The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


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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Peanuts or peenuts?

Posted in Discoveries | 23 comments

Peanuts or peenuts?

Working freelance in Soho (London) in the 90s was fun. The economy was buoyant and there was the buzz of cash, talent and hope. People worked hard and played hard too. Playing hard was the best part. The bars were packed at lunchtimes and early evening. This is where a lot of freelance people made contacts that might bring them new work. Generally I was too busy to need to do this, but if the telephone didn’t chirrup then simply drifting down Wardour Street often bought work. You’d bump into someone on the pavement, have a drink in a bar...

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Yesterday I escaped from a prison sentence (almost)

Posted in Fun | 17 comments

Yesterday I escaped from a prison sentence (almost)

Jalopy always travels at a sedate pace but when I slide into the leather seats of Danny’s company car, it is a far smoother ride. Purring home at 40mph through Cambridge City in D’s car feels like 30mph in Jalopy. This is unfortunate. Cambridge City speeding cameras perk up when I glide by. This city has been my Waterloo on two occasions. The maddening thing is that I’m normally very careful in built up areas and I get really angry when cars speed through our village. They might kill a cat, stray dog or even a child. But I seem to...

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Wind and wood

Posted in Cottage tales | 7 comments

Wind and wood

I used to love a windy day. The prospect of picking up kindling and the occasional sturdy branch for the inglenook fireplace stir the scavenger within. I’ve always stopped and shovelled road kill timber into Jalopy’s back seat. Now that we are smoking our home cured bacon, finding the right type of wood keeps me alert. Apparently pine wood makes the meat taste nasty so I avoid those windfalls. The recent high winds had small hands clapping with glee until Jalopy and I narrowly missed disaster on the Debden Road. An enormous oak...

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Sherry vinegar, beware

Posted in Basics | 5 comments

Sherry vinegar, beware

Many years ago, when I wasn’t into cooking, I invited my best client and his wife for a weekend in the country. This was one of those invitations that you suggest to a very busy person after a very long lunch. To my horror he jumped at it. We both enjoyed good Soho food. Perhaps he assumed that as I savoured good food, I must be a great cook. Wrong. I was living in a high speed world where one just ate out. Apart from these forays it was sandwiches in the week and steak when I came home for the weekends. Light years from where I am now....

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The slow cooker chef: Carnivores on a budget soup recipe

Posted in Starters and Soups | 14 comments

The slow cooker chef: Carnivores on a budget soup recipe

Cayenne pepper is not something I have used very much over the years. In fact, until last week, we were using a jar that I had bought when I moved into my first flat in 1979. It was just sprinkled on egg mayonnaise as a garnish. It still smelt spicy to me. Cayenne seems to be a handy ingredient for vegetarian dishes so in two weeks we used the final 95% of the small vintage canister. When I opened a new jar I instantly twigged that we were dealing with a much livelier beast. I was using our new slow cooker to make soup for Danny’s lunch...

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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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Lightning. Sad news for the Farming Friends & Cottage Smallholder Interblog Guinea Fowl Breeding Event

Posted in Guinea Fowl | 10 comments

Lightning. Sad news for the Farming Friends & Cottage Smallholder Interblog Guinea Fowl Breeding Event

I went down to the chicken run this morning to check on the gang and give them their morning corn. There appeared to be a rumpled white paper bag inside the run. Then I saw the orange legs. Lightning was dead. The grief was overwhelming. This small white bird had truly got under my skin. He (we never discovered whether it was a male or female guinea fowl) was so brave and adventurous and naughty. And being all-white, he was special. I love white birds. They remind me of angels. I loved watching him grow up and discover his world. He was the...

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