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, September 30, 2009

A Fall Dinner Party in the Garden

The best thing about fall on the prairie is that we once again can enjoy the outdoors -- summer is usually too hot but in the spring and fall . . . .

Saturday night we had 12 over for dinner before the show at the Liberty. A casual affair of brats, 3 salads, and that wonderful Oma's Apple Cake for dessert. Mostly beer but some wine was served as well.

The tablecloths were a day before garage sale find -- old Williams Sonoma ones -- and not three but six! Different sizes but it is nice to have a patio party and have ALL the tablecloths match!
If it's a party at Linderhof, it's blue and white! The plates look good on the sage green print tablecloths. White Hotel napkins (my everyday napkins actually) for each place. Outside, the silver napkin rings ARE NOT used!
Glass canning jars filled with garden basil and a yellow annual that I've forgotten the name of. And because it was fall -- pumpkins as well. Husband Jim felt the new tablecloths made the garden feel like fall -- much more so than the summer yellow and blue ones! I agree!
We're twelve at two tables for four -- but it's okay to squeeze in -- especially for a casual patio party!
The centerpieces kept small but fresh. The yellow flowers were bought three years ago and they reseed themselves -- they're a great annual but a mystery annual because I've forgotten their name!

We love to entertain both inside and outside and with the beautiful fall weather, garden parties are perfect.

Please join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to see the other Tablescapes for this Tablescape Thursday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Fall Outside, Too!

Outside fall decorations are simple at Linderhof -- mums and pumpkins. Mums bought in tight bud so that they will last longer. Pumpkins in all sizes. Each year I promise that I won't buy so many . . . there are so many pumpkins to get rid of after Thanksgiving . . . but mid September to October is a long time . . . and pumpkins one by one creep into Linderhof's garden.

I don't have set plans for outside decor -- the placement of mums and pumpkins vary from year to year.

Three yellow mums -- fairly big ones -- in pots not in the ground and a huge pumpkin around Linderhof's mailbox.
The summer geraniums are replaced by more yellow mums -- also in tight bud. They'll be prettier in a week or two. But they will last all of October and even into November. I'll take the lesser color now for longer color later.

My only permanent outdoor decoration -- two concrete pumpkins. They do turn around to Jack O Lanterns. The leaves (which we leave) are mother nature's contribution to our fall decor.
Under the pergola -- two bronzy mums replace the summer geraniums. A few pumpkins add color as well.

And the back stairs -- a couple of Cinderella pumpkins replaces a tired summer annual in the concrete pot. A pot of mums adds fall color.

In the garden itself, sedums, mums and asters add fall color. And we're waiting for the Autumn crocuses to bloom.

Please join Susan at A Southern Daydreamer to see what else is going on outside on this Outside Wednesday!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oma's Apple Cake - Mary's Apple Slice

For dessert Saturday, I tried a new recipe -- Oma's Apple Cake from The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook by Anna Pump. It was easy to put together, had great flavor with the apples in the middle and was refreshingly non-cinnamon/non-clove.

With a glaze on top and then a sprinkle of nuts (Anna's recipe called for almonds, I had walnuts in the pantry so used those) and then I added the shower of powdered sugar.

The apples are in the middle -- you put half the batter in then add the apple slices in a decorative pattern and top with the rest of the batter and bake.

Imagine my surprise when I read that friend Mary from One Perfect Bite had posted a recipe for "Apple Slice". Apple Slice was not my apple cake but it was a close cousin. Mary has great recipes and I thought it was quite a coincidence that she had a similar recipe. Which she posted on the Monday after I had made mine. Hers has a longer history than mine -- she's made it many times and this was my first. Hers is baked in a square pan -- mine in a round one. Hers is Scandinavian as is this one.

In the book, before the recipe, Anna Pump writes: "Oma was my Danish grandmother who developed this recipe and passed it down through three generations. She wouldn't have dreamed of adding Calvados, but it really does give the apples an added boost."

This cake is a keeper but it didn't last that long at Linderhof . . . . it would be as good for afternoon tea as it is for dessert.

(From The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook)

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
rind of 1 lemon, grated
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 t. baking powder
4 medium McIntosh apples
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 T. Calvados
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cream the butter and sugar together in your electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the lemon rind. Add the eggs, one at a time Add the flour and baking powder and mix well. Spread half the batter in a buttered 9 1/2 inch springform pan.

Peel, core and cut the apples into eighths. Arrange the apples over the batter in a neat circle, filling all the spaces. Pour the rest of the batter over the apples, spreading it evenly.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, then remove outer ring of the springform pan.

Place the apricot jam and the Calvados in a small saucepan and melt over low heat. Brush the warm jam glaze all over the top and sides of the apple cake. Sprinkle the cake with toasted almonds. Serve at room temperature with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tea Accoutrements

I love afternoon tea -- from a simple cup just for me to a "pull out the stops, polish the silver", formal tea for friends.

