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, April 30, 2012

Two Gardeners Have Tea

Mary is a gardener, too.   A real gardener -- a professional gardener.     Because she sells what she grows.    She's a fixture at our Farmer's Market and besides her wonderful produce, she always has great baked goods for sale and craft items as well.     Mary is one very busy lady.

Our Farmer's Market doesn't start until Saturday . . . but today Mary called and said she had something for me and she would bring it by.

She did!

And what do two gardeners do when they're not in the garden?    They have tea!

It was an impromptu tea, fixed after Mary's call for when she said she'd be by, I put the kettle on, put a cloth on the tray, picked up the box of "biscuits" I just bought and headed for the porch.

The "biscuits" are English and I picked them up last week in the city.    Picadilly biscuits.    From Fortnam and Mason!

A selection of three kinds.    Real English biscuits.     Perfect with the pot of P G Tipps tea that I brewed.

We sipped and munched -- but not for long for Mary is a busy lady and she had other things to do.

And what she had for me?

Fresh spinach and green onions!     She told me she had picked too much and thought that I could use it.   Indeed, I can.   A spinach quiche for dinner tomorrow night.     The green onions will be good eaten with a slice of good bread slathered in butter for lunch with the last of the lemon chicken orzo soup.

It's Tuesday and I'm sharing my tea with Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage and Marty at A Stroll Thru Life
for Tabletop Tuesday.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Summer Breakfast Room

Changes at Linderhof are seasonal.     The big blue bowl on the dining room table filled with poinsettias at Christmas, pumpkins and gourds in the fall, and replaced during Lent with the Easter egg tree.      

Our biggest change, however, is probably in the breakfast room -- and it's a twice a year change.    For in the Spring (and usually on Truman's Birthday -- but this year we rushed a bit) the plants that winter in the breakfast room (the citrus, the jasmine, the agapanthus) go outside.    It's a Jim chore and this year with the really warm March, we moved the agapanthus out early -- for it can stand a bit of cold.    But the citrus and jasmine need warm days and nights.    

They're now in their summer home -- close to the house where we can watch them for scale and to make sure that they get plenty of water.

With the plants outside . . .

The breakfast room looks a little barren.     We do leave some of the plants inside . . .

My newest ivy topiary and

The clivi a.    Who absolutely adores that corner of the breakfast room.

The breakfast room a week or so ago -- with the citrus and jasmine in front of the windows . . .

And now -- our spartan breakfast room where the view to the garden is unimpeded  by citrus or jasmine foliage.

It was a cold rainy day on the prairie . . . and I was gone most of the day (to a wonderful production of The Barber of Seville at the Kaufman in Kansas City).     Although the rain had stopped, soup seemed to be the best supper.    (Especially after the wonderful lunch and dessert we had at Webster House)

A new and favorite blog is Nine and Sixteen and last week Tessa posted about the best soup at Panera --
lemon chicken orzo soup.   She made the soup so appetizing that I wanted to go to a Panera immediately for a big bowl!

Not having a Panera in our little town on the prairie, I did what she did and made my own!

I did forget the roasted lemon garnish but it was a good soup and perfect for this rainy Sunday!    The recipe -- as developed by Tessa:


2 t. olive oil
1 cup diced carrots (I used a package of shredded carrots from the market)
1 c. diced celery
1 small onion, diced
half of a chicken breast, with skin and bone
1 cup roughly chopped spinach
2 t. fresh thyme, chopped
3/4 c. orzo pasta
salt and pepper
8 to 10 cups chicken broth
2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350.    Rub chicken breast with olive oil, season liberally with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, loosely covered with foil and let sit.    Turn up the heat to 400.   Slice one lemon and place on parchment lined baking sheet.    Roast lemon slices for 20 minutes.    Remove and set aside.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 t. olive oil over medium heat.   Add carrot, celery and onion and sauté for about 6 to 8 minutes.    Add 8 cups broth, spinach, thyme, and orzo, season with salt and pepper.    Bring to a boil, cover partially with lid and reduce heat.    Let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.

While soup is simmering, peel skin off chicken and cut meat away from the bone.    Shred.   Add chicken to soup along with the zest and juice of one lemon.

