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.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cookbook Book Club

I love to cook and I love cookbooks and I love reading.    I belong to a book club -- it forces me to read books that I would not normally read and surprisingly, have enjoyed them all.     This book club meets monthly and discussion is lively and there is food.    Everyone brings a little nibble (or sometimes a member will bring a big nibble!) and we "nibble" and then discuss.   It's fun.

But . . . I decided that it would be even more fun, if the book was a cookbook.     So I posted on Facebook about a Cookbook Book Club.    Open invitation to anyone interested, to come to my house, bring an appetizer and the cookbook that it was from and that we would organize the Cookbook Book Club.

Last night, they came!

My cookbook of choice?

Savannah Cookbook by Damon Lee Fowler.    An author that I like not only because of the recipes inside but also because of the history of the cuisine and the dishes inside.     It's a readable cookbook and those I prefer.     Ones that you can read besides just cook from.

An appetizer, of course, but then also a beverage . . . . 

Sherry Cobbler on the sideboard with sprigs of mint to tuck in.    A concoction of fruit (oranges, lemons and pineapple (real --not canned), sugar, water and sherry.     It's not a lethal punch and the word "cobbler" says Mr. Fowler in the 1800s referred to beverages like this -- not a one crust deep dish "pie".

It got thumbs up and I was left with an empty pitcher.

We asked everyone to bring the cookbook that the recipe was from and we set the dining room table with the dishes with the books propped behind.     

We each got a plate and sampled.

Then we got another plate and grabbed our book and then discussed the dishes, the books, the recipes.     Everything was a winner!    And almost all were from Southern cookbooks!

A Spinach artichoke dip from the Oak Alley Planation Cookbook served with toasted pizza crusts!    Delicious!    And made differently because it contained no cream cheese!    Friend Michelle's contribution!

A goat cheese cheesecake.   Friend Jacki's contribution.   It was yummy and the flavor of the goat cheese was not pronounced.    For those who have "goat cheese" issues, the group decided that you could call it a savory cheesecake and leave out the word "goat"!    

Bacon ranch cheeseballs.    Made into little balls and served on crackers.     We thought the balls were very good but thought the presentation was really clever.     I think you'll be seeing that type of appetizer (tiny cheese balls on crackers) at many a party really soon.    Friend Donna brought these.

My contribution -- crab tassies.    I was intrigued by a savory tassie.    I love the pecan ones and make them often.    They are really good tea treats.    I also have a lemon version that is almost as good as the pecan one.    Now I have a savory version.     I splurged on crab with a "c" and bought the claw meat.     You could tell!

Friend Rita brought a surprise cheese ball made into a log (which is a great presentation we felt -- much better than a ball) -- what makes it a "surprise" -- the mashed sweet potatoes!     No one could taste them but we all felt that the cheese ball was much creamier because of that addition.     From a Junior League Cookbook (one of my favorite kinds) from Monroe, Louisiana.

Friend Darlene, a New Orleanan, brought shrimp (not Gulf -- but we're a little far from there to have Gulf shrimp readily available) with a Remoulade Sauce from Galatoire's in New Orleans.    From a cookbook that she helped author.   A beloved, well used cookbook!

We visited, we ate, we discussed and we visited some more.    It was a fun evening.       We organized the club, signed up for hostess duties and decided that the hostess was in full control as far as what cookbook/author/theme that we would do the month that she's hostess.

Friend Donna signed up for February --

And we'll be cooking with Lidia!     I've never cooked one of her recipes although I do watch her sometimes on PBS and I've eaten several times at her restaurant in Kansas City.    So I'm anxious to cook with her.    My contribution for the next meeting -- the entree!    

Like the book club, I feel that I will stretch my horizons by using books that I would never have.    And isn't that what any type of book club is supposed to be?     An opportunity to broaden one's horizons!

The recipe for the crab tassies:


1/2 cup butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1scant cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound crab (claw meat preferred)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. worchester sauce
1 t. sherry
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill2 small scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Dash of hot sauce

Cream butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with flat paddle.  Stir in flour and salt.  

Roll into 24 small balls and chill for 1 hour.  Press into mini muffin tins, about 1-3/4” diameter.

Mix crab with remaining ingredients except paprika.    Spoon into unbaked shells, sprinkle with paprika and bake at 350 degrees until golden, for approximately 30 minutes – less if using convection.

