The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Best melt in the mouth pork meatballs in a piquant tamarind, fresh ginger and honey sauce recipe

Posted in Pork Ham Bacon Sausages | 10 comments

Best melt in the mouth pork meatballs in a piquant tamarind, fresh ginger and honey sauce recipe

I love meatballs. But only the melt in the mouth variety. Having sharpened my teeth on  ultra firm chewy meatballs, I decided never to attempt to make them myself. What was the point? Why push hardened walnut sized balls of meat onto anyone else? Several years ago Danny’s special brother, Donagh, gave me the secret of melt in the mouth meatballs. He had served meatballs to die for and I was desperate to get his secret. “It’s so simple. I learnt the method from the mother of my Spanish girlfriend.” He finally revealed. I was all...

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Missing the freedom of my laptop

Posted in Cottage tales | 8 comments

Missing the freedom of my laptop

Medieval helpdesk with English subtitles Watch this video on YouTube Even though I spent 20 years in education, my general knowledge is very limited. I’m great if you want to hear about fine art, classical music or Victorian novels. But life skills and knowledge are sketchy.  The great thing about Danny and my old friend Ross Cameron is that they welcome any question. “I admire the fact that you want to know and don’t mind asking. Most people try to cover up the gaps in their everyday knowledge. Think about it. You can’t...

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Good books: Escape with this great book. The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

Posted in Reviews | 5 comments

Good books: Escape with this great book. The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

  If you want to lose yourself in a book why not try this one? The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld was published in 2006 but as I don’t read the Literary Review and rarely glance at a newspaper, I missed this gem. My review comes with a warning. Don’t start this book if you haven’t hours to spend alone turning its pages. If you are a worker bee don’t open this book this during the working week unless you are severely addicted to delayed gratification. My mum sent me a chunky parcel when she heard that I was ill. It...

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Grow good potatoes, bluestone and assorted memories of my dad

Posted in Vegetables | 7 comments

Grow good potatoes, bluestone and assorted memories of my dad

Fiona suggested that I contribute my first “Guest spot” this evening, while she cooks up a mouth-watering frittata. Seems like a good trade to me. The aroma of the frying bacon wafts up to my eyrie in the Rat Room to spur me on.  Her laptop is still in intensive care. The ‘fixes’ haven’t worked. She has stopped ringing the company twice a day to enquire about the health of her companion. She gets the health report each morning. The prognosis his spiralled rapidly down from. “We’ll ring you at the end of the day to arrange...

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Freezer disaster

Posted in Cottage tales | 8 comments

  We have two freezers. One at the bottom of our fridge freezer in our larder and the other lives in our barn. The later is fuelled by electricity that runs from the plug in the larder. The cable goes out of the window and finishes beside the upright small chest freezer thirty yards away. It’s a perfect setup as long as no one jiggles the cable. This morning Danny had bought a half price free range Gressingham duck from Tesco for Sunday lunch (always eaten in the evening). I knew that we had Victoria plums in the barn freezer and offer to...

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Childhood perennials

Posted in Flowers, Plants and Bulbs | 6 comments

Childhood perennials

I stayed at home today. Can’t seem to kick off the laryngitis so spent most of the day in bed, with the Min Pins and a hottie. This evening D and I strolled in the garden. “What are these?” He touched the large evergreen waxy leaves gently. “Bear’s Ears. Bergenia. Ours have pink flowers in the spring.” “And what are these?” “Lamb’s Ears. Stachys byzantine. Touch them. They’re as soft and silky as a Min Pin pup.” I’ve included these two perennials in all my gardens. Flowers that I remember growing in gardens when I was...

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We are finally growing leeks

Posted in Vegetables | 12 comments

We are finally growing leeks

When John Coe reverses into our drive he sits for several minutes in his car before he gets out and opens the boot. I’ve never have the nerve to ask him why. I just open the front door and leave it slightly ajar. This morning he was loaded with carrier bags, gardening gloves and his wellingtons when he pushed the door into the kitchen. “I’ve brought you a lettuce.” He opened the bag gently to reveal a large head of butter lettuce. The kind that my mum used to buy when I was growing up. Do you remember those simple salads, lettuce...

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Herbaceous borders and bartering

Posted in Save Money | 9 comments

Herbaceous borders and bartering

“There’s a third of an acre of flowers. And not a vegetable in sight.”  John Coe was amazed fifteen years ago. I wasn’t. Back then I couldn’t imagine wanting to grow vegetables. They seemed so boring. Now the kitchen garden is the most exciting bit of the garden. To me. Back then, I was creating my garden for lovers. I forgot that these lovers might enjoy eating super fresh vegetables and fruit. John’s own garden was the reverse of mine. A small flower garden for his wife and an immense vegetable patch for them both. In...

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