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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!!

We, at Linderhof wish you

all the best



Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 -- The Year In Review

On the last day of the year, I so enjoy looking back and seeing what that year has brought.    And as I did last year, I'm reliving 2011 through my teas.     For everyday that I'm home (and everyday that we were in England) I stop at half past three and have a cup of tea.      Sometimes a friend or two will join me and sometimes I have a real tea party.    But the ritual of afternoon tea is a big part of life at Linderhof.


Tea for two with goodies from a favorite bakery in Kansas City -- Andre's.   I'm using my Spode Famille Rose tea cups and saucers and my Aynsley Pembroke tea pot.


A February Afternoon finds me in the living room in front of the fire with a good book and a cup of tea. The Wedgwood Asiatic Pheasant teapot, cup, saucer and tea plate.


Tea for one at half past three.     Burleigh Asiatic pheasant teapot and tea cup and Johnson Brothers Asiatic Pheasant plate.    A book and good music and it's a delightful respite.


And what better way to celebrate The Royal Wedding than with tea (even though it was morning tea in America and not afternoon tea!) -- an old English silver tea pot, my Spode Famille Rose cup and saucer and lavender shortbread imprinted with "Kate and Will".

May - Pitts Cottage

An English High Tea.     Pies, cake, scones, cream and jam.    At our cottage in Wiltshire.   I would have preferred the Spode Blue Italian but it was locked away (sigh) and so I settled for the kitchen dishes!

May - Blue Row

Tea in the Garden at Blue Row, our cottage in the Cotswolds.    We invited a friend who we met.    The china is English and was our everyday (and only) china that we used at Blue Row.    Sigh, I would have preferred something blue and white, but . . .


Tea in Linderhof's Garden.     Friend Sally came over and we sat in the garden and had tea as we made lavender wands.    A skill I had and a skill she quickly learned.     The Burleigh Asiatic Pheasant tea pot, tea cups and saucers.


Friends for Afternoon Tea.    Those friends who helped Linderhof "run" while we were gone -- who kept the flowers watered, Ollie fed and walked, and who mailed those bills that I couldn't do online, were invited to a full afternoon tea.     The Spode Blue Room cups and saucers -- for I have enough of those for all the friends I invited!


Tea in the Garden.    Lots of "catch up" to do with weeding and such since we were gone . . and I'm a fair weather gardener -- if it's too hot I stay inside.    Icy tea and an extra glass in case a neighbor peeks over the garden fence.


Afternoon Tea and Cake.    In the sunroom with my grandmother's silver pot, my Spode Blue Italian cups and saucers and cake plates.   The treat -- a black walnut cake.


An Afternoon Ritual.     It's just me and it's half past three.   My Johnson Brothers Indies -- my everyday tea set -- the cup and saucer and wee tea pot brought back years and years ago from England.


Tea with Cass.   (From That Old House) sent me a beautiful orchid which took center stage on the tea table in the living room.    Because it's Cass, the Johnson Brothers Indies (which we both adore) cups and saucers, a new Spode Blue Italian sandwich plate for the cake, the English silver tea pot and the spirit kettle from my tea set.


A December Afternoon Tea.     The candles on the pyramid are lit, the tea cup and saucer is the Royal Doulton Tartan (that I hand carried home from a trip to England) and the tea plate is Lenox Holiday (because I could never find tea plates in the Tartan).

I've enjoyed this look back at afternoon teas at Linderhof during 2011.    And I look forward to sharing more pots of teas with friends in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Early in December, I taught an appetizer class at Life+Style.    It was a fun class filled with tasty appetizers.   Since Saturday night is New Year's Eve -- the snack night of the year -- I thought I would share these appetizers.     All make great party fare.     All are easy to make.    All can be taken somewhere or eaten at home.     

And they're not your ordinary appetizers -- so you'll be the hit of the party and have everyone asking for your recipe!

Bacon Blue Cheese Dip

Everybody loves vegetables and dip but frankly, I'm tired of dill dip and carrots and cauliflower and broccoli.   I crave something different both in dip and in vegetables.     This is a great dip with the flavor of blue cheese and the saltiness of bacon.    You could use the requisite carrots, cauliflower and broccoli but think outside the box when choose your vegetables!

Blue cheese, bacon and potatoes -- a great combination!

