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.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Few New Cushions and a Little Paint

Ages ago I bought green cushions for the patio chairs
And then after a while I decided that it was too much of a pain
To take them in and out!
So I stored them
And then decided to use them as front porch cushions.

They were "okay"
But they weren't "special"!

And so the search for new cushions began.
I was picky
And so many cushions were too "trendy" and "tropical"
for the wicker chairs on the front porch of a 1920s house.

And if I found something I wanted, they didn't have enough
So the search continued

And then . . . in TJ Maxx in Akenny, Iowa
I found these . . .

a caramel color
in a solid
with white piping


And they had enough!
They look good in the white wicker . . 

 And then there was the sagey green rocker
So a couple of cans of spray paint
And some fabric

And it fits so much better.
I like the brown with white dots
And it goes well with the other chairs
Now that the rocker is white like the others.

And I've never liked the "John Deere" green on the metal chairs on the porch
(Husband Jim's choice)
With a can of Rustoleum in Hammered Brown

The chairs were transformed

White wicker, brown cushions, brown chairs

With a touch of green from the plants

It was perfect today
For working in the garden
For last week was really hot

It was good to sit on the porch again for tea
Iced, of course, as it often is in the summer

The porch is too shady for a live blooming plant on the table
It took me many plants to figure this out!
However, a pitcher of cut flowers work
And so in the summer when I can cut fresh flowers
A bouquet is always on the table.

Leftover cake and iced tea

Lemon Thyme, rose and lavender glazed tea cake
Left from an Herbal Tea I did yesterday at Fire Lake Camp

I think it was better today!

It's Monday and I'm sharing my new porch look with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Met Monday

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Summer Lunch . . . Inside!

Friend Maybelle and two of her friends came to lunch today
The first lunch of summer
at Linderhof
Held inside not outside
It was close to 100 degrees on the prairie today!

A white lace cloth
The blue and white Spode
a white damask napkin in a silver ring

Garden daylilies in a new ice bucket, 
brought back from our trip to Minneapolis
flanked by two iron birds
I adore birds on the table

The centerpiece

I used one of my English lead flower frogs

Shaped like a flower
Outside the vase, they're almost sculpture
And when they're "idle", they decorate the sideboard in the breakfast room

There's always a menu
at each place

It's summer . . .

Spring pea soup served in Spode Blue Italian coffee cups

Linderhof chicken salad
Chilled succotash salad
corn madeleines

A strawberry tart for dessert
with Grand Marnier flavored whipped cream

And when I got home this afternoon after running an errand . . .

This was waiting for me
A thank you from Friend Maybelle who arranged the luncheon

It's perfect!

The recipes are really simple --


2 cups of chicken broth, one small onion, minced; and 2 cups of frozen peas.    Put peas and onion in chicken broth and cook until peas are done.    Puree in a blender or with handheld blender.   Heat to serving temperature.    Add a goodly amount of cream or half and half and heat again.    Serve garnished with a borage flower.


Chicken breasts, roasted (pull off skin and remove bone); equal amounts of chopped celery and minced red onion.    I like to shred my chicken but if you prefer diced, that's fine too.   Mix celery and onion and chicken.     Use equal amounts of sour cream, plain yogurt and mayonnaise and a dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice.    Mix and pour over chicken and vegetable mixture.    To this you can add whatever fruit and nuts you like or serve plain.    For this luncheon, I added dried cranberries and pecans and a good sprinkle of chopped fresh tarragon.

(I found this in the latest issue of Tea Time)

1/2 c. yellow corn (I used frozen but you could use fresh cut off the cob)
1/2 c. frozen okra
1/2 c. frozen baby lima beans
1/2 c. canned black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 recipe Red-Wine Vinaigrette

Mix all the vegetables together and pour over the vinaigrette.      I used the vegetables straight from the freezer and they thawed in dressing on the counter.   I also salt and peppered to taste.


