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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Treats for the Committee . . .

Any project is successful because of the committee behind the project.    The plotting and planning necessary  to make a success out of an idea.     I volunteer often to hold a committee meeting here, at Linderhof.    It's easy . . . for a small committee, the breakfast room is the prefect spot and if there are more committee members, there is always the dining room table.

When a committee meeting is at my house, there are always treats before . . . . juices flow better when well fed!

And last week, friends came for a meeting.    A small committee of four.    

I like to have everything ready before my guests arrive.

So our meeting was held in the breakfast room . . . and since it was a morning meeting, we had coffee and coffee cake before the meeting.

A morning meeting always calls for coffee; an afternoon one iced tea.

My blue and white breakfast coffeepot is perfect for morning coffee and Spode mugs rather than cups and saucers (they take up less room on the table).

And the nosh . . .

The recipe calls for a 9 x 13 pan but I like to make it in two round pans.   One for now and one in the freezer for later!

An orange cranberry coffee cake.

Our first one is made when the first cranberries arrive at the market.

Full of orange zest and fresh cranberries.    We make it only during this time of the year.    But it's a treat we always look forward to.

Committee meetings always go better when the committee is fortified with coffee and cake!

Spode plates for the cake and some of my bone handled English forks to eat the cake with.    It's fall and the acorn bridge tablecloth and napkins seem perfect.

It's Tuesday so . . .

I'm joining the Tuesday 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, October 30, 2011

It's Almost Halloween . . .

It's almost Halloween -- for today is Halloween Eve . . .

I love Halloween for I adore the little children all decked out in costumes who come "begging" for candy.   I dress as a witch and sit outside and hand out full size candy bars to the little imps.  

When it comes to Halloween decorations, I'm of the less is more variety and I prefer ours to be outside and out just a day or two before Halloween.     I prefer mine to be jack o lanterns and only jack o lanterns.

I love these two concrete jack o lanterns -- 363 days of the year they are concrete sculpture -- pumpkins but on Halloween Eve and Halloween itself, I turn them around . . . and they are happy jack o lanterns ready to light the night.

And each year, I buy one special pumpkin.    One pumpkin to be turned into the Halloween jack o lantern. To show the entrance to the "witchy lair" . . . A perfect pumpkin . . . which I carve. . .

Into the perfect jack o lantern.

But one of my neighbors, turned this . . .

A big old tree . . .

Into this -- the perfect Halloween/Haunted House tree turned into a pumpkin tree.     A plethora of plastic pumpkins hanging from the bare branches of the tree . . . I am enchanted!

And as our neighbors turned an ordinary  tree into a Halloween tree so I turned . . .

A bowl of apples from Minnesota into . . .

A bowl of applesauce, which I then turned into . . .

A spiced applesauce cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

A perfect fall cake.    A perfect cake to tote to our church's annual Reformation Sunday Potluck.    Luckily, the dessert table was full and so I was able to bring home a couple of pieces for they made a perfect nosh

For a Sunday afternoon tea on the porch.      After church and after a nap and after planting the final two packages of spring bulbs and after carving my Halloween pumpkin into a jack o lantern.

It was peaceful on the porch as I sipped my tea (Harney's Cinnamon which is a perfect fall tea and a perfect compliment to the spiced applesauce cake) because . . .

Someone got left inside!    He waited patiently by the door in case, just in case, I decided to let him join me.   He thought at least one bite of that cake had his name on it!!!!!

It's Monday and I'm joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Met Monday for it is fun to see a tree transform into a Halloween tree and a bowl of apples turn into an afternoon tea nosh!

The cake is from Smitten Kitchen and is a very good cake -- she said it keeps well but since we took it to church, we didn't get to find out -- the two pieces we brought home were for afternoon tea.    It is a good cake, made better, I think, by using my own homemade applesauce.  


2 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/8 t. ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. walnuts, toasted, cooled and chopped

5 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 T. butter, softened
1/4 t. vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.    Butter an 8 or 9 inch square cake pan.   

