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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cooking Classes

I love to teach cooking classes and my favorite class to teach is "Cooking With Herbs".    I've done many at my favorite store, Life + Style and I've also done classes on herbal cookery at Red Cedar and Louisburg Cider Mill in the city.

Linderhof's Herb Garden

My favorite Cooking With Herbs class that I did at Life + Style was the one that started in my garden.    Class attendees got to pick the herbs that they wanted to take back to the store to cook with.    My only admonition to the class -- do not pick more than 1/3 of a plant!

The Breakfast Room ready for the class.

And before we went out to gather herbs, there was tea in the breakfast room -- icy minty tea full of slices of lemons.  
Icy Minty Tea

And a handout of garden herbs and how they grow and how they can be used in cooking.

And back at Life + Style, we made . . .

An Individual Vegetable Tian

Vegetable tian.    Individual ones.    Each class member made their own and chose the herbs that they wanted to put in it.    It's full of zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes and onions.    Good fresh produce.    Sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and baked, it's a great side dish or a great vegetarian entree.

I love to bake with herbs and each herbal cooking class always ends with an herbal dessert.    For this class I made . . .

Orange Rosemary Fairy Cakes

Orange rosemary cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and topped with sprigs of rosemary.     The class pronounced them delicious.    They're my fairy cakes that I make so often and are really my favorite cupcakes to make with the addition of orange zest and rosemary to the batter.

Cynthia and I are working on classes for this fall.    Alas, none are cooking with herbs but we will have some fun classes and I hope to see you there!      The first class in October is "Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice" . . . a class on candy making.    Easy candy making.     For Christmas giving (or eating)!

We have a couple of other classes in the works for November and December but I can't tell about those until The Life + Style newsletter is out -- if you're not signed up for it, do so for it announces all of the upcoming classes and that's the best way of finding out who's cooking what when.

And, I'm really excited about the cooking class that I'm teaching on October 15, at the Le Creuset store in Overland Park at 119th and Roe.     I'm doing chicken bouillabaisse for that one.

I do hope that I'll see you at one of my cooking classes for I love sharing my love of cooking!

It's Friday and I'm joining Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Lazy Woman's Guide to Silver Polishing

I do like polishing silver -- there's something therapeutic about it, I think.    And last year, when I had my knee surgery, it was my "Occupational Therapy" -- polishing the napkin rings.      With a Bach or Mozart CD on and the house quiet -- it's one of those "home keeping" chores that I really do like to do, but . . .

At times, I'm in a hurry and don't really have time to sit and polish so . . . I resort to another method.

The aluminum and soda method.      They even sell aluminum plates that you put in a pan, add the "magic powder" that comes with the plate (and which you can reorder from their company)!     It's easy, aluminum, boiling water and soda.

But thanks to Cass At That Old House I now use one of those big aluminum steam table pans that you can buy at any grocery store or Costco or Sams.     The pan is perfect and when not in use, it and the box of soda go back to a shelf in the basement!

But as did Cass, so will I, warn you about polishing silver this way.    The patina (the darkened bits that define a pattern) is done away with when you use this method.    The silver is shiny and looks like new!   That patina, however, will come back if you neglect your silver for a while so it's not gone for good!!!!   And it does seem to tarnish faster for there is nothing that "retards" tarnish (for most silver polish has an anti-tarnish ingredient in it!)

But if you need shining silver and need it fast and don't care about patina -- this method is for you!!!

And thanks to Cass, I heartily recommend the aluminum pan!!!!

I use Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda -- it's found in the Detergent Aisle and every grocery store carries it!
Cass uses Baking Soda -- found in the baking aisle -- it may be cheaper than what I use!

The silver, after it's soda bath, all clean, dry and shining!

There are some pieces I prefer to do by hand -- these English pieces with Mother-of-Pearl handles!    The polish of choice -- Maas which I can find in my little town on the prairie (thank you Chris at Mayco Ace!)

The reason for the silver polishing?    I did a program in the little town East of me for a ladies group.    A program on Victorian Silver Serving Pieces.  

