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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


One of the stops on our Panama Canal cruise was in Cartegena, Columbia.   Neither Husband Jim nor I have ever been to South America and we were excited to be able to visit this city in not only a new country but a new continent.

We walked up to the wall inside of which was the old city . . .

Cartagena, Columbia

Through the arched doorways and we walked a couple of blocks to

The square

Simone de Bolivar square.     A shady place with park benches

Columbia women transport fruits and vegetables in bowls on their head.    They have perfect posture!

And natives as well as tourists.

In the middle of the square a statute to honor

Simone de Bolivar -- a hero to the Columbians.      We've very familiar with Bolivar for there is a town not too far form our town on the prairie that also has a statue of Simone de Bolivar on their square for the name of the town is Bolivar (pronounced Balivar) and yes, it was named after the same Simone de Bolivar!

We enjoyed sitting in the park

And I worked on my needlepoint.    The canvas bought in England . . . and so close to being finished.

After our respite in the square, we crossed the street to the


Which we found to be a beautiful church.     

In the area by the dock where our ship was, we got to see some native birds . . . 



Of all the places that we went on our cruise, we both agreed that Cartagena was our favorite.    Perhaps it was because it was such a laid back sort of day -- a walk in the old town, a sit in the square and a visit to a beautiful cathedral.

It's Wednesday and I'm sharing our day in Cartagena with Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's Blue for You and Blue for Me and Blue for Tea!

I write a column for our local paper, The Herald Tribune, which appears every Saturday.    I've been doing it for a long time now (since 1997) and have a nice readership both here in my little town on the prairie (That's "The Tribune")  and the little town 20 miles east of us (That's "The Herald").     We lived for 17 years in that little town so we have loads of acquaintances and lots of friends there.

I received an email from one of those acquaintances about some blue and white china that she had . . . would I like to look at it?    Would I like to look at it!!!!!   Of course!

So arrangements were made for her to come to Linderhof with china in tow and I invited her to share a cup of tea as well.

The breakfast room table all set up for tea and awaiting my friend's arrival.

Since it was a "blue and white" sort of day -- I set the table with an assortment of blue and white.

A mixture of blues make for a pretty table.

A Spode Blue Italian teapot, a Masons "muffin" dish filed with scones.   Meyer lemon curd in my Indies open sugar.

Spode Blue Italian cups, saucers and tea plates.     A pearl handled knife to spread the curd.

The hyacinths in bloom lending a heavenly aroma to the breakfast room.

And a trio of hyacinths for a centerpiece!

We drank tea, ate warm from the oven scones spread with homemade lemon curd  and chatted and had a grand time.

And the china she brought . . .

Alfred Meakin Blue Florette.    It's a lovely pattern and far different than any of my other blue and white.   And with a real English tea cup as well!

A set for 8 with 8 plates, cups, saucers, tea plates, soup bowls, fruit bowls, a vegetable dish, a platter and a sugar and creamer.

Sigh -- my china cabinets are bulging and I didn't feel that I could get another set of china in -- sigh -- but I do know where Sandy lives -- in case I change my mind!

It's Tuesday and I'm joining the Tuesday parties:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

If It's January It Must be Hyacinth Time

I love flowers indoors and all during the growing season of spring, summer and fall, there are always flowers on the breakfast room table and often a bouquet in the living room and on my bedside table as well.

But, alas, come the first freeze and the flowers of the garden are gone.    In November, we have pumpkins and bittersweet to fill bowls instead of vases on tabletops and in December there are poinsettias  and Christmas greens.

To insure flowers in January, we force bulbs.      Paperwhites and hyacinths.     The paperwhites in blue and white bowls and pots (stored in the basement just for this purpose) and the hyacinths in forcing vases -- made especially to coax hyacinths into bloom.

January centerpiece of hyacinths in the forcing vases

I have a nice collection -- bought slowly over the years -- two more green ones (one a twin of the one on the table) and another pink one.     I would like a couple of more blue ones for they would be smashing with my blue and white china!

And last spring when we were in England, at one of the Antique Centres we went to . . .

I've never seen so many forcing vases in one place.   
There was this lovely display!      How I wanted to bring one or two or three home with me -- but, alas, I stayed away from anything breakable -- too much to worry about on the long plane trip home!

I must admit that I've always been a purist as to color -- although the vases are various colors -- the hyacinths themselves are always all of one color.

This year -- the color is


I love the aroma especially first thing in the morning!   It makes one smile!

A pure perfect white.    And the fragrance in the breakfast room is heady.

I must confess, however, that this year I didn't force the bulbs -- for we left before the end of the year and there would be no one at Linderhof to "fuss" with the bulbs.   I bought a pot of hyacinths in the bud, washed off the dirt and plunked them into my vases.     Sigh.    Which is why I only have three this year!

