a row of kilner jars filled up with pâté

a colourful bowl of mixed salad leaves with edible flowers

One of the reasons we moved here was to have the space to produce our own food: vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat and now honey. The idea was not to try to become self-sufficient but we have reduced massively what we need to buy and we can choose how we grow our vegetables (without any pesticides) and raise our animals (with lots of care).

a string of sausages

It’s not all plain sailing. Following a bumper crop of heritage variety tomatoes, we lost the lot to blight the following year and slugs can ravage overnight all the seedlings planted out the day before. Each year we learn more and more and our aim is to create healthy plants that can fight for their own survival, rather than try to defend them with chemicals. Similarly, we encourage a healthy equilibrium of beneficial insects to battle those that bother us.

All this might sound very worthy, so it’s important to remember what all this principled effort is for and that’s for the pleasure of eating it. The first asparagus of the year is simply steamed and smothered in an olive oil vinaigrette with lemon and mint. When we take a sheep for meat, the offal gets eaten fresh, so that means liver in persillade for supper and sweet and spicy devilled kidneys for lunch the following day.

We can see cows from our bedroom window and began to ask ourselves why we were driving to the supermarket to buy milk, so we asked near neighbour Hubert if we could buy direct from him.

asparagus, simply cooked with a vinagrette dressing and shavings of parmesan cheese

Milk, warm from the cow, goes into our Ukrainian, hand-cranked cream separator to give us thick cream and semi-skimmed milk. Gabrielle goes on to make custard and ice cream. We save some whole milk for yoghurt.

Pick any herbs you need from the garden, there’s a barbecue and free wood for your use, the kitchen is fully equipped but do ask for anything that you can’t find and borrow a cookery book, if you like.
   … “bon appétit !