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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Leisurely Saturday Breakfast

Winter (and late Spring) Saturdays are lazy days at Linderhof.     Long leisurely breakfasts.    Special foods, too, that we save just for these Saturday breakfasts.

Tea for me (English tea -- PG Tipps -- brewed English style -- strong) and coffee for Husband Jim (French press always and now it's Costa Rican brought home from our trip).     A yellow pitcher holds milk for coffee and tea.

Tablecloths (like napkins) are used for more than one meal -- after a few days they're not as "crisp" as they once were.

I enjoy fruit for breakfast while Husband Jim prefers his breakfast fruitless and juiceless.

We've been cleaning and rearranging in the kitchen -- breakfast is on our English Mason's Fruit Basket which used to be Mother's.    I have odd amounts of the different pieces for it is "what's left" of her set.

And for this lazy Saturday breakfast?

Eggs Baked in Ramekins with Parmesan -- topped with a spoonful of caviar.    Truly a special breakfast.   The recipe from Anna Pump's Country Weekend Entertaining.    Husband Jim and I like baked eggs and they are an easy way to have eggs (especially for company) without having to stand over a stove dealing with individual eggs for everyone!

It's Thursday and I'm sharing our leisurely Saturday breakfast with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch
for Tablescape Thursday.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tulips and Eggs and Lambs, Oh, My!

Tulips and eggs and lambs, Oh, My!     That means that we've feasted on Shrove Tuesday pancakes and that Ash Wednesday has come and gone and we've gotten out our Lenten/Easter decorations.

The tulips -- which come to the market in early to mid February -- we buy a bouquet every Saturday and keep them in this blue and white vase on this end table in the living room.

We are at the mercy of the store as to the colors of tulips available.    If there is a wide variety, I prefer the orange ones but if there aren't any orange ones, we'll take whatever they have -- even pink ones!

On the morning of Ash Wednesday, we get our branches (we really like pussy willows) and put them in our favorite blue and white ginger jar on the dining room table.    Our beloved blue and white bowl goes under the sideboard for the six weeks of Lent!

Then out comes the egg carton which is filled with our precious German Easter eggs.    Twenty years ago, we took a Lenten trip to Germany and were enamored by the Easter egg trees we saw at each bed and breakfast we stayed at.     I had to bring some home and so we went to the German equivalent of Woolworths and for 1DM each we bought 12 hand painted hen's eggs.    

And for the past twenty years we've had our own Easter egg tree.    We are purists about our tree.   Only those 12 eggs go on it even though we've been gifted with eggs from friends.     For they are special eggs.

We've had some accidents over the past twenty years . . .

A crack and a hole . . .

And this one has lost it's bottom!    But we still put all 12 eggs on the tree every year.    It's tradition!

And like those bed an breakfasts we stayed at in Germany, our Easter egg tree has always been in the dining room as well -- usually on the dining room table.     It's part of Linderhof (for we had just been here 3 years when we made that trip) and part of our Easter.  

And our newest decoration . . .

These lovely French lamb molds.     Newer -- we've had them for four years and I love them on the breakfast room table.    Usually a bouquet of flowers is in a pitcher between the molds but we've been late forcing our paperwhites this year and so paperwhites are on the table!

When I said "newer" -- that is to us!!!    They are old old molds used to bake Easter cakes in France.

We think they're great Easter decorations and love the patina on these molds!

And they are perfect on the breakfast room table -- the only place we've put them after we got them.   For each table really needs a seasonal centerpiece and these lambs are perfect for the breakfast room!

It is Tuesday and I'm sharing my Easter tables with Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A New Rug

I grew up in an old house -- with hardwood floors and rugs.    Oriental rugs in the living room and dining room -- "scatter" rugs beside the beds (which kept your feet warm on the first step out of bed . . . but the next step  was onto the cool hardwood floor . . .)

Our first apartment had hardwood floors and we bought rugs.    Our first house had hardwood floors and we brought our apartment rugs for the floors.     And then we moved into a new house (what were we thinking?) which had carpet.      

And when we moved to Linderhof, it had carpeting in all the rooms.   (For in the 70's carpet was in and hardwood was out. )   But I knew that underneath the carpet was hardwood . . . it was, after all, a house built in 1920.      And a few years after we moved in, we took up all the carpet and had the floors refinished.      And the rug that we bought for the living room looked smashing on the hardwood floor.

It was a Karastan Oriental.     And it was a perfect size for the living room.    But I knew it would be for it came from a house of the age of Linderhof.    And it was a Karastan!    We got it for a great price because it was such an odd size -- too long to fit into most houses.

We've had the rug for a long while and we simply adore it.    It has that patina that only a good rug can acquire.

In the dining room, however, the rug was another story.      It was an inexpensive rug that we bought at a Salvage Store.  

