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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cinnamon Toast and Tea

It was a snowy day. A good day to stay inside (which we did) and every afternoon at 3, we stop and have a cup of tea. And often a nosh. However, the larder was bare of any cookie and lacking a sufficient amount of butter to make some more, I chose to make an old childhood favorite -- cinnamon toast.
It's an easy treat and goes so well with tea -- a brush of butter, a sprinkle of sugar and a shower of cinnamon and then under the broiler while the sugar melts and caramelizes.

It's perfect with a cup of tea on a day when the weather outside . . .
looks like this.

It's Monday and time to visit Sally at Smiling Sally for her Blue Monday. I enjoyed my teatime in the breakfast room while watching the snow fall and the antics of the birds that visit the feeders -- and the statue that resides in the garden.

Reprise -- An Old German

This was a post from October 27, 2009. The "old German" is still our everyday silver. I especially love the big soup spoons and in winter, we eat a lot of soups -- mostly every day for lunch and sometimes for dinner as well. For us, I don't mind handwashing a few pieces of silver.

An old German which was found at an estate sale last week in Kansas City. A set (for 12 in the original box!) of German silver -- a tablespoon, fork and knife.
It's made by A. Krupp Berndorf -- it says so on the back although when I bought it I couldn't read it (I was so anxious to purchase it because I knew -- just knew-- that it was special that I didn't take time to examine it with my reading glasses on!) But I thought they were European rather than American -- because of the size of the forks, knives and especially the spoons!
Each of the 36 pieces are engraved with flowery initials -- L and M. The forks on the back (for European custom sets the table with the tines down).

I knew there were great initials engraved on them . . . but in my hurry . . . . and so when I got to the car and found out that

a -- they were German (well, actually Austrian)

b -- they were engraved with my German grandmother's initials

I knew I had a true treasure.
They did polish up nicely and I spent the evening after we got back home on the internet and found the company but I could not figure out exactly WHEN this set was made. I'm thinking 1880's to turn of the century but perhaps I'm optimistic and they are not that old. The case, however, has seen better days . . . and since so many Germans immigrated to America in the 1880's and 1890's (as my grandfather did) it would seem logical that the set, perhaps, was a treasure that someone brought over from the old country.

It's truly a treasure here at Linderhof. I shall treasure it as much as the original owners did!
I think they set a handsome table. The tablespoon is large and so perfect for soup. It is a real soup spoon.

These are now our everyday cutlery. Who cares if I have to wash six pieces of silver after every meal -- feeling these wonderful pieces in my hand as I partake of a meal gives me a glow all over.

An unexpected treasure and a truly unexpected place and I might add for a really great price!

It's Sunday and I'm joining Chari at Happy to Design for Sunday Favorites and Beth at The Gypsy Fish for Silver Sunday.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Danish Breakfast

A great breakfast (especially on these cold snowy winter mornings) is the Danish treat -- ebelskivers. A pancake of sorts made in a special pan and sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar.
With a cup of coffee and some jam (purists say raspberry -- but ours was blueberry which was good -- but perhaps not as good as the raspberry.)
The jam is spooned over the top and you must eat them while they are hot -- fresh out of the little ebelskiver pan that produces the round pancakes.
Two are definitely not enough. I must say that husband Jim and I ate almost all of the plate of ebelskivers as we chatted and watched the birds as they ate their breakfast and sipped cup after cup of coffee.
I'm not a proficient ebelskiver maker (for I'm German and not Danish) but I did enjoy giving a class in fixing ebelskivers last Saturday at the newest store in our town on the prairie -- Life + Style.

Turnout was so good that I'm giving a second class in March for there were more that wanted to attend than the seating allowed.

If you've not made ebelskivers, they are a fun breakfast treat. And if you get a pan, I would suggest getting the one that is cast iron -- for it produces beautiful ebelskivers. And don't think making them in that funny pan with the round indentions is daunting, for it isn't -- they truly are a snap to make!

I used a recipe from Williams-Sonoma. It turns out great ebelskivers.


2 cups flour
1 t. baking powder
1/3 t. salt
1 T. sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
4 T. unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature
Unsalted butter for buttering the pan

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk and 4 T. of melted butter (cooled to room temperature.) Whisk the yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the whites into the batter in two additions.

