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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Luncheon for Company

We love having company at Linderhof -- whether for lunch or dinner. There is nothing like a summer day in the breakfast room watching the birds feeding and feasting on foods mostly from the farmer's market.

I don't have as many dishes as some -- prefering to use those that I love over and over again -- like my blue and white Spode Blue Room. The plates I used here for the luncheon as well as a Spode Blue Italian milk jug to hold the flower arrangement.

But I do have these wonderful tomato plates -- salad plates actually although BIG salad plates that are perfect for a summer salad which includes tomatoes. A Williams Sonoma mark down, they're used often in the summer.
A white cloth over a green floor length one. Green napkins in my silver napkin rings. A simple table but one that suits luncheons at Linderhof.
But the best thing to go on the tomato plate is a green salad -- with Farmer's market or garden tomatoes.
And then each guests can see the tomatoes on the bottom of their plate when they finish. There are 4 and each plate is a different tomato. A feast of tomatoes for the mouth and when finished, a feast of tomatoes for the eyes.

Please join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to see what other tablescapes are offered up this Thursday. Everyone is so creative with their tablescapes and Tablescape Thursday makes Thursdays extra fun!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Ferns of Linderhof

Boston ferns hanging from the portico and on the porch are a long standing tradition at Linderhof. Started by then Mistress of Linderhof, Ruth, who was given a 100 year old Boston fern which graced the front porch during the summer and the dining room during the winter.

We didn't buy Linderhof from Ruth and her husband, but I did get acquainted with her through a mutual friend and she, like me, had an "Affair With A House" -- the house she called 1208 and that we call Linderhof.

Through correspondence, I found out about the ferns and since then, Boston ferns have been part of Linderhof as they were when this old house was known as 1208.

Two hang each summer from the portico. This year's specimen's are big and beautiful and will definitely be brought inside for the winter.

Boston ferns are easy to grow outside on the prairie -- it's the winter inside that's a bit trickier.

One is usually purchased for the front porch as well. A great plant stand by the front door is the perfect place for another Boston. Alas, I think of it as I do the summer annuals. It's a summer adornment only.

Please join Susan at A Southern Daydreamer to see what is up for Outdoor Wednesday.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Best Part of Summer

Are the tomatoes . . .

Tomatoes fresh from the garden . . .
We're not vegetable gardeners at Linderhof but we do have a grape tomato plant and an heirloom tomato plant. So we can harvest tomatoes straight from our garden. Alas, sometimes, they are not enough for a meal and so we fill in any holes with tomatoes from the Farmer's Market.
A favorite way to eat the little tomatoes is halved, sprinkled with salt and pepper. A pour of olive oil, a smaller pour of balsamic vinegar and a big handful of basil leaves cut into a chiffonade.

It is summer on a plate and when the tomatoes start to really come to the garden and the Farmer's market, we have tomatoes at least twice a day and sometimes three (sauteed grape tomatoes go really well with the breakfast eggs).

Of the grape tomatoes, they are a burst of sunshine in your mouth. And are so perfect paired with garden basil.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Perfect Summer Fare

Perfect Summer fare for picnics or potlucks -- summertime events -- is The Barefoot Contessa's Orzo with Roasted Vegetables. Fresh vegetables are abundant at the Farmer's Market and the eggplant, peppers and onions that this dish calls for can be found among the stalls at the market.

It's a dish with an oil dressing rather than a mayonnaise one which makes it a perfect dish for picnics or potlucks. It travels well.
I make this often in the summer -- both for us and for when I need to take a dish.
When I take it to potlucks, I always bring home an empty dish. Plus . . . it's the only one on the table. Not one of many (as potato salads or coleslaws often are)
Not only is it easy. Not only does it taste good. It's a pretty dish as well.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
(Barefoot Contessa Parties)

1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4 inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1 inch diced
1 yellow bellpepper, 1 inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1 inch diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound orzo

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemons)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper.

To Assemble:
4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 pound good feta, 1/2 inch diced (not crumbled)
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne

Preheat the oven to 425.

