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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas China

Christmas comes to Linderhof slowly now

Thanksgiving weekend is not a hectic week
madly decorating every nook and cranny.

But rather a time for family,
A time for friends

But on Sunday,
we do set up the Advent Wreath
(for it is the first of the four Sundays before Christmas)
and light the candle
And say a prayer

And . . . 
we bake the very first of the Christmas cookies
Usually Christmas tree cutouts sprinkled with green sugar
This year however we made gingerbread cutouts

And . . . 

We bring out the Christmas china

Eleven months of the year it lives in the top corner cabinet in the kitchen
Way up on top where they are out of the way
Come the first Sunday in Advent
We climb a ladder and swap them out for our beloved Indies breakfast china
So that it's handy for the month of December
Because (unless we're eating soup) that's our china of choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Most of it is Royal Dolton Tartan
8 cups, saucers and plates bought on a long ago trip to England and the Royal Dolton potteries
(for the amazing sum of $8)
We added 4 more of each along the line for 12 seemed a better number
And because Royal Dolton Tartan was so expensive and we decided we needed dessert/salad plates,
we bought Lenox Holiday
We started with 12 but friend Shirley Ann pointed out that you really need 24
If you have a houseful for dessert, you'll have enough plates
If you serve both salad and dessert at a Christmas dinner party, the extra plates will come in handy.

It's always good to use the Christmas china again.
It's like an old friend who returns for a visit!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Prophecy Candle

Light One Candle for hope,
one bright candle for hope,
He brings hope to every heart,
He comes!  He comes!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Everything Has a Story -- A Curved Glass China Cabinet It Only Took 45 Years

 Our dining room

To the left of the window is an Asian chest
which we bought about 13 years ago
Supposedly it is an antique
I think once upon a time buyers would go to China
and buy anything old looking and ship it back
(or buy anything that the Chinese said was old and ship it back)
And it was sold as "antique"

It held my china
And I have lots
It kept it behind closed doors
A look that I liked at one time

Some of my silver napkin rings ringed the top

Sometimes, however, you want change
And I decided that I would like people to see my pretty china
So I started a quest to find a china cabinet
There were "rules"
in my quest

a - it had to be old
b - it had to "make a statement"
(for the Asian cabinet did)
c - it had to be reasonably priced
(No $3,000 cabinets for me!)

I trolled Craig's List
Clear up to Nebraska
(although how I would have gotten it home, I'm not sure)
And found a couple
In that $2,000 to $3,000 price range!
And a lot of "cheap", "new" versions of
a curved glass oak china cabinet

I did find one locally
But didn't make a statement except it was really tall
And it was $1,000
(which was a little more than I thought it was worth!)

And then on Facebook . . . 

I see this picture
OMG, I say to myself
That looks really neat!

And then they posted the second picture
"Perfect" I thought

The pictures were advertising a farm auction (which also included household goods)
on Black Friday

The forecast for Black Friday -- rain!

The pictures of the furniture were inside
So I thought the sale (at least of the furniture) would be inside!


The forecast was right!
It started raining Thanksgiving night
And it was raining Friday morning

"Wrap up well and layer"
Husband Jim said to me as I headed out
(But the furniture is going to be inside the house, I thought, as I also grabbed my
needlepoint which should occupy me while I waited for the item to come up for bid)

I did grab a coat, and wore a long sleeve turtleneck and a cardigan
But I also wore my everyday crocs

Parking was hazardous
for it a sea of mud
And I almost got stuck in the mud leading into the designated parking
But I got myself free
And found parking on wet but solid ground further up.

The auction, I learned, was all in a shed down the way
And so I sloshed through puddles and mud to the shed where all the household merchandise was

And there . . . 
Leaning against the wall was that cabinet
More magnificent than the picture showed
For it had claw feet!

I sighed!

$1,000 thought I
The other one in Fort Scott was $1,000
This was a much better piece
And so I set that as my limit

Of course, the furniture was not first
The "little" household goods were.
The rain pouring outside
The ground in the shed getting muddy in spots
I found a chair and proceeded to needlepoint
But it was cold
My hands were cold
My body was cold
And my feet were freezing
For beside regular crocs, I wore no socks!

I put aside the needlepoint,
tucked my hands inside my sleeves
But there was no warmth for my toes
Which were freezing!