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.    Beat butter, brown sugar nd vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.    Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce.    At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts.    The batter will look a little curdly and uneven, but don't worry, it will all bake up perfectly in the end.    Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.    Cool in pan 15 minutes.    Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate.    Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely.     

Make frosting:    Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy.   Sift powdered sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.    Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

It's Halloween -- and the ghosts and goblins have their fingers in my post . . . click on the vertical box and a picture will appear . . . don't ask me why this happened . . . but if it had to happen, a Halloween post seems an appropriate post for a "missing" picture!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reprise - The Frost is On the Pumpkin . . .But the Pumpkins in the Oven"

First posted on October 22, 2009.    We always make pumpkin bread in October -- it is a favorite tea bread in the fall (second only to gingerbread).     We've had threats of frost on the prairie the last week or so but we've luckily escaped a killing freeze and thus our pumpkins have been "frostless" so far!

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

It has been cool on the prairie and we've had near frosts but not the "black" killing frost as yet. These touches have left a bit of frost on the pumpkins on the doorstep and in the garden.

In October, we get our our stash of pumpkin recipes . . . and although those frosty outdoor pumpkins don't make an appearance in our kitchen, pumpkin breads, muffins, cookies and soups do.

Three little loaves of pumpkin bread on the breakfast room table.
We made pumpkin bread this week. We like the recipe because it makes two loaves which means that you can give some to a friend, neighbor or shutin and have some for the freezer.

It calls for orange juice but I added orange zest as well -- it's the best part of the orange!

I love to bake breads in these little loaves -- and four little loaves is the same as one big one. Whenever I bake this recipe, I'll make one big loaf and four little ones. The little ones are great for tea -- spread with either softened cream cheese or European butter.

Pumpkin Bread

2/3 cup shortening
2 2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin
2/3 cup orange juice
grated zest of one orange
3 1/2 cups flour
2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1 cup raisins (I like golden)

Cream sugar and shortening well in a large mixing bowl.

Add eggs one at a time and mix.

Add pumpkin and juice and mix.

Add grated rind and mix.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix with pumpkin mixture. Do not over mix.

Fold in nuts and raisins with a wooden spoon.

Grease and flour two 5 x 7 bread loaf pans and divide batter evenly between the two baking pans.

Bake bread for an hour and fifteen minutes at 350 degrees. (Less time is needed for the little loaves -- I often make one big one and four little ones).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some Daughter Time

Daughter Sarah and her Andy live too far away -- an eight hour drive -- which means that visits are too far between.

But when we came home from New England we decided to come home from the North and thus made Minneapolis our last vacation stop.    

Free room and board is always a great way to end a vacation!!!!   And Sarah and Andy are perfect hosts.

Sunday afternoon while the guys watched football, she and I did some shopping errands and then had lunch together.    It was a great mother/daughter afternoon.

For lunch, we went to the a quaint place . . .

In Linden Hills . . .

We ate inside -- but by the window -- it was a little chilly for outdoor dining.

With dining outside.

The food looked amazing and we both decided on . . .

We should have got cups instead of bowls but it was so good that we each ate our whole bowl!

The potato ham soup.     A great lunch for a fall day.

And we shared . . .

Roasted Apple Salad that we want to try to make at home.

The roasted apple salad.  

   Which we took apart as we ate so that we could replicate it at home -- it was sooo good!     Roasted apple chunks (with the peels on), chopped nuts, blue cheese, arugula and a vinaigrette.     It will be a great salad to serve with a grilled pork chops and some creamy potatoes gratin.    She and I both are on a mission to recreate it in our own homes.    We'll see who does it first.    My money, actually, is on Sarah!

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Autumn Luncheon

The Lunch Bunch came to Linderhof last week for our October Lunch.    It is always fun to have these friends come for lunch.    We get to catch up on what we've done the month before and give updates on children and grandchildren!