But I really can't imagine a year without hyacinths and so if I have to resort to trickery, I have to resort to trickery!

Today, a lot of odds and ends of chores got done at Linderhof . . . But at 3:30, I put the kettle on for my afternoon tea.
It's half past three!

It's always the perfect place in winter for a cup of afternoon tea!

I love this wee teapot and teacup and saucer.

My wee Burleigh Asiatic Pheasant teapot -- perfect for two cups of tea -- and a matching cup and saucer.  

Slices of lemon apricot tea bread will be my afternoon tea treat this week.

And for a nosh, the lemon apricot tea bread I made yesterday.    Not just a bread for tea but a bread with tea for it has tea infused milk as it's liquid.    And, of course, the apricots I used were my boozy apricots which gave an added flavor to the bread.

It came yesterday in the Relish magazine and the recipe is a keeper!


1 1/4 c. milk
4 bags English Breakfast tea
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar (plus 1 T)
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. canola oil
1 T. lemon juice
2 t. finely grated lemon peel
1/2 c. dried apricots, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.   Grease bottom of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until hot but not boiling; remove from heat and add tea bags.    Cover and let steep 6 to 7 minutes; remove tea bags, gently squeezing out milk and discard bags.    Let cool.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, 3/4 c. sugar, baing powder and salt.    In another medium bowl, combine egg oil, lemon juice and 1 up cooled milk tea.   (Mixture will curdle lightly.)    Add egg mixture to dry mixture, stirring just until moistened.    Fold in lemon peel and apricots.

Spoon batter into prepared pan.    Bake 50 to 55 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, stir remaining milk tea with 2 T. sugar.    While bread is still in pan, brush tea-sugar miture over top of loaf.   Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Last Few Days . . .

The last few days have been fun.    They've been "play days" -- First with friend Shirley Ann and a trip to Joplin.    For some errands.    For some fun.    For a good lunch.     

The errands were gotten out of the way first and then we headed for a favorite antique mall.    We've not been in a while and so it was fun to peruse the booths.

And treasures came home with me . . .

I've been looking for a big Quaker Lace tablecloth for a long time!

A Quaker Lace tablecloth for the dining room table (I've got one for the breakfast room table).     The last time I was at the this Mall, I had looked at the cloth but I thought it was a bit too pricey and so I passed it by.

This time, however, everything in the booth was half price.    Home it came with me.    It's in good shape with no holes and shall be on the dining room table the next time we have company.    

I love lace cloths and there is none finer than Quaker Lace.

Everyone knows I love blue and white and this week found out that I also collect the Asian influenced bird and mum pattern.    My other love, however, is white or cream china with a gold rim.

And there in a booth was 12 plates

I love gold rimmed cream or white china.

A creamy rim and white inside with a nice gold rim.    Twelve lovely little dessert plates.

Marked Limoges - C. Ahrenfeldt.     For Loring and Andrews, Cincinnati.    I looked up C. Ahrenfeldt and found that this mark was used between 1894 and the 1930's.     I couldn't find anything about Loring and Andrews, however.    But I'm sure if they had C. Ahrenfeldt's company make them some wonderful china dessert plates that they were a high level store.

Yesterday, friend Sally and I went to Joplin.   First to Sandstone where we oohed and ached, had a great lunch and friend Sally found two great concrete urns for the garden.    On the way back we stopped at an Antique Store (read store not antique mall) in the little town South of us.    

Dapper's Antiques is a gem of a store and we were gobsmacked by the quality of the merchandise!

Reluctantly we left without anything . . . and then this morning when I ran over on an errand, Sally mentioned that she should have bought an embroidered table doily.    

We agreed that since we weren't doing anything today that we'd go back south right after lunch.

Sally made some purchases (besides the table doily that was the reason for the trip) and I came home
with these lovely linens

A linen and lace tablecloth which were used as "napkins" at Dappers.
A matching runner.

Five "napkin/placemats".     I'm not sure of their age.

When I helped Sally bring her loot inside, she showed me her 100 year old Christmas cactus.    It was a true old fashioned Christmas cactus -- you could tell by the bracts.    I asked for a start . . . 

A true old fashioned Christmas cactus.

And she gave me this -- a whole little plant.    Which I shall treasure!    Hers was blooming and it has a very pretty bloom.    I'm hoping that I'll be able to get this little guy to bloom this year.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the kitchen, for  this morning, in the Relish magazine which comes in our morning paper was this recipe
This will definitely go into my recipe book.

For Lemon Apricot Tea Bread.

Fresh out of the oven.

With everything in the pantry, I baked a loaf.    I substituted, of course, my "boozy" apricots.   (The story and recipe can be found HERE.)

Cooled and ready to wrap for next week's teas.

Which shall be my afternoon tea treat this week.

