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, November 30, 2009

The Ferns of Linderhof, Part Deux

A long standing tradition at Linderhof are the ferns. Started by "Big Fern" which is nearly 100 years old and for many summers when Ruth was mistress of Linderhof, lived on the front porch and in the winter in the south window of the dining room.

She, too, hung ferns from the portico and when I found out about that tradition, I, too, started hanging ferns each summer.

I've not had much luck with ferns inside. I don't seem to have Ruth's magic touch and for the last several years I treated the portico ferns as annuals. Buying two new ones each summer.

But this year, the ferns were exceptional. They were big and grew well (but this was an exceptional summer) and so, I decided that once more I would try to bring them inside.

Alas, there is no room in front of the south dining room window so new homes had to made for the ferns.
One's on a pedastal in the living room. It is a south window and I hope that there will be enough light that the fern will thrive at Ruth's fern thrived.
The other we put in the west window of the guest room window on a plant stand. It too, seems happy.

They've been inside for almost a month now and things are going well. And although in winter plants never thrive, at least hopefully, they will survive until spring when once again they can hang from the portico.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lemon and Basil/Sweet and Savory

Sweet Lemon and Savory Basil Slice and Bakes are often in the freezer for those unexpected noshes. They're easy to make and a roll in the freezer is like money in the bank.

They're what my mother called "Icebox cookies" -- which would date back to the time that you cooled foods by big chunks of ice rather than electricity. We always called our big cooling box an "ice box" rather than a refrigerator or fridge.

The basil ones start with pesto and with the addition of Parmesan cheese and pine nuts, they are a great savory cookie. Better with an appertif than a cup of afternoon tea. But a nice nosh to take the edge off of hunger before dinner.

And although there are a long list of ingredients, they do go together easily and you can easily make a double batch, bake one now and have two rolls for the freezer.

Wrapped in parchment, tied with string, they're ready for the freezer. A quick "lemon" or "basil" written on the parchment is foolproof in insuring that you will not accidentally pull the wrong log from the freezer.

The lemon ones are a great tea cookie. And it is nice to be able to cut off a few slices for when you want a bit of a nosh with afternoon tea or a few more if company is coming. They're lemony and crisp and perfect for tea!

These great cookies were found in the latest issue of Relish (the free cooking magazine that we get a couple of times a month in our Saturday newspaper).

Savory Basil Slice-and-Bakes

2 cups flour
1/2 t. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 t. cayenne
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 c. prepared pesto
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 cup pinea nuts
Kosher salt

Sift together flour, peppers and salt. Stir in cheese.

Combine butter and cream cheese, using a mixer, beat until well combined. Add pesto and mix well.

Add flour mixture, basil leaves and nuts. Mix well.

Divide dough in half and roll into logs 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll each log in kosher salt. Wrap in parchment paper and chill until firm. If baking later, freeze shaped dough and defrost slightly before baking.

Preheat oven to 350.

Slice dough 1/4 inch thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until edges are golden. Transfer to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a week or freeze up to a month. Makes 6 dozen.

Lemon Slice-And-Bakes

1 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
finely grated rind of 3 lemons
powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat butter well. Add sugar gradually and beat well.

Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add rind; mix well.

Divide dough in half and roll into logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll each log in powdered sugar. Wrap in waxed paper and chill until firm. If baking later, freeze shaped dough and defrost slightly before baking.

Preheat oven to 300.

Slice dough 1/4 inch thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 30 minutes or until edges are golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Stor in an airtight container i the refrigerator up to a week or freeze up to a month. Makes 3 dozen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Special Day

This Thanksgiving Day marks Husband Jim and my 40th wedding anniversary.

Little did I realize all those years ago that when I was married on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (so I would only have to use 1 day of vacation for five days off) that every five years or so, we would be celebrating our wedding anniversary not with wine and candles but with turkey and family.

A Very Happy Anniversary to my love --

And to the rest . . .

Monday, November 23, 2009

A New Seat

My dressing table -- which is really an alcove in the master bedroom. The alcove is really a closet -- but a closet with a window!

