The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


The Grand Guinea fowl challenge: How can I catch them with ease?

Posted in Guinea Fowl | 10 comments

The Grand Guinea fowl challenge:  How can I catch them with ease?

Do you remember the last time that we tried to catch the guinea fowl? It was a disaster and freaked out our entire flock. Guineas can run fast and they have very strong wings to force those low slung tug-like bodies to become airborne. When you grab them your hold has to be firm yet gentle  as those wings will try to flap. Guinea fowl are short sighted and might not spot the best bargain in the store but they are blessed with 20/20 hearing and have the intelligence to twig when they are the subject of a human plot. In our case they are...

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Best recipes for leftovers: Crisp potato salad with saffron, salad onions and chives recipe

Posted in Leftovers, Vegetarian | 8 comments

Best recipes for leftovers: Crisp potato salad with saffron, salad onions and chives recipe

Danny and I are not Salad People. I don’t know quite what Salad People are – I imagine them chomping quinoa and feeling rather smug about their bowel movements. We tried quinoa once. This summer I have been seducing D with salads and dressings that have made this meat and two veg man finally throw down his fork and rush for the salad seed section of the garden centre. This salad was an experiment that turned out to be a bit of a winner. I’ve been playing with saffron quite a lot over the past couple of months. I decided to slice some...

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Vegetable harvest from poor soil

Posted in Vegetables | 10 comments

Vegetable harvest from poor soil

We have several squash plants growing in the garden. I spotted this squash about two weeks ago. The seed packet advised harvesting them quickly to encourage more squash to appear. It is barely an inch across and has hardly grown. When I examined it this evening it fell into my hand. Similarly the calabrese (all year round ‘broccoli’ in the UK supermarkets). Just like sprouting broccoli the head is harvested first to encourage the side shoots to appear. This evening I snapped it off, not wanting it to go to seed. “We have a baby squash...

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Sam Raithatha’s gently spiced rice (for three)

Posted in Rice and Pasta, Vegetables and Sides | 4 comments

Sam Raithatha’s gently spiced rice (for three)

Danny snaked back from the post run last night holding a Waitrose curry aloft. Like the Olympic torch. “£3.99 down to £1.49. We couldn’t make it for that price,” he beamed. Danny is a chicken Korma sort of guy. He doesn’t like hot, spicy food. “But you only eat mild curries and this is a Vindaloo – look, it’s got a 3 chilli rating.” “Oh.” “Never mind.  I’ll whistle up some dishes that will cool down the heat. And we can try Sam’s  rice dish.” Apart from having healing hands in common, both Sam and I adore food...

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Walnut vinegar recipe

Posted in Hedgerow food, Preserving | 3 comments

Walnut vinegar recipe

Last year I was a bit late picking walnuts for The Grand Pickled Walnut Challenge. Not wanting to waste the nuts that were clearly far too hard to pickle, I flexed my muscles and cut a few in half. I added these to some white wine vinegar, popped the experiment onto a shelf in the barn and forgot all about it. About a month ago I was searching the shelves for empty vodka and gin bottles to make raspberry liqueur. My hand slipped and the bottle of walnut vinegar smashed on the ground. I managed to wipe a drop onto my forefinger as the vinegar...

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Tales from a big bed: Algebra and physics

Posted in Fun | 6 comments

Tales from a big bed: Algebra and physics

When I was at secondary school there were a couple of subjects that just didn’t sing to me.  Algebra and physics.  They came on the same day, bang in the middle of the school week. But I knew that if I woke at dawn and coughed hard I could create an instant sore throat by the time my mother came in to wake me. She’d immediately make me a hottie and bring up a cold drink. Then my mum would proffer a thermometer – the old fashioned type with mercury that you had to twist to see the result. And as she went to the medicine cabinet to find...

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Garden, beds and bugs

Posted in General care | 15 comments

Garden, beds and bugs

We have chunky tomatoes in the greenhouse that are just beginning to blush orange. I’ve spotted doll’s house sized runner beans on the canes. We splashed out and are growing two types this year: White Lady – a sweet and stringless bean recommended by Maurice and a nameless bean donated by John Coe. “These have wonderful long pods and bright red flowers.” He winked. The seeds were a motley purple and black colour. The kitchen garden is doing better than any year before and we’re half thrilled half terrified of being hit by the...

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Summer Crudités salad with toasted cashews and lemony dressing recipe

Posted in Sauces Gravy Dressings, Snacks Breakfast Lunch | 3 comments

Summer Crudités salad with toasted cashews and lemony dressing recipe

When I was a teenager my mother often took me and my sister to Paris for a month. It was always in August when a lot of Parisians are away from the city. Quite a few shops and restaurants were closed but the art galleries and the big shops were open and we generally found somewhere good to eat lunch. It was in one of those little left bank restaurants that I discovered the delight of Crudités – a plate of raw vegetables and aioli mayonnaise for dipping. The diffused light of the restaurant and clean tastes of the dish contrasted with...

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