Put 1/4 t. butter in each well of the ebelskiver pan. Set over medium heat and heat until the butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 T. of batter into each well.

Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy; 3 to 5 minutes. Using 2 wooden skewers, flip the pancakes over and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more.

Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately with jam.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Curried Chicken Salad

We love chicken salad and it makes a great lunch especially when we have company. We have our standard chicken salad which has it's roots in my mother's chicken salad. That is often served for a ladies lunch at Linderhof.

But sometimes I like to "shake" things up and do a "twist" on the old classic. The easiest "twist" is to make it into a curried chicken salad.

This recipe is from my favorite, Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa and I've made it more than just this once. It does have a nice "punch" of curry and being a fan of curry, I like the flavor. If you're a bit more timid, start with less curry powder for you can always add until it's the way you like it. My curry comes form Penzeys -- it has the best curry powder that I've ever tasted.

It's a pretty salad, with celery, green onion, raisins (I used golden this time and I forgot that they get lost in the curry), and, just before serving, cashews.

There is nothing better for a ladies luncheon than chicken salad and my guests this week agreed -- this version was rated an "A"!

Curried Chicken Salad
(From The Barefoot Contessa)

3 split (1 1/2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup Major Gray's chutney
3 T. curry powder
1 cup medium diced celery(2 large stalks)
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green part (2 scallions)
1/4 cup grapes (sliced in half)
1 cup whole roasted salted cashews, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. If you are using boneless breasts, salt and pepper them, and put them on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until they are cooked through.

Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin and shred the chicken in pieces. For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder and 3/4 t. salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth. Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions and grapes and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Add the cashews to the chicken just before serving.

It's Friday which means that it's time for Foodie Friday so join Michael at Designs by Gollum to see what everyone has fixed for this Friday.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chicken Salad for Lunch

The Lunch Bunch minus one came for lunch this week. It isn't Spring but the tulips gave a springtime atmosphere to the table. And the gold napkins picked up the yellow in the tulips.
The blue and white Spode plates and a clear glass chicken candy dish for I was going to serve chicken salad!
A new vase is perfect for the yellow tulips that make a wonderful centerpiece for the luncheon table, reminding us that Spring is not that far in the future. And soon the garden will be abloom with daffodils and tulips.
And the candy dishes are put to use -- a bed of lettuce spilling out under the chicken and the chicken salad piled on top.
This luncheon it was a curried chicken salad which gave the salad a beautiful yellow color.

The rest of the menu was lemon poppyseed madelines and a great fresh apple cake over which we poured (or rather spooned) thick Jersey cream. Cups of coffee went well with the cake.

It's Thursday and time for Tablescape Thursday. Join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to see what other tables look like this Thursday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lemon Cake with Candied Violets

We love cakes for tea. Any kinds of cake. This is a wonderful lemon cake with lemon frosting. But what makes it special are the candied violets that top each piece.
Not our candied violets, however, for they were purchased, although we do candy our own pansies which decorate cakes and cupcakes in winter as long as they last.

There is something about violets on a cake in winter -- especially the cold and snowy winter that we've had this year. It definitely brings spring! And our larder is never without it's supply of candied violets (and pansies) for they do make an ordinary cake special.

The cake is not outdoors but the violets were and so this is my Outdoor Wednesday post. Please visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer to see what everyone else is doing outside this Wednesday!

Lemon Cake with Candied Violets

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 and place rack in center of the oven. Butter a 9 inch spring form pan and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and pale in color. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking bowder and salt and then add to the batter along with the lemon juice. Mix only until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Bake about 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool, then gently remove the sides of the pan.

The recipe calls for a frosting of 1 cup of powdered sugar and 2 T. lemon juice mixed together and poured over the top of the cake (so that it can drip down the sides). However, I chose a lemon flavored buttercream and then decorated the top with candied violets.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Warm Lentil Soup for a Cold January Day

Today turned out to be a bit colder than the previous week. Temperature wise not so much but there was a strong wind blowing and so it definitely felt colder. We tend to stay indoors when it is really cold out. I'm still working on cabinets, closets and drawers and although I enjoy the order that is the result, I miss a good sit by the fire which we keep going during these cold days.