Fall is one of my favorite times and I love autumnal tables.    Lunch, as usual, was served in the breakfast room overlooking the garden.

Setting the table is one of the first things I do whenever I have company.

The breakfast room table set for luncheon . . .

A fabulous set of vintage linens at a ridiculously low price -- you couldn't get a new set for the $12 that I paid for these at an antique shop in New York.

With my newest tablecloth bought at an antique shop in New York.    I loved the embroidered acorns -- what a perfect tablecloth for fall!

A little small for a luncheon napkin much better for dessert and coffee or afternoon tea.

They're wee napkins with the same embroidery and a wonderful detail to the edge.    It's really a bridge set methinks because the cloth is square and the napkins are small.

And for the centerpiece . . .

The pumpkins are faux but don't tell -- they last longer and you don't have to worry about stains on furniture or linens!

Bittersweet in a blue and white vase and wound around pumpkins on the table.

Spode Blue Room always sets a pretty table no matter what the season!

My beloved blue and white, a menu with a pumpkin picture, my Hotel cutlery.    The tablecloth has the same edge detail as the napkins.

Looking from the back of the breakfast room .

Table set and all ready for company.    At each place, a New England gift . . .

I'm in love with the Bar Harbor Tea Company -- their blueberry is wonderful and their Christmas Tea (yes, I rushed the season) is full of Christmas flavor!
A tin of Bar Harbor Blueberry Tea.

And the menu . . .

I love the red, white and blue!

Roasted caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and the last of the basil from the garden.

Moments before the guest arrive!

All set in place before the guests arrived.  

The entree . . .

Eggplant Parmesan with penne pasta with homemade marinara sauce and a fresh basil leaf.

And for dessert . . .

I love fresh raspberries but they are dearer than blueberries or strawberries but decided to splurge for The Lunch Bunch.

A raspberry tart.    Glazed raspberries over a white chocolate filling.

Four for lunch means there's two pieces for dinner dessert!

Which went perfectly with the blueberry tea that I brewed for dessert.    A taste of the tea in their tin!

The white chocolate raspberry tart was embarrassingly simple -- a white chocolate filling topped with fresh raspberries.     With a Pillsbury crust, it was an easy dessert . . and an elegant dessert.


1 pie crust, baked
1 box instant white chocolate instant pudding
3 cups raspberries
1/2 c. seedless raspberry preserves
1 T. water or Frambois

Prepare pudding according to package directions and pour into pre baked pie crust.     Refrigerate until firm.    Put raspberries on top of filling (I made rings).    Mix raspberry preserves with water or Frambois and heat until preserves are melted.    Brush onto the raspberries.    Refrigerate pie until serving time.


I just slice my eggplant, dip in egg and then roll in Italian seasoned bread crumbs.   I brown the eggplant slices.    Put some marinara sauce in the bottom of a pan, lay the eggplant on top, add a slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each eggplant slice, pour the rest of the marinara sauce over all and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.    I baked at 350 for about a half hour or so.

It's Thursday and I'm joining Susan and all the other sweet ladies at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

If It's Oktober -- it must be Oktoberfest!!!!

As everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick's Day, so is everyone German in Oktober.     I must admit that the Germans know how to party heartier than the Irish for it's Saint Patrick's Day while the German's celebrate Oktober which is a whole month!!!

My heritage is German -- on both my mother's and my father's side.    My German roots run deep.     So I embrace Oktoberfest!!!

Ein Bier Bitte

And every Oktober for the past 17 years, Husband Jim and I do a labor of love for his Rotary Club -- we put on an Oktoberfest for the Club and their guests.     100 (give or take one or two) attend each year for German food and drink!

Remember the brats that I boiled yesterday . . . . they were grilled and served up to hungry wanna be "Germans"!

The brats grilled to perfection!

All 150 of them!!!! (The brats -- there weren't that many wanna be Germans).

While I prep and cook all the food for the party, Husband Jim is not idle . . .

