Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Knitted guinea pigs and silver rabbits

I have been um-ing and ah-ing about whether to stock a little bit of jewellery at Cottontails.

In fact I have decided against it for the moment, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to introduce you to one of the lovely brands I have been considering - a small company called Just Trade who design and import some beautiful fairtrade jewellery and brooches.

Who could resist a knitted guinea pig brooch? And some veggies for him to munch on of course...

And their silver necklaces are simply lovely. My other half rarely reads my blog, but if anyone who knows him wants to point him at the rabbit necklace and mutter 'Valentines Day', feel free!

And as if the products themselves aren't gorgeous enough, they lady who runs Just Trade has recently acquired two house rabbits. I know how demanding such creatures can be so it's important to support Just Trade and help keep the rabbits in carrots!

They tell me they will be introducing some more rabbity items this year, so perhaps the range will be appearing at Cottontails one day, but in the meantime, do visit their own website and have a browse.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Big Garden Birdwatch - get ready!

Don't forget this weekend is the The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. It's easy to take part and simply involves sitting by a window for one hour and recording all the birds you see (i.e. enforced relaxing bird watching time - bliss!) All the details are on the website here, along with a sheet to help with bird identification.

In the meantime, to help you get ready, can you identify any of the birds in this photograph?

The photo is an area of wilderness on the farm we are moving to and the birds are little handmade wooden creations from Ostheimer.

All our Ostheimer toys are on the website here, we don't stock a lot of the birds but can get them in pretty quickly. And I am awaiting an order from them at the moment with lots more little animals - woodland and farm animals. Even a little wooden snail is on his way. Slowly.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The 'John Lewis' model

Last week Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged companies to follow the 'John Lewis' model and offer shares to their employees - apparently it will improve productivity and unlock growth.

With this in mind I have decided to offer shares in Cottontails to Humphrey and the ducks.

New shareholder: Humphrey

New shareholders: Mary, Dick and Jim

Also, from now on Humphrey will be sitting on the Cottontails remuneration committee - to make sure I don't award myself any huge bonuses at the expense of employees' carrots, corn etc.

Humphrey consults other workers ahead of remuneration committee

This will surely be the start of a new period of unprecedented productivity and growth at Cottontails!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Cottontails Bunny Biscuits

This is a lovely simple recipe I tried and tested ahead of putting it in our little Cottontails Book - they are simple, sweet, delicious little biscuits and Humphrey and I cannot recommend them enough....

Cottontails Bunny Biscuits

1 tsp vanilla essence
100g golden caster sugar
200g butter
300g plain flour, sifted

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in vanilla essence.

Add sifted flour and mix together until crumbs come together - don't overwork the mixture.

Turn out, wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least an hour. (Overnight is fine - I tried!)

Preheat oven to 160*c / fan 140*c / gas 3 and cover baking trays with baking parchment

Place dough on floured surface, cover with clingfilm (to prevent rolling pin sticking) and roll out to 5mm thick.

Carefully cut out bunny shapes using our bunny cutters and place on baking trays.

Use a cocktail stick to give each bunny an eye.

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool and crisp up.


This really is a nice recipe - I tried several different ones - the biscuits are really light and crispy.

Well worth a try...

UPDATE: I made a batch of these biscuits on Monday in a bit of a rush and 'rested' the pastry for five mins in the freezer - this is probably a dreadful baking faux pas, but it worked perfectly.