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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chicken with Morels

It's time for Foodie Friday hosted by dear Michael at Designs by Gollum. It's a celebration of Cinco De Mayo but alas, our restaurant choices on the prairie are fried chicken, Chinese or Mexican. We chose, therefore, to not do too many of those dishes at Linderhof -- it makes eating out more exciting.

It is Spring and in April and early May on the prairie, one finds many mushrooms. Mushroom hunting takes place on weekends or after dinner. And the mushroom we're all hunting?

In our youth, we were part of the mushroom gatherers. Now, we're content to let the gathering be done by the next generation. We are happy, however, to be the recipient of any and all morels.

A favorite recipe is chicken with morels -- from Ina Garten. Her recipe calls for dried morels which in my opinion are pricey, have to be reconstituted and do not have the flavor of freshly gathered morels.
With a nice "mess" of morels given to us by a friend, dinner of choice is that chicken. It's good, it's easy and we wish that mushroom season lasted a bit longer for this is a spectacular dish. As Thanksgiving is turkey, so spring is chicken with morels. We relish it as many times as we can during morel season.
After one of our spring rains, morels often carpet the forest floor.

The good thing about morels is that unlike other mushrooms there is no "bad" (or poisonous) mushroom that resembles a morel. So if you think it is a morel, it is.

The recipe, from Barefoot in Paris cookbook. Given as printed. My only substitutions were fresh mushrooms which I did not soak and sour cream for cream fraiche (not often found on the prairie)

Chicken with Morels

1 oz. dried morels
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour, for dredging
1/4 cup clarified butter
1/3 cup chopped shallots (2 large)
1 T. minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 cup Madeira wine
1 cup creme fraiche
1 cup heavy cream
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375

Soak morels for 30 minutes in 3 cups very hot water. Carefully lift them from the water, leaving behind any grit. Rinse gently several times to make certain all the grit has been removed. Dry morels on towel and discard liquid.

Season the flour with salt and pepper before dredging the chicken breasts. In a large saute pan, add half the butter and cook the chicken breasts on medium low to brown. This should take 8 to 10 minutes. When browned, place chicken breasts in casserole dish and set aside.

Leaving the drippings in the saute pan, stir in the remaining butter. Add the shallots, morels and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the Madeira. Turn the heat to high and reduce volume by half. This should take anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the creme fraiche, the heavy cream, lemon juice and a tsp. of salt and 3/4 t. pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Pour the sauce on the chicken in the casserole dish and bake till heated through (15 minutes or so). Serve immediately.

Chicken With Morels

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leather, Crystal and Blue and White

That's what is in the room we call the sunroom. The little room that's separated from our bedroom by French doors. It has great windows -- almost two walls of them.

A crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling and a Waterford lamp is on the oak piece.

And for a nightcap, two Waterford snifters, a couple of crystal decanters of brandy and a bottle of fine cognac. All on a crystal tray.

That's the crystal in the room!

I love blue and white and have way too much of it -- the top of the piece is wonderful to store that blue and white collection. Some pieces are old while others are new and some are quite valuable while most are not. Julius Caesar watches over all.

That's the blue and white in the room!

It's also a book room for it has one wall of built in shelves which are stuffed with books.
Mostly my cookbooks but also garden books and some novels that I love. Which is why this comfy leather chair is in the sunroom. It's my reading chair and the lamp beside it is a 1920's Chinoserie lamp with the original shade. A lamp I drug to the Antiques Roadshow just knowing that I would be one of those $3000 finds (for I've never seen one like it) but, alas, it was a nice lamp from the 20's (which I didn't know) and worth about 3 times what Husband Jim paid for it (for it was a Christmas present one year).
Husband Jim's chair in the sunroom. He has no wonderful Christmas present lamp to read by but he does get the ottoman more often than I!

These are the leather in the room.

There is also an armoire in the room that holds a television and our computer. So besides a reading room it is a workroom and television room as well.

It's a much used small room and one of my favorite rooms in the house -- perhaps it's the windows, perhaps it's the chandelier or perhaps it is because I keep in touch with so many friends via the computer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Faeries have moved their Garden

My faerie garden from last year -- with stone paths and flowers and herbs . . . . however, I awoke one morning to find that the garden had moved . . .
to another part of the garden and the cottage had even moved in the wheelbarrow. Paths and flowers have moved as well.
There are faeries in the gardens at Linderhof . . . and if you don't believe me, you'll see one . . . occasionally.
The cottage is so much better in it's new location and I do like the paths and plantings much better than what I did.