A welcome sign for the Rotary Club!

he's at the shelter house in our city park, turning it into a little bit of Bavaria.

The secret to our good German food is not what I do in the kitchen but what is done in the park . . . with the brats, with the potato salad and with the sauerkraut and apple crisp . .

Our grill guys!      With Petunia -- the BBQ Pig!!!

And inside, with banners and lights . . ..

New this year -- Husband Jim's lederhosen T-shirt -- my T-shirt was a dirndl complete with cleavage -- sign -- no picture!

Our guests enjoy visiting pre-dinner

And visiting during dinner . .

The banners in the background are the flags of the different German states.

While the buffet line stays open for seconds (and sometimes thirds) are not unheard of!

I waited until "seconds" were on the table -- I would have had a riot if I had made everyone wait for food while I snapped a picture -- Husband Jim understands but I'm not sure 100 wanna be German's would have!

For this is half the food I fixed today -- brats and sauerkraut and hot German potato salad.

We reheat the German potato salad in the grill -- I think it makes it better!

My German grandmother's potato salad which I've updated by using those little red potatoes which I do not peel!

After dinner and after the apple crisp, we have drawings for prizes which Husband Jim has procured.  

More visiting, perhaps just one more brat and another beer . . . and then it's time to take down all the banners and flags and lights, wrap up any leftover food, and load our cars.     Luckily, we have many hands to help us with clean up . . . but tomorrow, it shall be I alone who puts all the boxes back in the Oktoberfest corner of the garage -- where they will live quietly until they're called to duty next Oktober.

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Busy Day but Always at Half Past Three . . .

Our custom is to stop whatever we're doing at half past three and brew a pot of tea.   And with that pot of tea, a tea treat.     Most days that tea treat is taken in the breakfast room -- which in the afternoon should be called "The Tea Room", I suppose.

We can watch the antics of the birds, admire, perhaps,  some gardening that we've done that morning and enjoy the change in the back garden as one season turns into another!     This time of years, leaves often fill the garden -- even though we chase after them on an almost daily basis.

Today was a busy day, but at half past there . . .

It's Half Past Three!

It's me in the sunroom with a pot of Bar Harbor Christmas Tea (it's a great tea even in October) and some oatmeal raisin cookies (my favorite "Cookie Jar" cookies!)

Cass and I share a love of Indies -- it fits in perfectly at Linderhof and at That Old House!
I may have sent her a big blue bowl, but I'm not sending her my wee tea pot!

Brewed in my wee Johnson Brothers Indies tea pot which I brought home from a long ago trip to England. This trip, I had planned to get one for my friend Cass from That Old House for she shares my love of Indies, but I never saw one.   This wee pot makes the perfect pot of tea for one and I use it almost every afternoon!

Love the change in sun and shadows as the seasons change.

I love how the sunlight in the room changes with the season.    How the October light is so much lower than summer light!

It was a busy day at Linderhof today -- linen laundry (for Monday is always sheet day), a quick tidy before I was off on errands to post office and market for I had a lot to do!!!!

Tomorrow is the Rotary Oktoberfest and it's my Labor of Love for the Rotary Club.    Husband Jim is a member and if it were the old days I'd be a member of the Rotary Anns.     But in the 70's, women were eligible to become Rotarians and so the wifely group was disbanded.    I like to think that I'm a "Rotary Ann" club of one!!!!

The Labor of Love is the food for Oktoberfest -- I prepare brats and all the trimmings using my grandmother's recipes for potato salad and coleslaw and sauerkraut for 100 Rotarians and their guests.
Today . . .

Once the brats are done I have two big containers of cold, greasy beer!

I boiled 100 brats in beer.     It's that pre boiling in beer that makes the brats so juicy when grilled at the park.    With my roaster and it's lid on stove top, it doesn't take long to cook 150 brats!

And while the brats were boiling, I wanted to do some testing for my Baked Gifts class that I'll be doing on November 3 and so armed with the cutest little paper pans (which make a great gift container), I tried a new recipe for a lemon tea bread.  

