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.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Rite of Spring -- Candying Pansies

I plant pansies and violas every spring -- in the back window box, in the boxes beside the back door and in the front planters.

Because I adore pansies!!!
But unfortunately pansies and violas don't "adore" Kansas summers
And so around Memorial Day, they tend to get leggy and their blooms are smaller.
They need to be replaced with summer annuals -- begonias!

But before I dig them up and throw them away, I harvest their blossoms
To candy!
And I did that last Saturday

A basket of pansies, a bowl of sugar and a small bowl filled with whipped egg white and a small paint brush -- all ready for candying!

I paint the egg white on the pansy or viola

Turn them over and paint the back side

Then I bury it in the bowl of sugar

Six seems the perfect number
For you want the pansies to be completely sugar coated!

And onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet to dry 

Upside down!
It takes overnight before they are completely dry and the sugar is hardened

Then I turn them right side up
I love the "hazy" look of the sugar coated pansies and violas

I store them in a Sees Candy tin that an internet friend sent me 12 years or so ago
and in an old tin that I've hand "forever" -- a candy container for "Mrs. Steven's Candies" -- and I'm not sure where I got the tin but I'm sure it was a flea market find early in my marriage because I liked the flowers on the top.

A single layer of pansies/violas and then topped with a piece of parchment
Then another layer of pansies

And they keep -- until I use them all
They're great to decorate cakes and cookies in the winter --
it makes winter less dreary when your dessert is topped by a spring pansy!

Sugar coated star cookies with pansies

And plain old Texas sheet cake is made company special with a candied pansy/viola!

It's a rite of Spring and I've been doing it "forever"!

I also will candy mint leaves for tea but do that as needed
And I've been known to candy lavender as well --
it looks pretty on a tea tray.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

May Lunch Bunchers

 The Lunch Bunch come once a month
Unfortunately, friend JoAnn moved to the city
We've not replaced her preferring instead to have a "guest" Lunch Buncher
each month.
So it's the three of us . . . and one guest!

I love when the living room is all expectant -- waiting on company!

It was dark and rainy and lit lamps were a must!

And I always love this view of the dining room table when we're expecting guests!

And this one . .  my view for this is my place!

Garden roses are the centerpiece
A salad of fresh from the garden lettuce, blue cheese, pickled beets and a dressing
made from half homemade poppyseed and half homemade herby vinaigrette

Our main course:

Tomato basil chicken
My first basil harvest of the year
(I always pinch them back when I plant . . . and the trimmings were perfect in this dish!)

Dessert was from one of my beloved cozy mystery books:

Strawberry truffle tart
An amazingly simple dessert that gives a Big Bang for little effort!

It was really good!
This will definitely be one of my go to chocolate company desserts

All too soon, after we discussed the latest movies we've seen, the last book we've read
and things about town, it was after 2 and they headed home!

As is my choice
(no one helps after a party -- they are guests)
I washed the dishes and put the dining room back to it's everyday order!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Cream Tea In the Garden -- Remembering England

 Eight Years Ago in May we were in England
living in a cottage called "Blue Row"
in the Cotswold village of Swerford

It was an old cottage compared to what is in Kansas
for it was built in 1802
But to the Brits, it's rather a "new build"!
It started life out as 4 cottages and now is two
We had this half!

Which had a lovely little garden
And we loved to take tea in the garden if we were home

A linen cloth
(bought as a souvenir and used while we were there)
And the tea ware that came with the cottage

We raided the garden for flowers
And bought our scones, our cream and our jam!

 Scones served properly with cream and jam!

Having been used to the price of Clotted Cream here, I was surprised to
find that it was only 90p (or $1.35 there)

And we always had a container in the fridge.    

We didn't have tea in  Blue Row's garden  every afternoon
But if we were home, we did.
Sometimes more simply

A tray brought everything to the garden

the pot of tea, two scones, cream and jam!

Boughten again.    I never did bake a scone in England!

