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.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Coffee In the "Drawing Room"

Sometimes when we have dinner, we'll eat dessert a bit later

And if we do dessert later,
It's always in the "drawing room"
(I've watched too much Downton Abbey and read too many Miss Marples!)

Or living room or parlor!
Or "front" room!

The coffee table is the perfect table to serve from!

Everything on a tray
And the tray on the coffee table

It was after Sunday Lunch
Halfway between lunch and tea time!

And because it was Sunday, the silver coffee pot,
Grandmother's Noritake tea plates and a pair of paper thin white and gold cups I bought ages ago and am extremely fond of.
They have an initial and being me, I try to find a family member who will fit!
So they can be "inherited" pieces!
The "KE" on the cups are for Cousin Katherine!
(Shhh - don't tell!)

The dessert --
An apple pecan cake
With burned butter icing

Even thought we adore our tea
We like coffee with dessert!

The recipe is for a layer cake
Which is silly just for the two of us!
So instead of making it into a layer cake,
I make it into two one layer cakes.

One for now
One for a gift
One to freeze for another day!

The cake is simple to make -- can be made as a layer cake or a 9 x 13 -- it's good either way!


2 1/2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. appleslauce
3/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 c. chopped pecans

1/2 c. butter
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
6 to 8 T. apple juice

Heat oven to 350.    Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.    In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon;    mix well.    Add applesauce, oil and eggs; blend at low speed until moistened.    Beat 2 minutes at high speed.    Stir in pecans.    Pour batter into erased and floured pan (and I always line mine with parchment).

Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.     Cool 10 minutes.    Remove from pan; cool 45 minutes or until completely cooled.

Frosting:   In small heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat butter until light golden brown, stirring ocnstnatly.     Remove from heat; cool.   In large bowl, combine powdered sugar, 4 T. of the apple juice and the browned butter; blend at low speed until moistened.    Continue beating until well blended; adding additional apple juice for desired consistency.

To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer top side down, on serving plate, spread evenly with about 1/4 of the frosting.    Top with remaining cake layer, top side up.    Spread sides and top of cake with remaining frosting.     Garnish with whole pecans, if desired.

It's Tuesday and I'm sharing my "coffee in the Drawing Room" with Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday (she said it doesn't have to be tea -- it could be coffee or lemonade!) and with Bernideen for Friends Sharing Tea (And I'm sure Bernideen won't mind that it's coffee!)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Snowy Breakfast

This winter on the prairie has been a winter of "brown" --
Not much snow
But not much ice either
(which is a good thing)

But Saturday, the snow starting falling early
And kept falling all day!

Sunday morning the garden looked like this!

Church was cancelled and so we were home for the morning.
A big breakfast,
With fresh baked pastries was in order

Maple Oatmeal Scones
Fresh from the oven and glazed

The scone basket graces the breakfast table

To go with the cheese omelet and spiced apples

A leisurely breakfast as we watched the snow, the birds and the dogs
trying to get around in the snow.
(Dolly was the "snowplow" and Doogie followed)

It was a leisurely Sunday 
Lunch out with friends
A nap

And the last scone for afternoon tea.
If I am alone for tea, my companion is usually a book
And often a cookbook!
Between The Cookbook Club, Vol. 3 - Irish
and my annual St. Patrick's Day luncheon,
I'm looking for traditional Irish recipes.
Darina Allen's books are usually a treasure-trove!

The scones are easy to make.   Have the unusual ingredient of cream of tarter which keeps them "softer" than traditional American scones.    
For the two of us, I only made a half recipe.
(I often do that)
And it was plenty for breakfast with one left for tea!


