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, March 29, 2019

Cookbook Book Club - March

We're growing as a club
Testing our wings
Trying new dishes that just are new recipes in our comfort zones.

Belynda was hostess and she chose
"A dish with an ingredient you've never used before"

Now it didn't have to be the star of the show,
it could be an herb or a spice in the recipe
But it had to be something that you've never cooked!

We always say this, every cookbook club night,
but last night, the meal was absolutely perfect!

Our dishes:

had appetizer and she brought two
(Yes, we do have some overachievers in our group)

Ina's Eggplant Caponata
Feta Cheese Dip

Rhonda had never cooked an eggplant before!

Both were delicious.     And she brought very little of either home!
I think some of us will definitely be making both of these dishes this summer!

Our Main Course:
fixed a stout coffee rubbed strip steak
(for she was fixing scallops and was afraid that some might not like them)

And grilled scallops with a saffron aioli

Belynda had never cooked with stout nor used saffron

OMG, either of those entrees would have been perfect but to have surf and turf
for cookbook club, we thought we died and went to heaven.
The aioli was perfect with the scallops and Belynda also used a reduction of stout as a sauce for the meat.
(I personally could have taken the platter of scallops and the bowl of aioli and went over to the corner and ate . . . growling at anyone who came near!)


Had starch and there are only so many starches and who hasn't cooked them all!
But Donna had never fixed orzo
So Donna being Donna, she made two versions

A lemon orzo with Parmesan and peas

Garlic Parmesan Orzo

Donna had never cooked with orzo 

Both were good and I think we batted back and forth as to which was the best.
They were the perfect starch with the steak and the scallops!

had vegetable and she chose celery root puree

It was creamy and good and simple to make.
The interesting thing is that Ina has a recipe for scallops with celery root puree!
Unfortunately, celery root is non-existent in our little town, sigh!
It's a lower carb food than potatoes and I could see this puree taking the place of potatoes!

Martha had never cooked with celery root

had salad and she definitely thought outside the box when she fixed the
Cold Sardine Salad

Many of us had never eaten sardines.     And if we hadn't had cookbook club and a sardine salad, many of us would still be saying that we've never eaten a sardine!
But one of our rules is that we must try everything.
Not eat a lot but at least taste and those who don't like tomatoes or chocolate,
will sample a dish even if it contains those ingredients.
And those of us who had never had sardines thought they they didn't taste all that bad!
Thank you Sara!
(Of course, we're not saying that any of us will be going out and buying a can of sardines to eat but we were glad for the experience!)


brought two --

A coconut cream that was to die for

But Michelle makes a great coconut cream
Notice I said "makes" -- and yes, this was a tried and true recipe for the pie itself.
But the crust contained vodka!

Michelle had never cooked with vodka
(And I'm not sure if she's even drank any!)

And an apple pear bread pudding

Served with homemade apple sorbet
OMG, was it ever good

Michelle had never cooked with pears!

Last but not least . . . 

brought a soft ginger cake with a sweet potato caramel sauce

That sauce that is running all over the top and down the sides of the cake
is sweet potatoes and only sweet potatoes.
The cup or so of sauce that Rita brought was the result of
cooking and straining ten pounds of sweet potatoes!

We all thought it was quite a feat and way too much work
but we were glad that Rita did it and we got to eat it!!!!

As always it was a fun evening and we're looking forward to April.
We'll be back in a cookbook --
Joanna Gaines Magnolia!
I have appetizers and I'm already trying to decide!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Aprons and Tea Cozies

When I was little, every housewife wore an apron
when she was at home
for you didn't want to dirty your dress.
Most were homemade
and a lot out of leftover fabric.

Mom then got "modern"
She stopped wearing dresses and started wearing slacks
And once she started wearing slacks, she didn't wear aprons any longer!

But grandma did
I don't think grandma ever wore a pair of slacks
And grandma was never in the house without an apron over her dress

I have one of her aprons

I hang it in the kitchen to remind me of her

I'm a messy cook.
I need an apron
Even though my dress tends to be jeans and pullovers

Therefore, whenever I'm in the kitchen,
I'm always in an apron!

