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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Afternoon Tea at "Downtown Abbey"

Tonight was my cooking class
at life+style
"Downtown Abbey Afternoon Tea"

It's always a fun class

With some neat "Downton Abbey" props
And pictures of a kitchen which we toured when we lived in England

At each guest's place

A Spode blue cup and saucer
An afternoon tea spoon
And a menu

With pots of freshly brewed Earl Grey tea
the class enjoyed:

Real English cucumber sandwiches
bread, butter, thinly sliced cucumbers, salt and pepper

Freshly Baked Fruit Scones
From an English recipe and baked with currants
Served, of course, with cream and jam
(although the cream was "faux")

Lemon Tarts
Lemon curd in boughten tartlet shells
Topped with a candied viola

Victoria Sponge
(supposed to be Queen Victoria's favorite tea cake)

Sybil's Ginger Nut Biscuits
(The Sybil of Downton Abbey fame)
Very traditional English ginger biscuits

The Silver Curate filled with tea goodies

It's Friday and I'm sharing my Afternoon Tea Class with Michael at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January Lunch

We love to have friends for lunch
And January seems like a good time to entertain
With sun streaming in the dining room windows

The table is set in the dining room
Two by two is our favorite way to set 4

The hyacinths in their forcing vases
And ceramic birds on either side

An antique lacework placemat
(and table runner to match)
Husband Jim's grandmother's silver
The Aynsley Pembroke Dinner Plate
Topped by Royal Staffordshire Roc Bird Salad plate

As I collect the blue and white transferware
I also collect this Asian pattern of pink chrysanthemums and birds

A salad of baby greens with blue cheese, walnuts and dried cranberries
with a pear vinaigrette

Stephenson's Baked Chicken and Cream
White and wild rice
Herbed Biscuit

Meyer Lemon Meringue Tart

Luscious lemon goodness
topped by piped meringue
(These plates are Spode Famille rose)

It was a fun afternoon with friends, Jeffrey, Shaun and Connie
All too soon they had to say goodbye

It's Thursday and I'm sharing my January Lunch with Susan at Between Naps on the Porch and Cuisine Kathleen for Let's Dish and Kathy at A Delightsome Life for Home and Garden Thursday
and The Style Sisters for Centerpiece Wednesday

Monday, January 28, 2013

It May be January but It's Spring at Linderhof!!!

We hurry Spring at Linderhof
With the glitz and bling of Christmas gone
back in the boxes
and back in the basement
The house seems barren.
And cold.

So we get a stash of hyacinth bulbs every fall
Chill them 
And then get out the forcing vases
To add both beauty
And fragrance
to Linderhof

Although in magazines paperwhites are often seen as Christmas flowers
alongside the poinsettias,
We prefer ours in January
When days are often bleak and dreary

We buy way too many bulbs each year
But we do it again and again
And we will continue to do so

They lend their beauty

And their aroma
to Linderhof
during January

And we rush other things as well
Not ourselves
But we have a source
for some lovely forsythia branches
Which we buy for the mantle

Their staying power is good
And, even though there is no yellow in the living room at Linderhof,
their blossoms seem to brighten the whole downstairs.

And this weekend at Costco,
they had more forsythia . . . 
I could have bought three bunches
But I resisted and brought home only one

Taken apart, it made

A nice bouquet in an amber glass vase on the bedside table


The rest seems right at home in the yellow guest room in the Wedgwood vase
(a gift from a dear friend)
The vase always resides on the table -- ready for whenever we have guests
For fresh flowers.
A guest room isn't complete without fresh flowers
whether garden ones or florist ones.

No guests are expected
But the bunch was just a little too big for my bedside table
And I couldn't think of a better place to put the rest
than in the yellow guest room!

It is January on the prairie.
A week or so ago, we were stuck inside because of first
the ice that fell and then the snow.


I took my afternoon tea on the front porch.

It's 70 or so today
This 28th day of January

I had to take advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures 
to sip my tea outside on the porch.

Earl Grey tea as is my afternoon custom
And a great tea bread -- orange scented buttermilk cake.

