starts at 100 degrees. Although with just the pilot light the heat is a constant 90 degrees. The first number on the dial is 250 then the word Slow (275) and 300. After 300 is Mode Rate which I equate to 325. After 350 is the word HOT. This is about 375. Funny how in 1934 they thought a hot temperature was 375.  Right after 400 is QUICK. Not sure what this means but the temp is about 425. After that is 450 and after that is VERY HOT. It then goes to 500-550 and after than is Broil. This dial gets hot…so hot that it will, and I quote, “Burn the sh*t out of you!”

Inside the stove. It has 1 rack that is full size and 2 half racks.

Inside the stove. It has 1 rack that is full size and 2 half racks.

The inside of the oven has one full rack the width and length of the oven and 2 half racks. (If you look closely at the top rack you can see it’s actually 2) It’s really nice to have a full rack for a large pot and then I can pull one of the half racks out and use one for rolls or biscuits.

The under broiler.

The under broiler.

Under the main oven is my broiler. To be honest I have yet to use my broiler. I never have used a broiler much. Before school, during or after. I don’t know why, but haven’t found a use for it. I don’t toast much bread or sear meat. Huh..maybe I should.

I have so fallen in love with this old stove! Of course I have to prop the oven door open with a lid to a canning jar on the right side to keep the heat at 275 or another lid I have specially marked to keep it at 300 degrees. If I want it at 250 the broiler door must be open about an inch and the 300 degree lid utilized on the oven.  While it sounds like work it is truly an act of love. It was first made to work on natural gas. However the American Stove Company, who made this beauty, also knew that folks on the East Coast who utilized LPG, aka Propane, would also be ordering these stoves. Current stoves today need to have special gas to propane (and vice versa) conversion kits.  But not the old work horses of the 1930’s. They had special valves that could be turned to a lower rate with a few simple adjustments. (By simple I mean my hubby playing with a propane tank and a wrench for a year prior to moving to Oregon where we have no natural gas and propane only. I really must give this wonderful man an incredible shout out! He worked 50 hours a week and every weekend he had off he made copious adjustment and notes to make sure this would work when we arrived. There are pages and pages of notes. I so love this man!)

I have even found the original print ad for my stove!

Original Print Ad

Original Print Ad

So now every meal is prepared on this cast iron stove that will outlast most every modern stove out there. It will even outlast me…I sure hope my daughter wants an old stove because this gorgeous appliance will not go to auction!

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12 thoughts on “The Old brings life to the New

  1. What a wonderful stove! We looked at an apartment 20+ years ago with a vintage Chambers stove and I have regretted many times since not renting it just because of the kitchen.

    • Michelle I just saw your reply. My goodness a few months late on my part, sorry about that, I’m really not that rude 😀 Was the Chambers Stove white with the chrome accents? I saw one recently in an antique shop and about drooled over it 🙂

  2. And, I can attest to the marvels this little stove can produce – we had a D & D Thanksgiving dinner last year! It does a great job especially when her (his?) owners keep her (him?) supplied with fuel. We didn’t get the breakfast rolls………………………….

  3. Hi Denise, I just found your blog because I was searching old stoves and yours came up. I just purchased a 1923 Art Deco magic chef that looks very similar to yours. What I wanted to ask you about is the oven control knob. My oven doesn’t have an oven pilot light. You have to turn on the oven knob and light it manually. However, were finding that just like the burners if you turn it all the way over, you get a huge flame and if you turn it down, the flame gets smaller. It seems like no matter what we set the oven dial at, the heat seems more regulated by the on/off knob and the size of the flame? Do you find this with yours? Can you give me any hints/tricks/secrets? Thanks !

    • Hi Lori! Gosh where to start. Are you using gas or propane as your fuel? I’ll assume gas. So you may need to check your valves. They may be adjusted to use propane. We had to do the opposite and adjust them down from a natural gas source to propane. We don’t have gas out where I am.

      When you light the oven and set it to say, 350 degrees the flame will be large at first. It also takes my oven almost 45 min to an hour to reach the 350 stage. Is your dial the same as mine? A red one on the side of the oven? If so you can use the trick I use to see if the oven is up to temp. Turn the dial down to say 250 and slowly back up to the 350 marker. If it’s loose it’s to temp, if you start to feel resistance at say 275 that resistance is what your oven temp is. I hope that makes sense! Gosh I could talk for hours about this stove! Please send me pictures! I’ll put my email here, but it may look weird. Don’t want computer spam programs to nab it. Just use this email with no spaces at all – d f e n 4 1 1@gmail.com You may also find keeping lower temps a challenge. If so let me know and I’ll tell you how I moderate it 🙂 Oh exciting times for you!

  4. Pingback: People… | Oregon Green Acres

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