The crowd was small
Few women for it was a farm auction
(read tractors and bailers and tools)
But I did watch many come and look at my cabinet

Finally, they started on the furniture
And it went cheap
Really cheap
There were few antiques
And what was there was not in prime condition
Finally, they got to the china cabinet

"$500" said the auctioneer
"who'll give me $500"
no one did
"$300, who'll give me $300"
no one did
So I jumped in with a hundred dollar bid
And I had someone bidding against me
Then someone else bidding against me
It rose quickly at $25 intervals
But then at $200, I had the bid
And no one else bid any more!

It was mine!

I had made previous arrangements to have it brought home
if I was successful
So I called and set the time for pick up and delivery

And then I slogged through the mud and mire and rain
Got a big cup of cocoa
Sat in the car with the heater on high
And thawed from the inside out!

And finally it was delivered

Looking more perfect than I thought
A nicer piece than I thought I would ever get

I had unloaded the Asian chest while I waited for delivery
The dining room was piled high in china

As tempted as I was to begin "playing" with my new toy
The old glass had been out in the cold all day
And I didn't want it to crack
So I let it get adjusted to the warmth of the house

This morning, after breakfast,
I got to play . . . 
And everything fit into the cabinet
(with the exception of the silver trays which I knew would not)

And before lunch it looked like this!

The Aynsley Pembroke plates are on the lower shelf on the left
Grandmother's Noritake plates are on the right
And platters are in between

Grandmother's Noritake is on the shelf above
(as well as some lovely little odd white with gold trimmed cups and saucers that I adore)

Miscellaneous bowls and plates are on the next shelf

The Aynsley Pembroke is on the fourth shelf up

While the top shelf holds the partial set of
white with gold trim Old Paris that I got for a song
here in Fort Scott

My silver napkin rings ring the top of the china cabinet
While crystal pitchers and the silver coffee urn are also on the top

Husband Jim decided that the cabinet was my Anniversary Present
I adore it!
I only wish he could have attended the auction with me
(but he's home recovering from surgery
and so I had to "go it alone")

The new look in the dining room with the china cabinet on the left
(The middle table was changed out eons ago and the mirror dispensed with --
It's an civil war era dining room piece and holds the tea service and punch bowl nicely)

The dining room as you see from the front door --
It's decorated for late November
with colorful mums in the epergne
And the turkey salt and pepper on the sideboard

The Story of "Why Forty-five Years"

We celebrated our 46th Anniversary on Thanksgiving

When we were first married we had little money
And so our furniture purchases were "used" furniture
Mostly golden oak which was just "used" at that time
rather than the antique it did become.

And I so wanted then a curved glass china cabinet
Really, really bad
And "plain" ones
(not as fancy as the one I got)
were $100
which was a lot of money in 1969/70

We really couldn't afford it
And I never got one
Not even a plain one

So forty-five years later,
I finally got my curved glass china cabinet
And I am elated!

It is a statement piece
It does hold all my china
(but I'm not sure how much more it would hold --
which Jim thinks is a good thing)
And the price was definitely right!

I smile as I walk through the dining room and see the cabinet
And I shall never forget that "Black Friday" when I bought the cabinet
in the rain and the cold and how miserable I was
waiting for it to come up for bid!

It will always remind me of cold and rain!

And when I walk past it, I get shivers
From excitement
Or remembering the cold and the rain?

Husband Jim likes the piece
(He had only seen the picture)
And was only too happy to gift me with the china cabinet for our anniversary.

It was one of the best anniversary presents ever!

And as my son-in-law's Aunt Jo said
"I think china cabinets are one of my most favorite things.    
they are usually full of memories and family stories of great times past."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Dual Holiday -- Thanksgiving and Anniversary

Thanksgiving at Linderhof was a quiet affair
Just Husband Jim and I
For he is recovering from surgery

So we chose a
"Home Alone"

But this year
It was also our 46th Anniversary

Thanksgiving food won out over Anniversary food
And we had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner

In the dining room
And as our marriage is two people who become one
Our Thanksgiving table reflects that melding of two families

My mother's water glasses
His grandmother's cutlery
The bread tray celebrating a 25th anniversary in 1914
Napkin rings which he bought for a gift
In fact, it was two of the very first ones I got when I started collecting
Belonging to Abe and Dora
A couple's napkin rings
for an Anniversary Thanksgiving Dinner

The plates are Spode Festival
While the bread and butter plates are Queesware

And Thanksgiving is turkey
Turkey to eat
Turkey for the cranberry sauce
Turkey salt and peppers
A big tom holding a bouquet of fall flowers
The salt and peppers and centerpiece I got the second year we were married
At a dimestore in downtown Kansas City
for less than $5!