From one of my favorite people, Mary at One Perfect Bite

What I like best about the recipe
is that it makes three loaves
One for now, one for the freezer, and one for a gift.

She topped hers with a shower of powdered sugar
I decided to make an orange glaze.

Either way it is a good cake.

Mary's Orange Scented Buttermilk Cake

3-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously coat three 8-by-4-inch loaf pans with butter. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and dust pans with flour. Arrange pans on a baking sheet. 

 In a medium bowl, whisk cake flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. 

 In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with sugar and orange zest at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions and scraping down the sides of bowl. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla.

At low speed, beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk and beginning and ending with dry ingredients; gently fold just until blended.
Scrape batter into prepared pans and smooth tops; gently tap once to release any air. Bake loaves for about 45 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center of each loaf comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

 Transfer the loaves to a rack for 20 minutes, then turn them out onto rack and set them right side up to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, slice and serve. Yield: 3 loaves (21 slices).

Note:   I made a glaze of orange zest, orange juice and powdered sugar and topped the cakes with that.

It's Tuesday and I'm joining Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday and Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Little Changes

Sometimes you need to make little changes
And this January at Linderhof
(after much consideration)
we've been making those little changes

First downstairs . . .
in the living room

And now --

First in the master bedroom
where I replaced the china cabinet in the corner

I moved it upstairs years ago when we bought the Asian cabinet in the dining room
Instead of china, it hold precious things

But it seemed dark in that corner
And made the room seem smaller, I thought

So the china cabinet/bookcase was moved
And in it's place is a small drop leaf table

With a picture over
A lamp
And the brandy snifter and glasses

The picture, a watercolor
bought last year in New York
It's got some age on it,
but I'm not sure how much
This seems the perfect place for it
for flowers abound on the Master Bedroom walls

And one of my favorite lamps
It, too, has some age on it
It's got a bevy of little children climbing to the top
Bought long ago at a consignment/antique shop (it was on consigment)
it's always been a favorite of mine every since I brought it home.

And next to it, a small silver tray 
with the Georgia decanter which we brought home from our first trip to England
And two Waterford brandy glasses.
For we sometimes like a relaxing bit of brandy before bed

And what did I do with the china cabinet/bookcase?

The sunroom
which is the sitting room off the Master bedroom
Two leather chairs with a table between

The bookcase (for that is what it really is since we removed it from the dining room)
between the chairs

It's filled with treasures
Husband Jim's childhood boots,
a wee tea set we brought home from our first trip to England
A basket made from a shell, a memento from a childhood trip to Galveston
A wee stein my father brought home from Germany after the war
My grandfather's shaving cup
Favorite books
Favorite pictures
And some of the Royal Doulton
And, of course, some blue and white!

It's Monday and I'm sharing my small changes with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Met Monday

Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's Lemon Time Again

I wanted a Meyer lemon tree "forever"

A few years ago I  finally got one
A wee little tree
But it's provided lots of lemons over the years
Until last year
And it had just one
But it was a big  one

And this year . . .

The tree is loaded with lemons . . . 

Nine of them to be exact.    From big ones to three that are rather small.

And I do what I do every year with my Meyer lemon harvest

Make lemon curd

But this year, I used only half of them for the curd

The other half 

I made into a lemon meringue tart
for I had company coming for lunch.

It was a good use of the curd.

It's an easy recipe


3 lemons
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1/2 c. lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 t. salt

Using a potato peeler, remove the zest from 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith.   Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.    Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture.    Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt.    Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly.     The lemon curd will thicken at 170 degrees.    Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

It's Friday and I'm joining Michael at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our First Dinner Party of 2013

We had friends over for dinner last Tuesday
Our favorite number for dinner is 6
There are a number of reasons
It allows for great conversation by the whole table,
Dishes for only six make clean up easy
We don't have to put leaves in or take leaves out of the table

And Tuesday last, we had six guests

The table all set for company
Husband Jim has made his wine selections

The dining room table from the living room

A more casual tablecloth because it is a more casual meal

Spode Blue Room dinner plates, hotel silver cutlery, Spode Blue Italian or Blue Room Salad plates
and blue napkins in silver napkin rings

The big balloon wine glasses -- perfect for reds

The forced hyacinths are the centerpiece.
I've really gotten a lot of mileage out of these!
(Two lunches and a dinner!)
(Plus days and days of enjoyment on the breakfast table!)