The pieces tagged and ready for their "show" -- As I talk, I pass the silver around so that each one can see each piece of silver up close and personal!!!     It's interesting that Victorians had a piece of silver to serve everything with -- from a wee lemon fork to a huge asparagus fork and spoons, knives and forks in between!

It's a fun program to give and the ladies seem to like it!

And at a lady's meeting, after the program is always a treat . . .

And in my honor (of time spent in England), the treats are scones -- cranberry and nut scones!     They were delicious with a cup of freshly brewed coffee!

It was a fun night!

By the way, Cass, even though I stole your way to polish silver, I didn't steal the title of your post -- I changed it up a bit!!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Remembering Santa Fe

One of our favorite trips was last year when we went to Albuquerque and Santa Fe.   I absolutely loved New Mexico and the New Mexican cuisine.     Friend Hallie's mother was born in New Mexico before it was a state and often when she has us for dinner she fixes a meal her mother often made -- enchiladas topped with a fried egg.     I'd never had it before or since at any "Mexican" restaurant that I've eaten at but there it was on the menu at every "Mexican" restaurant that we ate at.     And, of course, I had to order it whenever I saw it on the menu -- it's really a good meal!

A couple of weeks ago friend Mary at One Perfect Bite had a recipe for  Mexican Bizcochitos - Anise Butter Cookies.    She stated that they came from New Mexico and were, actually the New Mexican State cookie!!!     I love butter cookies and made them the same day they appeared on her blog.

They are a perfect afternoon tea cookie!
Afternoon Tea for One

Tea for one in the sunroom.    For my afternoon nosh, I always brew my tea in a pot and use a cup and saucer!    It's the only way to do it!!!

Of course, afternoon tea is always (or almost always) taken from my beloved blue and white.     This is a Wedgwood Asiatic Pheasant (a favorite pattern and made by almost all of the English potteries!)

Even for me, tea in a pot and a real cup and saucer!

And the nosh -- Mexican Bizcochitos.

Wonderful butter cookies topped with cinnamon and sugar and with a hint of anise and orange flavor

A great butter cookie with a mild anise flavor and topped with cinnamon and sugar.    If you visit Mary's site, you'll notice that I had a much heavier hand on my sprinkle than did she!

Although in New Mexico, it's a Christmas cookie, I think it's a cookie that's good enough to make all year long!

Mary's New Mexican Christmas Cookie
(Mexican Bizcochitos)

2 cups butter, softened
1 3/4 c. sugar, divided use
2 eggs
1/4 c. thawed orange juice concentrate
4 t. aniseed, crushed or ground
6 c. flour
3 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cream butter and 1 1/2 c. sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.    Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.    Beat in orange juice concentrate and aniseed.    Combine flour, baking powder and salt.    Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.    Cut with a floured 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter.    Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.  

Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar and sprinkle over cookies.    Bake for 12 to 15 minute for until golden brown.    Remove to wire racks.    Yield:   5 dozen.

It's Tuesday and I'm joining the tea parties this week:

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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reprise - Butternut Squash Lasagna

We love fall and we love fall foods.    Our favorite fall vegetable is a toss up between butternut squash and sweet potatoes.     Sweet potatoes often win because it is so hard to harvest the meat of the squash!   But when we do, delectable treats come out of Linderhof's kitchen.

This is Daughter Sarah's recipe and we make it often in winter for we love lasagna and we love the squash.    We have noticed that many stores will sell cubed squash which makes it easier to enjoy this dish although it is more expensive than the whole one.    We feel it is worth it!

This was posted last September 16 -- when I was recovering from my second knee surgery.    I'm happy to report that the knees are healed, unhappy that Daughter Sarah isn't visiting, but glad that I will be able to enjoy this delightful dish anytime!

It's Sunday and I'm joining Chari at Happy to Design for Sunday Favorites.

Daughter Sarah was here the first week after surgery which meant that tasty gourmet meals were served at Linderhof. After the hospital food, they were especially welcoming -- some were old family favorites and others were favorites of hers.