A few years ago I bought a linen apron
Tough as iron, this linen apron
It doesn't tie but sort of wraps around you

And I must say that I do adore it
Wear it often
And it has the kitchen stains to prove it!
It's also handy as a garden apron!

Last year, for Mother's Day, I got a treasured apron

A Betty Crocker Test Kitchen Apron
from Daughter Sarah
(and a tour of the test kitchen as well!)

But it's too nice to use!

But since I live in a 1920s house
I decided that I wanted some 1920's aprons

I found a pattern for a 1928 "Bungalow" Apron
to wear in the kitchen of a 1920's house
although ours is a Four Square Craftsman
rather than a bungalow
It's close enough!

I ordered the pattern, it came

And it takes one yard of fabric cut on the bias!

I found great looking "vintage" fabric at Wal Mart
for $4.00 a yard

And I started sewing!
This orangey print looks 20s to me
This one is unlined and trimmed in bias tape.

The second one is lined
with a coordinating fabric
(it's the same as the background fabric -- just no cherries!)
(Oh, and since I was sewing, I made a tea cozy as well)

Big enough for the biggest teapots but yet, still usable for the little one!

You'll now find me in the kitchen with one of my new aprons!
Or taking tea in the breakfast room with my new cozy keeping my tea nice and hot!

Both are  perfect for my 1920s house!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Voices From the Quilts

Thursday, I took a momentous step . . .  
I took my first quilting stitches

And although they are not perfect,
I felt that I would leave them
for when I finish the quilt
I can look back on these first stitches
And see how far I've come.

I'm not an avid quilter --
I'm not even a quilter

I admire quilts
But I don't "collect" them
But I do have quilts

Family quilts

And each quilt has a voice . .  . 
A story to tell
Of a person and a time and a place!

From my maternal grandmother
"Grandma" -- the only grandmother I ever knew
And the only thing we slept under when we were at her house
Were her "comforts" as she called them
And not one comfort but two or three!
The original "weighted blanket"!
This one is stitched on the machine.    In a straight line.    From edge to edge
It's a bit threadbare but it's still treasured.
Because it is threadbare -- the inside is an old wool blanket.
You use what you have -- you don't buy fabric to make a quilt nor do you buy batting to put inside a quilt!
She always called the pattern crazy quilt
because there was no rhyme nor reason to the pattern
You cut pieces and just fit them together!
Most of the ones she did she tied rather than machine stitched.
The pieces themselves, however, are all hand stitched.
(I could peek at a few of them).
I can imagine her sitting in her chair in the living room stitching this quilt together.
It's old and faded
Because it's been used and washed and used and washed some more.
Regardless of it's condition, I cherish it!

The pattern name is six pointed star
I would assume like her other quilts, it is handpieced
But I can't check!
The fabric is gay 30s fabrics
With a now ecru background and backing
And hand tied . . . as most of her quilts were!

My other grandmother
The one I didn't know
(for she passed away when I was a few months old --
a picture, however, I treasure is that of my grandmother holding me!)
The pattern name is Wedding Ring
It was given to me by my cousin Ann
And she pointed out various dresses of hers that make up the quilt
She said that grandmother hand pieced it
The quilting, however, is machine
But it's lovely quilting!

My Mother's Quilt
Alas, not made by my mother
She was not a quilter
Although she did try when I was a girl
For in a drawer in the spare room
Were many quilt blocks
in the flower garden pattern
They made great playthings
Blankets for dolls and who knows what else I repurposed those quilt blocks for
Pitched, I assume, at some time
This pattern is Goose Tracks
She bought it at a local craft show
Because she wanted a quilt.
And it is hand quilted!!!

