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, February 27, 2014

A Cinnamon Breakfast

What's the best breakfast?

Hot from the oven cinnamon rolls.

Not made by me
but made by friend Judy

Placemats this morning
My beloved blue and white

Coffee for Husband Jim
Tea for Me

A blooming orchid for color

And a whole pan of cinnamon rolls!
Hot, warm, cinnamon

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Breakfast Table

It's called the breakfast room
The small room we added on to the back of the house
The room that looks as if it was a porch
That we enclosed with sliding doors.

And it is where we have breakfast
when we're home

It's always the blue and white Spode Blue Italian dishes
(because they're handiest)
Always a French press of coffee for Husband Jim
And a teapot of P G Tips for me

A mug for Jim's coffee
A cup and saucer for my tea
A blue and white "orphan" creamer that we usually use for everyday milk

And a white linen napkin in a silver ring
(although they did not come from Italy -- the white linen reminds me of Italy
and our time in Positano)

Breakfast this particular morning

A baked apple pancake
Served family style

If it's eggs or pancakes, I'll plate in the kitchen

If it's a frittata, a baked pancake or Featherbed eggs, I serve at the table

A slice of pancake
A cup of tea
My beloved blue and white

But . . . 
if I find myself alone . . . 

I'll often use the set of
Mason's Manchu blue and white
A breakfast set
for one
coffee pot, sugar, creamer, bowl and plate, 
cup and saucer, toast rack (or cooler as Jim calls it)
and a muffin dish

Used not to have a solitary breakfast at a table
but rather to be put on a tray
And a loyal servant would deliver it to the
mistress of the house
So that she could have breakfast in bed

Alas, I'm the cook as well as the mistress
And so when I use the Manchu,
it's not in bed but in the breakfast room
But it is just me --

I like setting a pretty table
For just me
For us
For a crowd

Not just for dinner
But for breakfast as well
And lunch, too, for that matter.

It's just being nice to yourself.
And making yourself (and your husband)
feel important.

Oh, and there's always flowers
or a blooming plant on the table as well
(or perhaps in midwinter, a bowl of fruit)

Flowers are a luxury I can't pass up
And a meal without flowers
Would be like a day without sunshine!

It's Thursday and my breakfast table will be joining Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One Meat -- Three DIFFERENT Meals

my latest issue of
Bon Appetit came

I became enamored with this dish

 Slow roasted pork roast

I bought a roast
(which was on sale)
for less than $7

And roasted it Saturday per the recipe
Bon Appetit

On Saturday we had

Slow roasted pork shredded pork roast
served over creamy polenta

We often have a more casual meal

Some of the pork was put into a Dutch oven
And I made a homemade BBQ sauce which I added to the pot
And then I cooked it at 250 for a good hour and a half
Served on a bun with Amish girl's broccoli salad My Way and potato salad
(and a pickle)


I put the last of the pork in a Dutch oven
Added some salsa, some chili powder and some oregano
And simmered it for a good hour

Served it in corn tortilla shells
with more salsa, sour cream, cilantro and a squeeze of lime

A roast (whether pork, beef or lamb)
is an economical cut of meat
For less than $7 (for the meat)
I got six meals 
(three meals for the two of us)

And they were three different entrees.

I'm not big on leftovers

But these really aren't leftovers
They're just a different way to eat the roast.

I often buy a roast and cook it on Saturday
And it feeds us at least two other times.

In fact, some of our favorite meals
Are the ones made out of the "leftover" roast!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tea After A Trip To the City

A Friend and I ventured to the city
To shop . . .
To have lunch

Our luncheon destination of choice?

The one near the Country Club Plaza
(not the new one in Overland Park)
for I much favor the original.

With it's quaint dining room

And showcases of chocolates

No matter how full you are from lunch
It's hard to pass up those cases of sweets!

We didn't stay as long as we intended to
For it started to snow
And we got home early

In time for me to brew a wee pot of tea

And catch up with the mail!

Blue for tea, of course
My Burleigh Asiatic Pheasant
It's a paler blue than any of my Spode

And I did bring something home from Andres
(besides bread and salad dressing)

A macaron and two macaroons
Perfect for afternoon tea!

Served on a wee tiered server
Which goes so well with the wee tea pot!

It's Tuesday and I'm sharing my tea with Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday  and with Bernideen for Friends Sharing Tea.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How Grows the Garden?

It's not Spring on the prairie
It's still February after all
But on a non-snowy and warmish February day
I like to plant lettuces

I got a head start this year

With a couple of four packs
Two of romaine and two of leaf lettuce

As well as the lettuce and spinach seeds I bought when I first saw them this winter

They all go into the pots around the garden

The pots empty of flowers hold winter greenery
which is tired looking by February

It's too early to plant anything and I don't like to look at empty pots.