An Oriental in tones of red.   It looked okay but it didn't have the "pizzaz" that the living room rug had.    It looked like a knock-off rather than the "real deal"!

And then, in December, at the Greenwood Antique Mall, I found a rug -- a Karastan . . . but it was December and Christmas and so, the rug stayed at the mall.

Then last week, I went back to Greenwood and there was the rug . . . . for a good price . . . and so it came home with me!

And it's now in the dining room.    It's a 9 x 12 rug (compared to 8 x 10 of the old one) and those two feet in length and one foot in width definitely does make a difference.   It's scale is much better for the room!

The old one was pretty . . .

The new one has that "wow" factor!

It's really a pretty pattern and looks really good with the living room rug!  

It makes the dining room seem more special!

We've been making an effort to "dine" in the dining room for our evening meal.    For most of our time at Linderhof, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room for we had no "casual" eating area.     Adding the breakfast room 4 1/2 years ago rectified that -- however, we seemed to gravitate to eating all meals there!

So tonight, I set the table again in the dining room

I prefer setting our places at each end of the table but it's Lent and the Easter egg tree is a rather large centerpiece.    Dinner conversation is an important part of our meal and so, during Lent, we sit side by side.

A favorite blog find of mine is A Haus to Call Home.    She's a prairie girl as well -- living in the big city just north of us.    I'm hoping that someday we can share a pot of tea!

Last week she posted on Brussels Sprouts Cockaigne.    Husband Jim and I love Brussels sprouts and I knew that we'd love this recipe.

And it is yummy.     And simple.     We both enjoyed the sprouts fixed Michelle's way.    They were perfect with

Slices of Kansas City strip steak and sautéed baby potatoes.

And as is our custom . . .

Coffee is served after dinner in the living room.     Since it was Sunday, we used cups and saucers instead of mugs.

It's also Monday and time for Met Monday with Susan at Between Naps on the Porch and I'm sharing my new rug.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

March Means Pansies . . .

I love the changing of the seasons -- from summer to fall to winter to spring.    Each has it's own uniqueness and I often think that Fall is my favorite season -- the coolness after sometimes a too hot summer is always so refreshing.    Perhaps, too, because of when we were school age, Fall was really the beginning of the year in our eyes.

But then there is spring -- the brown that is mostly winter on the prairie goes away as grass and trees green up.    Temperatures too are milder and we can go without heavy coats and mittens and boots.    Windows can be opened to bring fresh air inside.

And then there are the flowers . . .

The Pansies . . .

Winter finds the planters by the back door and the front entry filled with Christmas greens.    But after three months, the greens are tired and dried out and look as though they are as ready for spring as we are!

And then one day there are pansies in the garden center . . . and home with me comes three flats!

Two of them go into the planters by the back door.     It's a snazzy entrance, really, considering that it really leads down to the basement.     In bygone days, it was the "service" entrance and all deliveries would have been at this door.

The planters have been there "forever" and fit the space well.  

I love these rectangular planters that are a bit chippy.     Year after year, they mark the seasons from spring's pansies to summer's begonias to fall's mums to Christmas greens.

And then there are the planters in the front.

One on each side of the entrance stairs.

Iron planters that are a bit chippy as well.    Husband Jim wants to repaint them -- I like the shabbiness of them.    As though they've been at Linderhof "forever" when, in fact, we've not had them all that long!

The one nearest the street . . .  and

The one closest to the house.

Because the pansies are not a long term planting . .

We tend to plant them tightly -- so that they'll give us a good show while they last.

I've not "always" planted only purple or yellow or white pansies preferring, really to do a nice mix of whatever colors are available in the garden center.

But this year, I decided to buy all three flats alike.    Whitish faces with a purple center and purple outer leaves.

Just looking at them make me smile!

And I had a few left . . .

So I stuck them in the garden trough.     The "orb" in the middle is hyper tufa that I made!

These pansies join the ones I planted in the fall

In the big planter in the back garden and . . .

In a favorite concrete planter in the back garden.     

These pansies have bloomed almost all winter long for the winter has been so mild.     We have really enjoyed them this winter and many of the blossoms have decorated cakes and cupcakes and cookies . . . and salads when we've had company!

It's Sunday and I'm joining The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sunday.     It's not really spring yet, but we, at Linderhof, thinks it is!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Fine Orange Cake

In 2000, Husband Jim and I took a trip to the California wine country.    It wasn't really a pleasure trip -- it was business for Husband Jim represented our state on the board of the National Retail Liquor Dealers.     Our first event the first night was at Beaulieu Vineyard.      And our first stop at the Vineyard was in the gift shop.    In the gift shop, I found this book . . .

