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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Lavender Time

Although the lavender in England was not in bloom, it was when we first came home and as my wont I preserve lavender for the winter. I preserve it three ways . . .

One for the linen closet, one for the kitchen and the third to stick in vases around the house to scent the room.

Lavender wands or bottles. Stems of lavender turned upside down and woven with ribbon (I prefer lavender) to keep in the lavender buds. These are given as gifts (great to tie one into the ribbon of a package) and used among Linderhof's sheets (for sheets should smell of sun and lavender!)
Lavender to be used in scones, shortbread and poundcake or cupcakes. The jar bought a long time ago from Williams-Sonoma and once emptied it's perfect for my kitchen lavender. It holds the perfect amount that I use in the winter.

Once those harvests are done, I cut the rest of the stems and let them dry -- to be used in vases (for if you don't have real flowers -- dried flowers will do) and some of the flower buds I'll save and sew into sachet bags to tuck among the undies and nightware.

It's Friday and I'm joining Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The First Luncheon of the Summer

We often donate a luncheon for four to charities for fundraisers. It's a way we can help raise funds for good causes and I love to have company. Four only because it works so well in the breakfast room overlooking the back garden.

And last fall, I donated a luncheon to a P.E.O. chapter and Tuesday, the guests came for lunch -- the first lunch of summer.

The table set for four -- my original plan for table linen was changed on Monday when a package arrived from a dear friend with these delightful napkins and table runner. I knew I had to use them Tuesday for they would work perfectly with my beloved blue and white! And they did!!!!

One of my Spode pitchers utilized as a vase -- I love pitchers for this very reason -- they can be used for their intended purpose or put into use as a vase -- and they make a darling centerpiece.

Filled not with daisies (for they were still in bud) but the false sunflowers that I love so much -- they're yellow and the fact that they bloom most of the summer!

The linens play well against the blue and white. Napkins, of course, are in silver napkin rings (these were brought home from England) and I also used Jim's grandmother's cutlery.

The bread and butter plate -- part of some Spode Blue Italian that I received on Monday. The English butter knife -- not a souvenir of my trip but one that I've had "forever" -- it's bone handled and the blade is etched. It's probably Edwardian and I loved how the English used their butter knives. So, once home, I dug out these treasures and now use them frequently.

My favorite soup bowls -- Spode Camilla -- I love the soft blue and they pair well with any of my blue and white transferware.

And, of course, a menu for each guest --

And for luncheon they had

Corn and basil soup -- served chilled. It's one of my favorite summer soups. It's from one of my favorite cooks -- Anna Pump in her newest cookbook, Summer on a Plate.

Ina Garten's lemon chicken which couldn't be easier along with a salad of white and wild rice, pecans, red pepper, green onions and water chestnuts dressed simply with vinaigrette.

And the roles are not mine, but Sister Shuberts. Buttered and then a sprig of thyme placed on top before they are baked.

And for dessert -- a new favorite -- sticky toffee pudding. The same pudding that I served to the Lunch Bunch last week -- picture and recipe are HERE.

It's Thursday and I'm joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday -- always a fun event!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Faces in The Garden

On one side of the pergola is a concrete birdbath with some plantings beneath. And because I like to have balance in my life, on the other side of the pergola is a sundial.

Which you can barely see in the picture -- it's to the left of the table. I saw it early on at Red Cedar Gardens this year and fell in love with it but it came with a hefty price tag and so . . . with the money I earned from teaching cooking classes I was able to squirrel away enough to buy it -- and home it came -- just before we left for England!!!

It's cement and it's heavy -- it's a triangle and even though this part of the garden is more shady than sunny -- it goes well here, methinks.

It counts none but the sunny hours! It has a great "face" and when we set it in place and I put the rod in to count those hours -- it was perfect -- it needed no adjustment!!! So, now there is time to tell in Linderhof's garden!

It has three faces and I'm sure there must be a story to this design but I do not know what it is but the faces . . .

A young girl -- is she a goddess of the garden?

A prince, perhaps -- her prince charming?

And the old man -- a green man? Whom we found so often in English gardens?

And although it is in dappled shade most of the day, it still keeps good time!