It's cooler today and a stew sounded like a good dinner.     With a package of veal in the freezer, I made our favorite veal stew -- blanquette de veau with spring vegetables.
Nothing better on a chilly winter night than  a LeCreuset pot filled with stew.

Even though it isn't spring.     Nice pieces of veal and a wine and chicken flavored broth  filled with onions, celery, small spring carrots, asparagus, spring onions and spinach.   I make it often and have posted about it before, along with the recipe.  

Spooned into the Spode soup bowls and sprinkled with parsley.

We always have candlelight for dinner in the fall, winter and spring.    Husband Jim is in the kitchen pouring us each a glass of wine -- a pinot noir.
Served in the breakfast room with candles lit in the barley twist candlesticks.

And as is our custom . . . after I clean up the kitchen after dinner, I put the kettle on . . .

And bring a tray of coffee to the living room.     A great way to end the day while we watch our favorite shows and I needlepoint or catch up on the computer.

It's a great way to end the day and a great end to a fun week!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Not All Orchids Are At Linderhof . . .

When we were in Costa Rica, we visited a coffee plantation.    But we also visited a

Botanical Orchid Garden.    Of all the types of gardens, a Botanical Orchid Garden is an orchid grower's dream!

There were rows of Vanda orchids.    Tall Vanda orchids.

In bloom!

And the other orchids on display and blooming . . .

This lovely white one with touches of yellow . . .

This beautiful deep pink spotted beauty.

A pale purple with interesting coloring on the petals.

And the most beautiful of all . . . this large beauty -- white with a deep purple center.

I was in awe as we walked through hundreds of orchids in bloom.     And they reminded me of home . . .

And my few blooming orchids!

It's Pink Saturday.    Please join Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for Pink Saturday.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Cooking Class -- I'm a Student Not a Teacher!

One of our favorite places in our little town on the prairie is this store -- life+style.    I'm always finding new finds and it's the place where I teach most of my cooking classes.

We are so glad that Jim and Cynthia not only moved to Fort Scott but opened this wonderful store two years ago!


And from September through May, it's where every Thursday night you'll find the cooks of Fort Scott for it's "Cooking Class Night"!

The cooking class begins

Tonight I was there not as a Teacher but as a Student for Friend and Owner Cynthia taught a class on Pot Pies.

Everyone had The Frugal Gourmet cookbooks in the 80s

Her favorite recipe that she's made for years and years -- from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American.

Chicken Pie with Biscuit Topping

A pot pie topped with biscuits rather than pie crust or puff pastry.    Pot pie is so good topped with biscuits for as Cynthia said, the underside is all "dumplingly" with the juices from the pot pie.

We each got a fair portion of the delectable entree along with a green salad and . . . a bonus was the

Easy Peach Cobbler with blueberries

Blueberry and peach "cobbler".     An old recipe that's been around forever.     Cynthia made it her own by adding blueberries and spices including ginger.  

The class can hardly wait for dessert.

Rosemary dishing up the cobbler which made a great dessert to a pot pie dinner!

It was fun to be a student and no matter how much one cooks or how many classes one goes to, you can always learn something!     Besides classes are always fun and everyone who attends has a common interest -- food!

Next Thursday, I'm donning my apron again as I'll be doing "A Whole Lotti Biscotti".    I hope to see you there!


3 - 3 1/2 pound whole chicken
1 bay leaf
1/4 t. thyme
1 T. butter
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
2 T. chopped parsley
2 cups chicken stock
4 T. butter with 4 T. flour cooked together to form a roux
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced and lightly sauteed
biscuit dough

Place chicken in 2 quart saucepan and add enough water to barely cover.    Bring to boil and then turn down the heat to simmer.     Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.    Allow the chicken to cool in the liquid.

Take the chicken from the pot, reserving the liquid and remove the skin and bones.     Cut the meat in 1/2 inch cubes, cover and set aside (you can do this the day before if you wish).

Place the bones in the cooking liquid and add the dry herbs.    Cover and simmer for 1 hour.    This will
provide you with the chicken stock.

Heat a frying pan and add a bit of butter or oil.    Saute the onion, celery and carrots until they just begin to brown.   In saucepan, add browned vegetables, parsley and 2 cups of chicken stock.

Prepare the roux and bring the vegetables and stock to a simmer.    Thicken with the roux.    Blend the sauce with the chicken meat and sautéed mushrooms.    Season with salt and pepper and place in deep 2 quart baking dish.

Prepare your favorite Biscuit Dough and roll out enough to make a lid for the casserole pan.    (Cynthia cut hers into "biscuits".

Bake in a preheated 425 oven for 20 minutes or until the top is high and lightly browned.

(The Original Recipe)

1 cup white sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
24 ounce can peaches

Preheat oven to 350.   In a one-quart baking dish, cream together sugar and butter.   Mix in flour and milk until smooth.    Pour peaches and their juice over the top.    Bake 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven until golden brown.


