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, February 28, 2010

March is a Lamb

It's finally March -- it's been a long winter and this, the first day of March is supposed to come in like a . . .

We're hopeful that the winter weather is finally behind us. That warmth will come with March and that March will truly come in like a lamb! With warmth and sunshine -- without clouds and snow and wind.

To help March along, we like to feast on lamb for this, the first day of March. A rack of lamb seems fitting after the winter we've had. Although a bit pricey, it's an easy meal to prepare and if there's nice fresh asparagus in the market, it's the perfect "almost spring" meal. Whether or not the weather outside is lionlike or lamblike, inside Linderhof, the first day of March is definitely a lamb!

I like to use Ina Garten's rack of lamb recipe. It's easy, it's good and it turns out perfect every time.


1 1/2 T. salt
2 T. minced fresh rosemary leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 racks of lamb, frenched

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the salt, rosemary and garlic until they're as finely minced as possible. Add the mustard and balsamic vinegar and process for 1 minute. Place the lamb in a roasting pan with the ribs curving down and coat the tops with the mustard mixture. Allow to stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450.

Roast the lamb for exactly 20 minutes for rare or 25 minute for medium rare. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs (we like 2 ribs attached per serving) and serve.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reprise - Victorian Forcing Vases for Hyacinths

This was first published in February of last year.

With the winter we've had, it will be a while before spring bulbs pop their noses out of the garden soil. But we can have spring inside with spring bulbs -- hyacinths and paperwhites make spring come a bit earlier to the inside of Linderhof.

Every fall, I put some of my hyacinth bulbs in a paper sack and put that sack in the refrigerator. The bulbs need at least 12 weeks of "cooling" time in order to get them to burst into winter bloom.

What got me started was the blue vase. A Victorian Forcing Vase. I love anything blue and I had read about forcing hyacinths so when I bought it I knew what it was. That first hyacinth was a true treasure. The fragrance inside that winter was incredible.

Over the years, I've found two more, but, alas, not in blue. One is pink and the other more lilac than pink.

I'm forever on the lookout for more, but they are truly rare. Hopefully, my collection will continue to grow although slowly.

I love the way the sunlight shines through these colorful vases.

At a Lowe's (or Home Depot) one year after Christmas they had boxed hyacinths with forcing vases. Utilitarian, plain glass ones. But they do the job!
Another sunny window and three more hyacinths. I usually get the purple ones for these vases. They're at the bottom of the stairs and they do make the living room heady with their fragrance.

I can't imagine late January or February without hyacinths. It's a little bit of the taste of spring to come in March and April.

Please join Chari at Happy to Design to see everyone's Sunday Favorites.

Roses in the Bedroom

Our Master Bedroom is a "sea" of roses. From the rose printed wallpaper that covers not only the walls of the room but the ceiling.
To tone on tone roses on the comforter . . .
To roses on the rug and bench at the foot of the bed.
Roses on the dressing table chair seat
And roses at the window!

Husband Jim is a patient man and lives in a room of roses. It's not his first adventure in a rose room. Our Master Bedroom in our first apartment also had pink rose papered walls! I think it is fate that he lives amongst the roses!

The roses, however, were not our choice, but were here when we bought Linderhof. So to make the rose wallpaper more at home, we added more roses!

If the room had not had the fireplace, we would have given the pink papered room to daughter Sarah. But that was not an option. I had always dreamed of having a fireplace in my bedroom and never thought that dream would come to reality. It did the day we moved into Linderhof.

So husband Jim and I live amongst the pink roses. After 22 years, it would seem quite strange not to have pink roses in our bedroom!

It's Pink Saturday so please join Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for other pink inspirations for this last Saturday in February.

Friday, February 26, 2010

German Baked Pancake

Although it is Lent and although we have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, we still enjoy a German Baked Pancake for breakfast. This pancake, a cousin to a popover, is easy to prepare and yummy to eat.
Although you can top it with fruit, we like it just so -- a pat or two of butter, a squeeze of lemon juice and a shower of powdered sugar.
And we're not greedy -- no, we split the pancake. Half is just perfect for breakfast!

German Baked Pancake

3 large eggs
3/4 c. flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla

Beat together all ingredients. When smooth, set aside. Melt 1 1/2 T. butter in 12 inch heavy iron skillet. When skillet is hot pour in batter and put skilled in preheated 450 oven. Bake 15 minutes at 450; lower oven to 350 for 10 minutes. It will be puffed but will settle when removed from the oven.