But there is nothing so warming as a good bowl of a hearty soup and lentil is a favorite of ours. I have my favorite lentil soup recipe but I did come across one last week that included a bit of sherry. It came from a Linderhof friend, Lindaraxa's Garden. The soup looked so good in Lindaxra's post that I had to try it at the first opportunity!

It was every bit as good as Julieta said. And I loved the sherry -- it gave it great flavor. This may be my new "go to" lentil soup. It was that good!

Julieta recommended serving it with red wine and a crusty baguette and finish with a salad and cheese and something light for dessert. We have the wine and the baguette but we're going to skip the salad and have a slice of fresh apple cake for dessert.

The recipe as posted at Lindaraxa's Garden:

Lentil Soup with Chorizo and Sherry

2 carrots, sliced and chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ham or smoked pork bone (I didn't have so just used some diced ham that I did have)
2 T. olive oil
2 cups dried lentils
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 chorizo
1/2 cup dry sherry
olive oil

Saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic in hot olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add the ham or smoked pork bone and brown on both sides. Sort and remove any debris from lentils; rinse under cold running water. Add lentils and broth to vegetable mixture; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Slice the chorizo in 1/2 inch rounds, add some olive oil to a small skillet, brown the chorizo. Add the sherry and reduce to half the amount. Add the chorizo and sherry reduction to the lentils. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve. After you serve in the bowls, add a little olive oil on top.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A New Table!

My changes at Linderhof are small -- we've done the painting and floor refinishing, retiled the bath and painted the kitchen cabinets and put in a new countertop . . . . all many years ago. So our changes are minor -- new drapes, perhaps, in the bedroom, a new chair for the living room (and soon, I hope, new chair seats for the dining room).

Our latest change involves the living room and a fantastic new table that I bought . . . .

As you enter Linderhof, you see our bookshelves . . . .

I periodically change the books and bibelots around -- it's a way to change without changing!
But now I have a new addition. A wonderful mahogany tilt top table complete with birdcage. It's a 1940's Williamsburg reproduction and I got it for a "steal" considering what a new Williamsburg reproduction of the same table would cost today.

And I figured that the best place in the living room would be in front of the bookshelves.

Because. . . .
After we had our cozy dinner by the fire, we liked eating in the living room -- at least in winter -- with the fire burning -- and, perhaps, a good game on the television.

The last time we dined by the fire, we used our old tilt top table -- which is usually placed to the left of the wing chair on the right. And that table did work. It was a good size, was close to the wing chairs and could be moved quickly, except . . .
I had to move whatever "things" happened to live on that table at the moment. And where to put them -- the dining room table, of course!

That, to me, was too bothersome -- to move those things to the dining room table, move the tilt top between the wing chairs and after dinner do the whole process in reverse.

However, now I have this marvelous table. It's just sitting there waiting to be moved and all I have to move is the table.
So that we can enjoy this . . .

On cold and snowy nights!

A tilt top table was the only option. For I knew me and knew that had I gotten one of those marvelous game tables -- which would have fit well in that space, too -- with a nice (but narrow) flat top, I would have found great tablescapes to put on top. It's impossible to put anything on a vertical surface!

I'm in love with my new table -- it's a great piece and far prettier than my old tilt top. It makes an awesome statement as you enter Linderhof -- it's the first thing you see!

It's Monday and time for Met Monday at Susan's Between Naps on the Porch. Join everyone this Monday to see the transformations.

Mrs. Boland's Forks

Mrs. Boland was our "landlady" for five years and our friend for the rest of her life. An English lady, she taught us how to brew the proper pot of tea, the pleasure of a pot of tea in the afternoon,and how to baste an egg for breakfast.

When my parents married, they moved into an apartment. The building owned by Mrs. Boland and her husband "Charlie". Their apartment was across the hall from ours and she and my mother would visit daily. Often over a cup of tea. While we children would quietly play -- often under the watchful eye of "Charlie". (One of my playtime activities would be to braid the bullion fringe of the ottoman!)

Sometimes, for tea, we would have cake. Always served on a china plate, with a wee linen tea napkin. The cake would be eaten with a silver fork.

These forks, small forks. In a set of six that the English so prefer. Perfect for tea cake.
Fancy but not too fancy. With a good weight in the hand which is important in silver cutlery.