She added about a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (with ground ginger added) to the flour, sugar, butter mixture.    he also added the grated rind of one orange to the flour, sugar, butter mixture.      Since she had a smaller can of peaches (16 ounces) -- she added about 1 cup of fresh blueberries as well.

It's Friday which means that it's Foodie Friday with Michael at Designs by Gollum.   Join her to see all the other good things to eat this Friday.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A January Lunch

The Lunch Bunch, three dear friends, meet once a month, on the third Tuesday of every month -- usually at Linderhof.   It's my chance to try new recipes and that's really the reason that The Lunch Bunch came to be.    We've been having these monthly lunches for 11 years and sometimes we do "road trips" to restaurants in the city or to museums or art galleries.     Lunch, of course, is always included!

This month one of the "Bunchers" is in Oregon with her daughter who just had a baby and rather than change the date, we've decided that the date would be the date and if someone couldn't make it, then we would see them next month.

We did have to change January, however, for on our regular day Husband Jim and I were in LAX awaiting a plane for Kansas City.     Therefore, we moved it back a week.

So, on Tuesday, the Lunch Bunch minus one came to Linderhof . . .

The weather on the prairie this winter has been fabulous -- unseasonably warm and no snow.    But it still is winter, January has "blahs" whether it's warm or cold and Spring in January seems so far away.

A Spring table, I decided would be perfect for our January lunch . . .

The First Lunch Bunch Lunch of 2012

Lace tablecloth and new linen napkins from William Sonoma.   On sale at a ridiculously  low price -- but, alas, there was only 4!    In silver napkin rings, of course!

Only three of us -- one was enjoying a new grand baby in Oregon!

Alas, no blue and white on the table . . .
The hyacinths were almost in bloom!

They weren't quite opened but the hyacinth vases with almost blooming white hyacinths in them.    Two little ceramic birds bode Spring!

I love this pattern and collect them as I collect my beloved blue and white .

My Wedgwood Cuckoo.    A similar pattern (and usually in similar colors) made by many of the English potteries.

I love the big streak of green that the Crown Staffordshire has.

Crown Staffordshire Roc Bird.   Another similar pattern.     Husband Jim's grandmother's cutlery.

A table that brings promise that Spring is around the corner!

A table full of greens and pinks and white with a bit of blue.

And the lunch? . . .

ham and leek and potato pie.    A perfect pie to use leftover Christmas or Easter ham!

Ham and leek and potato pie.

Love these tiny zucchini -- finger sized!

Roasted baby zucchini dusted with a garlic dill mixture.    The perfect side dish.

And no Lunch Bunch lunch is complete without dessert.     Since I had made lemon curd over the weekend, I thought a cake would be the perfect dessert . . .

It's really a Meyer lemon curd cake -- decorated with blackberries and Meyer lemon wedges.

A lemon curd cake.     A lemony cake filled with lemon curd with a cream cheese and lemon curd icing.

When there isn't many at table, I often do just half the cake.     I freeze the other half for later (or if I can, make only half) and then create a "half" a layer cake.    It's the perfect size!

Blackberries on the cake and blackberries on the plate.

Blue and white was the perfect plate for dessert.    These are French from Tuesday Morning and it took me three years to acquire them at a price I could afford!

Blue and white and yellow.

Three perfect pieces of cake . . .
We savor dessert and linger over another cup of coffee.

Served along with freshly brewed coffee in my Spode Blue Italian cups and saucers.   You know I don't mind mixing and matching my blue and white!


3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 T. lemon juice, fresh
1 t. vanilla
1 1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 t. cream of tartar


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sift before measuring
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/3 cup lemon curd (purchased or homemade)


1 cup lemon curd (purchased or homemade

Preheat oven to 350.    Grease 2 straight sided 9 x 2 inch round cake pans; dust generously with flour, tapping out excess.   In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger and salt.    Sift into another large bowl.   In large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed 2 minutes, until fluffy.    Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each.    Beat in lemon juice and vanilla.    At low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture (about 4 flour additions and 3 buttermilk additions).    Beat just until blended.   In small bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.    With rubber spatula, gently fold egg white mixture, in thirds into batter.    Spread batter in prepared pan.    Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean.    Cool in pans on racks, 10 minutes.    Invert onto racks.    Cool.

Frosting:   In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter 2 minutes, until fluffy.    At low speed, beat in powdered sugar, cream and lemon curd until smooth.    Cover; chill 20 minutes until spreadable consistency.

To assemble:   place one cake layer on plate, top with lemon curd, then second cake layer.    Spread frosting on top and sides of cake.

NOTE:   I prefer to frost cakes "English style" -- only the top.

NOTE:   I made half a recipe of frosting which was more than enough to spread on top of the cake.

It's Thursday and I'm sharing my first luncheon of 2012 with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.