This is a great lasagna -- made with butternut squash and a white sauce rather than meat and a red sauce.

We ate it as a vegetarian main course, but it could also be served as a side dish alongside a grilled pork chop or perhaps a roasted pork loin.
With a salad and some crusty bread, it was a great dinner. And the good news . . . . there are two more pans in the fridge waiting to be baked so we'll get to enjoy this tasty lasagna again!

It's from the Boca Raton Junior League Cookbook and is easy to prepare (although I've never made it) but, alas, I can't share the recipe with you -- darling Sarah took the book upstairs and I've yet to traverse the stairs! I will, however, share it later.

It's Friday and although I'm "gimpy" its fun to participate again in Foodie Friday -- so please join Michael at Designs by Gollum to see what other tasty tempting treats are coming out of kitchens this Friday!

Thanks to Carolyn at A Southern Notebook, below is the recipe -- she has the cookbook and was kind enough to share!!! If you haven't visited her, please do.


3 pounds butternut squash
3 T. vegetable oil
salt to taste
4 c. milk
2 T. dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
1 T. minced garlic
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 c. flour
pepper to taste
9 uncooked lasagne noodles
8 ounces fontina cheese, thinly sliced
1 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 t. salt

Garnish: rosemary leaves

Cut the squash into quarters, discarding the seeds. Peel the squash and cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Toss with the oil. Spread in a single layer in 2 oiled shallow roasting pans. Roast at 450 for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt to taste and roast for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until tender and light golden brown.

Combine the milk with the rosemary in a saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a pitcher and reserve.

Saute the garlic in the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat until tender. Stir in the flour. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk. Simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened, whisking constantly. Stir in the squash and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the lasagne noodles using the package directios. Drain and hold in cold water until needed. Spread 1 cup of the squash sauce in a buttered 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Layer 3 noodles over the sauce. Spread with half the remaining sauce, half the fontina cheese and 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers ad top with a layer of noodles.

Beat the cream with 1/2 t. salt in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Spread evenly only the layers, covering completely. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil tented so as not to touch the top layer.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375. Bake the lasagne on the center oven rack for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes longer or until bubbly and golden brown. Garnish with rosemary.

Note: The squash mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface and store in the refrigerator.

Serves 6 as a main dish or 12 as a side dish.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The First Planting of Bulbs . . .

We love our garden flowers.     And one of our favorite seasons in the garden is Spring.     For the 23 years that we've lived at Linderhof, we've always planted bulbs -- some years more than others, but bulb planting is a rite of Fall!!!

My Wal Mart bulbs, the bone meal, and a trowel on a sunny fall day!

And this fall was no exception . . . instead of mail order bulbs, I picks these up at Wal Mart -- alliums which we found so charming in England this spring are new to the garden at Linderhof.   A package of daffodils that do so well in our garden and little grape hyacinths that are such cute spring flowers.

Because in Spring . . . I love the house to look like this . . .

King Alfred Daffodils in the sunroom -- for several years I bought king size bags of these at Costco to plant!

White ones in the living room -- bought mail order years and years ago!

And more of those white ones in the bedroom!

But I couldn't resist the mail order bulbs and so after these were planted I sent off for some aromatic daffodils, some little tete-a-tete daffodils, some snowdrops that I've wanted "forever" and have never ordered, some English bluebells for they were so pretty this year when we were in England, and some winter aconite that I fell in love with after seeing a post on Reggie's blog about these sweet yellow flowers. Alas, more planting . . . and this year I vowed to "not do as much"!!!!

The big bags of bulbs that I planted last year, I did not get to see for we were in England this year when most of them bloomed!!!     Sigh!!!  

But for a gardener, there is always "next year"!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Soup Supper

It was a cold and rainy night . . . .

The summer drought was broken last Saturday, thankfully, and even though we got rained out at the Farmer's Market, we welcomed the moisture for it had been so long since we had had any rain that even the lilac leaves were curling up!

And although it didn't rain all day, it did rain off and on most of the day.     And with a crisper full of odds and ends, it seemed like a soup day.

And it seemed like a company day as well and so we invited Friend Betty over to share soup with us.
Breakfast room table set for a simple soup supper

It was dark (and rainy once again) by the time Betty got there but it was fun to listen and watch the rain as we enjoyed a simple soup supper.

Spode Blue Room Soup bowls, atop Spode Blue Italian plates.   

With, of course, my beloved blue and white dishes -- and the German silver soup spoons.   Big soup spoons and the little English butter knives for we also had hot bread with rosemary.

Garlic chives and candlesticks

The garlic chives were still perky and made a delightful centerpiece flanked by the Asian blue and white candlesticks.

Empty the Crisper Vegetable Soup

Husband Jim proclaimed this the best vegetable soup I've ever made.     It was an empty the crisper soup never to be duplicated -- a few carrots and a whole lot of celery, two whole zucchini and fresh tomatoes, onions, of course, leftover prime rib, a few potatoes but not many and then just to add to the mix the rest of a bag of frozen white corn and a handful of TJ's fire roasted yellow corn and some frozen peas as well.

It made for a great rainy day supper, a super lunch the next day and Husband Jim finished it off the day after for lunch for I had a luncheon meeting.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Baking With Vegetables . . . At The Farmer's Market

Every year the Farmer's Market asks me to "Guest Chef" one Saturday.    It's always fun to think of a theme and figure out food to either bring that I've cooked at home for farmer market goers to sample or cook at the market.

For this Saturday I decided that "Baking With Vegetables" would be my theme and my tasting treats would include . . .

Jamie Oliver's Butternut Squash Muffins with a Frosty Top

Tomato Spice Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

all ready to be sampled.    With recipes in case they would like to buy some produce and make their own at home!

And since pumpkins and bittersweet are at the market, they decorated the table as well and as is my custom, I always give away a luncheon at Linderhof.     It's a great way to generate some interest at the market!

We had a grand time for an hour and a half and then a thunderstorm rolled in and the rain poured and poured . . . customers left, vendors left, and eventually so did we.

It's Wednesday and I'm joining Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.

The recipes:

Butternut Squash Muffins With A Frosty Top

14 ounces butternut squash, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 1/4 c. light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
handful of walnuts, chopped
1 t. ground cinnamon
3/4 c. olive oil

For the Frosted Top:

1 orange, zested
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 lemon, zested
1/2 c. sour cream
2 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1 t. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.    Line your muffin tins with paper cups.    Whiz the squash in a food processor until finely chopped.    Add the sugar and eggs.    Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whit together until well beaten.     Fill the paper cups with the muffin mixture.    Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.    Remove fro the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool.    To make the frosting:    Place most of the orange and lemon zest and lemon juice in a bowl.    Add sour cream, powdered sugar and vanilla and mix well.    When the muffins are cooked, spoon the topping onto the muffins.


2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. sugar and 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded and pureed to make 1 cup
1/4 c. sliced unblanched almonds
Preheat oven to 350 and butter and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan.    Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and mix.    Combine the oil, sugars and eggs in a large  bowl and beat with a mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes.    Beat in the pureed tomato.    Gradually add the flour mixture
blending well after each addition.    Pour the batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle the top with almonds.    Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until knife inserted into center comes out clean.    Transfer to a rack to cool for 5 minutes, then remove bread and continue to cool on rack.


2 c. flour
1 c. cocoa, sifted
1 t. allspice
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. melted butter
3/4 c. oil
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 cups zucchini, grated

Preheat oven to 350.    Line 20 muffin cups with muffin liners.   In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, allspice and cinnamon.    Set aside.    In medium bowl beat the sugar and melted butter.    Add the oil and eggs one at a time.    Stir in vanilla and add buttermilk and dry ingredients alternately until well mixed.    Stir in zucchini.    Bake until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and muffin tops are springy to the touch, 20 to 24 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time.    Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Afternoon Tea and Cake

Every afternoon at half past three I stop for a cup of tea and a nosh.     Sometimes I invite a friend to join me for it's always fun to have company for tea!

And if I have company to join me, the tea treat has to be more than just a couple of Biscoff's!

   I bought a bag of black walnuts while in Minnesota.    I adore black walnuts and growing up, black walnuts were the baking nut of choice.     Because we had a huge black walnut tree in the back yard and a big boxful of black walnuts were always on our back porch.     Whenever we needed nuts for cakes or cookies, Mom would hand me a hammer and my job was to crack enough nuts for baking.    As protective as my parents were, I am surprised that she allowed me to do that . . . but she did!    Probably because she told me to never touch the nut but just to hammer it on the cement back stairs!

There is a definitely in black walnuts and English walnuts.    Black walnuts have a much stronger flavor.   With a new bag of black walnuts and two new 6 cup bundt pans, I couldn't wait to bake.     So I made a black walnut bundt cake for tea.

With grandmother's crochet cloth on the table and her teapot full of tea, friend Judy joined me one afternoon.     Blue and white are the china of choice and I used my blue Italian things.

Tea plates and cups and saucers, wee tea napkins, a silver pastry server, the black walnut cake on a blue and white Asiatic pheasant plate.

The black walnut bundt cake with a glaze made from real maple syrup and powdered sugar.    More black walnuts are sprinkled on top.

The best part about this recipe . . .

It makes two . . . so there's one for the freezer!


1 cup chopped black walnuts
3 cups flour, divided
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 cup milk

Toss walnuts with 1/4 c. flour; set aside.    In a bowl, cream butter and sugar.    Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.    Add vanilla; mix well.

Combine the baking powder, salt and remaining flour; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk.   Stir in the reserved nut mixture.

Transfer to a greased and floured 10 in tube pan (or bundt pan).    Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.    Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

TO GLAZE:   Put about a cup of powdered sugar in a bowl.     Stir in enough real maple syrup until it is of spreading consistency.    Top with chopped black walnuts.

NOTE:   I baked my cakes in two 6 cup bundt pans instead of one bigger one.

  • It's Tuesday and I'm joining the tea parties this week:
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, September 18, 2011

Musical Chairs

I am working on genealogy -- trying to find my roots.    I'm not dedicated.   I hit a roadblock and then I put it down for a while.    So it's been a slow process.     I rediscovered Cousin Janet a few years ago and she promised that Cousin Lena had genealogical information and that when she found it . . .

She found it and I headed north and hopefully, Cousin Lena had a treasure trove of family history!

But Janet also said that she had a surprise for me . . . besides the information . . .

And what a surprise it was!!!!

Two sweet old chairs -- I'm not sure of their age but it appears that the back is handcarved and there is also carving on the legs.

The seats are covered in needlepoint -- and I can't think of a better seat covering than needlepoint and I adore the pink roses which are perfect for our bedroom.

She said they were family chairs -- from Cousin Lena who got them from her father, Uncle Eli, who got them from his mother, Elvesa.     Or so the story says.     Elvesa lived from 1856 to 1936 and was married in 1872.     The chairs -- I'm not sure of their age -- but I do treasure them.    She told me that she didn't have room for them and knew that I would appreciate them.    And she was right.

They replaced . . .

Cousin Grace's Chairs -- or at least two of them that were in our bedroom.

Cousin Grace's chairs are old as well and I think the styles are somewhat similar.    Cousin Grace's chairs got moved to . . .

 The breakfast room where they replaced

The Duncan Phyfe  Chairs that we painted black a few years ago.     I like the wooden chairs with the table in the breakfast room because the sideboard is painted black and it's a better contrast I think.

It's Monday and I'm joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Met Monday.    It was fun to play "musical chairs" this week when I brought my gift home!!!!

Oh, and the information of Cousin Lena's that I got from Cousin Janet opened doors on my genealogical quest!!!!     I'm still whirling from the information I found with the leads I got from Cousin Lena!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Reprise -- The Blue Bowls

As you all know I love everything blue and white and my bowls are some of my prized possession.    I fill them seasonally -- sometimes (the big blue bowl on the dining room table is a fall/Christmas fill only), and they do reflect the changing of seasons at Linderhof.    

It's our first really cool day and a rainy day as well so it feels like fall.    Alas, I've not got my bowls filled with fall things as yet . . . but soon I shall.        I do have a big pot of vegetable soup simmering on the stove and I'll make some homemade beer bread -- it's a soup kind of night here on the prairie.

I'm joining Chari at Happy to Design for Sunday Favorites.     My beloved blue and white is always a favorite at Linderhof!!!

And I'm joining The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays.

I love blue and white and besides dishes, blue and white objects fill Linderhof. I'm extremely partial to blue and white bowls -- there is one on top of the Chinese cabinet in the living room -- the Chinese cabinet in the dining room sports three! And tabletops are perfect for a blue and white bowl!!!

And those tabletop bowls are perfect for seasonal decorating! What fun it is to decorate them each season!

On the coffee table in the living room is a Spode bowl in an octagon shape and sometimes it's filled and sometimes not -- depending on the season. If it's empty and push comes to shove and I'm having company, one of the orchids fit perfectly into the bowl and give color for the evening.

The potpouri of summer gives way to an assortment of mini pumpkins and bittersweet for fall. It will stay this way through Thanksgiving until we're ready to decorate for Christmas.

On the dining room table is a huge blue and white bowl -- a coveted item that was way more than my purse but one sale at Tuesday Morning, they had an assortment of big blue and white bowls -- we were in Las Vegas for a meeting when the sale occurred and dear Husband Jim drove me to a Tuesday Morning just so I could get that bowl that I had dreamed of. And then I had it shipped back home!!!!

I knew it would be perfect for the dining room table as a centerpiece and I actually love the empty bowl as a centerpiece -- it's really too big to hold flowers for a dinner party and so often, it is relegated to the space under the sideboard when we have company.

But in fall filled with pumpkins and bittersweet it does make the perfect centerpiece! And I love the oranges and greens and whites of the pumpkins and gourds with the blue and white.

The breakfast room table changes often - the blue and white bowl gives way to a vase or a pitcher full of garden flowers -- and sometimes, we have both -- if the blue and white bowl is filled with fruit then the smaller blue and white pitcher with garden flowers completes the vignette.

And for fall -- Farmer's Market apples which we'll replenish week after week -- I love the smell of apples that permeate the room. And I like the mix of green and the rusty red of local apples (rather than the too perfect colors of supermarket apples). They're not for decoration -- they are for eating and we'll often munch on one near bedtime.

I've been slow this year with fall -- knee surgery does that but then when I realized that Friday was October . . . . alas, I needed pumpkins!!!!! Our local Farmer's market is a great source for both pumpkins and bittersweet (and a really nice bittersweet wreath came home with me as well).

Friday, September 16, 2011

An A-MAYE-ZING Evening . . . .

Crooners Lounge - Fort Scott

Last Saturday found us "out on the town" -- for dinner and a show.       Dinner was at Crooner's Lounge which is attached to Fort Scott's beloved Liberty Theatre.     It's always a fun evening when we have dinner before the show at Crooner's and last Saturday night was no exception.

Dinner was wonderful . . .

To start:   a fig barbecue sauced duck on flatbread

The appetizer of flatbread with duck, apple and a fig barbecue sauce and . . .

Prime rib carved to order -- just one of the entrees on the buffet

Prime rib carved to order and . . .

chippino -- the best I've tasted outside of San Francisco!

Cioppino  -- full of scallops, mussels and oysters . . .

and the "A-Maye-Zing" part of the evening . . .

Miss Marilyn Maye herself!!!!     An hour and a half of  the best female jazz singer in America.     She plays New York City several times a year and here she is in our little town on the prairie!!!    