It's Outdoor Wednesday and I'm joining Susan at A Southern Daydreamer so join her and see what other outdoor treasures there are this Wednesday!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hostessing the Garden Club

Once a year, I host the Garden Club. It's always fun to have other gardeners come to Linderhof and I always enjoy company whether it's for lunch or dinner or a party or hosting a meeting.

This meeting, not only was I hostess (providing the location) but the co-hostess (providing the refreshments) and program (The Gardens of England) as well!!!

Refreshments were a recreation of an English Cream Tea since the program was on English gardens.

Because we needed the dining room table for the program, the refreshments were set up in the breakfast room.

With, of course, my beloved blue and white.

Before the guests arrived I had the table all set up. A lace cloth, a Blue Spode pitcher filled with hydrangeas and the tea things . . .

Two teapots for one would not be enough -- both Spode -- one Blue Italian and one Blue Room.

The cups and saucers with "tea" spoons nestled on the saucer. Spode Blue Room.

And an assortment of blue and white plates each topped with a napkin --

And after the program and the meeting, the cream tea was ready . . . .

With my smaller silver curate full of scones, bread and butter or mother of pearl tea knives for the cream and jam. Strawberry jam, of course (with a new preserve spoon that I had brought home from English trip), a mother of pearl handled cake fork for the scones and the best "mock" Devonshire cream.

The Garden Club loved the program, devoured the scones, emptied two bowls of cream and jam and drank four pots of tea -- real English tea (P.G. Tips) -- brewed the proper English way!

It's Tuesday and so I'm sharing my Garden Club Cream Tea with the following tea parties:

Tea Time Tuesday with Terri at Artful Affirmations

Tea Cup Tuesday with Martha at Martha's Favorites

Tea Pot and Tea Things Tuesday with Pam at Breath of Fresh Air

Tea Time Tuesday with Katherine at Lady Katherine's Tea Parlor

Tuesday Tea for Two with Wanda Lee at The Plumed Pen

Tea Time Tuesday with Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sometime Simple Is Better

At our cottages, we may have had a fully equipped kitchen but one thing both lacked was a dishwasher. So, dishes were all done by hand!!! But for the two of us, it wasn't all that bad -- a quick wash and dry and the kitchen was all in order again.

And upon arriving back at Linderhof, I did realize how few dishes we used for breakfast and lunch and tea and usually not much more for dinner. So . . . I decided to once again wash dishes by hand.

There is really something soothing about the process -- the hot sudsy water, washing and then rinsing the dishes, and stacking them to dry.

And in the basement, was something that I had bought eons ago -- something that I just had to have. It wasn't cheap by any means and when I decided I no longer wanted it in the kitchen, it was relegated to the basement -- I still liked it and might use it again so . . .

Up from the basement it came . . .

The dish drying rack. It was unusual, which is why I bought it -- I think I bought it not for use but rather to display things on but really, Linderhof's kitchen is a work horse of a kitchen not a showplace of a kitchen and so . . . the rack got put in the basement.

How glad I was that firstly, I bought it and secondly, that I kept it -- it is perfect for drying dishes and stores easily under the sink!!!!

I hosted the Garden Club Meeting last week which meant lots of cups and saucers and plates -- in my beloved blue and white, of course, for they set a pretty table!

After, it was simple to wash up -- to dry and put away. The blue and white transferware looks good on the iron drying rack!

Will I continue to forever wash my dishes by hand -- probably not -- but it's been fun these last few weeks to do so. And I think I'm saving energy by doing so!!!

It's Monday and so I'm joining Smiling Sally for Blue Monday.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lavender and Tea in the Garden

Tea time in the garden is a May affair -- usually in June it's too hot in the afternoon to have tea in the garden -- even though most of the garden tables are shaded.

But we've had rare late June weather -- cool weather! A perfect afternoon to have tea in the garden.

Friend Sally joined me for we had a purpose to get together. We don't need, however, a purpose for tea!!!

And all of the tea fixings. . . .

Easily fit into a basket. Much handier and easier to carry than trying to balance a tray down the back stairs!

Everything, tea cloth and napkins, tea pot, tea cups and saucers and spoons as well as the tea treat -- lemon poppyseed muffins, easily fit into the basket. And out to the garden I go!!!

The table under the pergola is the perfect place for tea. It's shady and you have a nice view of the herb garden!