Who would have known that the faeries would have taken control and moved not only the garden but the cottage!

And if you look closely, often you'll find a fairie in her garden. Smelling flowers and awaiting the time that we mortals are back inside for them to do those things that fairies do!

I love Outdoors Wednesdays and this is my contribution -- many thanks to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for hosting this event.

If you believe in faeries you'll understand the garden at Linderhof . . . if you don't, more's the pity for you're missing out on a magical kingdom!

Monday, April 27, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

I am truly blessed -- from the Lemonade Stand Award from Toad this weekend to the "One Lovely Blog Award" given to me by Susan from A Southern Daydreamer. Susan is a Linderhof friend -- for she shares my love of blue and white china. I love her Outdoor Wednesday, especially now that the prairie is turning green.

I would like to pass this award on to:

Kristen from Over The Backyard Fence

Cindy from My Romantic Home

Katrina from She's In the Kitchen

Nancy from Acorn Cottage

Crystal from Hummingbird Cottage

Sam from My Carolina Kitchen

Jemm from Jemm In the Flint Hills

Marty from A Stroll Through Life

Liz from Mable's House

Mary from Little Red House

Susan from The Good Life

Gina from Painter's Place

Nancy from Southern Lady

Debra K from The Bunnies Bungalow

Judy from Gracious Southern Living

The rules of the Award are as follows:

  • Accept the award
  • post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
  • Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered.
  • Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Each of these ladies have "One Lovely Blog" and each deserves the award.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Lemonade Stand Award

The Lemonade Stand Award is presented to people with a good attitude or sense of gratitude.
However, it comes with a few rules:

Receipients are asked to:

Post the award on your blog
Nominate 10 other blogs and link to them.
Send some love back to the person who bestowed the award on you by: a/telling them who you gave it to and posting a link to their site.
Let your nominees know that they've received the award.

I was so pleased to find that I have been awarded the Lemonade Stand Award -- by one of my favorite bloggers -- Toad of To the Manor Born.

I feel very honored and am humbled by what Toad wrote: The award for best food, drink and comfort blog is awarded to Martha of Lines from Linderhof. As Martha knows all too well, I'd rather eat asphalt than my veggies, and I will eat asphalt before laying a tooth into cheese, yet I am addicted to Martha's recipes especially for things I wouldn't touch with a fork. I know Martha will make lemonade, and add just a touch of something I would have never thought of, and it will be memorable. Thank you Martha.
And not to let Toad down, I do have lemonade for 10 of my favorite bloggers. But not ordinary lemonade but rather lavender lemonade -- with the recipe to follow!

I bestow the Lemonade Stand Award to:

Susan from Between Naps on the Porch for I adore her blog (and who wouldn't adore someone who has each and every decorating book that I do!), love participating in her Tablescape Thursdays and her Met Mondays (when there is a Metamorphis at Linderhof).

Susan from A Southern Daydreamer whom I knew I would adore when I first found her blog and the blue and white table appeared. I love her Outdoor Wednesdays.

Judy from Judy's Kitchen. A fellow columnist for her local paper. She was in my neck of the woods this weekend at a pie contest. How cool is that?

Elizabeth from A Home is Where the Heart Is. She and her husband Gary are a sweet couple and I enjoy reading her posts.

Carolyn from A Southerner's Notebook. A dear friend from long ago food boards. We are truly kindred spirits even though I'm a prairie girl and she's a southern girl. Although we've never met, I feel as if we've been friends forever and I treasure her friendship.

Pat from Back Porch Musings. She, too, blogs from the midwest and we have visited some of the same places although we've never met. Hers was one of the first blogs I ever stumbled on oh so many moons ago.

Cass from That Old House. I look forward to each new post and another adventure at That Old House. Cass and I share the love of Johnson Brothers Indies dishes . . . and a love of old houses.

Susan from Savoring Time in the Kitchen. I feel Susan and I are kindred spirits in the kitchen and if it wasn't for Susan I wouldn't have those great red lion's head bowls!

Becky from Random Musings of a Deco Lady. Another old food board friend. Whenever I read her posts, I feel her smile radiating from the monitor.

Mary from One Perfect Bite. Another old food board friend whom I always admired and then lost touch with. Was so happy to find her again at One Perfect Bite with her interesting stories about great recipes.

And now as promised . . . the recipe for the lavender lemonade. Made super simple by using frozen lemonade concentrate!

