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.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

An Entertaining Week

It was an entertaining week
Not that we were entertained
But we did a lot of entertaining

It started Monday night when the Book Club met at our house

Snacks galore
(and everyone "got the memo" about it being a sweet treat snack!)
You may wonder why the dinner plates, if it's just snacks, well . . . 
Instead of those glass plates and cups that mother (and all her friends) used in the 50s and 60s
for showers and such, I use my dinner plates and coffee cups
It's the same theory -- put your food on the plate and put you cup on the plate
(Except you don't have to store another set of dishes!)

My contribution is a chocolate mayonnaise cake
(A staple from the 50s)

Tuesday morning dawned and I reset the table . . . 

For The Lunch Bunch Luncheon

Lace tablecloth, Spode Blue Room plates, and damask napkins in silver rings

Lunch was a typical ladies luncheon . . 

St. Paul's Hot Ham Salad (from our former church -- not form the saint),
Sunshine jello salad and a warm croissant

Chocolate cake for dessert
(And if it looks familiar, it is -- it's the other layer of Monday's cake, cut in half and frosted like a layer cake)

Thursday, the Cookbook Book Club came to dinner

I changed out the white damask for blue linen ones

My contribution:

Baby Doe's Matchless Mine Beer and Cheese Soup

All the dishes are washed and put away 
What did I do Friday?
Play Man Jongg with friends!

The soup is very good
Baby Doe's was a Kansas City restaurant in the late 60s and 70s (and perhaps even into the 80s)
Their beer cheese soup was legendary
Everyone always started their meal with soup!
I found the recipe on line.
It's simple -- for it's a restaurant soup
And it was as good as I remembered!


8 cups milk
2 T. Tabasco
4 t. Worcestershire sauce
4 T. chicken base
16 oz. jar Cheez Whiz *see note below
6 T. cornstarch
1/3 c. warm water
1 cup Beer (I used Coors Light)

Combine the milk, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and chicken base in a stock pot.   Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Add the Cheez Whiz after warming it in hot water or the microwave.    Mix in well.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the warm water.    Add it to the soup, which should start to thicken almost immediately.   Reduce the heat a bit and stir in the beer.

To serve, ladle into bowls and dust with cayenne and top with some chives (or green onions)

*NOTE:   Cheez Whiz only comes in 15 oz. jars.   I just used the whole jar rather than spending another $5 for 1 ounce!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cookbook Book Club, Vol. 3, Issue 1

We haven't been together since October!
Our meeting date is the last Thursday of the month
and in November and December that's holiday time

January is always our organizational meeting
the last two years we did appetizers
This year, we chose a soup supper

The table all set for company

The blue and white Spode, blue linen napkins in silver rings, a silver basket holding pink lilies
and my favorite lace tablecloth

The club . . . catching up -- October was a long time ago!

The breakfast room held soup
Three kinds and cups to serve them in so that we can taste all three!

From the top:
Michelle's Cabbage Roll Soup, Martha's Baby Doe's Matchless Mine Cheese and Beer Soup, Angela's roasted garlic, mushroom and quinoa soup

 Barbara's tasty bread sticks

And a trio of desserts:

Sara's peach and cream cheese cup, Rita's No-Bake Eclair Cake and Liz's Apple Pie Bars

It was a good time
You can tell by the empty table!

This is the third year for The Cookbook Book Club.    We've enjoyed lots of good evenings over food and are looking forward to more culinary adventures in 2017!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

An Evening in Positano

Positano is a wonderful town on the Amalfi Coast
Jim and I and Tim and Anne spent a week there in a villa on
this hillside

It's in this 1890s picture
which was our souvenir of our visit
And you can see our "house"
It hangs in our guest bath downstairs and I smile every time I see it
and think of that wonderful week we spent on the sun-filled Italian coast

When you google Positano, this is the picture that often comes up
The same hillside -- 100+ years later
And there, is our villa, it's a pink one
Almost straight across from the Cathedral