The basket is perfect to serve the muffins from while everything else goes on the table . . . My Burleighware Asiatic Pheasant is my tea cup of choice for I have a wee teapot that matches which is just perfect for a cup and a half of tea each. I love anything blue and white and this Asiatic Pheasant is such a subtle hue of blue. And the blue and white looks as pretty in the garden as it does inside Linderhof!

And the purpose -- not just tea . . .

For we made lavender wands or bottles. Linderhof's lavender is at it's peak and I love the bottles to put in amongst the linens for I love lavender scented sheets and pillowcases. So as we sipped and munched and wove, we spied the catbird that's come back for the summer . . . eyeing the crumbs we were dropping and noticed the butterfly that was flitting from one lavender bloom to another.

It was a pleasant afternoon in the garden as we visited and wove and had our tea. And the tea -- not my normal afternoon tea but rather a lavender Earl Grey -- a perfect tea for a lavender weaving party!

It's Saturday which means that it's time to join Bernideen for Tea in the Garden on Saturday. It's the first weekend of summer -- what better way to spend it than in the garden with a cup (or glass) of tea!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Practical Souvenirs

What do I bring home from my travels? Sometimes fun things, sometimes things that I treasure but never never anything with a place name!!! (Unless it's t-shirts for the greats)

When we stayed at Pitts Cottage, we had full kitchen privileges and every morning we had breakfast there. For in England there aren't "diners" where one can get biscuits and gravy and two "over easy"!!!!

And while in England, I'm a morning tea drinker . . .

The English are known for their electric tea kettles. It makes perfect sense to me -- since their stoves are smaller than ours, to free up burner space by heating one's water for morning or afternoon tea on the countertop.

I fell in love with it!!! It boiled water almost as fast as you could put the tea in the pot!!! It was wonderful. A Dualit in stainless steel, it was a gem!

So what did I do? Go to, of course! And there, on the American, was the very same tea kettle. I pressed "Add to Cart" and knew that when we arrived home a month later, my new tea kettle would be waiting for me.

And it was!!!! It looks as handsome on the counter of Linderhof as it did on the counter of Pitts Cottage. It boils water in the blink of an eye -- and it shuts itself off. How many tea kettles have I burned up because I put them on, got distracted and when I remembered -- alas, the water had burned out and the kettle was ruined!!!

I love my new "souvenir" of our stay in England. It shall be useful for many years to come. And, once home, I have switched from morning coffee to morning tea. I got into the habit, I guess!

Technically, I suppose it really isn't a souvenir for I didn't buy it over there. But I think of it as one -- one that I didn't have to tote and lug home!!!!

By the way, it works as well in the afternoon as it does in the morning. I cannot imagine living without it now!!!

It's Friday and I'm joining Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday. I'm showing my tea kettle and telling the world about how wonderful it is!!! Join Cindy and see other fun posts for Friday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An English Tea Room Lunch

It's been eons since the Lunch Bunch and I got together. Months, in fact! Our original plan for this Tuesday in June was to go to the Nelson and see the reunited Monet Water Lilies. But LBer Joyce had knee replacement surgery in May, was still getting physical therapy, and didn't feel that she would be able to go.

Like the Three Muskateers, the Lunch Bunch is "one for all and all for one" so we changed our plans. With the garden coming around and the house clean, there could be company for lunch and so (working around Joyce's PT) we decided that the June lunch would be at Linderhof.

It was too hot for the porch or the garden, but the breakfast room is still a great place for lunch and I set the table with special care . . .

For the theme would be a tea room lunch, a recreation of a tea room lunch that I had had while in England. In Salisbury to be exact at a darling tea room that we frequented not once but twice!

My new tablecloth, with the beautiful hand stitching. A souvenir of the Azores.

And roses as a centerpiece, studded with rosemary in a crystal rose bowl.

The menu

Which we always do when we have company. It's a little touch but one that makes any luncheon for company at Linderhof special.

Not my beloved blue and white but blue and white sort of. Or rather cream and white. Noritake dishes from the 20's. White center, cream rim and a band of blue with wee pink flowers. Jim's grandmother's cutlery, the napkin in a silver napkin ring which had been polished (in fact all of them are polished for we're having lots of company on Thursday and Linderhof needs to shine!) Pastry forks and matching dessert spoons. They came in a presentation box and they're English but I've forgotten where I got them. Placed as they were in England above the plate.

