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.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Looking for the Perfect Key Lime Pie

The first three weeks of November
we spent in Key West

At a wonderful house with this wonderful view
And a pretty sunset every evening!

On this trip to Key West
I decided that I would find the
Key Lime Pie

 Key Limes
Found on the Florida Keys
Little limes, these

And every restaurant has Key Lime Pie on their menu

It was my duty to find the best!

Happy Tales

Not a restaurant but a place that sells frozen Key Lime Pie

The Fish Camp at Geiger Key Marina

Topped with whipped cream and a lime wedge
(but a Persian lime wedge!)


More whipped cream, 
Another wedge of Persian Lime
And a cinnamon graham cracker crust


A bit of whipped cream, a really creamy pie
And another Persian lime wedge


The first pie with meringue
Presentation was A+


A real cheesecake instead of Key Lime pie

And you don't need to go to Florida for Key Lime Pie

For stores even in our little town has Key Lime Juice for sale

and in January

You can find bags of Key limes in the market

And if you want, 

You can use regular Persian limes in your pie

The recipe is a simple one:

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 crackers)
3 T. sugar
2 pinches salt
7 T. butter, melted

3 large egg yolks
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 c. fresh lime juice

For the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl and stir until mixed.    Add butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated.     Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a standard 9 inch pie dish.     Bake at 350 until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.    Set on cooling rack while you make your filling.     

For the filling:   Beat egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes.    Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes more.     Whisk the lime juice into the yolk mixture until combined.     Pour into graham cracker crust and bake pie for another 10 minutes, until set but not browned on top at all.     Let pie cool.    Top with sweetened whipped cream if you want.

And I would add the zest of those limes that you juiced although most of the pies that we ate didn't have any zest in them.

Oh, and I bet you're wondering which one won?     I must admit that no two pies tasted alike.    Oh, they were all lime but some were sweeter than others, one did add cinnamon to the crust (which I didn't care for).    

The winner?

Fish Tales!

The very first one!

And this winter, when it's cold and snowy outside
And there are Key limes in the market
I shall make a Key Lime pie
and have happy thoughts about our trip to Key West
(and wish I was there once again!)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cranberries -- They're Not Just for Sauce!

I adore cranberries
But then I adore tart fruits
Rhubarb and Gooseberries

The cranberries disappear from the market sometime in January
(and often at reduced prices)
And I buy many packages to tuck into the freezer
Because they freeze so well!

But cranberries aren't just for sauce for the Thanksgiving turkey
or pork or chicken

And everyone knows cranberry bread and cranberry muffins
Recipes for those treats abound in cookbooks and on the internet
And I make them at least once during late fall or early winter

Cranberry muffins are perfect for breakfast
while cranberry bread is a great nosh for tea!

But then cranberries make great desserts, too!

 Angel Meringue Tort with Cranberry Jubilee
It's not the whole dessert -- just the topping but it is full of cranberry flavor!

Cranberry thumbprint cookies 
A delicious use for leftover cranberry sauce
Makes for nice early December tea treats!

A pretty dessert and we just love trifles.    The creamy sweet whipped cream and the tart cranberry combine together to make a smashing dessert!

I've had this recipe for 20 years or more and at least one of these comes out of the kitchen every November!    It's a great cake for breakfast, dessert or tea!     
It is truly one reason that I stock up on pumpkin in November and cranberries in January

Ina Garten's Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp
Cranberries are a fruit and fruits make great crisps.    Especially when you serve it with a pour of cream!

I adore tarts and often make them as individuals when I have company.
There's just something nicer, I think with individual tarts rather than one big one
But you certainly can make this tart as one large one.

We all know how well cranberries go into breads and muffins
Well, they go into cake too!
And cranberry and orange is one of those marriages of the mouth1
The frosting "makes" the cake!

Another great cranberry cake
For dessert or tea
And it keeps well, too!

The recipe calls for a 9 x 13 but I like to make them in round tins
One for us for breakfast and perhaps one for a Christmas gift
It's a great coffee cake and would make a good addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas morning buffet!

From one of my culinary heroes, Anna Pump
It's a great dessert in November and December
Heck, it's a great dessert anytime
(Especially if you have those little packages of cranberries in the freezer)

One of Husband Jim's favorite desserts is pineapple upside down cake
I'm not sure if it's the cake or the topping of butter, brown sugar and fruit!
Pears and cranberries seem to have an infinity for one another
And this cake, says Husband Jim, ranks right up there with the pineapple one!