It's Friday and I'm joining Michael at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.       There isn't anything more Foodie than a Cookbook Book Club!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

From Dark to Bright

Friend Shirley Ann and I went to the city today.     We had a great time at several Thrift Stores.    Sometimes you find treasures, sometimes not . . . . 

And at one today, I found --

This small silver pot.    Bought because I thought I needed a silver pot for the breakfast coffee.  Not Thrift Shop cheap because Thrift Stores are not as cheap as they once were.    But not a bad price.    But black.   I tried to rub on it to see if it would polish up but I had no luck!    So I took a chance.

For most of my silver polishing I like Hagerty's.    It leaves a nice shine on the silver and something in the polish keeps the silver from tarnishing quite as quickly.

But . . . sometimes there are bits of stubborn tarnish.     That's when I turn to this product

Maas Silver Polish.     It polishes and polishes well, can be bought locally and is reasonably priced.   I always keep a tube on hand.

The Maas turned that little black coffee pot into

This shining silver pot which will be perfect to hold our morning coffee.     And there is nothing so elegant as morning coffee poured from a silver pot.

A little bit of money and a lot of elbow grease and I have a pretty new pot for our morning coffee!

And it's inaugural breakfast!     The Johnson Brothers Indies (now our breakfast dishes), the German silver (now our everyday cutlery -- it has my German grandmother's initials on it -- perhaps?) and our everyday linen napkins. 

It pours like a dream, silver always keeps beverages hot hot hot and it lends a bit of elegance methinks to the breakfast table.      And the most important thing, I do have a nook to tuck it in when it's not in service!     There was the perfect spot in the breakfast room sideboard that was just right for that size pot!

And breakfast this morning?    Cheese omelets, toast, tomato juice and coffee with real cream.  I have the perfect omelet pan for one -- just like the little ones you often see at buffet brunches or hotels that offer made to order omelets for breakfast.     And it's nice to have an omelet for one rather than part of a bigger omelet -- looks better on the plate -- a whole not a half!

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Crystal and Crystals

Friend Sally and I went south last week.
To our favorite antique shop,
We both came home with treasures!

A crystal bowl for the dining room table
I love the pattern of the glass.
Age?   I'm not sure
It's a punch bowl, I'm sure because of the size
But I think it's smashing!
And looks really good on the dining room table.

I can imagine it this fall full of pumpkins and bittersweet!

And for the dining room mantle --

Two Fostoria candleholders.    With prisms.    
They, too shine with the sun.

I also got the console bowl that matches --
In case I want to use the set on the sideboard or dining room table.

It was a crystal sort of shopping trip!

I'm sharing my new crystals with Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Inspire Me Tuesday.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

 January is National Oatmeal Month which is fitting because January is dreary and cold and oatmeal is warm and comforting!

We often have oatmeal for breakfast in the late fall and winter.    Sometimes rolled oats, sometimes steel cut ones.     And we like ours simple -- oats (cooked with a bit of salt), a sprinkle of sugar and milk (not cream!)

But not on the weekend -- on the weekend we like a bigger, more leisurely breakfast.     Eggs and bacon, or an omelet, or a frittata.     And a hot bread as well.     Biscuits, popovers (although I forget that even though they are called a "quick" bread, they take close to 30 minutes to bake) and, of course, muffins!

I have decided that my beloved Johnson Brothers Indies would be my breakfast dishes.    I have plates, bread plates, cups and saucers and even oatmeal bowls.    But most importantly, I have a coffee pot!

And I think it sets a very pretty breakfast table.     The little birds along the edge echo the birds in the garden.

In January, paperwhites are the centerpiece.    We force them in late September so that we have blooming flowers most of January and sometimes even into February.    They make grey cold January days seems less so.     The Johnson Brothers coffee pot is a large one which is nice when it's coffee for more than one!

A straw basket is perfect for fresh from the oven muffins.

And I'm properly using a bread plate and butter knife.     Bread should always be served separately!

Why did I talk about National Oatmeal Month in a post about breakfast and eggs and bacon and muffins?    Why, because the muffins are oatmeal muffins.     Blueberry and oatmeal muffins!    They're tasty warm from the oven and slathered in butter.    But equally good in the afternoon for tea.

They go together easily (always a plus for breakfast breads) and with the blueberries, oatmeal and yogurt, I think of them as "healthy"!