I simply adore two types of cookbooks -- bed and breakfasts (from an individual inn not a compilation of a city or state of inns) and specialty food stores.     I've never heard of this book nor of Anna Pump, but besides the recipes there was commentary -- about how the inn came to be and then commentary on most of the recipes.    I'm a sucker for commentary!

I read it on my trip and fell in love -- both with Anna Pump and the  Bridgehampton Inn.    

And once home, I cooked from the book.    A lot.    I've not tried every recipe (although that may be something that I should put on my "to do" list) but the ones I have tried always turn out very very good.    And there are some of the few recipes that I've made over and over again.     For I usually make a recipe and I'm done -- I'm off to find something different to cook.

Thursday was our first Garden Club meeting of 2012.   I was co-hostess which means that I bring treats.

My treat -- A Fine Orange Cake.     From Country Weekend Entertaining.   It seemed a great cake for a group for a later winter (but feels like spring) kind of night.    And it is a good cake.

A shower of powdered sugar is my touch.     Anna suggests serving it with whipped cream.    Whipped cream with orange zest and a good pour of Grand Marnier.

We didn't know how many ladies were coming and so I cut small pieces.    But just in case we had more in attendance than I had slices, I also baked . .

Jam thumbprints filled with homemade lemon curd rather than jam.    Leftovers will make a good tea nosh!

I love the name of the cake -- A Fine Orange Cake.   It would make a great Easter dessert for it seems so springy.    It's also an easy cake to make.     And it has a real orange flavor.


2 large or 3 small orange
1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1 3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1 1/2 t. baking powder


1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 c. fresh orange juice

Preheat the oven to 325.    Butter a 9 inch springform.

Peel the oranges, cut the peel into 2 inch pieces.    Remove and discard the white pith.   Cut the oranges into quarters.    Place the peel and flesh in the food processor and process until smooth.    There should be approximately 1 1/2 c. puree.   Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar for 5 minutes until the mixture is pale and creamy.    Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.    Add the orange puree and mix to just combine.    Add the dry ingredients.    Mix at low speed until smooth.

Spoon the batter into the springform and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the glaze -- beat the powdered sugar and orange juice until all lumps have disappeared.    Pour the glaze over the warm cake and cool to room temperature before removing it from the pan.

NOTE:   Anna recommends serving it with whipped cream.   I "gilded" the lily by adding orange zest and a bit of Grand Marnier to sweetened whipped cream.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Blue and White Table Times Four

We love our blue and white and use it on a daily basis.    It is always such a pleasure to me to set the table with my collection of blue and white.    And I'm not a purist.   I often mix and match patterns at each meal!

This isn't one table -- but four -- breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner -- Tuesday's meals!

Breakfast is always in the "breakfast" room!    The small room that we added on to the house 4 years ago -- the room that most people think is a porch we enclosed (and that was our intention!).    A small oval English table is our breakfast table.    I like to cover it with a white tea cloth for meals and the napkins are white linen ones from William-Sonoma -- they get a wonderful "patina" (meaning the more you launder them the softer they get) after a while.    

Coffee for both of us this morning -- Husband Jim always takes his in a mug -- a Spode Blue Room one while I prefer a cup and saucer -- Johnson Brothers Indies.     The plates are Johnson Brothers Asiatic Pheasant.

English blues, I think, go together well.    A great breakfast for a very warm late winter morning is bagels, cream cheese and lox.    The bagels are left over from church on Sunday (as is the cream cheese) and the salmon is wood smoked from Scotland -- from the freezer!

Husband Jim was gone at lunchtime.    But during the winter (even a warm winter) there is usually a Dutch Oven of homemade soup in the fridge.     A bowl of berries always makes a great dessert!

And if I eat alone, I read -- decorating books about Nancy Lancaster and one of Keith Irvine's interiors (a gift from a dear friend and a beloved book).     The tablecloth is the one that I always keep on the table between meals -- and I'll keep it on when I dine alone (I'm more careful than Husband Jim about spills and such!).    The Asiatic Pheasant makes a great under plate and the bowl is Spode Camilla -- I especially love the color -- a great buy, these bowls at Tuesday Morning for a mere fraction of their cost!

The soup -- one of our favorites -- Plaza III steak soup made this time with chunks of steak (rather than ground steak!)

Tea time is always half past three (or as close to it as I can make it) -- if the mail has any new magazines or books, I always save them to savor at tea time!      Monday, I read a favorite blog, Tea With Friends,  and she gave a review of a book, Southern Teatime Pleasures, and I immediately ordered it!     We live close enough to an Amazon facility that I often get next day service for regular shipping prices.    Such was the case with that book.