1 bottle real bacon bits
2 green onions
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese
1/4 t. Worchestershire sauce

Roughly chop the white and green parts of the green onion.   Add all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and mix until completely combined.    Chill until ready to serve.

Note:   I served these with roasted potatoes fingers sprinkled with salt and parsley.    The dip would work equally well with celery and cherry tomatoes.

Mexican Cheesecake

We've been making savory cheesecakes "forever".   In fact, the appetizers at Daughter Sarah's wedding were an assortment of savory cheesecakes.    It takes a "cheese ball" to new heights.   And surprisingly enough, each cheesecake will serve around 25.

A savory cheesecake which can be made ahead.   It can even be frozen!

1/2 c. flour
3 T. butter, softened
1 egg yolk
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 package taco seasoning mix
3 eggs
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
4.5 ounce chopped green chiles, undrained
1 cup sour cream

Move oven rack to lowest position.    Heat oven to 400.   Lightly grease 9 inch springform pan.

Mix flour, butter and egg yolk.    Press mixture evenly on bottom of pan.   Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown; cool.

Reduce temperature to 350.   Mix cream cheese and seasoning mix in a large bowl.    Stir in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.    Stir in Cheddar cheese and chives.   Pour over crust.

Bake about 40 minutes or until center is set.    Immediately spread with sour cream.    Bake 5 minutes.    Cool slightly.    Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.    Remove side of pan.    Serve with tortilla chips.

Pizza Dip

I love to talk food with Daughter Sarah and she was the one who suggested that I add this to my class.   It was, she said the appetizer in Minneapolis where she lives.    It was, she said, at every party this season and was the hit of every party.    I found a recipe on line, made it, and it was, the favorite appetizer of the class.   It's simple to put together and is so good.   I think, however, that the corn chips are the perfect dipper -- crisp (like a pizza crust) and with a slight corn flavor (for so many pizza crusts have cornmeal on the bottom).

The hit of the class.   I gave the recipe to Cass at That Old House and it was the hit of her Christmas Party!
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 14 ounce can pizza sauce
  • 1/4 pound pepperoni, sliced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • black olives, sliced
  • 2 cups Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.    Spray a 9 inch pie pan with non-stick cooking spray.    Spread cream cheese on bottom of the pie pan.   Pour pizza sauce over the cream cheese, and spread it so that there is an even layer of sauce.    Sprinkle with pepperoni, onion and olives.    Top with mozzarella cheese.   Bake at 400 for 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with corn chips.   

Meatballs in Chinese Soup Spoons

When short of time, we need all the help we can get and there can't be any easier help than frozen meatballs.    These are easy and the only other ingredient is a bottle of a store-bought sauce (your favorite). The presentation is the thing here -- if you have or can find the Chinese soup spoons, they are perfect -- if you can't, your silver spoons would work and if you'd rather not use those the meatballs speared with a straight pretzel stick, on a plate with a bowl of the dipping sauce in the middle would work.

It's all about presentation.

The easiest of the appetizers.    Frozen meatballs warmed in the oven.    A dab of chipotle mustard into each spoon, a meatball on top and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.    A one bite easy appetizer.    You could use silver teaspoons if you don't have the Chinese soup spoons.

Curried Truffles

Cheeseballs are really a party staple.   But once cut into they can look like a dog's breakfast.    Making the cheese ball into individual balls and calling them truffles takes this aspect out of the appetizer.    This is a good cheese ball recipe and you can use it or you can use your favorite cheese ball and just roll it into little balls to put in either miniature muffin papers or stick a straight pretzel in them and serve them on a plate.    And then call them truffles!

Cheeseballs in miniature -- one bite at a time -- perfect for slipping onto a cracker!
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces goat cheese
2 t. curry powder
1 T. finely chopped green onion
2 t. mango chutney
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. finely chopped dried apricots
1/2 c. finely chopped finely toasted almonds
1/2 c. finely chopped dried cranberries

Beat cream cheese and goat cheese and curry powder together at medium speed until smooth.    Stir in green onion, chutney and salt.    Cover and chill 2 hours or until firm.    Combine apricots, cranberries and almonds.    Shape cheese mixture into 1 inch balls.    Roll cheese balls in dried fruit mixture.    Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

It's Friday and I'm joining Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.     See what everyone else is making this Friday!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Morning After Breakfast

The Morning After Breakfast -- the breakfast on December 26.    It's part Christmas and part not.     Put away are the Christmas china.    It's our custom as we wash the dishes after Christmas dinner, back into the cabinet it goes until next year.