One of the things I collect are tea things. From English tea sets (cups, saucers, open sugar, creamer, cake plates and big cake plate) to all of the little English silver things that make having tea such a pleasure.

This afternoon, I packed up my things and off I went to a Victorian bed and breakfast in town to do a program on tea accoutrements for a darling family of 12 ladies -- from grownups to little girls.

My tea things:

Front row: two English pastry forks, two European 5 o'clock spoons, tea spoon (notice the difference in size), lemon fork, cake serving fork
Left hand corner: holder for sugar cubes, English blue glass and silver sugar dish, tea caddy spoon
Middle Back row: Sugar sifter spoon
Right Hand Corner (from the top): tea strainer, tea strainer that fits into a teapot spout, tea ball; 18th century mote spoon
They're all laid out on a set of tea napkins

The English pastry forks are used for tarts and such. One tine is double thick which makes cutting crust easy. I use them all the time for desserts!

Five o'clock spoons are really the spoons used for tea. They're smaller than the teaspoon which is actually too big for a teacup.

The lemon fork is used to serve lemon slices that go into the teacup. (for those that prefer lemon).

The cake serving fork is used to serve slices of cake. It's Victorian and I'd buy another if I could find one.

The sugar sifter spoon is used to sift sugar into the teacup. In Victorian days, sugar was often lumpy -- this spoon ensures that the lumps are added to your cup!

The tea strainer is one that rests on the table and you pick it up when you pour your cup of tea.

The spout tea strainer goes into the spout of the tea pot and swivels. Your tea is poured through it.

The tea ball is filled with tea leaves and after the tea is brewed, it is pulled out. It is silver, like most of them seem to be.

The mote spoon is early and is used to catch stray leaves in tea cups. The pointy end allows you to poke the leaves that clog the spout -- pushing them back into the spout.

The table at the Lyons Mansion set for tea.

It was a fun afternoon.

Reprise - The Heart and Soul of a Home

This was originally posted on September 23, 2008. I truly feel that a home has both a heart and a soul -- the kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home -- and it is!

But the dining room is the soul. It is around the table that friendships grow; it is around the table that family is fed. It is around the table that the soul is fed!

Join Chari at Happy to Design and see what other favorites are offered up this Sunday!

It has been said that the kitchen is the heart of the home and that is certainly true at Linderhof.

Although our heart is small (it's floor space is only 10 by 10) it works big. We have two nice windows -- one over the sink, the other over the stove so it is a light space. Favorite jars are on the countertops, much beloved copper pots hang from the ceiling and are at my fingertips when needed. Without much wall space, we find odd places for "kitchen art". A French poster on Chinese Tea is hung on the refrigerator cabinet. A reminder of a great day spent with friends at a home tour.

But the dining room is the soul.

It is where we share our hospitality with our friends. Great meals and great wines enjoyed with even greater company. With a dining room table that is always set for six but can expand to seat 12, the dining room is the scene of heated political conversations as well as much laughter.

In my early years, when I lived in houses that had both an eat in kitchen and dining room, I always said that if I had a choice I would choose a non-eat in kitchen and a dining room over an eat in kitchen and no dining room. For a home needs both a heart and a soul.

We enjoy having friends over for dinner and so many friends have shared our table with us, thus making sure that Linderhof's soul runs deep.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lemon Basil Poundcake

I love to use herbs in sweet dishes as well as savory ones. It is the unexpected and I love the unexpected!

Lavender and rosemary often find their way into sweet foods. I've even used thyme. But to me basil and citrus are perfection.
The lemon cake has basil in it and the lemon glaze has basil as well.
So that my guests knew it was a basil cake -- a big bunch was in the middle for decoration.
It's a perfect cake for dessert or for an afternoon tea.

In the summer, I try to use basil as much as I can. Basil is not just for tomatoes! It makes a good dessert!


10 T. butter, softened and divided
1 3/4 c. plus 2 T. sugar, divided
2 1/4 cup flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 t. grated lemon rind
1 T. chopped fresh basil
2 t. vanilla
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 T. fresh lemon juice
3 large egg whites


1/4 c. half and half
3 T. chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 T. fresh lemon juice
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 325.

Coat a tube pan with 1 T. butter and dust with 2 T. granulated sugar

Combine flour with next 3 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar and the remaining 9 T. butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in rind and extract. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine buttermilk and 2 T. juice. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form, using clean, dry beaters. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 T. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold one third of egg white mixture into batter; fold in remaining egg white mixture. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 325 for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

For the glaze, combine half and half and basil in a small saucepan. Heat almost to boiling. Let stand 5 minutes. Combine half and half, powdered sugar, 2 T. juice and dash of salt; stir with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle half of glaze over cake; let stand 5 minutes or until set. Repeat procedure with remaining glaze.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ginger Cookies -- it is Fall after all!

