Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Roasted Meatballs and Cheese Polenta . . . An Ina Recipe

Ina Garten is my culinary hero
And she has been since 2001
When I bought her first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, at Costco
and shortly thereafter her, Barefoot Contessa Parties
I was smitten!

Shortly, thereafter in 2002, I got her Barefoot Contessa Family Style
and faithfully, every two years she publishes another
And every two years, I either order them from Amazon
so that they will arrive on the release date
I trek north to the city and buy them at Costco!

I've seen in her person twice
And I was elated!

On Monday, her tenth cookbook is released

Alas, it has not been preordered on Amazon
Alas, I will not be making a trip north to buy my copy
I have to wait patiently  for November 10
When I'll be in Minnesota
to see Ina live!
And get her cookbook!

I found her television show  shortly after I found her cookbooks
And as smitten as I was with her cookbooks, I was equally smitten with her television show

After a lengthy absence of new shows, last Sunday, there was finally a new episode

As everyone who watches knows, Jeffrey is adorable
And a book written about cooking for him, is perfect for us Ina groupies!

Sunday, she made a birthday dinner for Jeffrey
which included an appetizer of bruschetta with sautéed kale,
roasted meatballs and cheesy polenta
and a green salad

Ina's recipes never fail . . . 
And they're simple which fit this time in my life.
I like really good food but I don't like to spend a really long time in the kitchen!

It was a busy Saturday which included planting my tubs of daffodils
(I always order way too many -- a dozen of this, a dozen of that doesn't seem like much,
but when they arrive and there are hundreds, sigh!)

Dinner came together quickly, even after all that bulb planting
And we ate at a decent hour

Roasted meatballs in marinara sauce
(she used jarred -- so did I --
there are good ready made products out there -- use them!)

The meatballs and marinara served with the cheesy polenta
sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese.

I've neglected Jim and dinner the last week . . . 
canned soup or a sandwich or even take out
for I had way too many evening meetings
And they seem to be always at 6 p.m.
(We can eat at 4:30 or we can eat after -- we chose after.
But after sitting in a long meeting, I don't feel like preparing dinner)

I got out a bottle of Chianti
And lit the candles in the breakfast room

And added a salad to the menu as Ina did . . . 
No appetizer, though, although it looked good!

We ate, talked about our day
And planned which Netflix movie we'd watch tonight after dinner.

Ina's recipes:


1 pound ground sirloin
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1 3/4 cups dry seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly ground Italian Pecorino cheese (2 ounces)
1/2 cup freshly ground Italian Parmesan cheese (2 ounces), plus extra for serving
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 (32-ounce) jars good marinara sauce, such as Rao's
Creamy Parmesan Polenta (recipe follows) or cooked spaghetti, for serving
Creamy Parmesan Polenta:
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Place the sirloin, pork, and veal in a large mixing bowl and lightly break up the meats with a fork and your fingertips. Add the bread crumbs, Pecorino, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add the eggs, wine, and 3/4 cup water and combine lightly but thoroughly.
Measure out 2-ounce portions of the mixture (I use a rounded 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop) and roll each lightly into a ball. Place one inch apart on the prepared sheet pans. Brush the meatballs with the olive oil.
Bake the meatballs for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Pour the marinara into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Carefully add the meatballs and simmer for 10 minutes, until heated through.
To serve with polenta, spoon a puddle of creamy Parmesan polenta on one side of each dinner plate. Spoon 1 or 2 meatballs plus a puddle of tomato sauce on the other side, allowing them to combine in the center of the plate. To serve with spaghetti, distribute among shallow pasta bowls. Spoon the meatballs and sauce onto the pasta. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan and serve hot.
Creamy Parmesan Polenta:
Place the chicken stock in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over medium-high heat until the stock comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and very slowly whisk in the cornmeal, whisking constantly to make sure there are no lumps. Switch to a wooden spoon, add the salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring almost constantly, for 10 minutes, until thick. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly while you're stirring. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, creme fraiche, and butter. Taste for seasonings and serve hot with extra Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.
Yield: 6 servings

NOTE:    I must admit that I've baked meatballs "forever".    I don't think I've fried a meatball in 25 years or more.    But I've never roasted them.     They were good, had more of a crust than a baked meatball and take no more time.    I think roasting will be my preferred method of meatball cooking.

Also, you cannot find ground veal here.    EVER!    You can't even find ANY kind of veal!    So I used equal amounts of ground pork and ground sirloin.     The meatballs were very tasty!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Branson . . . Here We Come Again!