The seat for in front of the table -- an iron bench covered with a pink rose fabric (which doesn't match anything in the master bedroom except most of the fabrics are pink roses).

And then . . . . I was at a favorite shop on the prairie and found the perfect chair.

It's small, has an open back and it's seat is pink flowers. Not all are roses but that's okay because it's pink. And I think it looks SMASHING sitting in front of the dressing table!
The seat is needlepoint with some age but still in good condition.

I think it is the perfect place to sit and perform miracles with my lotions and potions.

Of course, I do have a chair fetish and am always looking at chairs although there is really no need for another chair at Linderhof.

This time, however, my chair fetish paid off. I have the best seat in the house every morning and every evening!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tennessee Tipsy Cake

Actually Tennessee Whisky Cake and if you're in Tennessee, the whisky is Jack Daniels! On a trip to Lynchburg, Tennessee ages ago, we stopped by the cake store and brought home several Lynchburg Whisky Cakes made, of course, with Jack Daniels.
We loved it and I searched for a recipe. Of course, the Lynchburg Cake Company would not part with theirs and I could find nothing that I felt came close to those wonderful boozy cakes.
And then, in Relish magazine, there was a recipe for Tennessee Whisky Cake. The recipe landed right in my lap! And so, since we were having company, what better time to try this recipe.
The Relish recipe called for a 9 inch springform but I love to serve individual desserts and so I made it in my individual bundt pans.
The Relish recipe did not call for frosting but I felt that the baby bundts looked a little naked without something and so I made a drizzle with butter, powdered sugar and whisky! Perfect! And for a topping, a shower of chopped nuts.

My guests pronounced dessert fantastic. I thought it tasted like the Lynchburg cake and I was happy.

It will be a nice dessert for Christmas for in the baby bundt pans it almost looks like miniature plum puddings.


1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour, sifted
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup sorghum or molasses
1/4 cup Jack Daniel's

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat butter using a mixer at medium speed; gradually add sugars and beat until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Add to egg mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stop mixer and add sorghum. Restart mixer and slowly add whisky. Mix until smooth, about 30 seconds. (Batter will be thin).

Pour into a greased 9 inch springform pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

NOTE: I used baby bundts and just watched them -- they didn't take 35 minutes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Time for Tea

A friend said that they were going to stop by yesterday. Hospitality abounds at Linderhof and no one can stop by, even for just a bit, without an offer of drink and food. An afternoon visit calls for a cup of tea and a tea cookie.
A small tablecloth -- just enough to cover part of the table. Spode cups, saucers, tea plates and of course, teapot. A small dish for lemon halves. Neither of us take sugar or cream so it's silly to put them on the table.
Cookies -- lemon slice and bakes. Always in the fridge or refrigerator. Easily sliced and baked in a hurry.
A real tea napkin, one of my silver spoons for stirring the tea and a lemon fork to transfer lemon slices from dish to cup.
There is something soothing about a visit with a friend over a cup of tea and a nosh. With classical music playing softly in the background, conversation flows, as we empty cups of tea and make a good dent in the cookies.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Of Unknown Pedigree

The sideboard in our living room. Of unknown pedigree. It definitely is European but whether German (which we thought of at first) or French (which is the heritage the seller said it was) or Belgian or Dutch, we're not sure.

Many of these were made in the 1870's, 1880's and 1890's in Europe for even here -- on the prairie -- you see them a lot. I've never seen two alike, however, for the carving always seems to be different.

Some have three carved doors on the top but ours has one big carved door and two smaller glass ones, some are flat but ours has three separate sections, some have wood tops while ours has a marble one.

We feel that it fits perfectly against the wall and although a big piece seems to go well in the room. We actually bought it for the brick wall in the breakfast room back when we were going to make a HUGE room off the dining room and this piece would be a focal point.

The piece was a steal. We had seen them around, knew what the prices were and felt that we could never afford one. At a shop in the city that featured really old antiques was this piece -- at a really affordable price. It came home with us!