The table in the breakfast room all ready for company!

And the menu --

Constance Spry's Coronation Chicken Salad in a Jacket Potato with a green salad on the side. It's a strange combination but I found it delicious when I ordered it in that Salisbury tea room. The cold curried chicken and the hot potato are really really good!

And dessert . . .

Sticky Toffee Pudding. Served with whipped cream and a bit of crystalized ginger. It's one of Daughter Sarah's favorite desserts and was frequently on tea room or pub menus in England.
The recipe, however, is not from England but from the Barefoot Contessa. It may be the classic recipe but I did get it from her show. It's easy to put together. Actually makes two so there's one for the freezer and for another day. And it is soooo good!!!


1 pound dates, pitted and chopped
2 t. baking soda

For the cakes:

8 ounces butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
3 1/4 T. baking powder

For the sauce:

1/2 pound butter
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour two 9 inch round cake pans or 20 muffin tins.

Place the dates in a large saucepan with 3 1/2 c. cold water. Bring to boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Then leave to simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Stir in the baking soda (which will cause the mixture to bubble up).

Cream the butter and sugar together in a food mixture until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, occasionally scraping down mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and then the flour and salt and mix briefly to give a lumpy dough.

Next, add the warm date mixture in two batches. Scrape down the sides of bowl in between mixing. The dough will now be quie watery but don't worry! Fnally add the baking powder (this will bubble up also).

Pour the batter evenly into the two pans or muffin tins. Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes for cake pans and about 20 minutes for muffin tins. Test if they are cooked with a small knife or toothpick. It should come out clean when cakes are done.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer gently for a minute or two until thickened and well blended.

When the cakes are done, poke little holes all over with toothpick, this will enable the sauce to be absorbed more easily. Pour the caramel sauce over cakes while both are still warm and leave to soak for about 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out upside-down onto serving plates (the bottom is the most sticky bit!)

It's Thursday and I'm joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. See all the other tables that are posted this Thursday when you join Susan.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Summer Solstice, Druids, A Follower and Me

The most famous stones in the world.

When we lived at Pitts Cottage, they were our neighbor for they were a mere 5 miles away. No matter how many times you see them, they are still awesome -- these giant stones of Stonehenge!

More than nine hundred stone rings exist in the British Isles. Of these, Stonehenge is the most well known!

The Brits market attractions differently than we Americans. As you're driving along the roadway, you can see the stones from the car. Rising skyward out of the Salisbury Plain.

In America, they would be fenced off so that you couldn't see them unless you paid admission to see them. A big tall fence would enclose the stones! But not in Britain!

Some Stonehenge Facts:

Stonehenge was built between 3100 - 1100 BC.

The circle was aligned with the midsummer sunrise, the midwinter sunset and the southerly rising and notherly setting of the moon.

The ground plan and structural engineering of Stonehenge incorporate sophisticated mathematical and geometrical understandings on the part of its builders.

And although the Druids are associated with the stone rings today, they had nothing to do with the construction of Stonehenge. Druids of yore were known to conduct their ritual activities mostly in sacred forest groves not amongst stones on the plain!

There were two types of stones used in its consruction: the "bluestones" (weighing as much as four tons and brought from 240 miles away) and the Sarsen stones (averaging eighteen feet in height and twenty-five tons in weight)

The construction of Stonehenge required more than thirty million hours of labor!

When we were there the end of May, alas, we saw no Druids -- for the rituals they perform at Stonehenge are on the Summer Solstice, the Winter Solstice, and the Spring and Fall Equinox.

Of which, today is the Summer Solstice -- so would assume that there would be a Druid sighting or two if you visited the stones today.

But we did see . . .

One of the Dalai Lama's followers -- just a regular tourist with camera in hand!

One of those interesting pictures, me thinks!

As for the me: one of our favorite pictures from a 1980's trip we took to England with 12 year old Daughter Sarah, was the three of us standing in front of the stones . . . we updated the picture this trip so that it's a picture of an older (and wiser) Jim and Martha, a grown-up Sarah and new family member, son-in-law Andy.

It's Wednesday and Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice is for Outdoor Wednesday. Please join Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts!