The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


How to make the best chicken stock in your slow cooker

Posted in Basics | 26 comments

How to make the best chicken stock in your slow cooker

I’d written my post for tonight. Budget, delicious chicken risotto for 62p per portion when I realised that the main ingredient – the chicken stock hadn’t been blogged. A horse without the cart is no good for anyone who is travelling in foodie country. So here’s the cart. This stock works with cooked chicken bones or a fresh carcass. The latter makes better stock, I think. If you remember to remove the chicken when it is cooked (1-1.5 hours depending on size) you will have perfectly poached chicken to add to a multitude of other...

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Pane Basso. Quick Italian homemade bread

Posted in Bread | 7 comments

Pane Basso. Quick Italian homemade bread

Bread making has become a bit of an obsession. I baked every evening while Danny was away, trying out different recipes and methods. Lots of late nights for me and the trusty old Kenwood Chef that has been eased out of semi retirement to do the kneading. She’s a trooper and as she kneads she gives me the time to prise stray bits of dough off the kitchen worktops and sweep the daubed flour off the tablecloth. I have the book that Veronica suggested on order from Amazon. Waiting for the bread to rise is fine on a day off but when I get...

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How to home cure streaky bacon. Making bacon at home

Posted in Curing and Smoking, Discoveries | 10 comments

How to home cure streaky bacon. Making bacon at home

Fred measured the white powder out carefully. “You do know that it’s generally illegal to supply this now?” I didn’t but I nodded anyway as he tried to unglue the furred up spout of the salt carton. Impatient, he sliced the entire top off with his knife. Stunning Three Musketeers swordsmanship. He added the salt to the bag and shook the crystals together. He was mixing sodium nitrate (saltpetre) with salt as I was going to make my own salt pork for the very first time. “You could make salt pork but you could also...

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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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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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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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Mike Murphy’s Spicy Mexican Coffee Syrup recipe

Posted in Cordials and Syrups | 7 comments

Mike Murphy’s Spicy Mexican Coffee Syrup recipe

I must admit that if I’d heard the ingredients of Mike’s favourite childhood café Saturday morning breakfast, I don’t think that I would have tried his spicy Mexican syrup in my first mug of Sunday Saffron Walden coffee. Luckily chill con carne omelette hadn’t been mentioned at that point. Mike has a small chic espresso making machine that makes coffee to kill for. He usually makes an espresso in a mug for me, tops it up with water, sugar and milk. Yesterday he gave me a sideline glance. “You usually have sugar,...

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Garlic

Posted in Vegetables | 0 comments

Garlic

On sleepless nights I play the game ‘What single ingredient would you choose to enhance your cooking?’ it’s a fist fight between onions, garlic and thyme. Onions and garlic win. And out of the two, garlic is always the victor. Garlic enhances, but on it’s own it can be incredible as with Jocelyn’s baked garlic recipe. Fresh garlic is a also a great addition to a salad. Even the leaves of a fresh garlic head can be chopped and added to a dish. Obviously they are much stronger than chives so a little goes a long...

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