Following in my mother's, rather than my grandma's footsteps
my quilt
I bought it!
It's hand quilted
And I found it after I had fell in love with friend Nancy's 
Civil War Bride Quilt
It's all appliqué and hand quilted
It's lovely
(but not as lovely as Nancy's -- I still covet that!)
The pattern (not the quilt) dates from the Civil War
And I guess it was quite a popular pattern several years ago

I don't normally just buy quilts
But this was at an estate sale here in town
(actually, she had lots of lovely quilts)
But this one spoke to me
It's a variation of Sunbonnet Sue
(And I've not a clue as to age)
But it is hand quilted!
I simple adore it
And I wish I had another spare bedroom
For the grands --
Wouldn't this be lovely on an antique mahogany twin bed
with crisp white pillowcases?

And although I just took my first quilting stitches
I have made quilts
in fact!

Simple six inch squares, sewn together
For the grands
To sleep under when they visit
And as homage to my grandmother, they're tied rather than quilted
Big Girl Lucy's is on the bottom - she calls it her polka dot blanket
While Little Sister Piper's is the pink one on the top
polka dot as well!
They insist that these blankets be on their beds when they come to visit.

And the quilt that those first few stitches are on?

It's a family quilt, too
Hand pieced by my grandmother
In the 30s
Or so my knowledgable quilter friends tell me
That the fabrics are definitely 30s fabrics
The pattern is Buckwheat
And the fabrics are still vibrant
Because it's been stored for 80 plus years, I am sure

Not only will it be a labor of love
But it definitely will be a family quilt
Not just our family but Daughter Sarah's husband's family, too
For the quilt hoop belonged to his great aunt
And was given to me by his Aunt Jo
so I could quilt my grandmother's quilt

How neat is that!

In a year or two or three . . . 
I'll show my finished quilt
A treasured quilt
A family quilt

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ash Wednesday Traditions

Today is Ash Wednesday
a Christian holiday day of prayer, fasting and repentance

Our Ash Wednesday Traditions:

The gathering of garden branches
so that we can hang our 12 handprinted real hens egg decorations
Bought 27 years ago when we made a Lenten trip to Germany
We all were enamored with their tradition of an
Easter egg tree
And so we went to Woolworths and bought a dozen
for 75 DM each
They've hung on branches at Linderhof every Lent since

That's my idea of a travel souvenir!
(And this was before you could buy Easter ornaments or Easter trees or Easter eggs at Hobby Lobby -- they weren't available in the United States!)

After that task is done,
I carefully make the house dark

You can see the candles in the windows,
put up for Christmas and left all winter . . 
or at least until Ash Wednesday
when we store them away until Christmastime.

Tonight we shall go to church for service

Where we will get repentance ashes on our forehead
to remind us
that we are dust and to dust you shall return.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Now That's Italian!

I had company for lunch yesterday
Not an Italian company but Italian food!
The table set in a more casual style:

Blue and white Spode Blue Italian plates,
rustic wicker chargers 
A wicker tray used to corral the centerpieces
And blue linen napkins
(but in my silver napkin rings!)

I love the house looks with the table set and we're just waiting for the guests to arrive!

Italian Salad
(My take on Olive Garden salad -- lettuces, red onion rings, cherry tomatoes, croutons, pepperocini and black olives with an oil and vinegar dressing)

Pasta Di Vince
(rigatoni with chicken chunks, mushrooms, onions and a wine and cream and cheese sauce - sprinkled with more Parmesan cheese before serving)

Arkansas Possum Pie
(Layers of cream cheese, chocolate and whipped cream in a nut crust)

We had a grand time.
But anytime you have good food and good friends, it has to be a grand time!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Snow in the Garden -- Oranges in the Breakfast Room

In 2004, friend Shirley Ann and I took a trip to Ohio to visit Daughter Sarah
and her Andy
Knowing our love of gardens, she took us to the Kingswood Gardens nearby to tour the gardens
(and visit the gift shop)
I came home with

A calamondin orange
(picture taken I'm sure in the winter of 2004)

That orange tree was one reason I wanted a 4 season "porch" on the back of Linderhof
For once we had that porch, it thrived

The tree in 2015 -- after I planted in a bigger pot

It summers outside and winters indoors
It's happy in this little corner of the sunroom

And it's grown!
And continues to be a prolific bearer of little calamondin oranges

My harvest this year

Which I made into:

Individual Vintage Prize-winning Calamondin Orange bundt cakes

For I had company for lunch:

I dressed them up with a dab of whipped cream
and calamondin orange slices

Plated and ready to be served

Dessert and coffee 
The orange cake was a great way to end the meal!