1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 t. minced shallot
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. sugar
2 T. olive oil

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, shallot, salt and pepper and sugar, whisking to blend.    Gradually add olive oil in a slow steady stream whisking until emulsified.    Store vinaigrette, covered, at room temperature and use the same day.

OR you could use your favorite oil/vinegar salad dressing!

It's Thursday and I'm sharing my first lunch of summer with Cuisine Kathleen for Let's Dish and with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday and Bernideen for Open House.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's Summer!

Friday was Midsummer's Night
The night when fairies come out to play . . .

And at Linderhof

We have a fairy house
in a fairy garden

And . . . last Friday . . .

We found fairies in the gardens!
Blowing fairy dust

Watching her reflection in a small pond
with her turtle friend . . .

Reading a book in a quiet nook

And holding a leaf so a small bird can have a drink

And a fairy we found amongst the thyme

Who decided to come in for tea

Tea treats of lemon balm cookies
Fairies love lemon balm --
almost as much as thyme.

A proper tea for Midsummer's Night

And our corgi, Dolly,  is a shameless beggar
For she has to have strength for on this night
She was hitched to the fairy queen's coach
You can see the harness marks on her back
All corgis have them

The calendar says summer
And it's finally gotten hot
And I'm afraid that the rain is gone until September
But, oh, what lush plants we have
for our cool wet spring encouraged growth.

I'm joining Susan at A Southern Daydramer for Outdoor Wednesday

Saturday, June 22, 2013

From Pansies to Begonias

Spring is pansy time
I adore pansies and I buy at least two flats every Spring

Some go in the front planters
The ones that flank the entrance to the porch

While others go in the back planters
The ones that flank the back door
The door to the basement
The door -- back in the 20s
Where groceries were delivered
Where the servants came and went

But pansies don't last long in prairie heat
Usually around Memorial Day
they seem spent
And then we replant the planters with annuals

But we've had a cooler spring
And a wetter spring
And the pansies have been stellar this year
And I've enjoyed each extra pansy day
For pansies are one of my favorite flowers!

However, it has been warmer
(although it's still wet)
And the pansies started getting leggy

It's mid June
It's the longest that I've had pansies!

Often, by the time it's time to replace the pansies,
the annuals are on sale
Although the selection is not as good as it was earlier in the year

This year
The annuals were not on sale
but because of the wet and cool spring
there were more choices.

I have found begonias are a great pot plant for the prairie.
No deadheading and they seem not to suffer so much if we have a hot and dry spell
(as we often do)

Usually, I get red ones

This year . . .

I opted for white

With bronzy leaves 

Which echo the rust on the front pots

And the white looks fresh in the planters by the back door

It makes the side entrance seem "brighter"

And I love the name of this variety of begonias . . .

"Cocktail Whiskey"
Isn't that a great name?

And what pretty flowers!

Now . . . finally all of the planters at Linderhof are now filled with annuals!

Where they will keep blooming away until frost
And will be replaced with Winter evergreen!

It's Sunday and I'm joining The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Coffee . . . It's Chocolate . . . It's At A Snail's Pace!

It's Chocolate . . . . It's Coffee
All in one cookie!

And not one snail . . . .

But a small herd . . . 
Some will be sampled . . . 

While others will go home with guests

For Sunday at life+style is a Slow Foods SEK Event
A Chocolate and Coffee tasting
And although there is chocolate and coffee in the cookies
There will also be local chocolate and coffee to taste.

Askinosie chocolates from Springfield, Missouri
Spice Merchant Coffee from Wichita, Kansas

It's this Sunday, June 23
at 4 p.m.
at life+style

Tickets are advance purchase only and they're only $8.00 per person
It's an event sponsored by Slow Foods SEK (where all the details are))

The snails (the logo of Slow Foods) are made from an old recipe of mine.
It's a shortbread but it's espresso shortbread and then it's dipped in chocolate --
guilty pleasure!!!!
They're a good cookie and I usually cut them out in hearts and then dip half in chocolate. 
  But you could do rectangles or circles or another fun cutter (like a coffee cup or coffee pot!)