Stir and serve.    Top soup with roasted lemon slices.

NOTE:   You may have to add additional broth.    After soup sits for a while the pasta absorbs broth and you'll need to think it back out.

It's Monday and I'm joining Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Met Monday --

And I'm joining Yvonne at Stone Gable for What's On the Menu Monday

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday In the Garden

I love spring and the garden -- the temperatures are mild.    Even if the thermometer says "90 something" it's a cooler "90 something" than in July or August.    And there is such promise in the spring -- as we plant little seedlings and await the big payoff in blooms.

Friday I went to a favorite garden center and although I would have sworn that I didn't "need anything",
I did come home . . 

With a few herbs . . . .

Which I planted in the herb garden

Winter savory.    I have one plant that I've had for a while but decided that I could use one or two more!   They are perfect with green beans!

And a rosemary standard.    I had one long ago.   I love standards and I love rosemary.     It's got a great trunk and there is even some moss on top of the plant.  

Calendula or pot marigold.    I've grown these before but it's been years and years!  

Lemon verbena.    I had a plant for a long time and lost it the year I had my knee surgery.    I didn't replace it last year as we didn't get home from England until mid June and then it was way too hot and besides, there wasn't much left in the garden centers.

I also spent some of the morning potting up . . .

Some garlic chives.    To be sold at our Master Gardener's Plant Sale on Saturday, May 5 at the first Farmer's Market of the year.

And Husband Jim did the first part of his twice yearly chore . . .

He moved the citrus out to the garden . . .

As well as the jasmine.

The breakfast room now seems so large and spacious being almost devoid of plants!    

I love Spring Saturdays (or spring any days) spent in the garden.    

Friday, April 27, 2012

Breakfast On the Porch

Thursday morning was a beautiful morning on the prairie.    It has been my custom this spring, when I first come downstairs, even before I have a cup (much less a pot) of tea that I go out and work in the garden a bit -- pulling pesky weeds and watering if need be.   No strenuous garden chores.    But I've always been of the "little drops of water - little grains of sand" theory about chores.    Do a little each day and there really aren't any big chores.

Then Ollie and I come inside  for tea, the paper and breakfast.    It was so pretty Thursday morning that I decided to have breakfast on the screened in front porch.     I fixed a tray in the kitchen (which included my reading glasses and the paper) and headed for the front porch!

All the necessities of breakfast -- a pot of P G Tipps tea (in my everyday Emile Henry teapot), a pitcher of milk (in a Emile Henry creamer), fruit, a cup (Spode Blue Italian) and toast and lemon curd.   And, a napkin, of course!

A cloth covering the tray (mother always said that a tray needs to be cloth covered) and for a centerpiece my new begonia -- bonfire -- with drippy orange blossoms!

The fruit -- my very own strawberries -- Fraies de bois -- my first harvest!    I planted them several years ago -- the birds got the first crop and last year we were gone . . . how sweet this small handful of berries were!     Washed and eaten off the stem -- no sugar, no cream -- just strawberry goodness!

And there's more teeny berries and more blossoms!    More strawberry breakfasts!

Inside Linderhof . . .

I always love parties -- whether it is luncheon or dinner -- for I'm left with a pretty bouquet on the dining room table!     Wednesday's bouquet put into the old blue and white tureen -- makes for a sumptuous centerpiece.  

And with the roses blooming in the garden

Another vase of roses for the breakfast room table.   These are pink and I've long forgotten what kind they are but they are a climber . . . and they are fragrant!    I love the reflection of the bouquet in the mirror!

I must admit that I had forgotten how nice it was to eat on the porch.    Since we built the breakfast room we don't do that as much!      Thursday's breakfast may be the start of something new!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tea and Blue Tea for Two

It's tea time at Linderhof.    But it's a very special tea time . . . for I'm having a "cyber tea" with blog friend Sarah from Biloxi.     She's a dear and sent me several recipes which I received today.    One of which I just had to try!    And since it is her recipe, what better guest to "share" the cookies with than Sarah!