We do, however, usually keep the tree and greens up until after the first of the year -- Christmas isn't really the end but the beginning of the season.

Often, Daughter Sarah and Andy leave on December 26 to head back to Minneapolis -- they need a good breakfast for it's an 8 hour drive!    They need fuel!

An early breakfast so much better for them to arrive home before dark!

Breakfast is often in the dining room for it's still dark and the breakfast room is best when it's sunny and light and you can watch the birds flit from one bird feeder to another.

Part Christmas (the tablecloth and centerpiece and candles) and part "normal" -- the blue and white plates and mugs and my favorite casual napkins.  

The centerpiece worked as well for breakfast as it did for Christmas dinner.

The Christmas centerpiece -- a silver cake basket filled with shiny red apples.    The candles are new -- a gift from Andy's parents and I though they looked smashing and so we immediately put them on the dining room table for Christmas dinner and even lit little votives in them!     Such a thoughtful gift.

We've missed our old friend, the blue and white, during December.

The Spode is back as our everyday china as is the hotel cutlery.    Blue napkins.    The tablecloth was our Christmas one -- a damask that is one of my favorites.     There's nothing as posh as a damask tablecloth and freshly ironed damask napkins!

For breakfast . . . toasted bagels, vegetable cream cheese, sautéed new potatoes, and for the entree

Easy to make and a great way to fix eggs for a crowd.   I don't have a recipe for I just whip eggs, add meat and cheese, onion and parsley and pour into the skillet and bake at 350 until it's baked.

A ham and cheese frittata with onion and parsley.      It's a great day after breakfast when Christmas dinner is ham!     Served at the table in the iron skillet in which it was baked in.

Breakfast was over far too soon, gifts were loaded in the car and they were off!    It was a great Christmas and we're grateful that they still come home for Christmas.    

It is Thursday and I'm joining Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A December Ritual

A December ritual is the writing of thank you notes.     Friends are always so generous to Husband Jim and I and a pile of presents from friends are always under the tree Christmas morning.    Most are from far away friends and arrive by mail.    That makes December even more exciting.

On the first day that we're home and alone after Christmas Day, I take my notes, my cards, tea and a treat (for treats abound) and spend the morning watching the birds and thanking dear friends for their thoughtfulness.
It's fun watching the birds (or squirrels) as we write our notes.

My new Christmas runner is on the breakfast room table as is the German pyramid.    We're not one to rush taking Christmas down.       For the Christmas season does not  end the night of December 25!

But the beloved blue and white is now our daily china for we do retire the Christmas china on Christmas Day.

We like an assortment of note cards and are always looking for ones with tea or flower themes.

I always try to have a stash of note cards -- especially in December and sometimes we're gifted with note cards from dear friends.      Each card and envelope is handwritten.    No email notes from Linderhof!

There is never a shortage of sweets during the days after Christmas.

Writing thank yous is "hard work" and we need to be fortified and so Christmas treats and a pot of tea helps us from getting "peckish"!

We love these little mince pies and they seem so Christmasy!

Christmas mince pies make a great nosh so that we can keep our strength up!

It was a wonderful Christmas at Linderhof -- great food, great company and "Santa" brought everything we wished for and then some!

As this week slides into the weekend and New Year's Eve, we enjoy the laziness of this "tween" week (the week "between" Christmas and New Year's) and although there is the last of the Christmas parties this week and I'm also hosting a Christmas luncheon, it is still a laid back week as we end 2011.

I'm joining Bernideen for Friends Sharing Tea.    

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

A Very Merry Christmas

The holly and the ivy, now both are full well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.

The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet saviour.

The holly bears a berry as red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.

The Merriest of Christmas wishes from
us at Linderhof.
Jim and Martha

Friday, December 23, 2011

Candles and Carols

It's Christmas Eve.    What is done is done -- and what isn't -- then it isn't going to get done!     Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the Christmas holidays for the baking is all done and the gifts are all wrapped, decorating was done eons ago and we've played most of our Christmas CDs in rotation -- shamelessly singing along whenever we're alone!