We'll enjoy some of these treats as 2015 winds to an end.
In fact, I cannot think of an autumn the last 20 years that we haven't had the pumpkin cranberry coffeecake!

And I know that husband Jim will petition for the upside down cake!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

THE Birthday Cake

When we first first married
And I was learning my way around the kitchen
Husband Jim mentioned to me this cake
This cake that he loved

Now, I'm not sure why a teacher brought a cake to school,
but they did
And Jim loved it so much that he asked for the recipe

And although I've never asked
I think it was in high school that he first had a taste of


I'm sure at the time it must have been a new recipe
But his mother did make it for him

And he declared that his favorite cake!

Then I married him
And the red velvet cake story became lore

So I asked for the recipe
Which his fourteen year old sister provided

Two ounces, the recipe said, two ounces of red food coloring
I was sure that must be wrong
(In her fourteen year old wisdom she had wrote ounces instead of drops)
for I had only bought food coloring in the multipacks
For tinting cake frosting and make Easter egg dye

So I put in two drops
It was a light pink
So I added more
Still pink

Then I put in all of that small bottle
Still pink!

That first cake
was not 
red velvet
pink velvet!

But it tasted good

And when we next saw Sister (and Mom) we asked about it
Yep, Mom said, you had to buy a whole bottle of red food coloring
And that bottle was two ounces!

I bought the bottle, made another cake
And Husband Jim realized one of the reasons he married me
I can cook!

From that very first "pink" velvet cake
To the latest "red" velvet one
We've always made on for Jim's birthday
It's a tradition!
(As much so as the Halloween Chili or Sarah's birthday lasagna!)

The cake in all it's pre candle glory!

Love the layers of red and white!

 A glorious red!

And ablaze with candles
For the birthday boy!

I've made a few changes in the recipe over the years --
The original one called for Crisco as the frosting fat as does the cake itself
I now use real butter

What was an obscure little cake recipe for so many years
Has all of a sudden become a very popular cake
Often seen on restaurant menus!

It's a good cake
And over the years, we've made it a Christmas cake
Tinting half of the frosting red 
And half of the frosting green
So that when you cut into it, it was red and green and white!

The cake has gotten so popular that they now make a cake mix version
And different colors, even, besides red
(I think I saw a box of blue velvet the last time I went to the super market)

Jim's Red Velvet Cake

1 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 t. cocoa
2 ounces red food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the shortening, eggs and sugar. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa and food coloring. Add the paste to the shortening mixture. Sift the flour and salt together. Add to the batter alternately with the buttermilk in 3 additions. Add the vanilla extract. Fold in the baking soda and vinegar. Pour the batter into 2 greased 9 inch cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on a cooling rack.


1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extracts. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.

To assemble cake. Put one layer on cake plate, put frosting on top. Place second layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thanksgiving Accroutrements

I don't "theme" a lot
Really, I don't
But in November, it seems to be
"Turkey Time" 
at Linderhof

Perhaps it is my way of ignoring
all of the Christmas
in the stores in November

But they are a slowly collected lot of turkeys

That sometimes end up on the table during the whole month of November
Not just that 4th Thursday!

It all started in 1970

When I bought this guy
At the dime store
He's made in Japan
And quite handsome I thought
He holds flowers sometimes

Ten or so years later, I found another
just like him
At a garage sale
for probably 50 cents

I like things in pairs
And so I bought it!

My love of blue and white dishes
And my love of my Christmas China
And my love of antiques
found me lusting after "Turkey" china

Oh, the "real" turkey plates from before the turn of the century
Especially the blue and white ones
Had me salvatating!

And searching on eBay --
Where I found

Eight Spode Festival plates
Reasonably priced
And I felt that I could fill in with my other blue and white
(And if hard pressed and with a lot of company, I could use them with my other blue and white plates in say, July!)

Never go to T. J. Maxx
for the next year

I found these plates by Myott.    They're English made
They're blue and white
They have a turkey in the middle
And they were only $15 for 4 plates

I bought 2 boxes!

Now, I had 16 turkey plates

And with more than 16 guests, I can still fill in with my other Spode!

