The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Cooking in a Thermos or vacuum flask. Leek and potato soup recipe

Posted in Kitchen equipment, Save Money | 21 comments

Cooking in a Thermos or vacuum flask. Leek and potato soup recipe

When I first heard about cooking in a vacuum flask I had an image of a whiskery maiden aunts filling vacuum flasks with Spam, gravy granules and boiling water. Why on earth would I want to cook in a Thermos? The idea seemed grim until I bought my 1920’s Thermos at the village fete one year. This is a marvellous piece of kit. It was crying out to be used so I started researching the possibilities and I’ve used it for slow cooking ever since. During WW2 vacuum flask cooking was normal. Apart from a few minutes coming to boil on the hob and a...

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The Andrew James Halogen oven has been updated and improved: a review

Posted in Kitchen equipment, Reviews, Save Money | 24 comments

The Andrew James Halogen oven has been updated and improved: a review

We bought our Andrew James halogen oven  in February 2010. Halogen oven are plug in devices that use a fraction of the electricity consumed by a large fan oven. That was the reason why we invested in one. If you can fill your conventional oven every time that you use it , fair enough. But what if you just want to bake a pie, bake some spuds or rustle up some oven chips? If you buy something that is a relatively new invention/model there are bound to be a few teething problems. Product testing probably extends to just a few months. It’s...

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You can buy a pressure canner in the UK!

Posted in Kitchen equipment, Preserving, Save Money | 62 comments

You can buy a pressure canner in the UK!

I’d been thinking about importing a pressure canner from America for some time. I already bottle/can fruit and tomatoes each year but a pressure canner would enable us to bottle lots of other home grown vegetables for use during the winter. And of course the thought of being able to can spaghetti sauce, cassolet, confit of duck, patès and pesto to name but a few delicacies would be amazing. No need to pay electricty for freezer space, everything nicely on view on our shelves. Water bath canning and the oven method takes some time and is...

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Salt Pig

Posted in Kitchen equipment | 24 comments

Salt Pig

  “What on earth is this?” Danny was unwrapping his Christmas stocking. “It looks like some sort of portable urinal for invalids.” “No. You’re holding it sideways. It should stand upright with the hole on one side.” He waved it about for a bit looking perplexed. Finally I put an end to his misery. “It’s a Salt Pig. It’s supposed to keep the salt dry. It’s called a salt pig because it has a protruding ‘snout’ of sorts.” This autumn our kitchen was so damp that an ordinary cardboard pack of salt was unusable within...

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Day off making jelly and a few secret jelly and jam making tips to create your own great recipes

Posted in Jam Jelly and Preserves, Kitchen equipment | 14 comments

Day off making jelly and a few secret jelly and jam making tips to create your own great recipes

  “We’re making crab apple chilli jelly. It’s a deep ruby red. I’ll send you the photos later. Now what are you eating tonight. Sardines. Hum. How about sardines on toast. What about vegetables – do you remember them?” The Chicken Lady was on the phone to Rollo who has just started Uni. Back at base we were on a jelly making marathon. TCL has access to a large crab apple tree (secret location) and she had gone out early in the morning to pick the fruit. My role was to demonstrate the fruit steamer in action, bring some hot dried...

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What is the setting point for jam and jelly?

Posted in Featured, Jam Jelly and Preserves, Kitchen equipment, Preserving, Reviews | 44 comments

What is the setting point for jam and jelly?

Earlier this summer I decided to use my jam thermometer to help me find the setting point of jam. To my delight I noticed that it was marked ‘JAM’ at 105°c/220°f. “This is going to be so easy.” I thought. “No more trailing back and forth to the fridge waiting for a tardy batch to set.” Danny had bought me a 9 litre Maslin pan and this was the day it was christened. Up until then I had been using a very large non stick saucepan. So I clipped the thermometer to the side of the pan and feeling like a pro started to boil...

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Spoils from the annual village fête

Posted in Kitchen equipment, Save Money | 10 comments

Spoils from the annual village fête

  Yesterday was the Cheveley village fête. Held in aid of St Mary’s church and celebrating the 750th anniversary of the church. To link in with this the organisers had given the fête a medieval theme and many of the organisers and stallholders wore medieval costumes. Danny was serving at the bar and claimed that his everyday clothes were so old that they were almost medieval. Usually I serve on the bar too but this year I visited as a guest – which was great fun. Watching the Molly dancers and the falconry display and catching up with...

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Kale buds, cabbage buds and Lucky (our dehydrator)

Posted in Discoveries, Kitchen equipment, Vegetables | 5 comments

Kale buds, cabbage buds and Lucky (our dehydrator)

  I had no idea that you could eat kale buds until Margaret Thorsom who writes this blog alerted me to the fact on a comment on my latest purple sprouting broccoli post. They are absolutely delicious and we are mixing them with our PSB. And Margaret Thorsom’s blog is pretty good too – she is a weaver and crafter and her husband is a vegetable farmer using hoop houses. I’d love a hoop house – they are really nifty. I’d also like to make rag rugs in the future when normal energy returns. Yesterday I spotted that a lot of the cabbages...

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