2  cups flour
1 cup oats (quick or regular — not steel cut)
2/3 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. honey Greek yogurt (I couldn’t find any so added honey to my plain yogurt)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 T. butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 t. vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries

Heat oven to 350

Coat muffin tin with Pam or put in liners.

Combine flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Combine yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla in a second bowl.

Fold yogurt mixture into dry mixture, stir to combine completely.

Gently fold in blueberries.

Spoon into muffin tins.

Bake until top is gold and springs back when you gently touch it, 20 to 25 minutes.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thank You

A reader named Rex emailed and wondered if I wanted some of
his grandmother's old linens.

Never to pass up old linens, I, of course, said yes . . . 

This week, I found this

on my door step.

Rather a large box.

Boy, was my heart racing!

And when I opened it . . . 

These wonderful handkerchiefs

And a cute hat

And when I got to the bottom of the box . . . 

I had a true treasure trove of lovely linens!

Thank you, Rex, I shall treasure them all!

That was so sweet and kind of you to do that.
And I truly adore them!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The First Lunch Bunch Luncheon of 2015

With this luncheon, the Lunch Bunch celebrated 15 years of monthly luncheons!     We've gotten together mostly once a month to catch up and visit and to enjoy good food.

I love to cook and I love to have people over and so when I first invited friends, Sally, JoAnn and Joyce, to Linderhof for lunch, it was to try some new recipes.      Ladies lunch recipes mostly.      And they've come back!

Two or three times a year we do a road trip and go out to lunch but mostly it is here, at Linderhof.    Usually the day after (sometimes the day of), I start going through cookbooks looking for recipes to make a menu for the next month's luncheon.     Occasionally, I will do tried and true, but mostly, they are recipes untested -- at least by me!

The table, too, is always fun to set.    With seasonal elements and sometimes some whimsy!     We started out in the dining room and had lunch there for years until we built the breakfast room, and then we had lunch there until I moved things around and it's now a little tight for four!

In January,  the paperwhites are blooming and so I called this a "Paperwhite Luncheon"!

 With a Christmas present lace tablecloth on the table.    Unusual for it looks like fern leaves and flowers rather than the more traditional lace patterns.

A centerpiece of paperwhites in my grandmother's bulb bowl, Spode Blue Room plates, Jim's grandmother's cutlery and white damask napkins in the silver napkin rings.      A menu at each place, showing the growth cycle of a paperweight bulb!

The table all set and ready for company.     A ladies lunch table!   It's January and as the house seems almost bare and sparse so does the table.     The place settings and the paperweight centerpiece.       

I chose to serve a menu my Mother would have served when she had the ladies over.

Mother's Luncheon Chicken, an individual frozen fruit salad (on a lettuce leaf -- an iceberg lettuce leaf!) and a Sister Shubert roll.      Sister Shubert's rolls were not in my Mother's day, but she served (aghast) brown n serves!

Dessert when the ladies came always seemed to be pie.    A luncheonette pie whose recipe I clipped from the Kansas City Star eons ago (even before I had begun to cook) and never made.     I cull my recipes from time to time, but this one always seemed to make the cut.      Perhaps because it is pecan and I adore pecan!

Pecan Chiffon Pie -- creamy, with roasted pecans and a whipped cream topping.    Not as cloyingly sweet as most pecan pies, it is creamy goodness with a little pecan crunch.

Coffee and dessert are always the last course.    And as we drink the pot of coffee, we visit some more.    It's always a good Tuesday, this third Tuesday of the month, when the Lunch Bunch comes to visit!


8 slices white loaf bread (I used Sara Lee's Iron Kids -- mother used Wonder)
2 T plus 1 stick butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh button mushrooms
1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half
3 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1/4 c. finely chopped pimentos (I used chopped red peppers that I had in the freezer)
1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds
1/2 c. semidry sherry

Trim the edges of the bread, cut each slice in half diagonally, toast the pieces lightly and set aside.

In a small skillet, melt the 2 T. butter over moderate heat, then add the mushrooms, cook, stirring till they absorb the butter, about 8 minutes, and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 1 stick butter over moderate heat, then add the flour, salt and pepper and stir till well blended and smooth.     Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the broth and half-and-half, stirring constantly till well blended and smooth.     Return the pan to the heat, reduce the heat to low and cook till thick, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.     Fold n the reserved mushrooms, the chicken, pimentos, almonds and sherry and cook till the mixture is heated thoroughly.