Tea for two in the breakfast room, of course.     With the Spode Blue Italian cups and saucers and plates, the odd blue and white creamer and my grandmother's silver pot.

The nosh?    Sarah's recipe for Nori's Cinnamon Pecan Sprinkled Shortbread.    Of course, in my file, they're called "Sarah's Cinnamon Pecan Sprinkled Shortbread" -- Nori (whomever she might be) is to be forgotten!

They're an easy cooky to put together and if you like shortbread they're a really good cooky.    Crisp, buttery and loaded with cinnamon and pecans.

I baked them while I worked in the garden this morning and the smell of cinnamon in the oven wafted out to the garden!    It was a heavenly smell.

I am so glad Sarah could join me for tea today and enjoy my version of her tea treats!  


1 cup plus 1 T. flour
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 stick butter, at room temperature
3 T. brown sugar
2 T. white sugar

Heat oven to 300.   Mix flour, cinnamon and baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.    Cream butter and sugars for about a minute until fluffy.    Stir in flour mixture, then beat until fluffy again.    Press dough into an ungreased square pan and use a fork to prick holes all over.    Mix pecans, sugar and cinnamon to make topping.    Sprinkle on top of dough.    Bake about 55 minutes, or until shortbread is firm to the touch.    Cut into bars while still hot, but let cool before removing from pan.


5 T. chopped pecans
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

It's Friday and I'm sharing my tea with Sarah (and her cinnamon pecan sprinkled shortbread) with Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Luncheon Guests for Administrative Assistant's Day

Back in the day, they were called "Secretaries" -- and way back in the day they were male!    But today they're not secretaries but "Administrative Assistant's" and they are a valuable member of any business for it is they who keeps the business running smoothly.

And I should know, for early in my career, I was first a Secretary and then a Legal Secretary.    It was I who keep the office running smoothly.    And that was in the day before computers!     Perfect typing skills were important as a legal secretary for on important legal documents "erasures" were not allowed!

And so, I was glad to welcome friend Joyce and her staff for an Administrative Assistant's Day luncheon at Linderhof.

For her, and her girls . . .

The dining room table set with a damask cloth . . .

Fresh flowers from the garden -- all in yellow and white -- roses and honeysuckle.

Napkins of yellow damask in silver napkin rings, a menu for each place, and my blue and white Spode.

A pretty table for some really special women!

And the menu?

Creamy basil and tomato soup.    The basil from the pinchings of my basil plants to be planted in the herb garden.    The secret of the soup is buttermilk which makes for a creamy soup but a soup with a tart tang.

A quiche of ham and asparagus and green onion and lots of cheese.

All lined up on the island and ready to go to the table.    A salad of mixed baby greens with Linderhof vinaigrette and corn madelines -- rosemary corn made lines.  

And for dessert?

Warm chocolate molten cake topped with whipped cream ( to which I added a smudge of Grand Marnier) and a garden pansy.

It was a fun luncheon and a great afternoon.    One of the "girls" was an old old friend -- husband Jim had hired her when he managed the McDonald's in the town 20 miles east of us -- when she was just 16!   We hadn't seen her in a long time and it was fun to make a connection again!  

The chocolate molten cake is chocolate decadence but so easy to make!     If you've ever sailed on a Carnival ship, you've had their Chocolate Melting Cake for dessert -- it's the same cake!  


4 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup powdered sugar
6 T. flour

Preheat oven to 425.    Spray custard cups with Pam and set aside.    Melt butter and chocolate in microwave for 1 minute.    Stir to make sure chocolate is melted.     Add eggs and egg yolks.    Stir in powdered sugar.    Add flour.     Divide batter among the four custard cups.     Bake 13 to 17 minutes until the top is done and the cake pulls away from the sides.    Upturn onto a dessert plate (the cake should plop out) and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.   (Some melting of the cream will occur).  

It's Thursday and I'm joining Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.    I wonder how many "Administrative Assistant" tables there will be today!

And I'm joining Cuisine Kathleen for Let's Dish.