Marilyn is a "local" having been born in Wichita, Kansas and for many years she played at The Colony in Kansas City (and I got to see her there when I was a sophisticated career girl on a date) and we think we are so fortunate that this is her fourth performance at our beloved Liberty.      She loves Fort Scott and Fort Scott loves her!!!!

She has the distinction of having been on the Johnny Carson's show more times than anyone else (76, I believe) and I do remember years ago seeing our local celebrity sitting in the chair next to Johnny.    She was one of his favorite performers -- they understood each other for they were both midwesterners!

We small towners like to feel that we are as sophisticated as our big city cousins -- it's easy to feel that way after a gourmet meal at Crooners followed by a Marilyn Maye performance.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

50 Women Game Changers in Food - #15 - Sheila Lukins and Julee Russo

The world changed when The Silver Palate opened in New York City.     And the world changed further when The Silver Palate Cookbook was published in 1982.      As a young wife and mother, that cookbook opened a different food world for me.     I loved the way the cookbook was written and illustrated and I loved the food inside those pages.     It was fun to experiment with those recipes.      And their Chicken Marbella is now a classic.

The women behind The Silver Palate and The Silver Palate Cookbook are Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.     They sold The Silver Palate in 1988 but continued to write cookbooks together, but eventually went their separate ways.    In 2007, they reunited for the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Silver Palate Cookbook.

Sheila Lukins passed away at the young age of 66 in 2009.    Julee Russo is back in her home state of Michigan running a bed and breakfast with her husband.    I imagine that the breakfast part has to be stupendous!

I have wanted to join in the 50 Women Game Changers in Food for some time and I was pleased that I could join in week No. 15.    For I truly admire these women and the contributions that they made.

I decided to make their carrot cake which I had not done before for I thought I had a pretty good carrot cake recipe.    But I had company coming and needed a dessert and carrot cake is always a winner!

The story as told by Julee and Sheila is that one of their Mom's (I can't remember who) would drive the carrot cakes down to Manhattan daily from her Connecticut kitchen.    But then that's a mother for you!

The Cake

The Silver Palate Carrot Cake

The Recipe

3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 t. salt
1 T. baking soda
1 T. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 T. vanilla
1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 1/2 c. pureed cooked carrots
3/4 c. drained crushed pineapple
1 1/2 c. coconut

Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350.    Grease two 9 inch springform pans (or use regular cake pans with buttered wax paper lining in the pan bottoms)

Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon into a bowl.    Add eggs, oil and vanilla.    Beat well.    Fold in walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth tops with a rubber spatula.    Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake until edges have pulled away from sides and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Cool 15 minutes, then remove sides of pans and place layers still on pan bottoms on cake racks to cool completely, 3 hours.   (or remove from cake pans and cool on cake racks).

Gently remove layers from pan bottoms and use cream cheese frosting to fill cake and frost the sides.    Dust top of cake with powdered sugar.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 T. butter, room temperature
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 T. lemon juice

Cream butter and cream cheese.    Slowly sift in the powdered sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated and lump free.    Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.

I did omit the coconut because I didn't know the tastes of my guests and I find that people either love coconut or loathe it -- there is no middle ground!

I also frosted the whole cake rather than putting powdered sugar on top -- it's shown that way in the new The Silver Palate Cookbook.

I also decorated the top of the cake with walnut halves.

Half the cake left!!!!

Four pieces of cake for my guests!

And a piece for me!!!!     After my guests leave!

Will I make this cake again, definitely.    I really really liked it especially the pineapple.    Will it replace my tried and true carrot cake -- perhaps.    It was really good.

I must admit that as other cookbooks  came along, both of the Silver Palate cookbooks got relegated to the sunroom.    I didn't cook from them as much as I used to.  Ina Garten and Anna Pump replaced them actually.    It was fun getting them both out and going through them again -- so many pages brought back so many great memories.    And it's been a while since I've made Chicken Marbella -- I think that soon I shall have to remedy that!

It's also Foodie Friday and I'm sharing the carrot cake with Michael at Designs by Gollum.