For the cookies:

1 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
2 1/4 c. flour
2 T. finely ground espresso beans

For the Dipping Chocolate:
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 T. vegetable shortening

Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.    Combine butter, sugar and salt in a stand mixer bowl (use the paddle attachment).   Mix on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar, but isn't perfectly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.    Add the flour and ground espresso and mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently, until the dough has just pulled together, about 3 minutes; don't over mix.    Roll on a lightly floured board to about 1/4 inch thick.    Cut into bars or squares with a sharp knife, or using cookie cutters, cut out shapes as close to one another as possible.     Re-roll scrapes as needed.   If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate it briefly.    Arrange the cookies on the baking sheets and refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 minutes.    Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and heat oven to 300 degrees.   Bake until the tops look dry and the color has darkened just slightly -- about 20 minutes.    Cool completely.

Set a sheet of parchment or waxed paper on a work surface.    Put the chocolate and shortening in a small heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water.    Melt the chocolate, stirring, until it's smooth and warm.    (Don't let it get hot).    Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate.    Set the cookies on the parchment and let the chocolate set up at room temperature, about 2 hours.

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Elegant Ladies for Lunch

I had four elegant ladies for lunch
In the breakfast room
Elegant ladies
means an elegant lunch

China and silver and crystal, oh, my!

The Aynsley "Early" Pembroke china
Husband Jim's grandmother's silver
Antique wine glasses with a caramel stem
to echo the caramel rim on the plate
And an antique linen tablecloth

Damask napkins in silver rings
This one was a Christmas/Birthday gift from Daughter Sarah
It came from Charleston!

Each place had a wee Waterford vase
And a rose
Similar to the one on the china

A bigger bouquet in a crystal rose bowl
Real flowers "shed" and I love petals on the tablecloth!

And, of course, a menu at each place

With a rose . . .

Late spring is a great time for a cold cucumber soup
Topped with borage blossoms
Served in the old Aynsley tea cup and saucer

Lunch was individual chicken and asparagus frittatas, spinach and strawberry salad with poppyseed dressing, candied pecans and feta cheese and corn madeleines

Dessert was a flourless chocolate cake.
A favorite recipe
It's called Chocolate Graggy Cake 
or Graggy Chocolate Cake
served with Grand Marnier flavored whipped cream
and an orange pansy

It is Thursday and I'm sharing my Elegant Ladies for lunch with Cuisine Kathleen for Let's Dish and with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Spools for Tea

Even though it has been hot here on the prairie
The front porch always seems to be cool
It's tree shaded
And faces East
There always seems to be a breeze as well

For a porch I like wicker

And tables to hold tea things

A tray with a plate of Lemon Spool cookies
And two glasses of tea
(iceless because our icemaker was broken . . .
but the tea was cold . . . for it was well chilled in the fridge)

The cookies are fun to make
And I suppose one could do other "flavors"
Although my recipe called for lemon

A glass of lemony cold tea and a plate of lemon cookies

However, two seem to feel that they're forgotten
They're inside
And the cookies are outside!

The cookies are fun to make and I love the design the spool creates in the dough!
Almost like a flower.


2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. vegetable shortening
2 medium eggs
1 T. grated lemon rind
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. lemon extract
4 drops lemon food color

For the design, use a large empty plastic spool from thread.    Remove the paper from the ends.

Mix flour, salt and baking powder.    Set aside.    Beat sugar and shortening in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy.    Beat in eggs, lemon rind and juice, lemon extract and food color.   On low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture.    Chill dough 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400.    Make colored sugar by stirring together the sugar and yellow food color until uniform in a small bowl.    Form dough into small balls the size of a walnut.    Roll in colored sugar.   Place about 2 inches apart on silicone or parchment covered baking sheet.    Press flat with the bottom of a glass.    Cookies should be about 1/4 inch thick.    Press spool about half way into each cookie center to make design.    Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light golden color.    Cool or wire racks.    Store the extra colored sugar for your next batch of lemon cookies.   (You sometimes can find yellow sugar in the baking aisle so you don’t have to make your own!)

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