And I'm joining Miz Helen for Full Plate Thursday!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grandpa's Trowel

Today I went to Tri Valley where friend Barbara is in charge of the horticultural program there.     Each year she raises a few plants to sell to help fund her program.    Her plants are always the best (for for years she ran our local Florist and Greenhouse, as did her parents before her) and I'm always eager for her sale.

My haul?    Two big pots of pink begonias that I always put in one of my planters.     And

White salvia, a tomato (a free gift) and seven basil plants.

On the stairs and ready for planting.     And my planting tool of choice?

Grandpa's trowel.    Husband Jim's Dad welded the trowel when Jim was small.    When his mother passed away a couple of years ago, the trowel was part of his inheritance.    It's a trowel with a good weight and there is no way that the handle will split or snap off!    It's a trowel made to last!

The perfect tool to dig holes for my newly acquired plants.    The white salvia in the patio bed -- which is full of perennials.    These should fill the bed with bloom when the perennials are not blooming!   Adding a bit of color all summer.

The begonias -- in an old concrete planter -- as we've done for the past five years or so.

It is beginning to look like a garden at Linderhof.    With pots getting filled and annuals being planted in the garden.    

The basil is always the last to go in -- it doesn't like cold and so we make sure that the spring chill is gone before we plant our basil.     The bonus!    I cut them back a bit and so we have our first fresh garden basil in the kitchen.     A simple pasta with roasted grape tomatoes and a shower of basil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  

It's Wednesday and I'm sharing my time in the garden with Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.

It truly was a beautiful day on the prairie and I always enjoy spending a whole day in the garden!    Ollie kept me company as he always does when I'm in the garden!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lavender and Lace

The lavender . . .
Wisteria from the garden.

The lace . . .

An antique linen runner edged in handmade lace. (I have four matching placemats as well)

The occasion . . .

A "Welcome Home Tea" for friend Sally who's been away visiting her son.

More lavender in handpainted cups and tea plates.    Violets -- perfect for a spring tea!

And since it's special, the Victorian wee epergne holds the wisteria and I chose to use my silver tea pot to pour the tea from.

My pastry looks as though it was made for my plate.

Sally's is chocolate for she favors chocolate!

The pastries, alas, were not made by me but bought at a favorite shop, Andres (and one of their locations is just an hour away!)    

But special pastries for a special lady . . . alas, since she left Easter weekend, there have been no fun adventures for most of April!    

It is good to have her home!

It's Tuesday and I'm sharing my tea with Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tuesday Tea and with Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cooking With Herbs -- Part Deux . . and More!

I started the week by doing a Cooking With Herbs class at life+style on Monday . . . and I finished the week with a Cooking With Herbs class at The Louisburg Cider Mill.

In Louisburg, Kansas -- about 45 minutes north of Linderhof.    I've been there before with my "Cooking With Herbs" class and it was nice to be asked to return.

I arrived early so that I could set up my table . . .

With the food to be tasted and a small display about entertaining at Linderhof.

Teas and Luncheons at Linderhof.

And the food?

Sage corn madelines -- both regular size and "minis"

Blooming Onion Beer Bread with the addition of Chives.

Caramel Apple Rosemary cupcakes frosted with caramel frosting and a sprig of rosemary.

I also made a vegetable pasta salad with oil and vinegar dressing -- served two ways.   I divided the salad in half and to one bowl I added dill and to the other an Italian herb blend.    So that the attendees could taste how different herbs really do change the flavor of a dish.

Friends joined me  for the class as well -- Regina and Sandy from Kansas City and Michelle from A Haus To Call Home.  

These dear friends were just part of the 40 or so who attended my class.  

After class, Michelle and I headed for Paola and one of my favorite restaurants -- one that she had never been to:

Beethoven's No. 9 in Paola.  

It's German food extraordinaire!  

We both had a schnitzel (hers was topped with crab), red cabbage and spaetzle.  

And we shared a piece of carrot cake -- I ate my half -- she took half of her half home to her husband.   (She had bought some apple cider doughnuts at the Cider Mill for the children)    She's kinder than I!!!

And this time, we remembered . . .

And asked the waitress to take our picture!     Two Kansas German girls who are definitely kindred spirits!

It was a fun Saturday and a wonderful way to end a great week.