A cup of tea and the book to savor.     Leaf tea.   A blend from a tea room in Wyoming that was a gift form dear friend, Joyce.    It has a most floral aroma and a wonderful flavor.    It was the perfect tea to sip while reading the charming Southern the book.     My cup of choice?   The Johnson Brothers Indies (for I've a wee tea pot to match)!  

I usually have a nosh with tea but not today -- I was still full from luncheon soup and berries!

Since we built the breakfast room, we've taken all of our meals there (except for the ones we've eaten in the living room while watching TV -- not  a frequent occurrence at Linderhof) and so I decided to set the table in the dining room for dinner.    The house was spotless and the dining room sparkled.  

Green linen placemats on the table, a blue and white ginger jar and a blue and white vase with the Valentine's Day pink mums in it as a centerpiece.    The white linen napkins (we use them for several meals before they're laundered), and glasses of water.

The blue and white?    Spode Blue Italian -- I've six or eight plates of this pattern -- that I keep in the kitchen and use more than the Spode Blue Room.    It's a great pattern that's been around "forever" and I'm always looking for interesting pieces when I go to Antique Malls or Flea Markets.    You don't see much -- but I am on the hunt for not one but two sauce tureens -- I feel that I need those -- and I'm not picky about age either!

Husband Jim knows to check to make sure that I've taken the picture before he sets down!

And dinner . . .

Ina's easy risotto which is easy to make especially for the two of us -- no standing and stirring over the stove for 20 to 30 minutes!    With some leftover blanched asparagus spears and frozen peas added to it.    Risotto (like a frittata) is a wonderful vehicle to use up leftovers!


1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. dry white wine
3 T. butter, diced
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. blanched asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 350

Place the rice and 4 cups chicken stock in a Dutch oven (such as Le Creuset or Staub).   Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente.     Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, butter, salt and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy.    Add the peas and stir until heated through.    Serve hot.

Slices of roasted pork tenderloin and sautéed spinach finish out the plate.  

After dinner, we do take coffee in the living room and out of mugs -- it's the way we end a meal!

I adore my blue and white and use it daily -- four times a day.    It's sometimes fun to set the table all with one pattern but most of the time I prefer to mix it up!

I am always looking for more and I always regret pieces I've passed up -- either because I felt that I've bought quite a few things this trip and shouldn't spend more or do I really need that?

My biggest regret -- a big Indies tea pot -- a 12 copper at least -- $40 I think it was but it was at the end of a trip (and we were purchasing the living room chandelier so I felt that I had spent enough).    Sigh -- I keep looking for another!

It is Thursday -- and I'm sharing my day of tables with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for her Tablescape Thursday!     Visit her and see what fun and creative tables there are this Thursday.   I predict there will be some Easter ones!

For Friday, I'm sharing this with Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.    Visit her and see what is cooking.   She's made some luscious Bailey's Cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

After Church Treats

We're Lutherans.    And whenever Lutherans gather there is coffee (for as Cass from That Old House coffee is not in a Lutheran's blood -- it is Lutheran's blood!) and you can't have coffee without something to eat!!!

Our church is early -- one service only at 9 a.m. and we get out at 10 or a little after.     Breakfast is often  quick nibble so after church we're definitely hungry.     So week by week a family (or two) takes turns and brings treats for the congregation.     We're not a large church (so we're not feeding hundreds) and  so it's quite manageable to bring treats for Sunday.

I do the baking (the Saturday before) and Husband Jim helps with the Sunday toting and . .

The setting up.    He's filling little cups with cream cheese for the bagels!    Husband Jim is quite useful!

For this Sunday I made . . .

These cookies are ridiculously easy (easy peasy!) -- an 8 ounce container of Cool Whip, a box of Betty Crocker cake mix (I used chocolate -- my nieces like lemon) and 2 eggs.    Mix together.    Form dough into balls and roll in powdered sugar.    Put on a baking sheet (lined with parchment or silpat) and bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes (or until firm to the touch) -- cool and enjoy!

Stacy and Crystal's Cookies.    They're my nieces and when I had lunch with them Friday they gave me the recipe.    They really liked them and said that they were easy to make.    They said that if they take them anywhere they always bring an empty plate home!    And . . .

Sour cream coffee cake.    The old standard coffee cake with cinnamon nut streusel in the middle.  The recipe that is in so many cookbooks with little variations.     I gilded the lily by giving the cake a maple drizzle.  (And I cheat for I use yogurt instead of sour cream!) (And I used Ina Garten's recipe -- her cookbooks are always handy!)

Besides the sweets, I also added fresh strawberries and mini bagels and cream cheese to spread them with.    Not everyone likes sweets!

And the congregation came and ate . . . I had crumbs to bring home (and a few bagels!)  

With food and coffee after church, you stay and visit instead of rushing out the door after you shake the Pastor's hand.    We always enjoy our Sunday fellowship.