We like ours with powdered sugar and lemon but it is good with sauteed apples, warm blueberry compote or fresh fruit of your choice.
It's Friday which means that it's Foodie Friday so visit friend Michael at Designs by Gollum and see all the delicious treats this Friday!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sarah's Chicken

This dish has been around a long long time. We call it Sarah's Chicken but that was not the name of the recipe when I first started making it. We changed it to Sarah's Chicken so long ago that I've forgotten exactly what it was called.

This recipe, from the 70's, is in almost every Church and Community cookbook. And, it seems, all by a different name. I'm not sure I've seen the same name twice for this dish. It's one of those recipes that each cook must claim for their own and rename!

It's an easy dish, but one that you can't make at the last minute. It needs 3 hours of cooking time. I have, when I've forgot, baked it at 350 for an hour. It works but I don't think it is as good as the long and slow cooking.

Daughter Sarah claimed this as her favorite chicken dish long long ago. It was one of the entrees at her wedding.

It always gets rave reviews whenever I serve it and it does make a great entree for a ladies luncheon. We think it goes especially well with rice (and we prefer a white and wild rice mix).

Sarah's Chicken

1 jar of dried beef
6 chicken breasts
3 slices of bacon, halved
1 can cream of mushroom soup
12 ounces sour cream (you can use the low fat kind -- I don't)

Put dried beef slices in the bottom of casserole dish. Lay chicken breasts on top. Top each chicken breast with a half slice of bacon. Mix cream of mushroom soup and sour cream together. Pour over chicken. Bake at 275 for 3 hours.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rose Geranium Cake

I love to cook with herbs. Not just in savory dishes but in sweet ones as well. There is nothing like a good herbal cake or cookie!

This rose geranium cake has no other flavoring. Just a few rose geranium leaves in the bottom of each cake pan before the batter is poured in. In between, is whipped cream and raspberry jam. The original recipe called for fluffy pink frosting but I think that is gilding the lily too much and we prefer it with just a sprinkle of powdered sugar on the top and a rose geranium leaf or two for decoration.

For special company, we'll do all three layers. It makes a handsome cake. For just us, we'll do two with the cream in the middle. The third layer gets frozen and is eaten slice by slice for afternoon tea. Plain with perhaps a shower of powdered sugar.

It's Pink Saturday so please visit Beverly at How Sweet the Sound to see the other pink posts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Day Luncheon

Every year I have a Valentine's Luncheon for five friends. Usually on Valentine's Day unless, like this year, it falls on a weekend -- then I have it on the Friday before or the Monday after.

Perhaps I was tired of Christmas red (although I do have a new linen WS red tablecloth ) so decided to do a silver, gold, white and chocolate table.
It's an antique lace cloth that's seen many dinners and luncheons. Lace seems so feminine and so Valentine's!
My grandmother's Noritake china, cream with a gold band, the real silver, one of my good damask napkins in a silver napkin ring. And, of course, a menu for each and every one.
The centerpiece is my silver epergne and silver candlesticks with white candles. The flowers -- white tulips because . . . . I associate tulips rather than roses with Valentine's. Perhaps because my first Valentine flower from Husband Jim was a pot of red tulips. Plus they were on sale for half price! A lucky happenstance, me thinks.
And in the silver epergne, homemade chocolate truffles. To be savored while waiting for the dessert (the Chocolate Cloud). Or, if the Chocolate Cloud was not dessert enough, one -- just one to go with the second cup of coffee.

It's Thursday which means that it's Tablescape Thursday. So please join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to see all of the fabulous tablescapes this Thursday!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Garden Club Tea Pot Cookies

Tonight was the first Garden Club meeting of 2010 -- at Linderhof! It's cold this evening on the prairie and a cup of tea would be warming and welcome. To go with the tea -- teapot cookies -- handpainted with fruit and flowers and herbs.

I've seen painted cookies at Cathy's (Wives with Knives) and they intrigued me. The heart cookies for Valentines were perfect. But the meeting was after -- what kind of cookie could I paint? Could I do it?

In looking at my cookie cutters, I found big and little teapots. Bought years and years ago to be used to cut out tea sandwiches and perhaps make some cookies. But, alas, sometimes one has more plans than time and I had never used them.

I thought they would be perfect!
I had some cutout cookie dough already in the fridge and so I cut out big cookies and little cookies and baked . . .
Then I frosted with Royal icing . . . . and then the fun began!
With little salt cellars on the breakfast room table and cups of water, my set of kitchen "paint brushes" (bought for sugaring pansies), and my box of food color, I set about to paint the teapots.

