The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


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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You can buy a pressure canner in the UK!

Posted in Kitchen equipment, Preserving, Save Money | 80 comments

You can buy a pressure canner in the UK!

I’d been thinking about importing a pressure canner from America for some time. I already bottle/can fruit and tomatoes each year but a pressure canner would enable us to bottle lots of other home grown vegetables for use during the winter. And of course the thought of being able to can spaghetti sauce, cassolet, confit of duck, patès and pesto to name but a few delicacies would be amazing. No need to pay electricty for freezer space, everything nicely on view on our shelves. Water bath canning and the oven method takes some time and is...

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How to easily stop a mixer tap from leaking

Posted in Discoveries, Save Money | 19 comments

How to easily stop a mixer tap from leaking

Mixer taps generally, eventually, share the same problem. They leak from the base of the mixer spout. This has happened to us twice. The first time we foolishly replaced the tap – cost of tap + plumber’s time. The second time I didn’t want to cross the palm of the plumber with cash so I investigated if I could solve the problem myself. I felt a real fool when I discovered that often the leak is caused by worn O rings. The latter are small flexible rubber rings – available from most DIY stores and inexpensive. We rushed down to...

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How to easily reproof outdoor clothes

Posted in Reviews, Save Money | 9 comments

How to easily reproof outdoor clothes

I have a gorgeous red jacket that I bought from TKMaxx a few years ago. Back in the 20th century this would have been called an anorak. I loved my first anorak – blue quilted with a white fur trim around the hood. But by the time I was in my teens I wouldn’t be seen dead or even dragged about half alive in one. “It’s just a jacket,” my mum soothed. For me denim jackets were the thing. I didn’t care if I got wet – surely the denim would weather nicely if I got caught in a shower? Chills? Only weedy people and me on a Wednesday...

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How to make simple and strong raised beds for your garden

Posted in General care, Save Money | 7 comments

How to make simple and strong raised beds for your garden

Our cottage is set quite a way back from the road. We like this as it gives us a lot more privacy than a house set beside a pavement. This front garden faces south west and is a much warmer and more protected spot than the kitchen garden – which lies in a bit of a frost pocket. Last year we extended the long south facing herbaceous border that runs from the gate to the cottage. This year we decided to use some more of the front drive for raised beds. Our drive is full of rocks and the soil is heavy clay – so raised beds seemed like a good...

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How to unblock a drain. Tips and tricks for the self sufficient.

Posted in Reviews, Save Money | 23 comments

How to unblock a drain. Tips and tricks for the self sufficient.

When I stepped out of the car this morning I noticed a large puddle in the drive. “It must have rained hard when I was out.” I thought. Then I noticed the seepage from the drain cover and that pervasive smell. Sewage. This is not a leave until later job. Raw sewage seeping down the drive is a health hazard. Most city dwellers have to call in a Drain Cleaning Company – with an impressive van and expensive jet cleaning equipment. Even though they are wearing overalls they don’t really need to get their hands dirty. Just lever off the...

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New flavoursome spaghetti bolognaise sauce recipe cooked in the slow cooker/crock pot

Posted in Rice and Pasta, Sauces Gravy Dressings, Save Money | 8 comments

New flavoursome spaghetti bolognaise sauce recipe cooked in the slow cooker/crock pot

  Danny is picky about pasta. Won’t eat macaroni and the thought of penne has him panicking that I might actually have finally got up the nerve to cook it for him. “I like linguine, spaghetti, angel hair.” “Tagliatelle?” “Maybe.” I don’t ever mention ravioli since this terrible disaster. We eat a lot of spaghetti bolognaise. Frozen in flat ziplock bags it takes just half an hour max from freezer to plate. We’ve been eating versions of our patent recipe for years and I decided to see if I could make it tastier. I have to let...

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Low Cost Living. Live better, spend less by John Harrison: a review

Posted in Reviews, Save Money | 13 comments

Low Cost Living. Live better, spend less by John Harrison: a review

  I was really shocked when a middle aged woman declared on the radio last week that people should not make money writing books on low cost living. “Why on earth not?” I thought. I’d just finished John Harrison’s excellent book Low Cost Living. The book is filled with good advice and introduced me to lots of new ideas. A thoroughly sound investment. The subtitle of the book “Live better, spend less” is something of a mantra here at the cottage. We have been trying to do this for the past seven years and I wish I’d had a book...

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