2 c flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. cream of tartar
1/4 t. salt
1 cup walnut pieces (chopped) (I used pecans)
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 c. butter plust 1 T. 
1/4 c. maple syrup
3/4 t. maple extract
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
12 walnut halves
1 T. raw cane sugar
3/4 c. powdered sugar

Line a large baking sheet with parchment or split. Sift the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt into a large bowl. Add the chopped nuts, brown sugar, and rolled oats. In a small saucepan, melt the 1/2 c. butter and cool for a few moments. In a bowl, combine the melted butter, maple syrup, 1/2 t. maple extract and the whipping cream. Mix together. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and gently combine with a spatula until a dough forms and starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 2 equal pieces. From each piece into a 6 inch round, then divide each round into 6 wedges. Place the 12 wedges on the prepared baking sheet and place a walnut half on the top of the scones. Melt the 1 T. butter and brush on top of the scones. Sprinkle with the raw cane sugar. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

To make the glaze, in a small bowl mix together the powdered sugar, the remaining 1/4 t. of maple extract and warm water until the consistency is similar to thick liquid honey. Using a fork, drizzle the glaze over the scones. Allow the glaze to dry a few minutes before serving.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Cookbook Club, Vol. II

We had our second meeting of The Cookbook Book Club.    The hostess choses what we will cook from (one chef, one style, one cookbook, one food), we draw lots to see who brings what.    And we eat!

Last night the hostess chose Lidia Bastianich.     Not one cookbook, but any of her recipes.    We've all watched Lidia on PBS and we all feel fortunate that we have a Lidia's Restaurant in Kansas City (although most of us have not been).

The food in a nutshell was amazing!     Fresh ingredients, flavorful real Italian food.    And not a red sauce in any dish!     

We ate, we visited, we told why we selected the recipe that we did and whether or not we would make it again.     Everyone loved everything!      There wasn't a bad recipe in the bunch.     And there were some that I certainly would make again!

The Cookbook Club
Vol. 2 - Lidia's

Asparagi Gratinati al Parmigiano Reggiano -

Asparagus Gratin with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Involtini Di Pollo All Salmoriglio -

Breast of Chicken in a Light Lemon-Herb Sauce

Fettuccine with butter sage sauce

Fettuccine with Butter Sage Sauce
(sans sage and with mushrooms added)

Tortino di Ricotta e Zucca

Squash and Ricotta Tart

Insalata di Carote e Mele

Carrot and Apple Salad

 Focaccia d'Altamura

Onion-Tomato Focaccia

Zabaglione e Crumiri

Zabaglione with cornmeal cookies

We had a feast that's for sure.    And we're looking forward to Vol. 3 -- Irish!      I've drawn "Salad" which doesn't seem Irish at all (except it may be green!)     I've got some studying to do!      

It's a fun night, we've got some amazing cooks who are producing amazing food!

My dish -- was the chicken!    It was good.    The house smelled heavenly and I would make it again. It does remind me of one that Ina makes -- only her chicken is not pounded and rolled.    But some of the same flavors are in the olive oil and garlic sauce.     I make that often for I really like it.    This one I may save for company for it's a bit fussier than Ina's!

Oh, and the recipes.      They're all on  Lidia's website.     

It's Friday and I'm sharing our amazing Lidia night with Michael at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Done With the Old . . . Starting the New

Many many years ago, I took up needlepoint as my handwork of choice.     I found a book in the library entitled Mary Martin's Needlepoint and fell in love.    Of course, most of her projects were designed by her and painted on canvas by her needlepoint shop.     But they were lovely and I loved the stitches.

At that time most Department Stores had a needlepoint section.    Most of those canvases were worked in the center (mostly flowers) and you filled in the background.    I bought one and taught myself.     

What I did learn was that background is boring.    Mindless stitching actually but sometimes that is good for I had a project to keep me busy as I commuted to and fro on the bus.

I am not a fast needlepointer (which is a good thing for my output is not great) and after a couple of those Department Store canvases, I found printed canvases!     Designs that I could work myself!
For years, I always had a needlepoint project and soon we had my lovely pillows on chairs.

I also found bargello and books which had patterns that you stitched on blank canvas (similar to counted cross stitch).      

And I sewed.

But then Sarah came along and life got busy with motherhood, career, and housewifely chores.   I put my needle and wool aside.     And there it stayed for a long time.

When we went to England that Spring to live, we arrived on board a ship.    I knew that there would be days and days at sea and one can only bring so many books so off to The Studio (my favorite KC needlepoint shop) I went and bought a canvas and yarn.

