The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Kitchen garden update: June 2009

Posted in Vegetables | 6 comments

Kitchen garden update: June 2009

“I’ve brought you some broad beans and some new potatoes.” My heart leapt as John Coe passed me the bags. We haven’t grown new potatoes this year – just concentrated on our main crop. “Just wipe the potatoes and the skins will fall off. Easy.” He placed a pack of plants wrapped in newspaper carefully beside his Wellingtons. “What are those?” “Purple sprouting broccoli.” He beamed. My mind whirled. The kitchen garden is choc a bloc. The baby purple sprouting broccoli plants usually are planted in July. I had been planning...

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You can eat the leaves of sprouting broccoli plants

Posted in Discoveries, Vegetables | 13 comments

You can eat the leaves of sprouting broccoli plants

For the past five years John Coe has supplied us with sprouting broccoli plants. The purple variety gives a bigger, longer harvest. But nothing can beat the sweetness of white sprouting broccoli. This is the Premier Cru of sprouting broccoli. It is generally not available from the shops as the plants are smaller, the yield is minimal and the harvest is short. Sounds like the sort of vegetable that you should ignore. Wrong. White sprouting broccoli is a real delicacy. On a par with the first longed for asparagus shoots. If you have the space,...

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White sprouting broccoli 2

Posted in Discoveries, Vegetables | 12 comments

White sprouting broccoli 2

The taste of really fresh purple sprouting broccoli from the garden is only beaten by the flavour of sweet white sprouting broccoli. John Coe gives us broccoli plants each year in July. They need to be covered with nets or the birds will strip the young leaves clean within a few days. They also need to be protected from the cabbage white caterpillar.  Apart from those two key rules they are easy to grow as long as you know that they will not produce their delicate spears until April of the following year. A lot of my clients have planted...

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Braised celery and broccoli (calabrese) recipe

Posted in Vegetables and Sides, Vegetarian | 12 comments

Braised celery and broccoli (calabrese) recipe

The benefits of celery are enormous. Celery is thought to possibly reduce blood pressure, help combat cholesterol and even cancer. Leving these aside, braised celery can be a superb and delicious vegetable. This recipe makes it easy to include in any well balanced diet. I’m always attracted to the heads of celery in the supermarket and often eat celery and carrot sticks with hummus for a lunch time snack. In the past D would welcome a bowl of winter celery soup and that was it. He woud never, ever ask for celery as a veggie with his...

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Cauliflower and broccoli cheese with socks on recipe

Posted in Vegetarian | 8 comments

Cauliflower and broccoli cheese with socks on recipe

I’m not keen on naked cauliflower but cauliflower cheese has been a staple for years. Somehow dressing the cauli in a cheese sauce and grilling the top transmogrifies the ingredients into something delicious. Or so I thought before I presented my old traditional version to Danny with a flourish. He wasn’t overly impressed. “Can we have it with baked potatoes next time? It’s not really a proper meal on its own. More of a snack.” This was a bit of a body blow. D is very particular about his baked potatoes. His...

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Foodies in a hurry: Quick broccoli and stilton soup recipe

Posted in Starters and Soups | 8 comments

Foodies in a hurry: Quick broccoli and stilton soup recipe

Kay who writes the Blue World Gardener blog has inspired me with her suggestion of a store cupboard meal once a week. I reckoned that I needed to fine tune the larder and start practicing immediately. So when I next visited Daily Bread, I popped a bag of dried onions in my basket. My mum used these a lot when I was growing up. In fact, when I left home for university back in the early seventies, she put a carton in my suitcase along with a very handy cook book Cooking in a Bedsitter by Katharine Whitehorn. This little gem of a book came into...

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Coleslaw á la Cottage Smallholder recipe

Posted in Vegetables and Sides, Vegetarian | 3 comments

Coleslaw á la Cottage Smallholder recipe

Mike serves his Boston baked beans with coleslaw. I watched him grating and chopping the vegetables by hand. It seemed to take forever. Then he started to add the ingredients for the dressing one by one, straight into the chopped vegetables, tasting every now and then. Mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, pepper and I missed the rest as I had to rush down to Swan Meadow before Jalopy got a ticket for loitering too long in the car park. “How odd to serve hot beans with coleslaw.” I thought as I shot down Saffron Walden High Street. I...

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White sprouting broccoli

Posted in Vegetables | 14 comments

White sprouting broccoli

There are two types of sprouting broccoli – purple and white. The purple are generally bigger plants. These are very tasty but nothing can beat the tender sweetness of the white sprouting varieties. Many people that I have spoken to have given up trying to cultivate sprouting broccoli. “It sat there. Doing nothing. Eventually we ripped out the row.” If you toss away the seed packet it’s easy to forget how long it takes to develop. It’s always worth checking in a book or diving into the internet if a plant seems to...

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