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, April 30, 2014

May Day, May Day . . . The Merry Month of May

It's The Merry Month of May

When April steps aside for May,
Like diamonds all the rain-drops glisten;
Fresh violets open every day:
To some new bird each hour we listen."
-  Lucy Larcom

Pansies for Tea

A riot of flowers on a needlepoint pillow

April Showers, After All . . . 

Bring May Flowers!

As a child, we always made cornucopias out of those paper doilies, tied a ribbon on them, filled them with flowers and left them on door knobs, then rang the bell and ran as fast as our little legs
could carry us.

Such a nice tradition
And sadly, a tradition that is forgotten.

As is the Maypole!

What fun we had at recess on May 1st as we danced around the Maypole!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

In The Garden . . .

It's been a cold April
And so I've not been out in the garden

But this weekend . . .
I bought
I planted
I watered
And I am awaiting the result.

Often in perennial beds, I'll stick a pot of annuals
To insure something is always blooming

I fell in love with these huge creamy marigolds!

And although they are a creamy white,
they still have a marigold fragrance

And in the garden light

A replacement rosemary

It was a hard and cold winter

And I lost this big guy!
But rosemary's don't like cold!
It was about 9 years old
And provided a lot of flavor to a lot of meals
And a lot of sweet treats!

And other herbs I replaced . . .

Some chives,

Some dill
(I didn't lose it this winter . . . but I've not had luck getting it to reseed)

And some lovage and tarragon

Oh and a new pair of garden gloves
Orange should be easy to find in the garden, don't you think?

The tarragon in the back of one of the herb beds

True French Tarragon, the only kind to plant!

And lovage -- which is a celery flavored herb!
This year, I'll have a whole row of it!

But you can't just plant herbs --
You need flowers!

White geraniums in the Guy Wolfe pots on the patio tables.

Their flowers are so pretty.

And not for me, but for Daughter Sarah

A rose geranium plant -- a "daughter" (or great great great) of one that
I've had "forever" -- at least 25 years!

I love to see the garden "awake" -- from dirty to little plants to a lush garden.   

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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Magical Mushrooms

On the prairie
In the Spring
There is a phenomenon 
And a rite
As we tramp through the woods
We search for the elusive


Some years are better than others
And found morels are guarded closely
And the spots you find them are secret
For you tell no one!
We've not been out and about
But a friend has!

And he has gifted us!

With a lovely bowl of morels

Which I made into chicken with morels
(it's an Ina recipe and she uses dried . . . but hey, it's much better with fresh ones!)
And since it was spring and asparagus is sprouting, roasted asparagus made the perfect side dish.
If it was a company meal, I would have served the asparagus as a separate course,
followed by the chicken and morels and perhaps some rice to soak up all that wonderful sauce!

And then, once again
Another and a bigger bowl full

Half I froze -- for I'll invite he and his wife over for dinner
And the rest . . .

I made into a creamy mushroom sauce for pasta

Husband Jim pronounced both delicious
And it does seem so like Spring
to once again have morels on our plates!

The pasta dish isn't a recipe as much as it is a method.
I browned the mushrooms in a bit of butter, then added a couple of cloves of garlic and a sprinkle of windowsill chives and sautéed with the mushrooms until I smelled the garlic.    Then I added some white wine (vermouth actually) just enough to deglaze the pan and cooked that down a bit, then a big really big pour of cream and simmered until the cream was thickened.    Then I threw in some Parmesan cheese.      It was fresh pasta (not made by me but made by Butoni -- from the grocery store) and once cooked, I threw it in the pan with the sauce and made sure the pasta was well coated.   I sprinkled some more cheese and chives on top and served.

The chicken is an Ina recipe and I've made it before and it is good.    


1 ounce dried morels, soaked for 30 minutes in 3 cups very hot water
       (I used all of the morels I had that day, cutting the bigger ones in half)
6 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/4 c. clarified butter (I used regular with a splash of olive oil)
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1 T. minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 cup Maderia
1 cup creme fraiche
1 cup heavy cream
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375

Lift the morels carefully from the hot water in order to leave any grit behind in the liquid.   Rinse a few times to be sure all the grittiness is gone.    Discard the liquid and dry the morels lightly with paper towels.    Set aside.   (I omitted this step -- instead washing my mushrooms and drying with a paper towel)

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.    Dredge them in flour and shake off the excess.   Heat half the butter in a large sauté pan and cook the chicken in 2 batches over medium low heat until browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes.    Remove to an ovenproof casserole.