Down by the water, looking up at our villa

Positano was a magical week and when friend Denise asked me to teach a
cooking class at Beaux Arts, I immediately thought of recreating some of that
magic during January's dreary days

I came late to Italian cooking -- other than spaghetti and meatballs
For as a child whenever we went to an Italian restaurant that's what we ordered
And it (spaghetti and meatballs) is the very first dish I ever cooked
the recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook
In my young mind I thought it was delicious

But having spent over a month in Italy
(and a week each in Positano and Sorrento)
And attending a cooking school or two,
I learned that Italian food was not just about meatballs!

Last night was 
An Evening in Positano

We started with a tossed salad and bread
For most in most restaurants in Italy, a salad was a first course
I "upped" the game by making my balsamic vinaigrette with
a 25 year old Balsamic.
It was truly a gift to my glass for that vinegar is definitely dear!

I then demonstrated how to make a fabulous Ragu Bolognese
I'm not a big fan of "meat sauces" but I do love this Bolognese
And I make it often
The base recipe came from Gina Stipo
And it is really good!

 I chose to serve it with penne pasta
For in a mixed crowd I'm not big on long noodles!
And it wasn't a mere taste -- it was a serving
And some even got seconds!

For dessert, I chose a lemon olive oil cake
Because the other half of the vacation in that part of Italy
was in Sorrento -- the lemon capital of Italy

It's an easy cake and probably the best lemon cake I've ever had
I did up the lemon-ness by using lemon rather than plain yogurt
It's a great cake for dessert and for tea
And it would be a good cake with a glass of Vin Santo!

I promised the class that I would post the lemon cake recipe
Everyone clamored for it!

I think, however, in honor of Denise and her wonderful Beaux Arts Center
that I shall rename it -- from plain old "Lemon Olive Oil Cake" to
"Beaux Arts Lemon Olive Oil Cake"


1 2/3 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 c. yogurt (I used lemon)
1 T. grated lemon peel (I just used the peel of one lemon so perhaps it was a bit more or less)

2 T. lemon juice (I did measure -- the juice from that vested lemon)
2 T. olive oil
1 c. powdered sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light and creamy.     Add olive oil, yogurt and peel and mix.      Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and then add to the mixing bowl.
Pour into a greased and floured cake pan (I used both 8 inch and 9 inch -- the 8 inch is a bit taller -- the 9 inch would serve more) and bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and powdered sugar together.    I had to add water to get it to a glazing consistency.      When cake comes out of the oven, let cool about 5 minutes and then pour glaze over the top.     Top with additional grated peel.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Of Rings and Onions

Growing Up . . .
Onion rings were a side to go with a hamburger
like French fries
(no Suzie Q's, no tater tots --
your choices were fries or rings)
Except French fries were 10 or 15 cents per order
while onion rings were like 25 cents!

Mom would make them at home, sometimes
It's certainly cheap enough for a couple of onions, 
some milk, some flour
And it would feed the family
And homemade was definitely cheaper than those sold at drive-ins
And my brother and I liked them

Now I live in Southeast Kansas
Southeast Kansas is home to onion rings
Not as a side but as an appetizer
Most Mom and Pop restaurants
(read not chains)
Serve them
Hot and good and most  serve a fry basket full
(or you can get a small amount -- but not that much smaller)
at some restaurants
And those appetizers

They're not like 

The onion ring tower that's served at some chains
Served with "sauces" on the side to dip your rings in!
Not a lot of rings and certainly not enough to feed a family . . . 

The Southeast Kansas restaurants serve platters of them
piled high
And often we mistakenly order them and then find
that we're too full for our dinner!

But there are some restaurants that you just cannot go to 
without ordering an onion ring appetizer!
It's just what you do!

Tonight for dinner,
we had hamburgers
And reliving our childhood,
decided to make onion rings, too

And in my "Cooking With Ina" mode, I made her cornmeal fried onion rings
They were good.   I liked the addition of cornmeal.   It gave them a nice crunch.