One of our favorite Christmas decorations is our German pyramid.    We've had it "forever" and for the last few years it's not been brought upstairs -- and I'm not sure why!    Armed with a whole box of little red candles bought at a German Christmas shop in Stillwater, Minnesota, the pyramid made a reappearance in 2011.

We even lit it when we had afternoon tea on dreary gloomy days.    A definitely bright spot in an otherwise dreary December day.

One of my favorite things about Christmas Eve is the service of carols and candles at Church.    Here, it's an early service -- 7 p.m. but when I was a teen we always attended the midnight one in a church across town.    We loved leaving the church at midnight and knowing that it was Christmas Day and on the way home, driving through the Country Club Plaza where their Christmas lights burned brightly.    It was a truly magical Christmas Eve -- those Christmas Eves.

The pyramid with it's three levels tells the story of the birth of Jesus and every time I look at it -- while I breakfast or while I have tea, I think of the carols about that night oh so many years ago.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing . . . 

God, rest ye Merry Gentlemen . . . 

Away In the Manger . . . 

We Three Kings . . .

While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks . . .

And at the end of service, when the carols have all been sung, when the lessons read especially the reading from Luke, the lights of the church dim, a candle is lit from the altar candle and row by row the church is bathed in candlelight as we sing . . .

Silent Night!

Our Christmas Eve tradition following church is eggnog and cookies and fruitcake while we enjoy the twinkle of the Christmas tree lights.     Tomorrow is the big day and company is coming and there are presents to be opened and a feast to consume!

But I love the peace and quiet that is Christmas Eve.     The only thing that would make Christmas Eve perfect is gently falling snow!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa Claus Is Coming . . .

When we went to Vegas early in December we visited Nellis Air Force Base and the Commissary (I love military Commissarys -- you always find such interesting and different things there!)    and since it was December, I found
I haven't seen these sugar decorations since I was a child.

These little decorative candies which look so vintage -- like something from the 50s that my mother would have used!

But I could imagine them decorating the white frosting of a red velvet cupcake and so I brought them home from Vegas.

And yesterday, I did bake cupcakes.    Alas, not red velvet ones but rather Nigella Lawson's vanilla cupcakes which I call "Fairy Cakes" and which I have baked many times.    I like them because they're mixed in the food processor and go together in a thrice!

But I did frost them with white frosting . . .

Smooth white icing -- the perfect base for a Santa face.

And put one of my little Santa faces in the middle of each cupcake.

Cupcakes all done.

The recipe makes 12 and here is my bevy of Santa cupcakes.

Then, with a Martha Stewart item I found last week . . .

I bought these on a lark not knowing for sure what I would do with them -- I would buy them again -- they make an ordinary cupcake look special!

A decorative cutout sleeve for cupcakes.     The red of the sleeve makes the cupcake look extra special.

Cupckes baked - check
Cupcakes iced - check
Decoration in place - check
Red cupcake cases on - check
Now time to package for gift giving

The cupcakes with their Santa faces and in their little red cupcake cases all ready for . . .

I love to put baked goods in cello bags -- they're a perfect gift for one!

packaging in cello bags tied with a red ribbon.

A sweet sweet for a gift. . . 

The perfect little treat.

For one!

Who wouldn't like to get one of these cupcakes as a gift?
The gift recipients?    The Staff at the newspaper who publishes my weekly column.

The recipe for the cupcakes is so simple and I like the Royal icing to top them although I have used buttercream a time or two.

Fairy Cakes

1 stick plus 1 T. soft butter
1/2 c. plus 1 T. sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
2 t. vanilla
2 to 3 T. milk

Take everything you need out of the fridge in time to get to room temperature -- and this makes a huge difference in the lightness of the cupcakes later -- and preheat the oven to 400.

Put all of the ingredients for the cupcakes except for the milk into the food processor and blitz until smooth.    Pulse while adding the milk down the funeral, to make a smooth dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture between 12 muffin tins (lined with muffin papers) and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.    They should have risen and be golden on top.    Let them cool a little in their tins on a rack and then take them carefully out of the tin to cool in the papers, still on the wire rack.