Lavender Lemonade

1/4 cup lavender flowers (fresh or dried)
1 cup boiling water
12 ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 quart water

Cover the lavender flowers with the boiling water and let steep 10 minutes. Strain. Combine lavender infusion with lemonade concentrate. Add 1 quart water. Chill and serve over ice. In lavender season, decorate with fresh lavender sprigs. At other times, garnish with sliced lemons.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Coconut Macaroons

I love anything called macaroon -- whether it is the cookies made from coconut that everyone on the prairie calls macaroons or the meringue type cookie that the French call macaroon.

These are an old recipe and easy to put together. I love coconut macaroons too much so I don't make them as often as I could because I could eat the whole batch!
They're great for an after dinner sweet bite, great for a nosh with the mid morning coffee, and even better with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
The recipe I've had "forever" and came from an Eagle milk can. So many manufacturers have great recipes on the backs of cans or boxes. It's their way to get you "hooked" on their product. I was "hooked" on this recipe from the first.

For alas, if I want coconut macaroons on the prairie, I have to make them myself -- for no one sells them!

The recipe as printed on the label of the Eagle milk can:

14 ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 egg white, whipped
2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 t. almond extract
14 oz. package shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325. Line baking sheets with foil (or silpat); grease and flour foil. Set aside. In large bowl, combine Eagle Brand, egg white, extracts and coconut; mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets; slightly flatten each mound with a spoon. Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until light browned around edges. Immediately remove from sheets (macaroons will stick if allowed to cool on baking sheet); cool on wire rack. Store leftovers loosely covered at room temperature.


The Faeries Moved Their Garden

Last summer the Faerie Garden was just outside the breakfast room. But we awoke one morning to find that the faeries had moved it to the shadiest corner of the back garden.
They tidied up their garden

Last year the Faerie Garden was outside the breakfast room but I awoke one morning to find it in the shadiest corner of the back garden.

Friday, April 24, 2009

An Almond Tart

I enjoy reading the blogs of those listed as Linderhof's Friends. To keep updated on their latest whether it be gardening, decorating or cooking. And from the cooking posts, I often find a recipe that I'd like to try . . . and what better recipe to try than one from a Linderhof Friend!

I visited Cathy a week ago Friday at Wives With Knives and her Foodie Friday post was for a great almond tart. My mouth watered at her picture of that tart and I knew that the first opportunity I had, I had to make that tart.
And so with company on Thursday night, the tart became dessert. It's a great tart. Love the orange zest in it -- gives a wonderful depth of flavor.

Instead of a round tart pan, I decided to bake mine in a square one. I thought it looked as good square as it did round!
Friday afternoon, after a morning spent in the garden, leftover pieces of tart and cups of espresso in my newest find, blue and white espresso cups, gave us strength to go back outside to finish our garden chores for the day.

Here is Cathy's recipe. It's easy -- the crust is great because you don't roll it out. The only change I did was to make the crust in the food processor instead of by hand.

And as I do so often with my recipes, the donor of the recipe is given credit in the title of the recipe. So, this tart shall be known forever at Linderhof as Cathy's Almond Tart!

Cathy's Almond Tart

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 large egg yolks
Blend flour, sugar and butter with a pastry blender. Stir in the egg yolks and mix till dough forms a ball. Press into the bottom and sides of a 11 - 12 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Don't try to roll out this pastry. Spread evenly and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • dash salt
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add vanilla, salt and almonds. Pour into shell and bake at 375 degrees till lightly browned, about 30 - 35 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove from pan when cool.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Spring Appetizer

It's Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollum. And today it is a "Spring Fling" -- I can't wait to see all of the Spring dishes!

This is a favorite Spring appetizer at Linderhof. Found oh so long ago in a Williamsburg cookbook, Entertaining Ideas from Williamsburg. It's arranged by season and each season is truly a delight. But from the first time I opened the book I was entranced by this cheese presentation.
It's Gelatin Glaze for Herb and Flower Decorated Cheeses and it is really simple. With the garden of Linderhof ful of pansies and tender herb shoots, it was a great appetizer for Saturday's party.

I've always done it with Brie or Camembert although the book says that L'Explorateur, Pont l'Eveque, gourmandise and goat cheese are equally as good. I've just not tried them. I prefer the rounds -- even the smaller ones but this time I had wedges in the fridge and so wedges it was!

I sliced some baguette, brushed on olive oil and salt and peppered and baked. I love the bread with the cheese rather than crackers and it gives a more "homemade" appearance to the appetizer.

A bunch of grapes for both nibbling and color finish off the plate.

It's a great appetizer for a Spring party, a bridal shower (any time of the year) or as and appetizer at a wedding. Just reminder that the flowers need to be edible.