But it made more than the four I needed so . . 

My tea treat the next day was orange cake
Alas, served plain!
It was as good the next day and plain as it was the first day and fancy!

The recipe was in my column yesterday in
The Fort Scott Tribune and The Nevada Daily Mail

Friday, March 1, 2019

Cookbook Book Club -- Food Truck!

Food Truck

We met last night for our February meeting
Angela, our member who always thinks outside the box,
picked Food Truck Food!

Food Trucks don't actually abound in our little town.
There are some that come for our summer festival
but they tend to be BBQ trucks or funnel cake trucks
not "food trucks" as they've come to be redefined!

And although there are some recipes for
Food Truck Food
There are far more menus

But, as we always say, this was just

"The best ever"!

We started with an appetizer:

brought Mexican Haystacks
Think the "Walking Tacos" kicked up a notch
They were yummy!

Main Course always belongs to the hostess:

Fixed tacos three ways:
From the bottom up:
Asian Tacos (chicken with pickled vegetables)
Figgy Piggy Tacos (pulled pork, bacon, fig jam and feta cheese)
Chicken Mango Tacos (chicken, mangos and a mango sauce)
My favorite was the Figgy Piggy but most favored the Asian Tacos
Just looking at the picture and you would swear that we did buy them off of a food truck!

Food Trucks do sides -- you need something to go with those tacos or that sandwich
And the truck makes extra money with an add on!

A slaw from the Maximus Minimus Food Truck in Seattle
sweet and spicy
Cabbage, radishes, cranberries, cilantro all coated with a honey mustard
(and I added poppy seeds for interest because I thought it needed something)

Potato Pirogies
(And we learned last night that Sara has Polish ancestry!)

Street corn made the "winter way" -- instead of an ear of corn, frozen corn off the cob
fixed with all of the things that are slathered on the ears -- mayonnaise, cheese, spice
It was really good fixed as a casserole!

I'm sure they have a name other than sweet potatoes covered in great flavors but I missed catching the name last night, I was so intent on eating this boat of deliciousness!
Sweet potatoes, spicy cream, avocado, tomato, corn and beans
Was this ever good!
(and yess at the bottom are sweet potato fries!)

And in serving, Angela thought outside the box as well --
Everything was served in it's own little boat!
Just like if we had gotten it from a Food Truck!
Only we didn't have to stand and eat
And we didn't have to eat only one thing at a time holding it in our hands!
But it was clever and made the evening that much more fun!

But you can't have a Cookbook Book Club event without dessert!

Brought banana guava turnovers?  
  (Again, I was so busy stuffing my face
that I forgot the real name of the recipe!)
They were good and easy even though she couldn't find guava paste and had to sub their suggested apple jelly and lemon juice.

Popsicles!     How much fun would they be in the summer!
Pineapple and coconut and I'm not sure what else but several of us thought 
they tasted like a Pina colada without the rum!
We debated about making them with the rum but decided
that all we would have is slush as alcohol doesn't freeze!

Brought churros.     They were good and she had a story
to tell about them!    We like stories associated with what we bring!
Donna's was a good one!

We ate, we visited, we left way too full,
although this morning I'm craving the corn and sweet potatoes!

Next month our hostess is Belynda and she has decided that we will make a
dish with an ingredient that we've never used before.
(But something that in all likelihood you can find here in our little town)
We have our assignments, we're searching for the ingredient and recipes!

It's always a fun evening and the food has always been outstanding!