Organic Crystlized Ginger - $7.00
(Small jar)
With most of a big bag of ginger at my disposal, I decided to crystalize some.
A little bit of peeling . . . . cutting into chunks and then simmering in simple syrup
And then a good roll in some additional sugar.
Homemade Crystalized Ginger -- Priceless
(Big Jar)

And what to do with the crystalized ginger? Make cookies, of course!

An easy and a favorite cookie recipe. It tastes like fall! Full of ginger, candied or crystlized ginger and cinnamon. It goes well with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

The recipe makes a good 3 dozen cookies. And they're a cookie that can last although they rarely do. They are so good, that they are usually gone in a thrice!

Ginger Cookies

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 c. chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 T. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt

Heat oven to 375. Mix 1 cup sugar, butter, molasses and egg in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except sugar.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls; roll in sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet; flatten slightly.

Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until edges are set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

It's inexpensive to candy or crystalize your own ginger. My yield far outweighed the small jar I had in my pantry. The time to make it was minimal (although it took a while to cook).

Candied Ginger

1/2 pound ginger, peeled
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
Additional sugar for coating the ginger pieces

Slice or chop the ginger.

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and the water over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is mostly dissolved Add the ginger pieces.

Simmer over medium heat for 1 hour (if you've sliced your ginger very thin, and at least twice that if you've cut your ginger into larger chunks. (Check on them occasionally to make sure they aren't drying out and that the water isn't evaporating too quickly.)

Meanwhile, line a small sheet pan with wax or parchment paper. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup sugar on the lined sheet pan.

When the ginger is done (it will be soft), remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared sheet pan. Toss the pieces in the sugar and spread them out. Let dry several hours or overnight.

I'm joining Michael at Designs by Gollum for her Foodie Friday. It's always fun to share what we've been cooking at Linderhof. Stop by and visit Michael to see what everyone else has been cooking up this Friday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dinner Before the Show

Another show at the Liberty Theatre (this time a Neil Diamond tribute) . . . and so once again guests invited for dinner.

It's almost fall . . . and so the gold tablecloth and napkins (in our silver napkin rings) is the basis for the tablesetting.
Five of my antique silver julep cups hold garden flowers in shades of yellow to compliment the yellow cloth. To add a touch of fall -- five faux green pumpkins with a glittery glaze are set atop more napkin rings,
I alternated vases of flowers with napkin rings down the center of the table. Keeping the arrangement low enough to be able to see over. Although food is important when we have guests for dinner, and wine is important when we have guests for dinner . . . the MOST important thing is conversation!
The silver, gold and green make for a fall table. Elements of real, antique and faux go together nicely.

No plates on the table for we started in the garden with martinis and appetizers. It was a nice evening to be outside. And when we have company for dinner, we always like to serve appetizers and drinks in one place -- dinner in another. A movable feast!

When we were ready for dinner, our guests came inside, stopping by the table in the breakfast room to pick up a plate and help themselves to the buffet. Of course, the plates are blue and white!
A dinner of room temperature cherry and pear tomatoes, roasted with garden basil and drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar, loaded mashed potatoes (cheese, sour cream, green onion) and grilled lamb. With bowls of rhubarb mint compote on the table which went perfectly with the lamb.

Join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to see how everyone has set their table this Thursday! It's a fun way to spend Thursdays -- seeing the creative and clever tablescapes at Between Naps on the Porch.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Autumnal Equinox

Tuesday, September 22, is the first day of fall or the Autumnal Equinox. The day is as long as the night and as September progresses the days will become shorter and the nights longer until December when we have the shortest day and the longest night and the days start getting longer again.

Each year, the first of September finds me thinking about Fall Decorations but what with Labor Day and other late summer activities, the best laid plans . . . .

And then, I realize (egads) that it is truly fall and decorations must be gotten out. One cannot have summer decorations out in fall any more than one can have Christmas decorations for Valentine's!

My decorations are simple -- pumpkins, gourds, branches of bittersweet and fall colored leaves. Perhaps some pheasant feathers.

But these are only half of the fall decorations, for come early October, the plants come in -- that is the final fall (and winter) decoration.

The big blue and white vase and big blue and white ginger jar on the mantle hold leaves and bittersweet in fall. At Christmas they hold branches of greenery and in spring, pussy willow and forsythia. You can tell the season by what are in these vases.

The blackamoors on the mantle were an estate sale find. I paid more for them than I usually do for an estate sale pretty but I had just gotten a new Charles Faudree book and he had blackamoors . . . and there they were. Home to Linderhof they came and they've been on the mantle ever since.