Toss the eggplant, peppers, onion and garlic with the olive oil, salt and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid
and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pine nuts, feta and basil. Check the seasonings and serve at room temperature.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Naked Ladies and Painted Ladies

In our little Prairie town, the Painted Ladies make an appearance all year long . . .

But in August . . . along with the Painted Ladies

are the Naked Ladies . . .

Those pink lilies that bloom without foliage and appear what seems like overnight!

Some of the Painted Ladies may have Naked Ladies . . .

But the Naked Ladies are not only around the Painted Ladies --

they are everywhere all over town!

Many reside at Linderhof --

which is not a Painted Lady but it does have more than it's fair share of

Naked Ladies!

All of the Painted Ladies are Victorians -- some have painted bricks and others do not. But all have a color palate of many colors around the trim and windows.

The Naked Ladies are not Victorian . . . although they do bloom year after year.

And their color palate is only pink!

A bright spot of color in the Dog Days of August.

This Sunday not only am I sharing a bit of Linderhof's garden but I'm sharing some of the great Victorians in our little town. Please join Artie at Color Outside the Lines and see the other gardens that are being shared this Sunday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Linderhof's Tarragon Vinegar

French tarragon grows in the garden at Linderhof -- one of our favorite herbs -- snippets are often used in chicken dishes and almost always in chicken salads.
But we have another use for tarragon as well -- in vinegar to make winter salads taste better.
We first start with a good white wine vinegar -- which we make ourselves. The vinegar crocks -- one red and one white sit on the windowsill. Into the jars go those dips and dregs of wine left in a bottle and if a guest leaves a half empty glass -- into the crock that goes as well.

The red we use as is but we like to take the white wine vinegar, add tarragon from the herb garden and steep.
Some great old French bottles make the perfect bottle for steeping. A couple of nice handfuls of tarragon into each bottle, then fill to the top with vinegar.
I put it in a sunny windowsill to steep for a few weeks before we put it into the pantry to store for winter salads.
I love the summer kitchen with herbs in a jar on the windowsill and herbs in bottles of vinegar steeping.

Sometimes we give a bottle as a gift and if we do, we take out the original herbs and put a couple of sprigs of fresh tarragon in. It makes for a nicer presentation, I think.

Lemon Blueberry Cake

For dessert, I made this lemon blueberry cake. From one of my favorite and much used cookbooks, Country Weekend Entertaining by Anna Pump. A favorite of a dear friend, Carolyn (who grows lovely blueberries on her farm) but one never made by me.
It was not hard to make and extremely good, as all Anna Pump's recipes are. A great summer dessert with the tart lemon and fresh blueberries. Anna suggested it as a breakfast cake or an afternoon tea cake served with a frosty glass of lemonade garnished with a sprig of mint.
It made a great luncheon dessert cake. Served on my bird plates -- since the centerpiece and tablecloth both boasted birds.
I didn't freeze the blueberries in advance (no room in the freezer) and they did all sink to the bottom.

But it was a still a great tasting cake . . . and all that was left was crumbs.

Please join Michael at Designs by Gollum to see what else is being served this Foodie Friday.

(From Country Weekend Entertaining by Anna Pump)

2 1/4 cups fresh blueberries
16 T. (2 sticks) softened butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 t. baking soda

2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 10 inch tube pan.

Spread the blueberries in 1 layer on a sheet pan and freeze for 1 hour. This will keep the berries from sinking to the bottom of the cake.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and lemon zest at high speed until light in color. Add the lemon juice, eggs and 1 cup of the flour. Mix at medium speed until the batter is smooth and well blended. Add the sour cream, another cup of flour and baking soda. Mix at low speed until no traces of flour remain.

Combine the frozen blueberries with the remaining cup of flour. Fold this mixture into the batter, which should feel very thick.

Spoon the dough into the prepared tube pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan.