They are "fussy", however, for you marinate them in buttermilk,
dip in the flour/cornmeal mixture and fry in small batches.

I'm glad I made them, but,
I think the next time I'm in the mood for onion rings,
we'll just head south to Jim's Steak House!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Not Just A Present . . . But A Memory

We always get together at Christmastime with my brother and his girls
We don't exchange presents any more . . . 
Haven't in a long time
But we do gift the kids with a gift --
It is Christmas after all!

But every once in a while, I do gift the girls with something
something special --
A memory shared, perhaps
or a memory to be made

This year it was a past memory

My Aunt Pearl, mother's sister,
was a maiden aunt
She lived with her mom
And her mom did all the cooking
Occasionally, Aunt Pearl would go into the kitchen to fix something special
fudge and divinity at Christmas
And sometimes a special dish

My nieces, Stacy, Crystal and Jennifer
Aunt Pearl's great nieces
enjoyed meals at Grandma and Aunt Pearl's
and then just at Aunt Pearl's
after we lost Grandma

One of her special dishes was the orange jello salad
And the girls still talk about it

Neither my Grandmother nor Aunt Pearl were recipe collectors
(Mother was)
nor did they have a vast selection of cookbooks
but I did get the two that they owned when Aunt Pearl passed away.
The first was Betty Crocker's Cookbook
which I used to pour over when I was a teen
and I was "forced" to spend Sunday with the family!

And this one

From Aunt Pearl's church
(she marched to a different religion than the rest of us)

I have two copies for Mom had one too 
(probably a Christmas gift from Aunt Pearl)
Mother's is pristine --
Not so Aunt Pearl's

I put it on my shelf and didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it --
it was, after all, a church cookbook of a certain time period
and most of the recipes inside were ones that I already had
in other church cookbooks
But because it was "family", I didn't get rid of it.
And then one day, I decided to look inside

And found this, in Aunt Pearl's hand
Her fudge recipe!

On a piece of paper was this cheesecake recipe.
I've never had homemade cheesecake at Aunt Pearl's!
But she must have eaten it somewhere, asked for the recipe
And tucked it inside her cookbook.

And then I found this -- loose -- obviously from a cookbook or handout of something.
Maraschino Cherry Cake
Nope, if she ate it, she didn't serve it to me!

But the true treasure of the book was this:

The recipe for the orange jello salad
Which she did make and did make often!

The girls had asked me more than once if I had it, and I had to tell them "no".
So I was thrilled when I found this page in the book.

And an idea was born . . . 
I found The Nesting Project on Etsy

I sent pictures, they sent proofs, I okayed the proofs and then I received this:

A tea towel -- one for each girl with the recipe printed on it
So now they have it and it's not just the recipe but a memory as well!

 Complete with Aunt Pearl's smudges and stains!
Merry Christmas girls!

I like it when you find a perfect gift!

The company was a pleasure to work with.
I'll keep them in mind in the future for other gifts.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cooking With Ina

Continuing my
"Cooking With Ina"
for 2017,
I fixed the following:

Blue Cheese Dressing
Make It Ahead
Her salad was iceberg with the blue cheese dressing,
I used romaine because Husband Jim favors it
The blue cheese dressing goes together quickly
and has simple ingredients that one always has on it.
I have a favorite blue cheese dressing that I've had "forever"
This isn't quite as good, but it takes less ingredients and is easy to make.
I would make it again.

We feasted again on beef bourguignon
It makes a lot!
This time I served it as Ina did on grilled bread rubbed with garlic
It was really good that way and liked it much better than the way
I had originally served it.

Picture form Ina -- I forgot to take a picture!

Angel hair pasta with Cherry tomatoes
This is a favorite that I make a lot -- especially in the summer
when the cherry tomatoes come from the Farmer's Market.
It's a favorite and easy summer lunch or dinner for us.

