The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Nothing to write about in particular


Photo: Remembering the exuberance of June

Photo: Remembering the exuberance of June

It’s one of those days when I can’t think of anything to write about! Things move pretty slowly around here.

But I’ve discovered that I can watch telly on my laptop and, even better, look at the archives of River Cottage that I’ve missed since we gave up watching TV three years ago.

So this morning I decided not to panic and watch the episode that everyone else enjoyed on December 3rd.  – I might find inspiration. And Callooh, Callay Pam was making marron glacé – crystallised chestnuts. You don’t know but I’ve actually spent hours and hours researching how to make marron glacé at home. There are hundreds of methods and so many failures reported that my brain whirled.

My mum adores marron glacé. I fingered a small box at Waitrose last week – it was £8.50. The box might have contained four or even six. It took two trolley trawls past the nets of chestnuts for the message to get through – surely I could make my own?

So I bought two nets. Many, many marrons for half the price. I was so chuffed until I began to realise how tricky these are to make. As the home made ones only last about two weeks I’m going to make them a week before Christmas. I still hadn’t bookmarked my recipe so I’m going to use Pam’s. And possibly sell some on the gate side stand.

That’s what I’ve been doing all day. Preparing for the grand opening at 08.00 am tomorrow. I even have a sandwich board for the pavement that I made by adding hinges to two white boards (£2.50 each from Tesco, including markers). We live on a tight and dangerous bend so most people don’t know that our cottage exists as they are concentrating on the road when they pass.

This evening my mum said.
“It will be a slow start Chicky but if people like what they buy from you they will keep on checking back when they pass by.”

Fingers crossed.

  Leave a reply


  1. Good Luck with the stall, good idea,the ‘white board’ hinged together, great buy,a bargain!
    That ought to do the trick with the customers, they only have to visit, try your delicious produce once, they’ll be back in their droves I bet.
    Word of mouth or should I say taste! ha….poor attempt at humour, I know.
    Back to the serious stuff tho, the first visit will be out of curiosity, when they see your stall,what you produce, gift ideas. You’ll need to employ me just to keep up with the sales and demand!
    A good idea may be to add to your list of what the public can expect in the coming weeks, by then they’ll know how good you are and won’t be able to resist a trip out to your stall, what better way to spend a Sunday, whilst Dannys Slow roasted belly pork is in the oven! I couldn’t think of anything nicer, think it’s time I had a trip to Cumbria….(wish I could, I’d be there waiting for you to open).
    Good Luck for today, would love recipie for marrons glace, I’m a sucker for chestnuts.
    Much love to all,

  2. I know just how you feel, I have a week off from work and don’t know what to do with myself! It feels like a strange day although we are travelling down to Dorset later for a few days rest – just watched the HFW replay as I only caught part of it due to Christmas wrapping. Hope the the stall sales go well.

  3. HUGE fan of marrons glace. Apart from the taste and texture – love the way they break open into segments. Good luck with the project and with the stand. (Jealous of the fact you can get these programmes on your computer – they are blocked in Italy.)

  4. Choclette

    Look forward to hearing how the marron glaces go. Good luck with your stand.

  5. I know what you mean about sitting down to write. There are times that my Monday deadline looms and I wonder what on earth I am going to say. By the way you managed to say nothing quite eloquently :oD

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