The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Anne Mary’s recipe for Magimix pastry

Posted in Basics, Savoury Tarts and Quiches | 27 comments

Anne Mary’s recipe for Magimix pastry

I learnt how to make pastry at school. I didn’t enjoy the experience. It seemed to take forever. I think that I made it for Smart Wife. Once. Heavy ponderous stuff that shrank alarmingly away from the sides of the quiche dish when baked blind and guaranteed a soggy bottom. Light years later I discovered Jusrol. Not having a rolling pin or a board I rolled it out on my worktop using an empty wine bottle. Perfect. But not quite as perfect as the pre-rolled Jusrol. I had inherited a rather dashing rolling pin by the time I found the long...

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British and American units of measurement

Posted in Basics, Discoveries | 7 comments

British and American units of measurement

Last Sunday I drifted into TKMax. The shop is heaving with great stocking fillers. Scented drawer liners, a loofah, Amaretti, shortbread and Liquid French soap for my mum. Toffee for Danny. The kitchen department is always worth checking out. I’ve bought great kitchen knives for under a pound. We needed a new saucepan so I went upstairs to see what they had. I spotted a small clutch of measuring cups that were American cups. I was tempted, I wanted them. The little nest was so cute. Then I remembered that we had found this great site for...

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Seduced by homemade butter

Posted in Basics | 10 comments

Seduced by homemade butter

“Have you got to Sainsbury’s yet?” “No.” I was curious. Why was Danny ringing me? I had run out of tea bags and was combining a trip to Sainsbury’s with a trip to Ridgeons to pick up some more paint. Tea is fuel. Without it all work would quickly grind to a halt. “There has been a small domestic disaster.” I imagined the worst possible scenario. The fridge freezer had finally died. A Min Pin had discovered how to lift the lid of the bread bin. A visit from a Davisdstow cheddar enthusiast. I said...

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Easy chicken stock recipe

Posted in Basics | 14 comments

Easy chicken stock recipe

It’s worth making friends with your butcher. Especially if you are like me and don’t know a lot about meat. Fred Fitzpatrick (Exning Road, Newmarket) is our favourite local butcher Fred loves meat. Loves talking about it, handling it and cooking with it. He is a man with a mission and wants to spread the word. I once overheard him talking to a young couple who were buying their first joint of pork together. He took a few minutes to explain the cooking time, how to test if the meat was ready. Gradually building up their confidence....

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Making Mildred’s homemade butter using an electric whisk

Posted in Basics | 12 comments

Making Mildred’s homemade butter using an electric whisk

At the age of six I almost came to blows with my best friend’s mother. This lady was elegant, French and chic. She had one of those woven basket shopping trolleys (2 wheels and a handle) and wore espadrilles. Her fridge was full of mysterious ingredients. I remember examining a jar of capers. Trying to imagine how any food could be improved with these small reptilian greenish greyish balls. Looking back this rather distant lady probably considered me a bad influence on her youngest daughter. We were very wild. But the big altercation was...

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Murray River gourmet salt flakes

Posted in Basics, Discoveries | 3 comments

Murray River gourmet salt flakes

Sometimes I take a straight look at my life. I am usually rumbling along a country road, behind the wheel of Jalopy. “I never thought that I would be breeding keets, living with an Irishman, allowing the giant spider to live in the bath.” I never, ever thought that I would be writing about salt. I buck the system as far as salt goes. Danny has high blood pressure so we cook without salt. I have a range of salt for personal use. Low salt if I am feeling virtuous and Maldon sea salt if I am feeling wild and rakish. This was fine...

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The lazy man’s secret that adds extra pazazz to any dish

Posted in Basics, Discoveries | 0 comments

The lazy man’s secret that adds extra pazazz to any dish

When we go away on holiday we search for two types of shops, hardware shops and food emporiums. The latter can be supermarkets, outdoor markets, greengrocers or delicatessen. If the country is sunnier than England, we are looking for locally produced herbs and spices. Perhaps it is something to do with the sunshine or the processing but these herbs are so much more pungent and last a lot longer than most of the dried herbs available in the UK. Fifteen years ago I went to Crete for a month and found some wonderful blends of local herbs in a...

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Easy marzipan recipe and a few icing tips

Posted in Basics, Christmas | 58 comments

Easy marzipan recipe and a few icing tips

I love marzipan. The homemade kind is the most delicious and it’s a cinch to make. My mum used to announce that she’d made it with such a sonorous trumpeting that, for years, I imagined it was a complex procedure. I made it in a matter of minutes and rang her just in case I’d got something wrong. She was a bit crouchy that her secret was finally revealed. Her marzipan recipe is below. Some people prefer cooked marzipan. This is a much more complex process and is covered here on the Delia online...

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