Pain Perdue
Served not as Ina did -- with strawberries and almonds and a shower of powdered sugar --
for dessert
But rather the "American" way -- for breakfast!
We prefer granulated sugar sprinkled on it rather than powdered sugar
I really did like what Ina added to the eggs and milk -- vanilla, honey and orange zest
I will definitely follow this recipe next time I make "French" toast!

Baked Shrimp Scampi
OMG, is this ever good!    Although I've good a lot from Ina, I've not made this before.
But it won't be the last.    It is fantastic!    Husband Jim raved about it as well!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Cooking With Ina

It was a busy weekend . . . 
But we did manage to cook
with Ina

Friday, Epiphany,  I fixed Beef Bourguignon
from "Paris"

It is yummy!
I've made it many times before
It is my "go to" recipe for Beef Boutguignon
Now, however, here (in a small town in Kansas) I cannot find the onions in the freezer section,
but rather in the produce section, so you have to peel all those little suckers!
But this beef stew is worth it!

Saturday, we spent the day in the city for a family Christmas
Dinner was "snacks" when we got home
Because we had a large lunch

Saturday night, I fixed two dishes for a Potluck Brunch at church
the next day

I knew that entrees would be covered
I knew that bread in the form of biscuits or muffins would be covered
And I knew that fruit would be covered
So I chose side dishes

Roasted cherry tomatoes
from "Parties"
I've made these many times as well.   In fact, I made them before I found the
recipe in an Ina cookbook
Loved the fact that they could be served at room temperature
And they are such good intense tomato morsels
A good thing to do with grocery store (winter) tomatoes
It makes them edible


Roasted Mustard Potatoes
from "At Home"
I've roasted potatoes -- lots!
But I never used this recipe
And they are amazing
The mustard flavor takes the potatoes from good to outstanding
And out of 5 pounds I brought home a big spoonful -- and that's all
(and there was another crockpot of potatoes there as well)

I made them Saturday night
Then put them in a crockpot on Sunday morning and turned on high for about an hour
And then turned them to low while we were in church.

They were not as crispy as they were on Saturday night
But they really held up well
(And obviously, were eaten!)

I think they will be great with a plain chop or steak
And yes, I plan to make them again

I'm sorry that I've not made them before!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Gallette des rois for Tea

Today is Ephihany
The day that the magi arrived to bring gifts to the newborn Christ child

It's the end of Christmas
And those who keep a traditional Christmas calendar
wait until tomorrow  to take down their Christmas tree
(Actually those who keep a traditional Christmas calendar don't even put up the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve -- we're traditionalist on taking it down but not on putting it up)

Traditional food for Epiphany
is Gallette des Rois
(French for King's Cake)

We make our King's Cake early in the morning

for a tea time treat

It's quite different from the Mardi Gras King's Cake of New Orleans 
but we favor the French one over the Southern one

A creamy almond filling is encased in puff pastry
Inside there is a wee figure of baby Jesus --
the person who finds the trinket in his or her slice becomes kin for the day
and . . . will have to offer the next cake!

And the three kings we celebrate:

Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India.
We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshiping God on high.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia!, Alleluia!,
Rings through the earth and skies.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Soup Supper

It was cool today on the prairie --
Well, cool isn't the correct word,
cold was!

The morning started out in the teens
Soup seemed the perfect supper

In my "Cooking With Ina" mode, I selected her Parker's Split Pea Soup
Not the first time I made it, it is a favorite of ours
And leftovers for lunch the next day or two are even better

With a bouquet of orange tulips on the breakfast room table,
that is something that Ina would approve!

I half the recipe -- using only 1 pound of split peas rather than two
It's more than enough for a supper and at least two lunches
And it is really good!

 It comes from the "original" -- 
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
It's where I found Ina all those years ago!

And tonight, 

We're enjoying the tree of 2016
The "best tree ever" in our opinion
Tomorrow it comes down!