Needlepointing is like riding a bike!     Everything came back and I finished that canvas while still in England.     Of course, needlepoint is so English and so I found a needlepoint shop and bought another canvas (to see me for the rest of the stay and the trip home).

And I've had a piece of needlepoint every since!

I've just finished my last project --

A very colorful canvas -- Jacobean in design.    Not picked by me, but picked by Husband Jim as a Christmas gift (shameful to say, Christmas 2012).     

Now, I've not been working on it since Christmas 2012.    I had to finish another canvas and then I had ordered another (before I received my gift) and had started on that one.  What I start I finish, before I start on another.

  This time, I did have a rule -- to only have on canvas at a time.     When I am almost done, I order another!     That way, I don't have a drawer full of needlepoint kits!

I started this one on our trip to Italy in the fall of 2013.     And with needlepoint, I pick up and put down.     It went with me last year to all of Jim's doctor's appointments and kept me company while he had procedures done.     And then I'd put it down . . . and a month or so later, pick it up again.

But I've been working on it pretty steadily for the last few months.     And today -- just today, I stitched the last stitch.     Now to take it to Mary to be transformed into a pillow.

And my canvas in waiting?

Has been started on.    I ordered it from England (there is just something about English needlepoint)
It's a hare.    A companion to this . . .

The piece I bought the year we lived in England!

The hare may go quicker since it's similar to one I've done before.     I hope so.

For  I have another in the drawer.    A gift from a dear friend.  

Oh, and in the fall, I pause my pillow project to make a needlepoint ornament for the Grand girl -- a tradition!     Now I'll have two to make!    

Monday, February 23, 2015

When A Friend Gives You Lemons . . .

Make Lemon Cookies!!!

Nordstroms Lemon Ricotta Cookies to be exact!

A soft cookie frosted with a lemon buttercream icing

They're so good that I broke my own "two" rule and had three!

With the blue hyacinth glasses and the white hyacinths themselves,
and the "white cookies"
it's the Spode Blue Italian for tea time.
The tea pot, the cup and saucer and the sweet plate!

The cookies are really good -- as good as the ones they sell at Nordstroms!      So good, in fact, that they won't last the week!     For I've snuck another cookie yesterday evening!

It's Tuesday and I'm joining Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday and dear friend Bernideen for Friends Sharing Tea.    (Although I'm not sure I would share these cookies!)


2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1 T. kosher salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
16 oz. whole-milk Ricotta cheese (note - it’s sold in 15 oz. cartons so that’s what I used)
3 T. freshly grated lemon zest
1 T. lemon juice
1 stick unsalted butter
3 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 c. lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon

At least 1 day before baking the cookies, make the dough.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl.  Beat the butter and sugar together in a  large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  One at a time, beat in the eggs.  With the mixer on low speed, in three additions beat in the ricotta, then the lemon zest and juice.  Gradually add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.  Do not over mix the dough.  It will be very soft.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using an ice cream scoop, drop balls of dough onto the baking sheet.   Freeze, uncovered, until solid.   Once frozen, the cookies can be removed from the baking sheet to a freezer bag and stored up to 2 weeks in the freezer.
Remove the dough from the freezer and let them thaw for 30 minutes until cold – but not still frozen.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Bake for about 20-22 minutes. If the cookies look like they are baking unevenly, rotate pans half way through the cooking process.  Let the cookies cool on the plans for 5 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.
To make the icing, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together in a  large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.  Add the lemon juice and continue mixing until the icing is smooth and about the consistency of cake frosting.

Frost the cookies, spreading it in an even, thick layer over 3/4 of the cookie and then sprinkle with lemon zest.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Weekend Brunch

Saturday is Brunch Day at Linderhof.     For Sunday is  9 a.m. church which means that there is no time for a lazy breakfast     It's up, read the paper, breakfast and gone!

