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 24, 2012

A Squirrel, A Chicken and Three Pears . . .

We feed the birds all winter.   This year, the starlings and grackles haven't found us for when we were gone last Spring we didn't feed and when we came back it was summer and so we didn't feed.    When it cooled off a bit in September, we bought our first big bag of black sunflower seed.    And the birds came . . . the jays, the cardinals, the titmice, the chickadees, winter wrens . . . but not the starlings or grackles.

And we re elated!     For those two are not my favorite birds and although, I don't really begrudge them food, they're not as fun to watch as the colorful birds!

Besides birds, however, we often have another visitor in the backyard -- in search of those sunflower seeds . . .

Husband lures birds and squirrels to the statue by putting sunflower seed on it!

Husband Jim likes to pile seeds on top of the statue and the cardinals favor that spot but yesterday one of the squirrels decided that those seeds were just the best!!!!

Here on the prairie, we have a custom of bringing food whenever there has been a death or surgery.    Some friends have an "always fix" meal to send to those homes but alas, I don't, although at times I wish I did.    Often adult children and even adult grandchildren come to stay for a while and need to be fed.  
And that is what friends are for!

Yesterday, I cooked for a friend who lost her husband . . .

Lemony Chicken and Rice Casserole all ready to take to a friend.

A chicken and rice casserole.    Always brought in an aluminum throw away pan.   I don't want to burden the bereaved with having to return dishes.

I put the recipe together myself -- I used Ina's recipe for lemon chicken for the chicken breasts, then I fixed a box of Uncle Ben's white and wild rice.    I added a drained can of water chestnuts, a small jar of pimentos and a half of green pepper chopped and mixed it all together.   I poured the sauce from the lemon chicken recipe over all.     Wrapped with foil and wrote instructions as to how to reheat.

Husband Jim and I both tasted it and it was yummy!     With a salad it makes a good meal.

And because I had three pears in the fridge -- Harry and David pears leftover from Christmas that were still good, I made . . .

Upside down cakes are great for dessert or breakfast.

A pear and ginger upside down cake.     The batter tasted wonderful (but alas, I didn't get a bite of cake) and with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, it will make a good dessert or even good for breakfast with coffee.
The plate -- a Christmas cookie gift plate that I don't need back either.  


1/4 c. buter
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 t. ground ginger
3 pears, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger


1 T. flour
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 1/3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 cup packed brown guar
6 T. butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. milk

Heat oven to 325.   Grease bottom and sides of 8 or 9 inch square pan with butter.

In 1 quart saucepan, melt 1/4 c. butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally.    Stir in 2/3 c. brown sugar. Heat to boiling.    Remove from heat.    Stir in 1/2 t. ground ginger.    Pour into pan; spread evenly.
Arrange pear wedge over brown sugar mixture, overlapping tightly and making 2 layers if necessary.    Sprinkle 1/4 c. crystallized ginger evenly over pears.

Toss 1 T. flour and 1/4 cup crystalized ginger to coat; set aside.   In medium bowl, mix 1 1/3 c. flour, the baking powder and salt; set aside.    In large bowl, beat 1 cup brown sugar and 6 T. butter with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until fluffy.    Beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth.    Add vanilla.   Gradually beat in flour mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition until smooth.    Stir in ginger-flour mixture.    Spread batter over pears and ginger.

Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.    Cool 15 minutes on cooling rack.   Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake.   Place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan, turn plate and pan over.    Remove pan.    Store cake loosely covered.

NOTE:   The recipe also came with a ginger whipped cream but since I was taking it to someone, I omitted that.   

Below is the whipped cream recipe -- I think the cake would be smashing for dessert with a dollop of that cream!


1 cup whipping cream
2 T. sguar
1/4 t. ground ginger

In a chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream on high speed until it begins to thicken.    Gradually add sugar and 14 t. ground ginger, beating until soft peaks form.

NOTE:   I baked my cake in a round pan for a round cake looks better on a round plate!

Here's Ina's chicken that I've made many times for it's a favorite of ours at Linderhof.   Although hers calls for boneless skin on breasts, I've made it with skin and bone breasts as well as skinless and boneless.   It works with all of the above!


1/4 c. olive oil
3 T. minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 T. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 t. dried oregano
1 t. minced fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat, add the garlic and cook for just 1 minute but don't allow the garlic to turn brown.    Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme and 1 t. salt and pour into a 9 x 12 inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce.    Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and then sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.    Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned.    If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes.    Cover the pan tightly with foil and allow to rest for10 minutes.    Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

NOTE:    Because I used boneless and skinless breasts, they didn't really brown and I turned them over about halfway through the cooking so that the lemony garlic herby oil was on top.

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


Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

I'll bet that casserole was very appreciated. I'm bookmarking this post to try it myself.
Love the squirrel on the statue too!

Chubskulit Rose said...

Gorgeous! I want some of those yummies!

Whiteout, for outdoor wednesday.

Pondside said...

One can just imagine how much these tasty gifts were appreciated!

Rose H (UK) said...

Love the idea of spreading seed on the statue :o) What a delightful visitor.
What a truly thoughtful gift, and I'm sure it'll all be enjoyed by the recipients.

Carol at Serendipity said...

The casserole looks wonderful and I am copying and pasting the dessert. Very thoughtful to give food in dishes that do not have to be returned. The picture of the squirrel is wonderful.


Maggie said...

How kind and thoughtful this tradition is, I'm sure your dishes were greatly appreciated.

Bookie said...

The squirrels have totally taken over our yard! They sharpened their teeth on our deck!

Your chicken dish sounds so good. I will give it a try someday.

Tricia said...

Wow -- both recipes look and sound amazing! What a great use of pears! We keep those foil pans on hand, too, for just such occasions. I know your friend appreciates your quick delivery of the food.

Erica (Irene) said...

Your dishes look so good Martha....I also have a similar statue with them squirrels hanging around it.

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

The recipes look scrumptious and I'm sure food offerings are welcome in a time of need.
This used to be a rural tradition here but with so many people moving in to sleep and work elsewhere, I don't see it happen so much any more.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I'm certain your friend appreciated your delicious casserole. I always use those pans too when I need to take food to someone.

Love the squirrel on the statute. I have a love-hate relationship with those acrobats!

Southerncook said...

Your Pear Upside Down Cake looks delicious as well as your chicken dish. YUM!!!!!


On Crooked Creek said...

I remember well how friends care for one another during time of loss. Your friend will need your presence later after all the company has gone back to their homes.She is blessed to have your friendship! Such a lovely and delicious dish for the family. God bless your ministry to them in their difficult hours!

Jessica said...

Looks great! I am sure your friend appreciated your thoughtfulness

Beth said...

Hi Martha, I love the squirrel pic! If you want to keep the grackles and starlings away, feed safflower seed. Works for us! We get cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, finches, etc...not many bluejays though. Have a nice wknd!