The sideboard with the dessert wine and ice wine glasses that we bought on a trip to the Canadian wine trail.

And the entree?

Sarah's Lasagna
(Our daughter's favorite lasagna)

It's Thursday and I'm joining Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Three "T"'s

I adore topiaries
Between A Botanical Touch by Cynthia Gibson and Carolyne Roehm and her "Seasonal Notebooks",
I fell in love.

It was the mid 90s and I drooled over Cynthia's topiaries
and topiary forms.

They (topiaries) had not gotten to the prairie as yet!

But a girl can dream from afar and dream I did . . 

In 2000, I decided to host my first Valentine's Luncheon at Linderhof.
A girlfriend lunch to celebrate not love but friendship.

I had my table all planned, the menu fixed
And then I was in a market in the city
And what did they have?


Heart shaped ones and ball ones.

I was smitten with the heart shaped ones 
(for Carolyne had done something similar for a Valentine's table in one of her books)

But I really hoping to have a topiary for the long haul . .  .
A heart in March would be like the poinsettias in January
or the Easter lilies in May

So as much as I thought two hearts would make a great Valentine's centerpiece,
I bought instead

A ball

And just one --
One never should be too greedy!

It was a wonderful centerpiece for that very first Valentine's Luncheon
And it's a tradition we continue 
My annual luncheon for friends on Valentine's Day.

And as much as I like tradition,
the topiary isn't always my Valentine's centerpiece!

But it is like an old friend -- for "she" and I go back
almost 12 years!

Most times she stays in the east window of the upstairs sunroom.
She seems to like it up there
And she has orchids to keep her company

She was the first . . . 
but others followed.

Including myrtle topiaries.
I simply adore them.
You can find them readily now.
And you see such great pictures of them
sitting here and there in homes.
Usually in twos.
One on each end of something with "things" in between.

But alas, I've bought many a myrtle topiary
And I was not myrtle topiary worthy
For within a month or so I managed to kill them off.

Until . . . last April
I got this little guy -- the last one -- for $10 instead of $50

Once home, I repotted in one of the hand thrown pots I brought home from England.
And babied it and watched it
And it grew and another month passed and it grew some more

We're almost to the one year point and it is thriving!
It needs a haircut, I know.
It reminds me of a comedian in the 60's who had sort of wild hair!
And I will give it a trim.
I have a couple of times already!

These myrtle topiaries look good no matter where you place them
Either singly or in pairs!

I've got my fingers crossed that we'll celebrate the one year anniversary in a few months.
And then, I feel, that I can add myrtle topiary to my list of plant accomplishments.

My third . . .

A topiary form that the shopped called
"A Wobbler"
bought last August
the plant purchased from Wal Mart for a song
and planted in a Guy Wolfe pot

It lives in the breakfast room
And seems to be happy there
for I do think it's grown a bit since August

Don't you?

It's often on the breakfast room table
If there isn't anything else to put in the middle.
The rest of the time it lives on the floor in front of the windows.

My three topiary successes
come at the expense of a lot of failures.
I'd like to say that I bought the topiary
and was successful in cultivating it.
But no, there are a lot of "topiary graves" at Linderhof.
Plants bought that didn't make it.

But I am proud of my three success stories
And hopefully, they will encourage you to try you hand at these fun plants!

And my "girl"

Photo of  Miss "D" courtesy of Jeffrey Glenn

Reminded me that the title of this post should be
The Three "T''s and a "D"!!!

It's Wednesday and once again on the prairie it is too cold to even think about being outside.    I've got a big lasagna in the fridge for we're having company for dinner.     It's a good time of year to have company over!

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