Our Frugal Summer In Charente by Sarah Jane Butfield

An expats kitchen garden journal.

Our frugal summer in charente

Meet Sarah Jane, a woman with a reputation for culinary catastrophe who tries to keep her family fed in challenging circumstances in rural France. Frugal living was not part of the plan when they arrived from Australia to undertake the renovation of a quaint cottage in the Charente. However, when life throws them a curve-ball the challenge was set. How to survive in France with very little money and two Australian cattle dogs. The answer came in the form of 5 chickens, 4 ducks and a vegetable garden! The frugal plan was to save money by any means possible, to enable any money they could earn to be invested into continuing the renovation of the cottage. In true ‘Good Life’ style Sarah Jane attacks this challenge head on by keeping some small livestock and converting a garden, that resembled a meadow, into a French ‘potager’ or kitchen garden.The French tradition of using produce from their ‘potagers’ is renowned for enabling families to create meals that are healthy, cost effective and simple. 
There are 31 recipes for a variety of food and drinks, included in a month by month account, of how they transformed a neglected garden into a frugal yet productive expat kitchen garden. 


Secondary Genre: COOKING / General

Language: English


Word Count: 25,000

Sales info:

This is the third book in my travel memoir series and it is hugely popular within the expat communities and online forums. It regularly ranks in the Amazon top ten in the categories of chefs and gardens around the world. It is a combination of culinary memoir and gardening journal.

Sample text:

The work begins to create a garden suitable to grow vegetables and to keep some small livestock, namely chickens. Since October 2012 we have cleared the rubble, brambles, bushes and small trees which have taken over the garden during its years of vacancy. My romantic imagery comes to the fore again as I name this my secret garden. My secret garden, littered with the scars of neglect, will be brought back to life. That is where the romantic imagery finishes; because it will not be the host of flowers and shrubs instead it will accommodate vegetables, fruit bushes and a variety of animals. I have drafted out a plan of action for planting, well a crude pencil drawing which is not to scale and as such Nigel is not impressed with it.

“Unrealistic” is how he described my action plan saying, “Is that really how a woman perceives feet and inches!”  

Nigel accepts the challenge of completing the first dig which will be no easy task as this garden has clearly not been dug for many years. We do not have a mechanical digging machine or rotavator, like our French neighbours. André even has a tractor and plough, which is a bit over the top, although he is 85 years old, so I think he has earned some help with the way he prepares his soil. We have just a garden spade and a fork, but undeterred we are going to dig all the way from outside the barn to approximately 2 feet away from the brook the end of the garden. In total, this is about 50 feet! The garden is now forming into two sections. The area behind the barn is becoming the vegetable garden and the area behind the house will house the animal enclosures. I know it will appear strange and irresponsible, although we have no choice in reality, but we need to house the boys, our dogs, Dave and Buster, in the enclosure closest to the house. However, this will mean they are adjacent to the chickens. I am sure we have fun times ahead dealing with that.


Book translation status:

The book is available for translation into any language except those listed below:

Already translated. Translated by Elisabetta Borghi
Translation in progress. Translated by Jussara Rocha
Already translated. Translated by Gloria Cifuentes Dowling

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