Branson, Missouri
A destination/vacation spot
for the Midwest

But not limited to the midwest for travelers from all over the country come to Branson

It was a quiet sleepy town in the area known as the Ozarks known for fishing because  first of all for the White River and then for
Lake Taneycomo which was built early in the last century for power
A snake of a lake, Branson is one of the towns that dot this lake made from damming up the White River

It is bookended by Corps of Engineer Lakes

Table Rock to the west

And Bull Shoals to the west and down into Arkansas

The Shepherd of the Hills attraction has been here a long time

For in the 70s it had a different sign

"Old Matt's cabin" and other things from the book written by Harold Bell Wright about this area of the Ozarks, brought tourists to the area.
And "Shepherd of the Hills Farm" was born.
They have a gift shop (of course) and nightly do a Shepherd of the Hills Play
and have for almost 50 years!

The most famous attraction, however is . . . 

Silver Dollar City
It's been entertaining folks for 56 years

And to think it all started because of

Marvel Cave
The third largest cave in the United States
To entertain those who were waiting to go through the cave,
they built a street and would have gunfights . . . 
It wasn't long before Silver Dollar City was more of an attraction than the Cave
that started it all.

Like Vegas, Branson has a Strip

76 Highway runs through Branson and into the Ozark hills and on to Silver Dollar City

Also known as "76 Country Boulevard"
for years, it was the only way to get from Branson to Silver Dollar City

And along "The Strip", artists opened theaters, motels were built to house the tourists who came to the shows and restaurants were built to feed those tourist.

When the shows got out in the evening,
it was bumper to bumper traffic
creeping along back to your motel

Branson realized the problem and because of better technology was able to build
roads around Branson -- called the "Green Loop", "Red Loop" or "Blue Loop"
Whichever loop you take, it allows you to go from Silver Dollar City to Branson without inching along!

And, of course, growth with more theaters, restaurants and hotels along these

And then there is old fashioned Downtown Branson

Dicks 5  & 10
A must see downtown
An old fashioned "dime store"
full of an odd assortment of merchandise
And I don't see how they ever do inventory --
the store is that packed!

A normal downtown with "tourist" shops --
not T shirt shops but stores filled with merchandise that tourists
would like.

At one time, Branson was the "Craft Hub" of the Midwest
but on this visit I noticed that the craft part was not as prominent as it had been on
earlier visits.
It's still there, but just not as much!

In order to lure more upscale visitors, they built

Branson Landing
Full of tonier shops and restaurants
Stores that you see in most metropolitan areas
anchored by Missouri's own, Bass Pro Shops

Branson Landing

used to be just shoreline along the Taneycomo
Forty-three years ago!

Not far from Branson is the small village of Hollister

 I'm not sure why, but they decided to make Hollister an English village
and their main street looks like a village in England
For years, it was Branson's poor relation but on this visit,
I noticed that more store fronts were filled.

Branson is known for it's food
For years, it was "home cooking" Mom and Pop type of restaurants
with a McDonalds being the only chain
Biscuits and gravy and chicken fried steak were on almost every menu.

But Branson is more upscale now and more restaurants are chains
than Mom and Pops.

On the way down, we stopped at Smith's in Bolivar.
We've been eating at Smith's for years in Collins, Mo.
but the realignment of Highway 13 caused the restaurant to move to Bolivar

 One breakfast
And we shared!

We were so full from breakfast that for lunch we decided on a bowl of diner chili

Billy Bob's a Branson tradition
Their hamburgers are good but we were too full to even have a burger!

And a visit to Branson isn't complete without fudge!
There are fudge shops everywhere!
A throwback to early Branson tourism

This morning we had breakfast at

Billy Gail's in Reed's Springs

And yes, this, too, is one breakfast
And yes, indeed, we shared
Look at those pancakes!

When Branson got more touristy and those outer roads were built
to enable traffic to move more freely, three "Outlet Malls" opened
One has closed, one is partly open and the third seems to be booming
With the number of tourists and half of them women, outlet malls to me made a lot of sense
But it didn't work!

We did hit the one that is booming and I found a Vera Bradley store
With a great sale

I felt that I needed a new tote
It's really a good size for an overnight bag
but I'm going to use it for my needlepoint

For whenever I'm in the car, that's what I do . . . 
My newest canvas
Cherries from Cleopatra's Needle

Jim and I have been coming to Branson since our honeymoon
(although it was closed since it was November)
but we went back the following year and have made many trips.