We've had them ever since!
(And I found a second flower holder but then I like things in pairs!)

Our places at the head and foot of the table
The feast spread between us

The glass turkey
(one of a pair, naturally)
holding cranberry sauce
And the wee turkey holding pepper
A casserole of dressing
(Which is what we call it whether it is inside or outside the turkey)

Our plate of Thanksgiving food
Most of it from my childhood Thanksgivings

And after dinner
But not after pie
We were too full!

The dishes are done and stacked on the breakfast room table
That's a tradition too
For usually someone helps with the dishes
And not knowing where they go they get piled up somewhere
For the hostess to put away later.

It wouldn't seem like Thanksgiving without clean dishes on a table
ready to be put away!

Dinner tonight will also not be an anniversary dinner
It will be Thanksgiving leftovers
My favorite
A turkey sandwich and cold glass of milk!

We'll celebrate this weekend or next week!

In hindsight, I'm not sure I would have gotten married on the day before Thanksgiving
Because every few years our anniversary and Thanksgiving fall on the same day.
I am a romantic
And turkey and all the trimmings doesn't seem "romantic" enough for me!

But it is what it is
And I'm happy to be celebrating 46 with the love of my life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Over the river and through the woods,
To grandmother's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh,
Through (the) white and drifted snow!
Over the river and through the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.
Over the river and through the woods,
To have a first-rate play;
Oh, hear the bells ring, "Ting-a-ling-ling!"
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river and through the woods,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day. 
Over the river and through the woods,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow
It is so hard to wait!
Over the river and through the woods,
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

We at Linderhof wish you and yours
A very blessed Thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving Eve Tea

It's quiet this year at Linderhof
Thanksgiving will be just Husband Jim and I
celebrating and giving thanks
that his surgery is done and that he is healing

And we will be celebrating our
46th Anniversary as well

Had I given some thought 46 years ago, I'm not sure I would have gotten married
Thanksgiving week!

But . . . 
it is what it is!

This afternoon, however,
after the pumpkin pie was in the oven
after the cranberry sauce was made
I had a couple of friends over for tea

In the breakfast room
Touches of fall
the compote of fall fruits
(apples and pears)
The "new" old turkey salt and pepper
Because on Thanksgiving Eve there should always be
a turkey on the table!

These have a story
Replacements for the ones I misplaced
that I bought in 1970
When we celebrated
our first anniversary
with a Thanksgiving Dinner!

I also bought a centerpiece turkey which matches.

The original salt and peppers somehow got misplaced over the years
But I found them this year on eBay and bought them back!

These I won't put in such a "good" place!
They'll go with their big brother centerpiece
(and the companion one I found years later for pennies --
but then I like things in pairs!)

The nosh for a Thanksgiving Eve Tea?

Fall cookies
Decorated fall cookies

Alas, not mine
but bought from Friends Lori and Rosemary
Who make them for a fundraiser that's held at our Middle School right before Thanksgiving

Fall turkeys, fall cookies
on my beloved blue and white
For a Thanksgiving Eve Tea

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Looking for the Perfect Key Lime Pie

The first three weeks of November
we spent in Key West

At a wonderful house with this wonderful view
And a pretty sunset every evening!

On this trip to Key West
I decided that I would find the
Key Lime Pie

 Key Limes
Found on the Florida Keys
Little limes, these

And every restaurant has Key Lime Pie on their menu

It was my duty to find the best!

Happy Tales

Not a restaurant but a place that sells frozen Key Lime Pie

The Fish Camp at Geiger Key Marina

Topped with whipped cream and a lime wedge
(but a Persian lime wedge!)


More whipped cream, 
Another wedge of Persian Lime
And a cinnamon graham cracker crust


A bit of whipped cream, a really creamy pie
And another Persian lime wedge


The first pie with meringue
Presentation was A+


A real cheesecake instead of Key Lime pie

And you don't need to go to Florida for Key Lime Pie

For stores even in our little town has Key Lime Juice for sale

and in January

You can find bags of Key limes in the market

And if you want, 

You can use regular Persian limes in your pie

The recipe is a simple one:

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 crackers)
3 T. sugar
2 pinches salt
7 T. butter, melted

3 large egg yolks
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 c. fresh lime juice

For the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl and stir until mixed.    Add butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated.     Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a standard 9 inch pie dish.     Bake at 350 until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.    Set on cooling rack while you make your filling.     

For the filling:   Beat egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes.    Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes more.     Whisk the lime juice into the yolk mixture until combined.     Pour into graham cracker crust and bake pie for another 10 minutes, until set but not browned on top at all.     Let pie cool.    Top with sweetened whipped cream if you want.