The solution:


It gives me green in the pots
It gives me greens for the table!

And by the time the lettuces are done and bolting
The annuals are in the garden centers
and it's warm enough to plant them!

A concrete pot with the lettuces

And my long pot with the romaine.

The other pots aren't as pretty.
They are, after all, just soil and seeds.

Soon, especially with planting plants,
I'll get to harvest some tasty greens for salads.

What could be more seasonal than a garden?    I'm joining The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays and my transformation of my garden pots with Susan at Between Naps On The Porch for Met Monday.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Happy Birthday
Mr. President

The Father of Our Country,
George Washington

We always had lessons about President Washington in grade school
(as well as having the day off -- the real day, not a made up day)

And of course, every year we learned about George and the cherry tree
The lesson being that it isn't good to lie!

Mother always celebrated as well
Because of George and the cherry tree

We always had a cherry pie for dessert
(and growing up, real desserts were for Sundays
weekdays were fruit, pudding or jello)

I've taken the tradition of celebrating
President Washington's Birthday 
a step further

By making a
Washington's Pie
for tea

Of course, it's a pie that's really a cake
(like in Boston Cream Pie)
and it is a cousin to England's Victoria Sponge
(but George came first
but then the Brits wouldn't name a cake after Washington!)

And if we have a cake for tea
we must have company

Two little girls and their mother
will be invited for tea

The table's all set
The silver is shining
And blooming hyacinths make a pretty and fragrant centerpiece.

Spode's Camilla tea plates, cups and saucers
And a freshly ironed tea napkin

And the "pie"

Washington's Pie
four layers of cake
filled with raspberry jam spiked with Kirshwasser
And a pretty sprinkle of powdered sugar on top

The table's all ready 
for company
where we'll have a birthday celebration
for George Washington!

But . . . no candles!!!!

I've never liked it when they moved Washington's Birthday to a Monday
and then changed it's name!

And I refused to celebrate
"the third Monday of February"
as President's Day!

It's February 22
And it's Washington's Birthday!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Bolognese

I've had more requests for the Bolognese Sauce
Than almost any other dish I posted
I served over rigatoni for our dinner party

And leftovers on Monday were served over spaghetti.

It is the best!

And came from this cookbook

Which is my favorite Italian cookbook.

After spending over a month in Italy, the recipes inside are spot on!

Ragu Bolognese
(From Ecco la cucina by Gina Stipo)

2 pounds ground beef, pork and veal (any combination)((I always have used beef -- easier to get here)
1 large onion
2 celery stalks
1 carrot
2 T. olive oil
1 T. tomato concentrate
1 large can tomato sauce
1 to 2 cups white wine
1 cup milk
salt and pepper

Place the onion, celery and carrot in a food processor and puree.    Brown the meat in a small amount of olive oil, add the vegetables and sauté well until softened, adding additional oil if it seems dry.    Season with salt and a good grinding of black pepper.     Add the wine and cook off completely, then add the milk and cook off completely.    Add the tomato concentrate and sauce, cover and allow the sauce to cook for 2 hours, if it's very thick, add a little water and watch while it cooks to make sure it doesn't get too dry.

Gina's Notes:

This is a traditional Bolognese sauce, very simple to make and yet very rich and complex tasting.   It's used for traditional lasagna and is always served with a fresh egg tagliatelle, never a semolina-based dried spaghetti.    (I didn't adhere to that!) The milk helps to soften the acidity of the wine and tomatoes.

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Guests for Dinner

We love having guests for dinner.
And last year we were lax at having people over.
Often, we just met friends at a restaurant . . .
But it's not nearly as much fun
as having people over!

Two of my favorite parts of dinner parties are:

The dinner table after every one has gone and before we've
hauled the dishes to the kitchen.


The table in all it's finery
just before
the guests arrive.

Everything is perfect
The house smells of cooking food
We've showered, cleaned up and dressed in company togs.

And we've got the anticipation of the party yet to come.

A dinner party we had a couple of weeks ago.
For two other couples
For me, the perfect number of guests.
All can contribute to the conversation
(which with a table of eight, you often have two fours)

And not so many dishes 
(and glasses)
that the host and hostess
(mainly the hostess)
have to deal with.

And I've learned, to have a simpler meal

Appetizers in the parlor with a cocktail or wine,
A first course
(often a salad)
A main course

Rigatoni with Gino Stipo's bolognese sauce
(the best bolognese sauce I've ever made)

And coffee served with dessert

A lemon yogurt cake

With wee glasses of a liqueur to finish up the meal.