Gelatin Glaze for Herb and Flower Decorated Cheeses

1 t. unflavored gelatin
1 cup dry white wine

Place the cheeses on a cake rack over a tray. Rinse the flowers and herbs and very gently pat them dry. Dissolve the gelatin in the wine over low heat. Remove from the heat. Place the pan in a bowl of ice and water. Stir very slowly until the mixture thickens. Spoon the glaze over the cheeses. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully arrange the plant materials on the cheese in differen designs and color combinations. Refrigerate for 15 minues. Remove and spoon more of the glaze over the plant materials. Return the cheeses to the refrigerator. Continue glazing and refrigerating the cheeses until the plant materials are well covered. Excess glaze that accumulates on the tray may be reused. When the glaze becomes too thick to use, reheat and repeat the above process.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Garden Lunch

It's Tablescape Thursday and we want to thank Susan from Between Naps on the Porch for hosting. It's always fun to see everyone's tables. Each is so unique and different and I love to see everyone's dishes.
It was a luncheon for 12. Too cold and too rainy to go out in the garden -- but one can bring the garden inside. So with a green tablecloth and green napkins as a basis, I brought in garden elements.

The centerpiece instead of flowers is my foix bois planter filled with ferns and other greenery.
At one end, a large mossy covered bird that spent the winter in the breakfast room. But he was gay and gardeny and perfect at one end of the planter.
At the other end of the planter, a cloche which covered a paper mache robin with a basket in his beak. A long ago find at Nell Hill's and a favorite of all that I have bought there.
With the centerpiece in place, glasses at each place and the menu between the cutlery, we're ready for company. The breakfast room chairs supplement the dining room ones so that we can seat 12.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Potting Shed

Thanks to Susan at Southern Day Dreamer for hosting Outdoor Wednesday. With spring leaping forward, there are some beautiful spring flowers in the Outdoors this Wednesday.

And there are flowers at Linderhof as well -- pansies, the last of the tulips, and primroses. However, instead of flowers, I want to share my fairy tale potting shed.
It's small -- six feet at it's widest points but it does have eight sides and a pointy roof also with eight sides and the sun is shining on that bright sheet metal roof causing a glare. We're hoping to take that roof and make it looked like aged copper.

It started out life as a deer blind and I got it for a bargain. But alas, it had no door (for it was to be entered from the trap door in the bottom) but one was made for me and as a bit of whimsy, I used an old watering pot rose as a door handle.
I had a shelf built across the back last week and so, organization of the potting shed took place. All of the pots were placed under the shelf.
And on top -- my jar of bone meal, my homemade flower carrier which comes in handy when you pick flowers in the garden -- fill the green cans with water and then put the flowers in them so they stay fresh, a pot of seeds waiting to be planted, my two newest forcing vases.
The other side has bird houses which will be placed in the garden soon. As well as a little pot of plant markers for the herb garden. The glass jar is a wasp catcher.

It may be small but it does hold a lot and everything has it's hook so that garden tools can be organized. A copper bucket near the door holds sand and oil and into this I stick my hand tools. I can open the door and grab what I need and it's easy to return to it's proper place when I'm ready.

Although I've not had the potting shed very long, I really can't imagine the garden without one.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Spring Soup

One of my favorite spring soups although not made with spring produce is Cream of Lettuce Soup. A find from a cookbook from The Elsah Landing Restaurant. The restaurant is across the river from St. Louis in Illinois and although I've never been to the restaurant, I am always intrigued by restaurant/tea room cookbooks because I feel that the recipes in them are doable and often easy and inexpensive.
This soup is made from a head of iceberg lettuce. It is amazing how quickly iceberg can wilt in the fridge if not treated properly. But chopped and simmered for 15 minutes, it is still crisp.
It's an easy soup to make, makes a great soup for a ladies luncheon and is one dish that guests will definitely remember. It has a subtle flavor and although Husband Jim teases me about it, lady guests really like it.

I sometimes garnish it with whipped cream but this time I chose grated carrot. I like the orange against the pale color of the soup.

Cream of Lettuce Soup
(From The Elsah Landing Restaurant Cookbook)

1 large head iceberg lettuce
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup butter
1 cup Carnation evaporated milk or 1 cup light cream
Dash nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped (optional)

Wash and chop lettuce. Combine lettuce with the chicken stock in large pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Pour in small quantities into blender jar and blend just until grainy but NOT pureed. It shoould have a sauce texture. Return ot pot.

Add butter and milk or cream. Bring to a simmer. Add nutmeg. Add additional cream if desired.

Garnish each serving with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired. Or you can use grated carrot.