Imagine my surprise this weekend when the newest issue of Traditional Home magazine came and in one of the featured homes were the exact same blackamoors. Found at a Paris flea market the article said. I think I found a treasure and are certainly worth the $30 I paid for them!

The bowls of summer potpourri are replaced with pumpkins. These are faux. Sparkly and green -- they add a nice shimmer. I've had them forever -- bought long long ago at Hobby Lobby and whenever I go through fall decorations, these little guys always make the cut.

At the foot of the stairs is a table and a cloisonne bowl. Filled with leaves and bittersweet and feathers, it makes a statement for fall.

The breakfast room has it's own blue and white bowl. Filled with pumpkins both stripe and orange ones.
A bouquet of garden flowers are sometimes picked and placed in a vase next to the pumpkin bowl.
Another blue and white bowl -- this one bigger and Asian rather than English. Filled with pumpkis and gourds and sprigs of bittersweet.
A gauzy tablecloth with autumn leaves add to the feeling of fall.
On the sideboard, the big blue and white vase holds more bittersweet and leaves. I've been eyeing some purply blue berries to add to this arrangement. I think it will be a great addition!

I don't add fall to the dining room mantle, but the pumpkins and gourds on the dining room table and the leaves and bittersweet on the sideboard says fall.

The front porch welcomes our guests and so it needs to feel like fall as well. Pumpkins and gourds and bittersweet in a basket as well as the hurricane that lives on the porch is just the touch of fall that the porch table needs.

And the glass topped iron table with the iron urns filled with fall leaves and the big pumpkin bought 3 years ago for a pittance because it was almost Thanksgiving.

The little gnome is always on the table -- an early marriage purchase -- it now has great patina. We both like to read and what better souvenier than a bookish gnome!

The colors of fall seem to go well at Linderhof. We enjoy decorating for the season and after Christmas, fall is probably our favorite.

I'm ready now for the Autumnal Equinox tomorrow. Linderhof is finally clad in her fall finery -- both inside and out.

Please join me at Rose Colored Glasses for a Welcome Fall Party. It's always so much fun to see what everyone else is doing to decorate for fall.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Victorian Breakfast Room

It's Monday and time for Met Monday hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. We've lived at Linderhof for a long time and so there is never many changes. However, every once in a while there is a change.

Labor Day weekend we went "junking" -- our term for visiting antique shops and flea markets. And in one of the stores, we did find a "find". . . .

Our breakfast room is a room of windows where we start out day and usually end our day. It is a recent (two year old) addition. It came together like a HGTV show -- a baker's rack and a table bought and upon completion of the room, we "loaded" them as well as accesories into the room. It took about half an hour.
The baker's rack was good for the plants that we kept in this room of windows but in summer it was rather bare -- the plants living outside.
So I moved my blue and white china out there -- with the intention of bringing back the plants come winter.

But then we found this wonderful Victorian piece. The mirrors strangely make the room seem bigger. And it makes it seem more like a Victorian breakfast room. And a place for an afternoon cup of tea (with teacups and teapots stored inside). A proper cup of tea -- with real napkins, china cups and saucers and scones and sandwiches. Plus I like the fact that the chandelier is reflected in the mirror.

The piece is painted black -- but it always has been -- which meant that even for it's Victorian style, it was probably a piece for the working family rather than living it's first life in a mansion.

It necessitated another trip (because naturally, we were in our small car) which is why we went to Branson. This winter, when the big floor plants are brought inside, I think it will have a definite feel of a Victorian conservatory.

Reprise - Sweetie Jars

This was originally posted in September 2008. These wonderful jars are such a part of Linderhof's kitchen. And this summer, I added one more -- for the mere sum of $10! It's got a bright blue lid but it seems to complete the set.

Please join Chari at Happy to Design and see what other favorites are selected for this Sunday.

For several years now I've coveted what I called English candy store jars. They are fairly large, have labels on them and are displayed in candy shops in Britain. About 20 years ago they switched from glass to plastic and the glass ones became collectible.

When we were in England, I didn't buy them -- too hard to bring them back in my luggage. I had forgotten them for a long time and then decided that they were just what my kitchen needed. I googled, I ebayed and alas, nothing . . . until one magical night, there they were listed on ebay. I watched the auctions like a hawk and was able to procure SIX of the jars!
I find that they are perfect in the kitchen to hold odd things like tea, whole wheat flour, self rising flour, sweetner and vanilla sugar. I love the labels of the English sweets. And although I didn't get them on one of my trips to England, they still remind me of those trips.

My everyday tea of choice is an English brand and I feel it is so appropriate that that tea is stored in these British jars.

In England, they call candy "sweets" and a shop that sells candy is a "sweetie shop" not a candy store. Thus, there are really "sweetie jars" not candy jars.

Whatever you call them, they are perfect for my kitchen!