Add the rest of the butter to the pan along with the shallots, drained morels, and garlic.    Saute over medium heat for 2 minutes, tossing and stirring constantly.    Pour the Madeira into the pan and reduce the liquid by half over high heat, 2 to 4 minutes.    Add the creme fraiche, cream, lemon juice, 1 t. salt and 3/4 t. pepper.    Boil until mixture starts to thicken, 5 to 10 minutes.    Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake for 12 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through.    To make ahead, refrigerate the chicken and sauce in the casserole and reheat slowly on top of the stove.

It is Friday and I"m joining Michael at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.   It's been a while and it's nice to be back!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tea and Flowers and Flowers

After the "thousands" of cookies I baked last week
(actually, it was only a few hundred but it seemed like "thousands")
you'd think that I'd never cut out a cookie for a long long time!

I was back in the kitchen this morning

Making cookies for the seniors who live in the "high rise"
(not assisted living, not a nursing home, but a three story apartment building for fixed income seniors)
It's a church project and when I found out that part of the project involved cookies, I immediately

This afternoon, however, it has been nice outside.
Perfect garden weather.
And as I was weeding and pruning, I decided to take a break
And noticed that my neighbor had been doing the same thing as I.

I hollered at her to come over, I had a carafe of freshly brewed tea
And some cookies

Everything fit on a tray
And we sat in the wicker chairs on the porch
And drank and nibbled.

Cutout cookies to resemble garden flowers

And another bouquet of lilacs on the porch table.
This has definitely been a lilac year
And big bouquets fill almost every tabletop!
The aroma, at times, can be heady!

Flowers on the table -- a feast for the eyes
Flowers on a plate -- a feast for the mouth!

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Get Well Gift

Husband Jim had a procedure done last Tuesday.
Let's just say it involved the kidney, stones and blasting!
Dear friend Mary Margaret
made this cake for us!

A sweet gift especially for Husband Jim
who went a long time without food!
(you know the drill -- no food or water after . . . )
He was in recovery mode and so ate his from his recovery sofa
while watching television.

I was a bit more civilized.
Taking mine in the breakfast room
with coffee
Amidst the orange tulips.

It tasted nutmeggy and I'll have to ask Mary Margaret for the recipe.
It was good and one of those cakes that you can doctor up or down.
One that I would like in my recipe book!

Alas, as of now, however, I don't have a recipe to share with you!

It's Tuesday and I'm joining Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mother's Lilac

When my parents married they moved into a six unit apartment building.
On the first floor
The landlord and his wife were just across the hall
And became friends with my parents.

It was a small apartment.
Living room, dining room, kitchen,
one bedroom and bath

The bedroom was on the back and had
double windows on two sides.
Under one of those sets of windows was a lilac bush.
And old fashioned lilac.

My first night at home (and many others)
was spent in that bedroom
And my first spring, the lilac bloomed
And the fragrance of those lilacs
wafted into the room
My parents spent the first ten years of their marriage
in that apartment
But with the coming of my little brother,
a one bedroom was too small
So they bought a house across the street!

And that spring, a "start" of the lilac
also moved across the street!
And when they moved a few years later
to a house in another area of the city,
a "start" of the lilac came with them.
And when my mother passed away,
I brought a start of the lilac home with me.
And the very next year, the lilac bloomed
One bloom!
It was a sign, I've always believed, that mother was happy
that her lilac had moved to our little town on the prairie.

Last year, was a non-lilac year!
Each of my bushes had one or two blooms.
This year they're covered!
It's definitely a lilac year.

Mother's lilac is an old fashioned light purple variety
But the fragrance is out of this world!
In fact, when I go out the back door, the heady scent of lilacs are almost overpowering.

I always keep Mother's Lilac in a vase all to itself.
It made a darling Easter bouquet today
And underneath is my Grandmother's crochet tablecloth.

It's sort of a family table!

The lilac, this spring, will travel North, where Daughter Sarah
and her Lucy will plant a start.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Eggs, Eggs and MORE Eggs -- But Then It Is Easter Eve!

It's Easter Eve
The day of the "egg"

The first egg of the day
Scrambled with bacon and roasted asparagus

for breakfast

In the breakfast room with a centerpiece of fruit
that will soon be turned into ambrosia!

Hot cross buns
And a wee Waterford sugar and creamer
bought just yesterday at a shop in our little town
A steal of a deal
And who says that the sugar has to have sugar in it!
I find small open sugar bowls are handy for butters or breakfast jams!

And the second eggs?
Yes, more cookies

Another batch of my cutout cookies
Cut with the egg shaped cookie cutter
Frosted with white Royal Icing
And a yellow Wilton candy melt in the end
to resemble a yolk

Some, however, are shown "unbroken"!
My best stab at a wild egg!

And the last egg
A Good Friday tradition
but I was too busy yesterday
And so it was relegated to today

The coloring of the eggs
In coffee cups (because that is what my Mom used)
With food coloring (because that is what my Mom used)

And once finished

The French wire egg stand holds the eggs
It's used only for this short time every year!
And then it's stored away!