Good company, good food, a good evening.

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Do You Fondue?

We do
But not as often as we should.
It is the perfect meal for a snowy and cold winter's day
It originated, after all, in the Alps
Where it always seems to be snowy and cold!

It was a meal of leftover cheese and stale bread with a soupçon of wine
to make the cheese smoother!

Peasant Food!

In honor of the Olympics
(although they are not in the Alps)
and on an evening when they were going to broadcast 
some Alpine events,
we "fondued"!

Cozy in the breakfast room
With a fire in the stove
Hot cheese fondue

And a platter of bread cubes, potato chunks and cauliflower

The fondue pot -- an Emile Henry one.    Earthenware, it goes from stove to table.
Not an "I've had forever" although I think I started marriage with one --
a fondue pot.   
It was just done -- toaster, waffle iron, fondue pot -- for wedding gifts.

Early in our married years,
everyone fondued.
In fact, we had fondue parties!!!

We thought we were so sophisticated having fondue!
(and drinking cheap jug wine)
And like everyone else, we had one of those colored metal fondue pots

Which, I'm sure, I sold at a garage sale when no one fondued anymore!
(and it was taking up valuable cabinet space)

Full of fondue,
we retired to the parlor
to watch some Alpine events

And because it was icy on the mountain

We had vanilla ice cream
with a homemade salted caramel sauce
(not made by me but made by a friend who gifted it to me for my birthday)
and some toasted pecans.

We adore watching the Winter Olympics
and will be sorry when they've had the closing ceremonies.

It's an every four years treat -- the Winter Olympics!

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Blue Tea (But Aren't Most?)

It was a blue tea in more ways than one.
Not only my blue and white tea ware
But also the hyacinths in the forcing vases on the center of the table
(and a wee blue and white ginger jar -- a birthday gift from a friend!)

The smell is heady!

Three hyacinths blooming perfumes the air in the small room.
It is almost overpowering.
But, to me, it is the smell of the promise of spring!

My everyday tea dishes are always blue and white.
Different patterns some days
A mix of patterns other days.

The treat is Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt cake.
A moist lemony cake that's simple to make
One bowl!
No mixer!

I often make loaf cakes in 4 little pans instead of one big one.
Better for me for tea
And I have some to give away.

Spode Blue Italian sandwich plate for the cake
(Shhh - don't tell my British friends)
Spode Blue Italian cup and saucer and tea plate
And Burleigh Ware Asiatic pheasant teapot for one.
All on a tray -- easy to carry to and fro from the kitchen

In mid February the sun streams in at tea time.
A book, you see, is always at hand.
This one, a library book, is my latest mystery.

I enjoy this quiet time
With a nosh
A cup of tea or two
And a good read
And Tchaikovsky for Tea Time on the stereo.

The recipe is easy and yummy and lemony --


1 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/3 c. sugar, divided
3 extra large eggs
2 t. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 T.  freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350.    Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2 inch loaf pan.    Line the bottom with parchment paper.   Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into 1 bowl.    In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.     Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.     With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile cook the 1/3 c. lemon juice and the remaining 1/3 c. sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.    Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.    Carefully, place on a baking rack over a sheet pan.    While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.    Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

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

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Memory and A Souvenir

In October
We spent a week in Sorrento, Italy
In the Sorrento City hotel

Our room was on the front

With a balcony

And the window box on the railing held a donkey tail sedum

Which could also be seen from inside the room

Of course, in Italy, it is an outside plant.

And our hotel wasn't the only one with trailing donkey tail sedum plants cascading down the front of the building.

I loved the little cascading sedums
wondering how I could get a start
and knowing that I really could not legally bring a start into the States.


So I didn't!

And what did I find today at
Home Depot?

A wee little donkey tail sedum plant!
In the breakfast room
In a tole cache pot

On the sideboard
Where it should be happy
For it will get plenty of sun!

Often my souvenirs  of trips are not the stuff that is sold in tourist shops
But rather things that I used or tasted or saw.
Real things!

Some brought home with me
But others, like this sedum, found here after I returned.

I shall remember our coffee and pastries on the balcony
of the hotel in Sorrento
where a donkey tail sedum was on the railing next to the table
Every time I see this little plant!

Alas, unlike Italy, it has to spend the winter indoors!

But it shall be a great memory of a great trip!

(Oh, and I got one for our friend who went with us -- they also had one on their balcony -- she doesn't know it -- it's a surprise for her!)

I'm joining Cindy at The Heart of Your Home for Amaze Me Monday.