We ended up deciding not to add a room on (and that time) and so this piece became a focal point of the living room -- balancing the fireplace on the opposite wall.

On top, a collection of small antique decanters. Including one from the early 1800's. The mirror propped up behind not only reflects the decanters but when you stand in the middle of the living room it reflects the chandelier as well.

Whatever the pedigree, the sideboard is part of Linderhof's living room. And we couldn't imagine that wall without the sideboard!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coq Au Vin

A simple dish yet one good enough for company. I use a Barefoot Contessa recipe although for many years my Coq au Vin came from James Beard. I like the ease of her preparation.
It was originally a way to use that tough old rooster -- (which is why it is coq rather than poulet) -- with a long simmer in wine. Today, our dish is not made from old roosters but the long simmer in wine does flavor the chicken well.
It was for company and so I used chicken breasts -- and served it over garlic mashed potatoes to soak up all those delicious juices.

Coq au Vin

4 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4 pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1 inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 t. chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
1/2 bottle good dry red wine, such as Burgundy
1 cup good chicken stock
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 T. butter, at room temp, divided
1 1/2 T. flour
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thicky sliced

Preheat the oven to 250

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 2 t. salt and 1 t. pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken, stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 T of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 T of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Comfort Food

Comfort food for us for a fall night is Parmesan chicken topped with mixed baby greens with an oil and vinegar dressing.

As we ate this meal last night with candlelight and wine, we both agreed that sometimes the simpliest dinners are the best.
It's also easy to put together which is another bonus after a particular busy day. This version is another Barefoot Contessa recipe. I've tried others but hers seem to go together a lot easier. This is definitely a favorite of Husband Jim's and I think he would be most happy if I served this once a week.

Barefoot Contessa's Parmesan Chicken

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 extra large eggs
1 T. water
1 1/4 c. seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry
Lemon Vinaigrette

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 T. of water. On the third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 T of butter and 1 T olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Lemon Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Coconut Snowballs

A delightful cookie whether for afternoon tea or for a Christmas cookie plate. From a beloved but not used as much cookbook, Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase -- she of Nantucket's Que Sera Sarah food shop fame.
As described by her "Three favorite flavors of Christmas abound in these buttery morsels -- lemon, orange and coconut. The glistening sugar coating recalls one of the most poetic lines from 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" 'the moon on the breas of the new fallen snow gave the luster of midday to objects below.'"
I think they are a close kin to what is known as Mexican Wedding Cakes, Swedish Tea Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes but substituting coconut for the nuts, adding citrus zest and then instead of a roll in powdered sugar, you use granulated which gives them that glistening snowy quality.
They're tasty little cookies and go so well with afternoon tea. Like their "cousins" (the Mexican, Swedish, Russian cakes), they would look good on a Christmas cookie plate.

Join Michael at Designs by Gollum for this is Foodie Friday!

Coconut Snowballs
(from Cold Weather Cooking)

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 c. sugar (plus additional for coating)
1 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut, lightly toasted
1 T. grated lemon zest
1 T. grated orange zest

Preheat the oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and 1/2 cup sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Gradually stir in the flour to make a fairly stiff dough. Work in the coconut and citrus zests until evenly distributed.

Shape the dough into small balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place in rows about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until bottoms of the cookies just begin to take on a hint of color, about 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool a minute or two, then roll in a shallow dish of sugar to coat. Cool completely and store in an airtight container up to one week.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Fall Dinner Party

Another evening before the theatre . . . and I so enjoy having friends for dinner. It's November and the big blue bowl of pumpkin and gourds is still the centerpiece. The candlesticks are a favorite -- they're by Frederick Cooper and have a wonderful hefty feel to them and have enough age on them that they fit in at Linderhof.
The wine coasters ready for the bottles of wine. The German silver positioned correctly for European cutlery with the fork tines down. Instead of a tablecloth, the rattan charges and since it is November, the plates are the blue and white turkey ones.

A menu for each place and gold napkins (for they go so well with the pumpkins and gourds) in my Victorian silver napkin rings.