I decided that since it was a garden club meeting -- that the teapots should have flowers or fruit (and orange on one -- grapes on another) or herbs (chives and rosemary). And that no two should be alike.
It was fun and I would do them again. But only for a special occasion for special people. They are, after all, very time consuming.

But they do set a pretty plate! One of my silver curates seemed the perfect choice for the cookies.

Three plates of assorted teapots for guests to chose from.

My painting is not as delicate as Cathy's -- it's more primitive -- I can't wait until Easter -- so that I can paint Easter Egg cookies -- but first I have to find an egg cookie cutter!

The cookies are not outdoors but there theme is garden -- fruits and flowers and herbs. And since this is Wednesday . . . .please join Susan at A Southern Daydreamer to see what everyone else is doing outside this Wednesday. I'm tired of snow and ready for flowers . . . even handpainted ones!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Plaza III Steak Soup

The Plaza III restaurant has been in Kansas City -- forever -- or so it seems. At least as long as I can remember for it was often our choice when eating out at a nice restaurant when I was in high school. And it was the place to dine when your date wanted to show off.

Back then it was just " Plaza III". Now it is "Plaza III - The Steakhouse and Wine Cellar".

And with an upscale name comes an upscale menu. No soup or salad, entree and potato and bread for one set price as it was when we first started going there. No, everything is ala carte. But the ala carte portions are huge and can definitely be shared not only by your dining companion but by the whole table!

The first time I had the Plaza III Steak Soup, it was nirvana! It was heaven in a bowl. It wasn't my first visit -- oh, no, it was many visits later that first had the soup. And I only had it then because my date insisted that I should. (I wanted a salad!)

Everytime thereafter that we went there, it would be soup instead of salad. And then, just out of high school in my career girl days, I stumbled upon the recipe. It was so long ago that I'm not sure where but it has been a staple every winter since.

It's steak soup in that it is made from ground steak. It's easy to put together. Usually, I have the ingredients on hand (although in those instances, it's not ground steak but hamburger) and it goes together in a thrice.

It makes a good dinner with some good bread and a warm dessert (think apple crisp with a scoop of ice cream). And it is a great lunch on snowy winter days. Which we've had too much of lately.
I have this recipe -- that's been in my recipe book "forever". I have another that can be done in the crockpot. It's Daughter Sarah's favorite homemade soup (mine's onion) and she makes it more often than I. It's easily "fiddled" with -- for you can add more of what you like or have on hand (of course, then it isn't the "real" Plaza III steak soup -- but it is still a good meal!) I think it tastes even better the day after it's made -- or even the day after that. That is providing, we don't eat it all at one sitting!

There are a lot of "imitations" out there -- so many restaurants now have their steak soups, but I've not tasted any that match the flavor of what I think of as the first, the original -- the Plaza III Steak Soup.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
8 cups hot water
2 pounds ground steak
2 T. beef bouillon granules
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, diced
2 cups frozen mied vegetables
28 ounces canned tomatoes, diced
1 t. pepper (or to taste)

Melt butter in a soup pot that holds at least 20 cups. Blend in flour to make a smooth paste. Add hot water a little at a time. Simmer until smooth. Saute beef in a large skillet and drain off fat. Add meat, bouillon, all vegetables and seasonings to saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are cooked. Do not add salt.

NOTE: The original recipe called for 1 T. Accent but I don't use it.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

A New Pillow!

With our longtime residence at Linderhof, changes are far and few between. And those changes are often small ones.

The 1920's chaise in our bedroom. By the fireplace so it's cozy in the winter, with a burgundy throw and a couple of pillows to make it cozy.
But I'm yearning for Spring and so, a new pillow came home to Linderhof. And the burgundy throw seemed a little "heavy" (colorwise) with the new pillow so I borrowed a beige one from the sunroom. On my "want" list is a neutral knitted throw. I'll be search through stores for just the perfect piece.
I moved the chaise a little closer to the fireplace and did the same with the Belgian needlepoint chair. The table was put between. It's a bit of a different look and I like the fact that the chairs are a little "tighter". And there is good light coming in over my shoulder from the window.

There are three BIG projects that I'm contemplating for this Spring. Real metamorphosises. I'll share those as I accomplish them. And, alas, no hints although I will tell you that I am patient, sometimes, to accomplish what I want. But once I decide to do a project . . . .