Ice with Royal Icing

Royal Icing:

1 large egg white (or substitute powdered egg whites)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. lemon juice

Combine the egg whites and powdered sugar in a medium size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes.    Whisk in the lemon juice, this will thin out the icing.    Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach the right spreading consistency for the cupcakes.

This will ice all 12 cupcakes and there will be some leftover.

It's Friday and so it's tim e to join Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday and I'm joining Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas With The Lunch Bunch

The three girls who I refer to as "The Lunch Bunch" are dear friends and for the past almost 12 years, we've been getting together monthly for lunch -- at Linderhof!      The December Lunch -- The Christmas Lunch -- is always special!

I take great pains with the table for this lunch it has to be perfect!

The table -- a vision in red.

Red is the theme.     Red for the centerpiece, the runner, the napkins, and the bows on the presents!

The runner was a birthday gift from friend Shirley Ann

A white tablecloth grounds the table while touches of red abound!

Plaid and Holly -- perfect Christmas dishes

My Christmas China -- Royal Doulton Tartan, a Lenox Holiday salad plate, the Hotel silver, and a red linen Williams Sonoma napkin.    Two gifts -- one wrapped in gold paper and tied with a red ribbon, and

A wee chocolate fruitcake tied with a red ribbon and a label which identifies it as a chocolate fruitcake

A companion gift of chocolate fruitcake also tied with a red ribbon.

Minutes before the company arrives

I always love it when the table is all set, the meal is done and I'm just awaiting the guests to arrive.

The menu for our December luncheon:

Christmas Salad

Chicken and Broccoli Cobbler
Hot Rolls

Panettone Trifle
Freshly Brewed Coffee

When I typed the menu at 11 p.m. the night before I listed Christmas salad -- had not a clue what I was going to do.   Pear, blue cheese and walnuts -- perfect for a Christmas salad!

The Christmas Salad:    Greens with a light oil and vinegar dressing, half a Harry and David pear, a sprinkle of blue cheese and candied walnuts.

I love how the trifle looks in the bowl.

Panettone trifle -- soaked in Marsala with boozy apricots and raisins, custard and whipped cream.

We exchanged presents (and they were very generous), ate, and visited sharing our plans for Christmas Day.

All too soon, it was 2 p.m. and everyone said their goodbyes and Merry Christmases.      

We each had a nice helping of trifle!

We certainly did a number on the trifle -- enough was left, however, for Husband Jim to have a big helping mid afternoon and for us to have trifle for dessert.     Trifle is one of those desserts that seem to gets better as it ages!

A fun time was had by all!

I love the table when a meal is done and everyone is gone.    You can read into it what a good time was had by all!


5 ounces panettone
2 3/4 oz. dried apricots, cut into 4ths
2 3/4 oz. raisins
7 oz. marsala


5 eggs
1 T. sugar
1 t. cornflour
5 oz. marsala
1 pint whipping cream
2 oz. toasted sliced almonds

Put the raisins and apricots in a small saucepan with 5 oz. of the marsala.    Bring up to simmering, then take off the heat and leave to soak for 40 minutes.   Meanwhile, cut the panettone into slices about 1 inch thick, then cut these down to about 1 1/2  inch pieces and place them in the trifle bowl.

After that strain the cooled soaked fruit over a jug and add enough marsalla to make the liquid up to 5 oz.   Then sprinkle the marsala evenly over the panettone, followed by the fruit.    Leave to one side so that the panettone can soak up all the juices, and tip the bowl from time to time to make sure there are no little pools of liquid in the bowl.

To make the custard, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a medium bowl.    Then place 12 1/4 oz. of the cream and the marsala in a saucepan and over a gentle heat, bring up to simmering pint, then, whisking the egg mixture all of the time with one hand, gradually pour the heat cream back into the bowl with the egg mixture.    Now quickly put the whole lot back to the saucepan, using a rubber spatula.    Whisk over a medium heat until it just begins to bubble and thicken (don't worry, it won't curdle -- if it does look at all grainy, it will become smooth again when whisked off the heat).

Let the custard get quite cold then pour it over the fruit and panettone.    Then whip the remaining cream to the floppy stage (being careful not to make it too stiff) and spoon it all over the custard.    Cover and chill till needed, sprinkling over the toasted almonds just before serving.

It's Thursday and I'm sharing my Lunch table with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.