Arrange two pieces of toast with the points aimed outward on each serving plate and spoon equal amounts of creamed chicken over the top of each.


1/2 c. coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup water
2 T. cornstarch mixed with 2 T. water
2 medium size egg whites, at room temperature
2 T. granulated sugar
One 9 inch baked pie shell (yours or frozen or Pillsbury)
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. finely chopped pecans for garnish

Preheat the oven to 275

Spread the coarsely chopped pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven till barely browned, 10 to 15 minutes.    Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar and water and bring to a boil.    Using a whisk, stir in the cornstarch and stir constantly till the mixture becomes clear and has the consistency of a thick pudding.    Remove from the heat.

In a bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer till peaks form, then gradually add the white sugar, and beat till the peaks are stiff.     With the mixture on low speed, gradually add the pecans and the brown sugar mixture but do not overmix.    Pile the filling ito the pie shell.     Whip the cream till stiff peaks form, spread over the top of the pie, and sprinkle the chopped pecans on top.

It's Thursday and I'm sharing the First Lunch Bunch Lunch of 2015 with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Downton Abbey Tea at Rose Haven

My friend Sally and I are often partners in "Crime".     Most of the "Crime" being a road trip to our favorite antique store about 25 miles south of here.     The "Crime" always includes lunch and a stop at one or two or three flea markets in the area.     But none equal Dapper's in Pittsburg for both price and selection of merchandise.

But this weekend, we were "Partners in Crime" when we hosted a Downton Abbey Tea at her beloved Victorian Home, Rose Haven.      Not an ordinary tea, but a real English Afternoon Tea with tiny sandwiches, scones and jam and cream, and an array of sweets.

And not two ladies in jeans and aprons pouring tea, but a full staff to serve our guests wishes.    From the Butler who greeted the guests to the Dowager Countess herself to Mrs. Simkins, the beloved cook.

But before we donned our "Downton Abbey Persona", Sally and I fixed sandwich fillings, baked scones, made jam, and baked what seems like endless "biscuits", and two yummy decadent chocolate cakes (well, Sally did that -- I made the lemon curd tartlets!)

The Dowager Countess, Calvin, and Mrs. Simkins

Sally's home makes the perfect setting for a Downton Abbey Tea.       We had 21 guests and set up three tables in her lovely home . . .

In the dining room

The biggest table, it held nine guests.     Three curates were on the table holding scones and sweets.    Sandwiches were on sandwich trays brought out at the last minute.    This table was set with Sally's wedding china.

The "family" dining room.    A smaller dining room which seats eight.     

Two curates held sweets and scones and sandwich trays were brought in with the assorted crustless tea sandwiches.     The china is an old Noritake pattern edged in gold.

And lastly a table for four in the music room.    Three sisters and a friend held sway at this table.     The rowdiest of the bunch, we thought!    

Delicate china graced each place setting at this table.

At each place was a framed placard identifying our guests as "Lady ("first name").     And each place had a handout telling the story of how The Dowager Countess came to live at Rose Haven with her beloved servant, Mrs. Simkins.

The tea food was all on the tables and Her Ladyship and I (for I was Mrs. Simkins) poured tea.    Cups and cups and pots and pots of tea!

 The main dining room

The music room

The main dining room

And I always like the quiet before guests arrive
When everything is in it's place and everything is perfect . . . 

And I like pictures that tell a story . . . of good times had by all.

Of tables empty, before the dishes are cleared.
You just know that a good time was had by all!

 The sandwiches were eaten, the curates almost emptied of all the good things that one comes to expect at an afternoon tea.

After a morning of fixing sandwiches and filling plates, when all but two of our dear friends were gone, I brewed a fresh pot of tea in the kitchen, grabbed two china cups and saucers

And we sat amidst the dishes, visiting, sipping, and remembering what a fun time was had by all!

Will we do it again?    Next year, the Countess and Mrs. Simkins (and Calvin) will appear for another Downton Abbey tea . . . . and this May, we might, just might host a tea in honor of Queen Victoria's Birthday!

It is Tuesday and I'm sharing our Downton Abbey Tea with Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday and with Bernideen for Friends Sharing Tea.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Afternoon Tea

 Friend Sally and I are hosting a Downton Abbey Tea next Sunday at her house.     For guests and we're filled to the rafters.    (Well, not really, but all of her tables are full.)    You remember Sally -- she has the lovely Victorian house that was on the Homes Tour that I helped with.      Her lovely house at Christmas has been undecorated and tables set for tea.