Please join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for metamorphosis big and small. It's always fun on Monday to see what everyone has been up to. Everyone is so clever with their projects!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Silver for Tea and a Valentine's Dessert . . . .

This is Miss Mamie's Silver tea set. It's Gorham's Plymouth from the 1920's. Engraved with her initials and a wedding present. There is a tea pot, sugar bowl, waste bowl (into which I have put sugar cubes) and cream pitcher. The tray, however, does not belong to the set.

It's an inherited set and I adore it!

However, I wanted a coffee pot as well and so found one -- on ebay and it joined the tea pot and the waste, creamer and sugar . . . but I felt that the set still was not complete . . . because it lacked

a tea kettle

Not just any ordinary tea kettle - but one engraved with my initials. When I found it, I knew it was meant to be!

And now, my tea set is complete -- with teapot, coffee pot, spirit or tea kettle, waste bowl, creamer and sugar.

I think it looks grand on the sideboard in the dining room!

And since today is Valentine's Day . . . I'm sharing with you our Valentine's Dessert -- Chocolate Cloud Cake.

It's decadant, it's chocolate and topped with whipped cream. It can't get much better than that.

Served on my grandmother's china plate with one of Mrs. Boland's forks.

The recipe is from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax -- and it is chocolate heaven on a plate -- thus the name cloud describes it perfectly!

Chocolate Cloud Cake

8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
6 large eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
1 cup sugar
2 T. Grand Marnier
Grated zest of 1 orange

Whipped Cream Topping:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, sell chilled
3 T. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla


Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper, do not butter the pan. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl set over hot water. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted; set aside.

In a bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs and the 4 egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar just until blended. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in the Grand Marnier and the orange zest.

In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the 4 egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until the whites form soft mounds that hold their shape but are not quite stiff. Stir about 1/4 of the beaetn egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it; gently fold in the remaining whites. Pour the batter into the pan; smooth the top.

Bake until the top of the cake is puffed and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly, usually 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overbake.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rac; the cake will sink as it cools, forming a crater with high sides.

Whipped Cream Topping: At serving time, whip the cream with the confectioners sugar and vanilla until not quite soft. With a spatula, carefully fill the center of the cake with the whipped cream, pushing it gently to the edges. Dust the top lightly with cocoa powder. Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cake; carefully remove the sides of the pan and serve.

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

It's also Sunday -- which means that it's Silver Sunday. Join Beth at The Gypsy Fish for Silver Sunday. See what treasures everyone has this Sunday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine Cookies

A tradition that goes back to my childhood -- pink frosted heart cookies for Valentine's. Made for the grade school party. They were special then and they are special now!
I made them for Daughter Sarah and her grade school Valentine's Party. Using, of course, my mother's recipe and my grandmother's heart cooky cutter.
And I still make them -- for a Valentine tea. Nothing better than a cup of freshly brewed tea and a heart shaped sugar cookie frosted with an almond flavored pink icing.
What isn't eaten for tea is bagged for we give them as gifts to the bank clerk, a favorite waitress, and the children next door.
And then . . . . I do save one just for me!

It's Saturday which means that it's time for Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound. It's a Pink Valentine Saturday as well and so there should be lots of pink Valentine posts this Saturday.

To me, there is nothing like a pink frosted heart shaped cookie for Valentine's!

The recipe was my mother's (and perhaps my grandmother's) -- we made hearts for Valentine's, stars and bells and trees for Christmas, sometimes pumpkins for Halloween and bunnies for Easter. It's a good sturdy cooky and can be hung on the Christmas tree if you're so inclined. (We were so inclined when Daughter Sarah was small -- we're not anymore).

It's a good cooky with a great almond flavoring. We often flavor the frosting with almond as well.


1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1 t. almond flavoring
4 cups flour, resifted with
1/2 t. salt and 1 t. baking powder

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and flavorings. Add the flour mixture and beat or knead until smooth. Roll into two rolls, wrap in paper and chill for several hours.

Using one roll at a time, roll dough out on a lightly floured board. If thin crisp cookies are wanted, roll the dought about 1/16 inch thick; if soft, thicker cookies are wanted, roll about 1/8 inch thick.

Cut out as desired.

Bake in a moderate oven (375) until very delicately golden, usually 8 or 10 minutes. When cool, frost with your favorite buttercream frosting (to which I add almond flavoring).