The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Roasted Echalion shallots recipe.

Posted in Allotment, Vegetables | 10 comments

Roasted Echalion shallots recipe.

I bought some rather swanky British shallots from Tesco yesterday. Hoping that I could plant them to over winter on the allotment. The were Tesco Finest Echalion shallots – the ones preferred by top chefs and foodie the world over. They are sometimes called banana shallots as they are long rather than round. The sets for slim, longer shallots are very expensive to buy compare to the round to the cottage. So I took a chance and bought 2 packs for 2 quid and chortled my way back home. I brief search on the Internet told me that round shallots...

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River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. A review.

Posted in Reviews, Save Money, Vegetables | 16 comments

River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. A review.

One of the key reasons for getting an allotment was to have the space to grow more fruit and vegetables. Energy prices are rising and this ultimately affects the cost of food. By concentrating on growing as much of our food as possible we could eat a healthier diet, cut costs and reduce our carbon footprint. But if we were to eat more vegetables where would we begin? How could we produce good, tasty, satisfying food? Most of the vegetarian dishes that I’ve tasted over the years have not been very good. Admittedly I first dallied with veggie...

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I long for a courgette/zucchini glut

Posted in Vegetables | 25 comments

I long for a courgette/zucchini glut

I used to agree with Gilbert. Courgettes just didn’t appeal. Perhaps it was an overdose of badly cooked ratatouille back in the seventies – the new craze in the UK at the time. “It’s the French method for vegetables.” The hostess would chortle. Back then I was certain that the French would be enraged that this concoction could be claimed to be a cross channel influence. It was vile. Almost enough to put off a vegetarian from being vegetarian. A similar experience forced Gilbert to ban courgettes, along with their beefier relations...

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The year of the salad

Posted in Vegetables | 13 comments

The year of the salad

When I was growing up salad was just a few basic ingredients arranged on a plate. It was the same for Danny. “Sliced cucumber, a quartered tomato and some lettuce leaves.” “Was the lettuce that soft floppy kind?” “Yes, the stuff that bruised easily. And I always seemed to get the bruised leaves” “Did you have celery?” “My mum used to make an apple, walnut and celery salad. A triumph compared to the rest.” Over the past 40 years salad in the UK has evolved massively into something that can be surprising, delicious and...

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The Grand Broad Bean Challenge

Posted in Vegetables | 12 comments

The Grand Broad Bean Challenge

Home grown broad beans are an entirely different ‘animal’ from those wet, hard skinned specimens that were served for school lunches when I was a child. Even the podded broad beans available from good greengrocers and high end supermarkets are not a patch on the pods plucked from your garden and devoured within minutes. Broad beans tops are a delicacy in France . Baby beans cooked in the pod are delicious. Even more mature broad beans haven’t a hint of school dinners and old mens’ fingers with their translucent skin. To be at...

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Orach – a very useful cut and come again veg for a limited space

Posted in Vegetables | 11 comments

Orach – a very useful cut and come again veg for a limited space

I invested in orach last year – supplied by The Real Seed Company. The young leaves can be eaten in a salad and the older leaves are a great alternative to spinach. As long as you do not let it go to seed – the buds are delicious steamed – this will produce for you until the first frosts. The final height is about a meter high. Beautiful and tasty – what more could you want from a leafy vegetable? I was planning to save the seed last year but just didn’t get around to it. The seed heads stayed on the plants all through the cold and...

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Perennial vegetables: Tree cabbage

Posted in Vegetables | 18 comments

Perennial vegetables: Tree cabbage

Recently I visited a small and very good privately owned local nursery. Even though it was a weekday, there were quite a few people browsing. I always enjoy chatting to the counter staff  if it’s quiet. These people know what exactly is passing through their tills and are often more straightforward than management. I was at the end of a long snakeing queue so I jumped in. “How’s the grow your own stuff going this year?” “OK but not a patch on last year. Of course we’re selling loads of tomato plants as usual.” I was stunned....

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Micro herbs can make every recipe look and probably taste wonderful

Posted in Discoveries, Vegetables | 10 comments

Micro herbs can make every recipe look and probably taste wonderful

“Have you heard of micro herbs?” My friend Jo shook her head. She eats out far more than me so I was amazed that she hadn’t come across them. Between you and I Jo usually knows/has heard of everything that I ‘discover’ so I was thrilled.  Finally I had something really valuable to share. I had my first taste of micro herbs at The Three Horseshoes on Mother’s day. A small teased ball of baby herbs was served as a garnish on the corned duck. Very pretty and dainty but I didn’t expect them to taste of anything until I sampled...

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