The batter can be baked in many shapes even though the original recipe called for loaves.

The batter tasted good.    The cakes are now baked and have cooled . . . but I'll save a taste test for another tea!  

And then . . .

Red Barron Apples and a University of Minnesota Test Apples from our visit with Daughter Sarah and her Andy.

I noticed that there were just a few of these left . . . and so I made another batch of applesauce.    It is just the best.   Part of the applesauce will be served at dinner for it will be perfect with the pork tenderloin that I'll serve for dinner.

After tea, there is the laundry to fold and the pillowcases and a few napkins to iron.      It was a busy day at Linderhof but a day in which I did things I enjoy.    

There is nothing like a tidy house, good food smells wafting through the house, and clean sheets on the bed!

Mondays are always good days at Linderhof!

I'm joining the Tuesday 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, October 23, 2011

Putting Food By . . .

That's what my grandmother called it as each summer she would fill jars (from little to big) with the summer's bounty.      In earlier times, it was the winter food supply but in grandmother's time, it was a luxury not a necessity.

Jars of jelly that shined like gems, jars full of  vegetables in all colors of the rainbow, and jars and jars of pickled vegetables.

My mother canned as well -- she bought and put up a bushel of green beans and a bushel of peaches.    The grapevine in the back yard provided fruit for jam for the winter, and the pear tree provided pears which she made into what she called "pear honey".     They were treats to us and the beans were saved for winter Sunday dinners while the grape jam was always on the breakfast table.

I've canned (and frozen) for the winter as well and like my mother and grandmother, it was because I wanted to not because I had to.

But I haven't really done anything for several years other than pesto.

And then in the last couple of weeks . . .

I bought a peck of crabapples when we visited Daughter Sarah in Minneapolis.    Bought for one purpose only - to make into a crabapple jelly!

Crabapples make great jelly and all you need is the fruit and sugar for the crabapples themselves have enough pectin in them that, when cooked properly, will cause the juice to jell.

It's a pretty pink jelly for you cook the crabapples with the skin . . . and a peck of crabapples made . . .

three jars of jelly.     Considering that the crabapples cost $11.25 and there is cost of sugar as well -- each of these jars is worth at least $4 which doesn't even consider my time!     They are not "gold" but are close to it!     We shall, however, enjoy these little jars this winter and I'll think of autumn when I spent an afternoon with the jam kettle boiling . .  .

And besides the crabapples, at the Applefest, we also bought regular apples.    Red Barron's (which I've never heard of).   Bought not for pies nor for jelly but for applesauce!

It's easy if you use the oven method.    It freezes well and it is absolutely the best applesauce.    I'll never buy canned sauce again!

It made a nice quantity -- enough for dinner, enough for breakfast (for it's really good with yogurt) and enough to eat as luncheon dessert.      Two jars were put in the freezer -- for those winter days when we have pork chops.

Not bought at the Applefest nor even at the Farmer's market, but a gift from a friend was a flat of Roma tomatoes . . .

Some of which we roasted . . .

For oven roasted tomatoes are almost, almost as good as sun dried tomatoes and can last a while in the fridge.     Roasted tomatoes make a really good caprese salad for the roasting intensifies the tomato flavor.
We ate caprese for dinner and I served luncheon guests caprese as well.    The remainder are in the fridge -- for we'll have another caprese this week!

I didn't have enough pans to roast all of the tomatoes so with the remainder, I made . . .

Marinara sauce.    Three quart jars.    One of which was used immediately for eggplant parmesan.   The other two were put in the freezer for quick meals.

It always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when I "put food by" through either canning or freezing.    That I am providing well for my family.  

We'll enjoy the fruits of my labors during the next few months as I pull a jar from the pantry or freezer.

Since it's Monday, I'm joining Yvonne at Stone Gable for Menu Monday.    Stop by Stone Gable and see what everyone is fixing this week!