And I would add the zest of those limes that you juiced although most of the pies that we ate didn't have any zest in them.

Oh, and I bet you're wondering which one won?     I must admit that no two pies tasted alike.    Oh, they were all lime but some were sweeter than others, one did add cinnamon to the crust (which I didn't care for).    

The winner?

Fish Tales!

The very first one!

And this winter, when it's cold and snowy outside
And there are Key limes in the market
I shall make a Key Lime pie
and have happy thoughts about our trip to Key West
(and wish I was there once again!)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cranberries -- They're Not Just for Sauce!

I adore cranberries
But then I adore tart fruits
Rhubarb and Gooseberries

The cranberries disappear from the market sometime in January
(and often at reduced prices)
And I buy many packages to tuck into the freezer
Because they freeze so well!

But cranberries aren't just for sauce for the Thanksgiving turkey
or pork or chicken

And everyone knows cranberry bread and cranberry muffins
Recipes for those treats abound in cookbooks and on the internet
And I make them at least once during late fall or early winter

Cranberry muffins are perfect for breakfast
while cranberry bread is a great nosh for tea!

But then cranberries make great desserts, too!

 Angel Meringue Tort with Cranberry Jubilee
It's not the whole dessert -- just the topping but it is full of cranberry flavor!

Cranberry thumbprint cookies 
A delicious use for leftover cranberry sauce
Makes for nice early December tea treats!

A pretty dessert and we just love trifles.    The creamy sweet whipped cream and the tart cranberry combine together to make a smashing dessert!

I've had this recipe for 20 years or more and at least one of these comes out of the kitchen every November!    It's a great cake for breakfast, dessert or tea!     
It is truly one reason that I stock up on pumpkin in November and cranberries in January

Ina Garten's Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp
Cranberries are a fruit and fruits make great crisps.    Especially when you serve it with a pour of cream!

I adore tarts and often make them as individuals when I have company.
There's just something nicer, I think with individual tarts rather than one big one
But you certainly can make this tart as one large one.

We all know how well cranberries go into breads and muffins
Well, they go into cake too!
And cranberry and orange is one of those marriages of the mouth1
The frosting "makes" the cake!

Another great cranberry cake
For dessert or tea
And it keeps well, too!

The recipe calls for a 9 x 13 but I like to make them in round tins
One for us for breakfast and perhaps one for a Christmas gift
It's a great coffee cake and would make a good addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas morning buffet!

From one of my culinary heroes, Anna Pump
It's a great dessert in November and December
Heck, it's a great dessert anytime
(Especially if you have those little packages of cranberries in the freezer)

One of Husband Jim's favorite desserts is pineapple upside down cake
I'm not sure if it's the cake or the topping of butter, brown sugar and fruit!
Pears and cranberries seem to have an infinity for one another
And this cake, says Husband Jim, ranks right up there with the pineapple one!

We'll enjoy some of these treats as 2015 winds to an end.
In fact, I cannot think of an autumn the last 20 years that we haven't had the pumpkin cranberry coffeecake!

And I know that husband Jim will petition for the upside down cake!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

THE Birthday Cake

When we first first married
And I was learning my way around the kitchen
Husband Jim mentioned to me this cake
This cake that he loved

Now, I'm not sure why a teacher brought a cake to school,
but they did
And Jim loved it so much that he asked for the recipe

And although I've never asked
I think it was in high school that he first had a taste of


I'm sure at the time it must have been a new recipe
But his mother did make it for him

And he declared that his favorite cake!

Then I married him
And the red velvet cake story became lore

So I asked for the recipe
Which his fourteen year old sister provided

Two ounces, the recipe said, two ounces of red food coloring
I was sure that must be wrong
(In her fourteen year old wisdom she had wrote ounces instead of drops)
for I had only bought food coloring in the multipacks
For tinting cake frosting and make Easter egg dye

So I put in two drops
It was a light pink
So I added more
Still pink

Then I put in all of that small bottle
Still pink!

That first cake
was not 
red velvet
pink velvet!

But it tasted good

And when we next saw Sister (and Mom) we asked about it
Yep, Mom said, you had to buy a whole bottle of red food coloring
And that bottle was two ounces!

I bought the bottle, made another cake
And Husband Jim realized one of the reasons he married me
I can cook!

From that very first "pink" velvet cake
To the latest "red" velvet one
We've always made on for Jim's birthday
It's a tradition!
(As much so as the Halloween Chili or Sarah's birthday lasagna!)