It is fun to see how it's grown
And to remember 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Montauk Daisies

On Monday, friend Cass (from That Old House)
posted this picture

And this:
So, Montauk Daisies. Three years ago, I planted two gallon-sized Montauk Daisy plants that I bought from a local grower. I'd grown nice Montauk Daisies at our last house, but I didn't buy them at a greenhouse; I dug them up from my parents' Long Island beach house. 
The legend is that a shipwrecked Japanese vessel deposited some of these native-to-Japan plants on Montauk many years ago, and the hardy little devils naturalized along the beaches there, picking up a new name in the process. In the Fall, Montauk Daisies are blooming everywhere on eastern Long Island -- really, everywhere. They are a spectacular last hurrah of brilliant bloom before winter. 
The Montauks I planted at our last house grew, as Montauks do, into lovely big piles of thick succulent foliage and late blooming pure white daisies. But then, our last house sat alongside a river. Water. The Montauks seem to like that.
I expected the Montauks that I planted three years ago to be big monsters of fabulous bloom by now. Well. Best laid plans and all that. One never had a chance. The landscape dudes yanked it out as a weed a couple of years ago. The remaining one is struggling along, apparently quite aggravated about not being in the Hamptons vicinity. It is slumming, and doesn't like it. Sigh. ... 
The glorious picture below is of Montauks in their now-natural habitat, without any care at all except what Mother Nature gives them. The other picture is the poor wee little fella in our Prison Yard. Maybe when we move to a coastal area when we retire, we can once again enjoy the glory of those late-blooming Montauks.

The picture above, of course, is the coastal Montauks.

I had never ever before heard of this particular plant.
They're not big on the prairie
For you, see, we have no coast!

Tuesday, I went to the Farmer's Market to buy a pumpkin . .

I came home with this!
Yes, if you guessed this is a Montauk Daisy you would be right.

One of our nurseries, Redbud,  sells at the Farmer's Market and they brought some of these to the market.
I COULD NOT believe it.
And it was only $4.50!

And they told me about the big barrels of the daisies that were there.
Huge, she said.
Thursday, I went to the Chamber Coffee at Redbud.
And I saw the Montauks


Each mound is ONE plant!
One mostly neglected plant, she told me.
They water but not all that often.
They just leave them be!

So I did some research on Montauks and this was what I found . . . 

Nipponanthemum nipponicum, common names "Nippon daisy" or "Montauk daisy," is a plant species native to coastal regions of Japan but cultivated as an ornamental in other regions.[3][4] It is now naturalized as an escape along seashores in New York and New Jersey.[5][6] It is the only species in the genus Nipponanthemum, formerly considered part of Chrysanthemum.[7][8]
Nipponanthemum nipponicum is a shrub up to 100 cm (40 inches) tall. Most of the alternate leaves are clustered near the top of the stem. Flower heads are up to 8 cm (3 inches)across and are borne singly. Ray flowers are white, disc flowers usually yellow but sometimes red or purple.

I like Cass's story, although this does allude to the "escape"!

And yesterday I planted my new little plant in the garden

Because it likes seashores, I thought it might thrive at Linderhof's Pond Shore!

Thanks, Cass --
I'll think of you everytime I see the blooming Montauk!

And if you want one for yourself, Redbud still has some . . . 
That is if Randy and Karen don't buy them all --
for you see they've just come back from that area
And were smitten by the Montauks!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Prost! A German Program!

I am proud of my German heritage
I have always been proud of my German heritage
Grandfather Meinsen immigrated to the United States in 1885
My Grandmother Lydia's father immigrated to the United States 40 years earlier.

I was flattered to be asked to give a program on German food
at a great museum in the county just south of us:

We've loaned some of our German things for the exhibit.
After doing prep yesterday, I loaded the car
and headed south to do my program.

The 14 people who signed up by Thursday swelled to sixty on Sunday.

There were a few seats vacant but not many!

Oh, and to help,

Donna and Rita (Cookbook Book Club Members)
joined me to do the "hard work"

plating the food to make sure that each attendee got a plate . . . 

I talked about and demonstrated

(plain, Johnsonville, boiled first in bill before sautéing or grilling)
(beer brand doesn't really matter)
(No fancy beer brats or cheese brats for us -- just the original plain brats)

Grandmother's Coleslaw
A recipe I've made hundreds of times
A recipe that has been at most of our family celebrations 
A recipe that mother made a lot for Sunday Dinner when I was a child

Grandmother's Hot German Potato Salad
Traditional hot potato salad which I've updated --
using small red potatoes and not peeling them
Using packaged real bacon bits instead of bacon
making the recipe less fat.

And no "meal" is complete without dessert

So I made a German Apple Cake
In mini muffin pans because they're easier to serve.

I so appreciated Donna and Rita coming with me
I could not have done it without them
They plated the food while I visited with those who attended.

It was a fun program from my point of view.
I always love to share food

I want to thank Jason and the Board of Directors at The Miner's Hall Museum
for inviting me to do this program.

I will be back in December (December 18, actually) to talk about German holiday traditions.
And I cannot wait.
And even though it is holiday traditions, part of the traditions are cookies!
I'll be bringing a nice assortment to share!
German ones, of course!

It was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

The recipes:


4 medium round red or white potatoes (about 1 1/3 pound)
3 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 c. chopped onion (white or yellow)
1 T. flour
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. celery seed
dash pepper
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. cider vinegar

Place potatoes in saucepan; add enough water just to cover potatoes.     Cover; heat to boiling.   Reduce heat and cook until potatoes are tender; drain.     Let stand until cool enough to handle.    Cut potatoes into 1/4 inch slices (do not peel!)