I decided I needed a "turkey" platter
I have a couple of turkey platters
But not a turkey platter

Spode Festival
From Ebay
And like the other turkey dishes, it can fill in if needed anytime of the year
when I use my blue and white!

My last purchase

Which is not very turkey-ish
For the turkey is inside and would be covered by gravy
But there is always gravy at Thanksgiving
I didn't have a blue and white gravy boat
And like the other turkey dishes . . . 
I can use it all year long
(and often do!)

It's a pretty Thanksgiving table
With the blue and white
And I like the fact that I can use my regular blue and white serving dishes
for a cohesive table!

Years ago
At a garage sale I'm sure,
before the turkey china, and
before Martha Stewart featured them
And before Williams-Sonoma sold them

I bought two of the heavy clear glass turkeys
They make a great container for cranberry sauce
And look festive
And make the table (with plain ordinary china) more Thanksgiving-ish!

Alas, when I bought that first turkey in 1970
I also bought

The matching salt and pepper shakers
Turkey "centerpiece"
Salt and pepper shakers on each side

I'm not a salt and pepper shaker collector
But mother always had a couple of "holiday" salt and peppers
that made our table more festive
(for she had one set of good china which was used not only for holidays
but for Sunday dinner as well)

I cannot find them.
I do remember seeing them several years ago
(putting them away because I felt they were too "kitch=y" and not "sophisticated" enough)
But where, I do not know!

So now I'm on a hunt
To find either my originals
or a replacement pair.

I feel that they need to be on the Thanksgiving table again!

From a Thanksgiving for two
To a Thanksgiving with 30 guests,
It's down to two again!

But I fix a "real meal"
mashed potatoes
homemade cranberry sauce
green beans
(although this year I think I'll do Brussels sprouts)
And pumpkin pie
(with real whipped cream)

The turkeys will be on the table
And in our tummy
On Thanksgiving Day!

Wish me luck on finding the salt and peppers
And any salt and pepper won't do
They have to match the turkey centerpiece!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas . . .

I always have a needlepoint project at hand
Usually a cushion
Although I don't work tirelessly on the project until it is done
It does keep my hands busy . . .

My latest cushion -- a gift from a dear friend!

I do, however, work in a ornament for the Grands
each year -- a break from the big project!

But at an Estate Sale a few months ago,
I came across a lot of needlepoint Christmas ornaments . . . 
For a reasonable sum
(Actually anything under $30 per is a reasonable sum!)
A very reasonable sum

And with the "Rites of Autumn"
I have been working on these ornaments . . 

Trying to do them with threads on hand, they are coming along

I also went to the city and took some needlepoint classes with friend


Yes, they'll be gifts to the Grands
(although the grey bearded one is mine!)

And Piper's -- all stitched
Just waiting for finishing!

My "bargain" ones
Probably from the 70s or 80s I would imagine
(or maybe earlier -- one is marked $9.60!)

A little angel on a moon
tooting a horn

A sled full of packages

An ice skating rabbit -- er, bunny!

A rocking horse

An angel with a horn

One of the Santas from my class
(which is stitched -- you can see him above)

And two that aren't

I have a few other needlepoint ornaments that I've made over the years
(Mostly long ago)
That we've hung on our tree

My thought this year . . . 

Is to bring the feather tree up
(a real feather tree with feathers!)
Purchased three or four years ago
And never used
But I always wanted one, the price was reasonable and I had some "mad money"!

And put just the needlepoint ornaments on it!
You could see the lovely detail of each ornament
And it lends such a great old fashioned touch to Christmas!

Meanwhile, I'm hard at work to finish these ornaments
by the first of December
So any spare time during November, you will find me stitching away --
Nice days on the front porch
Cooler days in my chair in the living room!

I think that the small feather tree
will be smashing!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Rites of Autumn -- The Pomanders

Another Rite of Autumn

The Pomanders

When daylight savings time ends, evenings seem to stretch on "forever"
To keep hands busy, I make pomanders
A bag of cheap oranges
A big sack of cloves
And an ice pick

Not cute patterns but good coverage is what I'm after
The house always smells amazing
of cloves and oranges

Once I'm done and have a bowlful,
I mix the spices
And the oranges are cured in the spice mixture

Once cured,
they go into net bags and are tucked in with the knickers and the nightgowns
They last "forever"

I still have one with Jim's T Shirts that's close to 10 years old!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

We remember

Those who came home . . . 

And those who didn't!