To make the glaze, mix together the confectioners sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over the cake. Let the cake cool completely before removing it from its pan.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Summer Luncheon

It's summer on the prairie and time for the July Lunch Bunch to come for luncheon. A Summer luncheon should be a summery table filled with garden flowers. A pretty new tablecloth of birds and butterflies to reflect the flittering butterflies and feathered friends outside the windows of the breakfast room.
Not the blue Spode, but rather my Grandmother's Noritake, Marcasite -- a great cream, white and gold pattern. I've added to it and love it for the cream, gold and white is always so versatile.
As always, a menu at each place -- this one in a note card with a picture of a wren on the front -- and the real wren came to visit the feeder closest to the breakfast room while we were having lunch. We thought that a fun coincidence.

The white vase filled with white daisies and green fennel is a Wedgwood piece given to me by a dear friend. The green in the fennel pick up the birds which are part of the centerpiece.
Favorite birds that usually roost on the shelves of the baker's rack in the breakfast room. Used frequently, however, on the table as part of a centerpiece. A long ago purchase from Nell Hills and a favorite.

The menu was full of summer flavors -- mixed greens with basil leaves and garden grape tomatoes with balsamic vinaigrette; individual zucchini tarts and lemon blueberry cake for dessert. Served with pitchers of an icy lemony green tea.

Please join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to see what others are doing with their tables this week. It's always fun to see the creative tables that everyone sets.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Viruses are No Fun!

Not me, thankfully, but my computer.

An evil lethal virus attacked the computer last Friday . . . . and after spending a looong time on the phone with "techies", the computer was deemed to be terminal and in need of hospitalization.

I limped along with the sick beast all weekend and Monday bright and early to the "hospital" it went. It came back late this afternoon, hopefully cured.

Hopefully, tomorrow life at Linderhof and Lines from Linderhof returns to normal.

(I can't tell you how MUCH I got done yesterday with no computer time!)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Welcome Wreath At the Garden Gate - Reprise

I'm participating in Sunday Favorites AND in Share A Garden Sunday.

This post was first published in May 2008. There are still garden gate wreaths at Linderhof as there are wreaths on our doors -- what better way to say welcome!

I hope you enjoy the reprise of this garden post -- and do drop by and visit Artie at Color Outside The Lines to see some other great gardens and Chari at Happy To Design to see other favorite posts.

We put wreaths on our doors to say welcome and what better way to say welcome to the garden that a wreath on a gate. But not just any wreath -- a true garden wreath.

The gate to the back garden -- the herb garden -- has a living wreath of thyme plants with an artemesia as a "bow" at the top. What better way to say "spend some thyme in the garden" that with a wreath of thyme.

They're easy to make with a metal wreath form, moss and dirt. Keep moist and the thyme plants will fill out the wreath. I've used three types of thyme -- creeping, French and English so the wreath will have different texture.

Since the side garden (or my secret garden as husband Jim calls it) is my garden of flowers, an old triangle metal hanging basket was used for one single Vista bubblegum petunia plant.
The process is the same -- the basket is lined with moss, then filled with dirt and the plant put in and then hung on the garden gate.
It's a way to say welcome and to let visitors know that this is a garden -- not just a "back yard"!
The petunia should grow and spill down the front of the basket.

It's an old fashioned flower garden and what better way to say welcome that with a basket of petunias!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tarragon Chicken Casserole

The herb garden is growing with wild abandon. Herbs for the picking. To enhance dishes for every meal.

The tarragon is growing well -- to be used lavishly in cooking and some to be put into jars to make tarragon vinegar. The only flavored vinegar we make now.

But we love to use it in cooking and tarragon seems to have an affinity for chicken and so for a ladies lunch, we did a tarragon chicken casserole.
It was an easy dish and a yummy dish. Instead of one big casserole, I chose to bake it in individual gratin dishes.
With fresh tarragon as a garnish, it made for a great luncheon casserole.
It's almost shamefully easy but the flavor and presentation belie the ease of preparation.


2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cups half and half
4 T. fresh tarragon (or 4 t. dried)
1/2 t. pepper
16 ounce package linguine
5 to 6 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients (except cheese and paprika) in a big mixing bowl. Pour into casserole dish (or individual au gratin dishes). Sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Bake at 350 until heated through (about 30 to 35 minutes for a large casserole -- less for the individual dishes).