The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

A Hamper of Happiness

laughing crowThe Chicken Lady rang me a few weeks ago to discuss gelatine for making jelly in a jar rather than wobbly on the plate version. I hadn’t a clue.
“What are you making?” I asked.
“If I told you it would spoil the surprise.”
I was intrigued. What on earth was she creating?

TCL and S reversed into the drive in their small bright red cabriolet on my birthday. A generous hamper was sitting comfortably on the back seat swathed in a very smart woven tea towel.

Danny was extricated from The Rat Room. After several glasses of bubbly the hamper contents were revealed. Inside there was a large selection of homemade gourmet treats and a few items that TCL had earmarked as gourmand ‘must haves’ – such as Gentleman’s Relish and pickled walnuts. This was a joint birthday present for us both.

The hamper equivalent of the Terracotta Army, so packed with delights that we were quite overwhelmed. We had a small impromptu party as we examined the contents of the hamper.

After a while, feeling a bit peckish I wafted one of the jars of homemade smoked mackerel pate into the kitchen and made up a plate of canapés. They disappeared within seconds.  So then I reached for a jar of homemade chicken liver pate –equally delicious. Same result.

We have frozen a few treats, feasted on many and are still working our way slowly through the gourmet journey that we hope will last well until Christmas. It was a fabulous idea, each item was labelled with superb illustrated designs (thank you Rollo). Over the past  weeks we have dived into the fridge/larder and indulged.
“I’m going to try the marmalade.”
“Have you sampled the pickled eggs?”
“Let’s be lavish with the ham, it was a present after all.”
“Please leave some for me.”
“We could give the Frasers that wonderful chicken liver pate as a starter.”
“Do we have to share it?”

We still have loads of presents to try but Danny can’t stop talking about The Mint Jelly, the sweet marmalade and the black pudding. I loved the chicken liver pate and the ham and Danny is still a bit sore that I ate the last two slices of the latter.

The hamper was a triumph. Danny was finally introduced to the best of English black pudding. The mint jelly was to die for. D ate so much with his lamb I thought that he might.

But the best thing of all was that it was prepared and presented with such care and thought. Each time a reach for a jar I remember the sunny, happy day when the hamper was delivered with hours of good chat and laugher. The sun spilled through our windows that day.

  Leave a reply


  1. What a wonderful present! It is so wonderful to get something that is made rather than bought.

  2. The best presents are always those which have involved alot of thought and time, which does not necessarily go hand in hand with great expense. My sister has just bought black pudding for my nephew Little E as he had it at a friend’s house and announced he liked it. He is the pickiest eater ever.

  3. kate (uk)

    The perfect present- one you can share!

  4. yum!!! and happy belated birthday to the two of you! how nice to be able to celebrate together!

  5. That is so kind and thoughtful, how lovely.

  6. magic cochin

    What a wonderful selection of delicious goodies – I’m yet to be convinced about the delights of pickled eggs! The pub near to the publishers where I used to work served ‘bacon, egg and chips’ – a bag of crisps with pork scratchings and a pickled egg in it.

    I bet the black pudding was good! Was it the ‘lumps of white fat’ or the ‘lots of oatmeal and spices’ vaiety?

    Happy Birthday!


  7. What a lovely story – and what lovely friends. Glad to see you back hope you enjoyed the break – albeit very short! But hope you had a nice time anyway.

  8. What a generous present. Generous in time and care. Means so much more.

  9. What a wonderful present – I really fancy the mint jelly!

  10. How lovely — what wonderful friends! “The hamper equivalent of the Terracotta Army” — I love it!

    Belated happy birthday — it obviously was 🙂

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