The cake in all it's pre candle glory!

Love the layers of red and white!

 A glorious red!

And ablaze with candles
For the birthday boy!

I've made a few changes in the recipe over the years --
The original one called for Crisco as the frosting fat as does the cake itself
I now use real butter

What was an obscure little cake recipe for so many years
Has all of a sudden become a very popular cake
Often seen on restaurant menus!

It's a good cake
And over the years, we've made it a Christmas cake
Tinting half of the frosting red 
And half of the frosting green
So that when you cut into it, it was red and green and white!

The cake has gotten so popular that they now make a cake mix version
And different colors, even, besides red
(I think I saw a box of blue velvet the last time I went to the super market)

Jim's Red Velvet Cake

1 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 t. cocoa
2 ounces red food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the shortening, eggs and sugar. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa and food coloring. Add the paste to the shortening mixture. Sift the flour and salt together. Add to the batter alternately with the buttermilk in 3 additions. Add the vanilla extract. Fold in the baking soda and vinegar. Pour the batter into 2 greased 9 inch cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on a cooling rack.


1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extracts. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.

To assemble cake. Put one layer on cake plate, put frosting on top. Place second layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thanksgiving Accroutrements

I don't "theme" a lot
Really, I don't
But in November, it seems to be
"Turkey Time" 
at Linderhof

Perhaps it is my way of ignoring
all of the Christmas
in the stores in November

But they are a slowly collected lot of turkeys

That sometimes end up on the table during the whole month of November
Not just that 4th Thursday!

It all started in 1970

When I bought this guy
At the dime store
He's made in Japan
And quite handsome I thought
He holds flowers sometimes

Ten or so years later, I found another
just like him
At a garage sale
for probably 50 cents

I like things in pairs
And so I bought it!

My love of blue and white dishes
And my love of my Christmas China
And my love of antiques
found me lusting after "Turkey" china

Oh, the "real" turkey plates from before the turn of the century
Especially the blue and white ones
Had me salvatating!

And searching on eBay --
Where I found

Eight Spode Festival plates
Reasonably priced
And I felt that I could fill in with my other blue and white
(And if hard pressed and with a lot of company, I could use them with my other blue and white plates in say, July!)

Never go to T. J. Maxx
for the next year

I found these plates by Myott.    They're English made
They're blue and white
They have a turkey in the middle
And they were only $15 for 4 plates

I bought 2 boxes!

Now, I had 16 turkey plates

And with more than 16 guests, I can still fill in with my other Spode!

I decided I needed a "turkey" platter
I have a couple of turkey platters
But not a turkey platter

Spode Festival
From Ebay
And like the other turkey dishes, it can fill in if needed anytime of the year
when I use my blue and white!

My last purchase

Which is not very turkey-ish
For the turkey is inside and would be covered by gravy
But there is always gravy at Thanksgiving
I didn't have a blue and white gravy boat
And like the other turkey dishes . . . 
I can use it all year long
(and often do!)

It's a pretty Thanksgiving table
With the blue and white
And I like the fact that I can use my regular blue and white serving dishes
for a cohesive table!

Years ago
At a garage sale I'm sure,
before the turkey china, and
before Martha Stewart featured them
And before Williams-Sonoma sold them

I bought two of the heavy clear glass turkeys
They make a great container for cranberry sauce
And look festive
And make the table (with plain ordinary china) more Thanksgiving-ish!

Alas, when I bought that first turkey in 1970
I also bought

The matching salt and pepper shakers
Turkey "centerpiece"
Salt and pepper shakers on each side

I'm not a salt and pepper shaker collector
But mother always had a couple of "holiday" salt and peppers
that made our table more festive
(for she had one set of good china which was used not only for holidays
but for Sunday dinner as well)

I cannot find them.
I do remember seeing them several years ago
(putting them away because I felt they were too "kitch=y" and not "sophisticated" enough)
But where, I do not know!

So now I'm on a hunt
To find either my originals
or a replacement pair.

I feel that they need to be on the Thanksgiving table again!

From a Thanksgiving for two
To a Thanksgiving with 30 guests,
It's down to two again!

But I fix a "real meal"
mashed potatoes
homemade cranberry sauce
green beans
(although this year I think I'll do Brussels sprouts)
And pumpkin pie
(with real whipped cream)

The turkeys will be on the table
And in our tummy
On Thanksgiving Day!

Wish me luck on finding the salt and peppers
And any salt and pepper won't do
They have to match the turkey centerpiece!