And it really isn't Brunch, for we never eat all that late.    I guess the term Brunch is really a misnomer.   It's really breakfast and only breakfast.     For on Saturdays we always have time for a sandwich or soup or a salad around noon!    But it is a bigger than everyday breakfast, thus, I think, the reason for the term "brunch".

Whether it's breakfast or brunch, it's eaten in the breakfast room.    With the Johnson Brothers Indies which we have designated the breakfast china!      That's why I bought most of it originally, was for use in the breakfast room.    I had a wee teapot, creamer and sugar and two cups, saucers and tea plates that I had brought home on a trip to England.     Almost eight years ago when we built our breakfast room, there were plates and bowls and cups and saucers at TJ Maxx and Home Goods.   I bought enough to have a set of six.    (Why, I'm not sure since the breakfast room only seats four!)

Jim prefers tomato or V-8 juice while I'm an orange juice girl.    My new little silver coffeepot is perfect for breakfast coffee and for Saturday's Brunch, a breakfast casserole is always a good choice.   While it bakes, I can catch up on the newspaper and crossword puzzle!

A new recipe that I found, halved and baked in a loaf pan for the two of us.    This "Egg McMuffin" in a casserole!    It's a good recipe and one that I will make again whenever we have guests!    It's as simple as most breakfast strata recipes but with the English muffins is a bit difference.

And for brunch, you need a fruit salad.   Fresh strawberries and blueberries and green grapes.   Topped with a lime tequila syrup.

The original English Muffin and Canadian Bacon Breakfast Casserole recipe.   I did half it for the two of us and baked it in a loaf pan.


Cooking spray
English muffins
1/2 pound Canadian bacon (or sliced ham if you must),cut into halves
8 eggs
2 egg whites
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 1/2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded

Prepare 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.    In dish, alternately arrange muffin halves and meat, overlapping slightly.     Sprinkle with Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.    Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, sour cream and pepper until combined.    Pour over muffin, Canadian bacon and cheese layers.     Cover entire dish tightly with plastic wrap.    Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.    

Preheat oven to 350.    Bake casserole, uncovered, until puffed and set in center, approximately 60 to 80 minutes.    If casserole begins to brown before puffing up, cover loosely with foil to prevent burning.     Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hyacinths For Spring!

For years and years, I've collected Hyacinth "glasses" (Victorian term) or Forcing Vases (modern term).      They're rare as hens teeth here.     If I find one every two years, I feel like I have hit a "mother lode" or a "treasure trove"!

But every once in a while, you'll find one.    Usually marked as a "vase" because the seller doesn't really know what they have!

When we lived in England that Spring, we found these:

In an antique shop.     How my mouth drooled.     But I had promised myself "nothing breakable" and so I passed all of these treasures up!     And reasonably priced as well!  


Some years, I buy more bulbs than other years.    (As I often do with the paperwhites).    With my attention span of a gnat, I forget from one year to the next how many I want or used the last year!

I usually favor one color as well.    But that's just me.    I love the purple ones and I think they are the most fragrant, but I like the white ones as well -- they are pure and stunning!     The pink is probably my least favorite, although in a couple of my "pinky" glasses, they do make for a pretty picture!

My favorite hyacinth year was this one.     When I used different colors of glasses but all purpose hyacinths!    In the kitchen window, with the sun streaming through the colored glass . . . and the fragrance of those hyacinths wafting through the house . . . 

At the time of that picture, that was ALL of my hyacinth glasses.    I've since found a couple more -- here and there!

This year, I have but a mere two . . . white ones . . .

And I chose my blue "glasses" to force them in.    One from the picture above and the other found last summer at an antique mall just outside of Wichita.     At first glance, they look alike (the hyacinth glasses) but the newest one is thicker glass and so looks like a deeper blue!

Every once in a while, I think I should have been a purist and just collected one color of glass.   Alas, if I had done that I'd only have about three by now!    Instead of the eight or so that I do have!

And I refuse to look on eBay for the glasses.    You can find them there easily!    And for not a lot of money.    But it's more fun, I think, to occasionally come across them at flea markets and antique malls!

This year, it's white flowers in blue vases.    They'll set a pretty table with my blue and white transfer ware!