Alas, none of these eggs will find their way outside.
We'll have them in egg salad sandwiches and deviled and Husband Jim will just peel and eat some
(but I never will)

And from Minnesota

Seems grand girl Lucy is keeping the tradition
of dying eggs on Easter Eve!
(I wonder if any of hers will find their way outside?)

And since it is Easter Eve -- I'm joining The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays

Friday, April 18, 2014

Chicks, Bunnies and Buns (Hot Cross)

A tradition of Easter week
the making of the
Fund Raising Cookies
Easter chicks and bunnies
cut out cookies
And hand decorated
(not just iced)

It's our Spring PEO Fundraiser
and it my Labor of Love
What started out as a 
"I hope we can make $100"
has turned into 
a nice fundraiser for our club.

We make them on an assembly line --
I did get a picture of all 300 plus bunnies
But, alas, forgot to take a picture of the chicks!

Some of the group came this morning to help bag

Which made that task go quickly

And what did I do after?
Put the kettle on

For we had coffee and freshly made Hot Cross Buns
It is Good Friday after all!

Hot Cross Buns were a tradition for Easter Sunday breakfast
when I was a child
But in adult years, it seems that churches so often do breakfast for the
Whether it is scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits or a pancake breakfast
or, as our church does a "pot luck"

So I've relegated Hot Cross Buns to Good Friday breakfast
with the leftover eaten with tea that afternoon.

Until this year, I've never baked my buns,
always buying them from a bakery in the city
(as mother always did)
But, alas, no city trip for me close enough to Good Friday
to buy buns so I decided to make them.

They're really easy and they were really good.

And now on Good Friday, the breakfast Hot Cross Buns will be homemade!


2 packages powdered yeast (I used quick rise)
1/3 c. warm water
1/3 c. scalded milk
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 t. cinnamon
3 well beaten eggs
2/3 c. dried currants, golden raisins or regular raisins (I used half golden, half regular -- currants are  
           hard to find here on the prairie)

Soften yeast in water.    Into the scalded milk, stir the butter, sugar and salt; let cool to lukewarm in a large bowl.

Sift flour and cinnamon together.    Into the milk mixture, stir a cup of flour and mix well.    Add eggs and beat well, then add the softened yeast and the currants (or raisins).   Add the remaining flour, a cup or so at a time and mix thoroughly to make a soft dough.    Cover with a clean dampened towel and let rise in a warm place until double, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.    Punch down.

Roll dough 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured board.    Cut into rounds with a biscuit or cooky cutter and shape into 24 rounded buns.    Place well apart on a greased baking sheet.    Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.     With a sharp knife or scissors, cut a cross in the center of each bun.    Brush tops with egg white or milk.    Bake in a 375 oven about 12 minutes or until nicely browned.

Remove from the pan and pipe or dribble white frosting on buns to make a cross.    Frosting is made by stirring together until smooth, 1 lightly beaten egg white and enough powdered sugar to make a paste (3/4 to 1 cup); add 1/2 t. vanilla.

Oh, and the cookies?
It's my cutout cookie recipe
Decorated like this:

The bunnies

The chicks

And yes, a package of each went North to Minnesota
for Grandgirl Lucy's first Easter

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring On The Prairie!

It's the middle of April!
It should be warm!
And Saturday it was -- like in the 80s
Today, not so much
More like the 40s
And tonight, it is predicted

Doesn't Mother Nature know that her children
are all a bud and a bloom?

And many will not survive the 20s which is the predicted low for tonight.

So I spent the afternoon cutting and clipping
To bring inside and fill vases
Which then filled tabletops

Or counters
like the daffodils which brighten the kitchen

A small bouquet of lilacs
on a tabletop in the living room

Or a bigger bouquet of lilacs

In a vase at the bottom of the stairs

And a silver pitcher on the sideboard in the living room

The pink tulips in a vase at the top of the stairs

And more tulips on the table in the breakfast room

I couldn't clip all of the lilacs
And it's a shame
For last year, we had one or two blossoms per bush
This year, all the bushes are loaded!

But I did take a photo of this year's lilac "crop"
So I'll have a remembrance forever of their beauty!

I love the house filled with flowers
But not because I have  to bring them in
or else the freeze will get them.

I prefer to have them inside because I want to
And enjoy a bouquet of each flower as it comes in bloom.

But at least these blooms will last for a week or so
And will brighten the inside of Linderhof
in this coming week.

And oftentimes, I even buy flowers 
like these beautiful white tulips I bought for the coffee table in the living room

Ah, had I known about the freeze . . . 

It's Tuesday and I'm joining Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Inspire Me Tuesday.