When Mrs. Boland passed away, "Charlie" gave my mother these forks as a memory of his wife and mother's dear friend. She never used them, but wrapped them in tissue and stuck them in a drawer.

When mother passed away, I found the package of forks and found this remembrance of my childhood. I remembered all the cups of cambric tea that I shared with mother and Mrs. Boland. I remember the cakes that we ate with these very forks.
Engraved with a "B" for Boland.

It's Sunday which means that it's time for Silver Sunday with Beth at The Gypsy Fish. Please join Beth to see what everyone's silver treasures will be this week.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Pink Birthday

Last weekend we celebrated my mother-in-law's 80th birthday -- with a BIG party! Even at 80 she's a "girly girl" as her granddaughter likes to call her and for a "girly girl" what is better than a very pink girly girl cake!
And to go along with the very pink girly girl cake, you need some very pink girly girl punch!

But, alas, the party wasn't just about cake and punch -- but about a light luncheon for the guests. Many of whom traveled from afar to help our "girl" celebrate this very special birthday.
Slices of ham and cranberry mustard. Slices of turkey breast with pesto mayonnaise. To be put between the little rolls for mini sandwiches.
And salads. A corn salad with red and green peppers and red onion and a vinaigrette and an old favorite pasta salad with cucumber, green pepper, green onion and pimiento and a sweet dressing. For the granddaughter, pickles!

We were pleased that over 40 friends and relatives came by to drop off a card (and some even a present) and visit with our birthday girl. It was a grand afternoon -- especially for the honoree!
It's Pink Saturday. So please join Beverly at How Sweet The Sound to see the other pinks for this Saturday. It's my first time and I'm excited to participate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Almond Tea Cake

A garden club meeting at Linderhof -- the first of the year planning session -- necessitated a cake. Or so I felt. To have along with a cup of tea.

I love almond and I love tea cakes. Simple cakes that are not quite as dense as a poundcake but made with very basic ingredients -- flour, sugar, oil, levenings and flavorings.

And I always like to try new recipes! And so off to a favorite place I went -- the internet! Which for someone as old fashioned as I, is a strange place to be looking for new recipes.

A favorite blog is Chocolate and Zucchini written by Clotilde Dusoulier. She has great recipes and this one -- her Gateau au Yaourt is the kind of cake I was looking for.

But I also wanted an almond cake so I added some almond extract and substituted sherry for the rum.

And to gild the lily, I topped it with a glaze that I found on a recipe for Almond Scented Tea Cake that friend Mile High Baker had posted on the Contessa's Kitchen Food Board.

It is a good cake. And moist. So moist, in fact, that one guest thought, because of the almond flavor, that the cake was made with almond paste!
There was just enough left over for breakfast the next morning. It was as good with morning coffee as it was with evening tea.

Almond Tea Cake
(or Gateau au Yaourt from Chocolate and Zucchini)
(with modifications)

2 eggs
1 cup whole milk, plain unsweetened yogurt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. pure vanilla
1 t. almond extract (my modification)
1 T. sherry (my modification -- original recipe says rum)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom of a round (10 inch) cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, oil and sherry. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture and blend together (don't overwork the dough) Pour the batter into a prepared cake pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes, and transfer onto a rack to cool.


1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 t. almond extract

Combine the ingredients and mix well. Drizzle over the warm cake.

It's Friday -- which means that it's Foodie Friday. We all like to eat and it's always fun to see what everyone fixes this Friday. Please join Michael at Designs by Gollum to see what has been cooking this week.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Three Parties

I love fresh flowers and they are usually on my tables all during the summer. In the winter, bowls of fruit make for a great centerpiece and when I can afford it, fresh flowers brighten dreary days.

But if I am having a party, fresh flowers are a must for the dining room table.

Two matching glass vases and a $1.99 bouquet of market flowers from the mark down bin and two ceramic birds that usually live in the breakfast room, fashioned a January bouquet.

For I had company coming and I wanted the dining room table to look special.

Party Number One on Thursday
A ladies luncheon

A dark green cloth, the blue and white Spode plates, and white napkins. An elegant table for the luncheon ladies.

Party Number Two on Saturday
An 80th birthday party for my mother-in-law
The dark green cloth again, but the candles are gone and food rather than place settings fill the table.