I love the look of the dining room just before the company comes. Everything is done and everything is in place. It's the time of anticipation and I so enjoy awaiting the arrival of our guests.

It was a fall night although not a cold one but our menu reflected the heavier foods of autumn. Appetizers were wonderful egg rolls which friend Mo brought. We started dinner with not a salad of lettuces but rather a plate of asparagus vinaigrette followed by Coq au vin served over garlic mashed potatoes with plenty of crusty bread to sop up the juices. Dessert was Tenneessee whisky cake.

Please join friend Susan At Between Naps on the Porch to see what other tablescapes there are this Thursday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

National Cemetery Number One

There were so many casualties during the Civil War, that on July 17, 1862, Congress directed President Lincoln to purchase cemetery grounds "to be used as a national cemetery for soldiers who shall die in the service of their country."

Not only was Fort Scott chosen as one of the original 14, but it's one of only 3 west of the Mississippi -- the others being Fort Leavenworth and Keokuk, Iowa.

We're proud to have, what used to be the Presbyterian Graveyard, Fort Scott National Cemetery (No. 1)
These gates are never closed . . . . except during a burial.

Blades of grass and pure white stones

Shelter those who've come and gone

Just below the emerald sod

Are the boy's who've reached the arms of god.

Buried here in dignity

Endless rows for all to see

Freedom's seeds in sorrow sown

These blades of grass and pure white stones.

Blades of grass and pure white stones

cover those who left their homes

to rest in fields here side by side

lest we forget their sacrifice.

Buried here in dignity

Endless rows for all to see

Freedoms seeds in sorrow sown

These blades of grass and pure white stones

Just below the emerald sod

Are boys who've reached the arms of God

Buried here in dignity

Endless rows for all to see

Freedom's seeds in sorrow sown

These blades of grass and pure white stones.

Blades of grass and pure white stones

cover those who've left their homes

to rest in fields here side by side

lest we forget their sacrifice.

Buried here in dignity

Endless rows for all to see.

Freedom's seeds in sorrow sown

These blades of grass and pure white stones.

Just below the emerald sod

Are the boys who've reached the arms of God.

Buried here in diginity

Endless rows for all to see.

Freedom's seeds in sorrow sown.

These blades of grass and pure white stones.

Today is Veteran's Day -- which was originally created to celebrate the end of the Great War -- on the 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month . . .it now honors Veteran's of all wars. Living or Dead.

The above are lyrics to a song "Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones" -- one of the writers of the song was Senator Orin Hatch and although it was written for Arlington National Cemetery (Cemetery No. 3), it really applies to any and all of the National Cemeteries.

It is Outdoor Wednesday and I can think of no greater place to be on this Wednesday, Veteran's Day, than in a National Cemetery at a program honoring our Veterans. That's where you'll find us. On this Hallowed Ground. At the 11th hour, of this 11th day of the 11th month.

I'm proud to be a great granddaughter of a Civil War veteran, the daughter of a WW I veteran and the wife of a 3 tour Viet Nam veteran.

Join Susan at A Southern Daydreamer and see what everyone else is doing Outside on this Wednesday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mustard Pots

What is there three of at Linderhof -- far too many things I'm afraid! This is a collection of patience -- please join Tam at The Gypsy's Corner for it's Three or More Tuesday. Visit Tam and see what collection everyone is sharing this Tuesday!

Three or more is supposed to be a collection and several years ago after reading a book either by or about James Beard, I decided that I should follow in his footsteps and collect mustard pots.
But not just any mustard pot -- French ones only please. Dijon mustard only please!
And so they reside on my kitchen window sill. Bought one at a time for mere pennies (or perhaps should I say a dollar or two) at flea markets and estate sales.

I hit the mother load of estate sales this weekend when I found THREE!
This is the guy that started it all -- real mustard inside from Dean and Deluca's. He's my most treasured pot since it's the first!

And it's one of the few things I've never ebayed. I have my standards -- I have to find it in person and it has to cost no more than a couple of dollars!

Here they are -- all lined up like soldiers on my kitchen window sill. A small collection amassed slowly but a favorite collection.