Put an event just doesn't happen.    You have to plot and plan!      Last week, she came to Linderhof and because it was cold, we had tea in the parlor.    In front of the fire.     But tea in Downton Abbey style -- with real china (instead of my beloved blue and white), the silver and an antique cloth!

The wing chairs pulled up to the tea table.     They were soft and comfy as we sipped and nibbled and discussed tea food.

In true Downton Abbey style.    The silver, china, and good linens.    The Duchess would approve!

There is nothing cozier in my opinion that tea in front of the fire.     Especially on a cold January day. We did decide on all of the tea treats we will serve.     And we polished off a fair amount of these delightful "biscuits" (as Lady Mary would say).

High Tea Lemon Cookies, they're called and they're easy to make and oh, so good.    But I am especially fond of lemon!    Of course, at Downton, it's never High Tea -- it's always Afternoon Tea. High Tea is the "supper" of the common man, not elegant ladies sipping tea and nibbling wee sandwiches in the parlor!

The dishes are Aynsley Pembroke.    The cups and saucers date from the turn of the 20th Century.    The tea plates date from sometime after the 21st Century and were part of my bargain find last January -- a whole set of Pembroke for $40!

The lemon cookies I found on line.    I am extremely fond of frosted or glazed cookies.    And the lemon flavor was really intense.      These, however, did not make the cut for our Downton Abbey tea on January 18.


2 cups butter, room temperature*
2/3 cup powdered (confectioners') sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cornstarch**
Lemon Frosting (see recipe below)
* Very important - please read! You must use room temperature butter (not softened or melted butter).  The recipe is correct.

** Yes, this is correct - use 1 1/2 cups cornstarch.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy looking. Add powdered sugar; mix until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest and vanilla extract; beat well. Add flour and cornstarch into butter mixture and mix well until well combined. NOTE: At first the dough will look dry - but don't worry, as the dough slowly comes together as you mix it and the butter melts into the dry ingredients.
Do not refrigerate this dough, as the butter will harden and make the dough unmanageable for rolling to a ball.
Using your hands, roll cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake 15 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Remove from oven, carefully remove from baking sheet, and cool on wire cooling racks (when warm the cookies are delicate).
When cookies have cooled, spread Lemon Frosting onto top of cookies.
Yields 6 dozen cookies. 

Lemon Frosting:
This recipe makes enough for a double batch of cookies.
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
4 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar

In a medium bowl, combine butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and powdered sugar; stir until well mixed. NOTE: Additional lemon juice may be needed to get the frosting thin enough.
You can also thin the frosting with additional lemon juice or water and dip the top of the cookie into it. This technique is much faster and easier.

It is Tuesday and I'm sharing my Afternoon Tea with Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday and with Bernideen for Friends Sharing Tea and Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Inspire Me Tuesday

Sunday, January 11, 2015

More paperwhites

I adore paperwhites in January.     They make grey dreary January days bearable.     And I'm one of those who really like their fragrance.     January to me means the often overwhelming fragrance of paperwhites in the breakfast room!

Normally, I use bulb bowls for my paperwhites.    A green McCoy one that belonged to my grandmother (who shared the growing of paperwhites with me) and a small collection of shallow blue and white bowls that are perfect for the cultivation of paperwhites.      Three of them have "tops" that the stems grow up and through.      The other does not -- it was bought filled with Costco tulips one year and since it was (a) blue and white and (b) it was a bulb bowl, I kept it.

I've also grown them in just terra cotta pots.    I like the rustic look of the terra cotta -- especially in the breakfast room which is where the outdoor plants live in the winter!     Terra cotta seems to fit in.

But last year . . . 

At Webster House , at the end of the paperweight season, they had some great clear "vases" to grow paperwhites in.    (They even came complete with spent paperwhites -- but that's okay because they were half price!)       It was hard to wait but wait I did and the results were stupendous!     Three bulbs in the bigger "vase" and one in the smaller one!     

I like the fact that you can see the bulb and the roots and the fact that the glass sleeve keeps the foliage in check -- it doesn't flop over!

Sigh -- I should have bought a couple more but I was still in my after Christmas I shouldn't buy anything for me mode and so I just bought the two for their cost was what I had in my purse!

On the windowsill in the kitchen -- to make dreary January days less so as I wash dishes or prepare dinner.