Party Number Three on Sunday
A Dinner for Seven

To lighten the mood, I chose a gold tablecloth and matching gold napkins. The Spode blue and white plates again for they set such a pretty table. The candles are back for they will be lit just before we sit down at the table.

For $1.99, we certainly have gotten a lot of parties out of this bouquet.

Please join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to see everyone's tables this Thursday. It's one of my favorite days of the week!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Potpourri

After Christmas, we fill the big blue and white bowl on the coffee table with homemade potpourri. It's winter potpourri for it smells of apples and oranges and cloves and cinnamon. It's full of dried apple and orange slices, strips of peel (both lemon and orange), bay leaves and spices.

It's a project that continues for most of the year. If we're going to use an orange or lemon for juice only, we peel and leave the peel to dry to add to the potpourri. If we use an orange for zest only, we carefully slice the orange thinly after zesting and let it dry in the oven. When the apples come to the farmer's market, we pick a couple of small ones, slice them thinly and dry those in the oven as well.

The dried zest, the dried slice oranges and apples go into a big jar in the basement. Come the cool weather, I add the spices (whole cinnamon sticks, star anise, allspice and cloves) and the bay leaves and the oils and fixative and let it sit and blend.

When Christmas is put up, the potpourri goes into bowls around the house. I love the wintry fragrance of the potpourri.

Linderhof Winter Potpourri

Orange peel (in strips)
Lemon peel (in strips)
Dried slices of orange
Dried slices of apple
Whole Star Anise
Whole Cinnamon Sticks
Whole Allspice
Whole Cloves
Whole Bay Leaves
Orris root
1 to 2 ounce bottle with dropper of orange, cinnamon or Christmas oil.

I save my peels and or orange slices in a jar in the basement. When I'm ready to make the potpourri, I add the spices and the bay leaf. I use whatever proportion looks good. Some years I have more cinnamon sticks and less Star Anise. Mix all ingredients together except the oil. After you mix, add the oil by dropping it onto the potpourri. Trying to get as much as possible of the oil on the fixative. Use about 1/2 of the oil. After 2 or 3 days (or even a week -- sometimes I forget), you can check and see how fragrant it is, and if you don't think it's fragrant enough, add some more oil.

Let the potpourri sit for at least 2 or 3 weeks. (I usually make that a couple of months for I usually make it in October and let it sit until January). I try to stir it every few days but if it isn't stirred, it won't harm the potpourri.

If you can find small pine cones, they are a great addition as well.

Even though the potpourri is "inside" it is made up of things "outside" and so this is Outdoor Wednesday. Please join Susan at A Southern Daydreamer to see what everyone is doing outside this Wednesday!

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Bedside Table

My bedside table is an old English bamboo table bought years ago at a shop. It wasn't always my bedside table for it was beside a chair in the sunroom, then it was the bedside table in the guest room but last year I moved it next to my side of the bed.
On top of the table are the "necessaries" -- a lamp (an old Oriental that I found years ago and have always loved -- the pink in the lamp goes well with the pink in the wallpaper), a clock (not to waken me but so that I will know what time it is), a box (to hide my reading glasses and perhaps any pills I may be taking -- it is vain, I suppose, to hide the glasses!), and books (the top one -- The 3,000 Mile Garden is my current read. Awaiting their turn in the queue French Provincial Furniture (a 1930's book -- I love antique books about antiques!), The Auberge of the Flowering Heath (a favorite read that is both travel book and food book), and A Table on the Tarn (the story of an inn in France and it appears to be more than just a cookbook).
Besides the necessities are a vase of flowers -- I love to wake to a bouquet of flowers and in the summer, there are usually flowers on the bedside table. This winter, the flowers are there because our daughter visited last weekend. Tradition is that there is always a bouquet of fresh flowers and a welcoming light on in her room when she comes. I'm enjoying the flowers before they fade. Two pictures of two of my favorite people -- daughter Sarah and Aunt Pearl -- in silver frames. And a wee iron rabbit under a glass cloche. It serves no purpose, it's only there because I like it!

Please join Barb at Grits and Glamour for Tabletop Tuesday. Tabletop vignettes are interesting and it is always fun to see how everyone "styles" their tables.