In skillet cook bacon over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp.   Remove from skillet.    Cook onion  in bacon fat until tender.    Stir in flour, sugar, salt, celery seed and pepper.     Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat.

Stir water and vinegar into onion mixture.    Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.    Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat.    Stir in potatoes and bacon.    Heat over medium heat, stirring gently to coat potato slices, until hot and bubbly.    Serve warm.


1 head cabbage, shredded
1 onion, sliced thinly

Boil together:
2/3 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. vinegar
1/2 t. celery seed
1 t. mustard

Then add 1 cup salad oil and boil again.    Pour over cabbage and onion mixture.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fall Table Linens

It all started with a visit to Friend Francie
where she had the perfect table linens for Fall
And I did covet . . . And I did get them!

They do make a pretty fall table without "screaming" Fall
And the colors go well with my beloved blue and white transfer ware.

Thursday, I went to a favorite store in Joplin
And they had a great selection of linens
runners, tablecloths, napkins, placemats

I wanted something "fall-ish" but no pumpkins, leaves or turkeys!

And I found them!
A dark blue background and beige, fall green and orange

They make a good background for my Spode Blue Italian . . 

And last night, it was a bit chilly

And so we had a fire on the breakfast porch . . . 

Tonight, we'll enjoy dessert out there . . . 

With Ina's Apple Crostata
because I bought apples at the Farmers' Market

Friday, October 7, 2016

Aunt Pearl's Orange Cream Pineapple Salad

I had a maiden Aunt,
Aunt Pearl
Since she never married, she continued living with her mother
until her mother passed away.

She had a job -- not a career
And when I spent a summer week at Grandma's, I thought it was so exciting
that Aunt Pearl would get up in the morning, breakfast, get dressed
and then go off to "the office".
She worked for Safeway, a grocery company in the accounting office
And actually, I'm not sure what she really did
at "the office".

Since she always lived with her mother, her mother did all the cooking
or almost all --
Aunt Pearl at Christmas would make fudge and divinity
And often for Sunday dinner she would make her famous
(at least famous in our family)
Orange Cream Pineapple Salad
(or as we called it, orange jello salad)

It is one of those sweet and creamy jello salads
that so often are on the potluck table
that are really more of a dessert than a salad!

But it is good

Orange creaminess in a bowl
Always served in a glass bowl!

It made it's appearance Sunday for our family dinner.

I had thought that I did not have the recipe.
Something that got pitched when either Grandma passed away or
Aunt Pearl herself passed away.
For neither really kept recipe cards or folders
or even clipped recipes from the paper to try.
Grandma was not a really adventuresome cook, you see.

But then I was thumbing through the cookbook that Aunt Pearl's church put out
and although she never submitted a recipe for print,
she did write "the salad" recipe on an empty page!

And with the blobs, I assume that this is the exact copy she used.

The only change I made was that I used the small carton of Cool Whip instead of Dream Whip.
And why 10 small marshmallows, I don't have a clue.
10 BIG ones, yes -- but 10 small

I had many requests for this recipe when I did my post about Sunday Dinner
So I thought I would share.

For all my readers who wanted Aunt Pearl's Orange Jello Salad Recipe!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sunday Dinner

Growing up, we always had Sunday Dinner
sometimes at our house, sometimes at an aunt's and sometimes at Grandma's.

No matter where, 
it was always in the dining room
there was always a white tablecloth on the dining room table
And damask napkins
A centerpiece
And real dishes

And the meal was served "family style"

Sunday, I recreated those Sunday family dinners
like we had at Grandma's
when my brother and I were little

For he was a guest as was one of his daughters and a granddaughter
as well as his friend, Brian

The big lace cloth, damask napkins in silver rings and the Spode Blue Room for the table.
Iced tea -- because that was what Grandma served!

Dinner was traditional!

Roast beef
(from The Butcher Block)
A chuck roast cooked low and slow

Mashed potatoes
(dressed with paprika and a pat of butter
and yes, there was gravy)

Oven roasted glazed carrots

Aunt Pearl's Orange Jello Salad
(a favorite of my niece)

Mom's chocolate cake for dessert
(otherwise known as Texas sheet cake)
updated with the extra dark cocoa

My niece surprised me with

A mum full of buds in a cute wicker pumpkin basket.
A much needed touch of fall to the north side of the house!

A lot of memories were shared at dinner on Sunday.
Memories of Grandma and Sunday drives, memories of roast beef or fried chicken
Memories of Grandma, Uncle Clinton and Aunt Pearl

Instead of an after dinner drive, we took Doogie (and my brother's dogs) and headed to the dog park
It was a beautiful day and a great day to be outside!

It was nice to have an old fashioned Sunday dinner again!