And on rainy days 

We have our tea inside.

If tea was at Blue Row, it was usually a cream tea
of store bought scones (sometimes fruit, sometimes plain), cream and jam

When I was up in the city,  I stopped by World Market
and brought home a jar

It's good.    But not as good as that we bought in England
And it cost way more than $1.35.   
Like $8 plus tax!
Needless to say, we don't have it that often at Linderhof!

But today, with real clotted cream, homemade strawberry jam, freshly baked scones
(because you can't get a good scone in Fort Scott)
and a beautiful day
(the storms of yesterday have left)
we had tea in the garden

I got out the Spode.    It seems a Spode kind of tea.
Blue Italian.    The "cake" plate (upon which the scones are plated) were found
by dear friend (and Andy's Aunt) Jo
They are a treasure!
I brought out a cloth (but alas, not the same one I used in England)
because tea in the garden warrants a nice cloth I think

We're of the cream first, then the jam school
And we take a little milk in our tea

There is nothing better than a real scone (I used an English recipe), with real clotted (or Devonshire) cream, and homemade strawberry jam!

It was a nice respite in the garden this afternoon
And if talk turned to our time in England, it was great to remember that special
Spring when we lived in Blue Row.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Mailbox Update

Ages ago --
like a year or two after we moved to Linderhof
We found an antique looking cast aluminum mailbox
That we think fitted Linderhof

We had it on the right side of the drive . . .

And then moved it to the left side.
The boxwood, however, grew over the years and completely hid the mailbox

Why have a pretty mailbox when you can't see it!

When we first got it, we painted it white . . . because all the trim was white.
And then about 11 years or so ago we painted it what I thought was
British Mail Red with a British Racing Green Base

To show off the mailbox
When you got it, flaunt it!
We moved it back to the right side of the drive

And I debated paint colors.

The Royal mailboxes are, indeed, red.
The home mailboxes, alas are not

For I googled
They are all painted BLACK
with gold lettering

A more modern one

And one similar to mine, only it's wall mounted rather than post mounted.

Those mail boxes made my decision for me
Today, I repainted my mailbox!

with gold lettering!

I think it looks smashing in it's new location
with it's new paint job!
The brick, the black, the green!

It's understated
it fits a historic house, me thinks

It's there but is much more elegant than when it was red and green!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Full English

I was at Sam's a month ago and why I looked in that particular
cooler, I don't know 
but my heart did a "petty pat"
when I saw 

European Center Cut Bacon
British Bacon!!!!

We've bought some over the years
But it's always pricey and you have to go way out of your way to find a story
that carries it.

We love British bacon
We love

A Full English
or a "Fry Up"

It's the breakfast that American breakfasts derive from . . . 

"Bacon", "sausages", eggs (always served basted), plus black pudding, beans, tomatoes and mushrooms

Americans have replaced the black pudding, beans, tomatoes and mushrooms for
hash browns!

But I really prefer "British style"!

 Served with toast and tea
(our first breakfast in England at our bed and breakfast the spring that we lived in England)

Coming home, I would fix a "Full English" as often as I could find the
ingredients . . .
The weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day, Costco would have Irish bangers
and I'd stock up.
English Heinz beans are different than American Pork and Beans
And I don't sub!
I used to buy them at either the Commissary at Leavenworth or World Market
Six cans at a time!

My version of the "Full English" -- Heinz beans, Irish Bangars and eggs!

Served with coffee for Jim and tea for me

When we lived that Spring in England, I would do a Full English if we didn't want to be
out and about extra early
(our dining room at Blue Row)

Reminds me so of bed and breakfasts that we stayed at in England
A Full English for two!

 Underneath the egg there is always toast.
Not ordinary toast but a piece of fried toast

 Two more important parts of a Full English are:

Orange Marmalade
(served in my English orange marmalade jar)
Never any other kind of jam or jelly for breakfast --
Only orange marmalade!


The toast cooler
At least that is what Husband Jim calls it.
You put perfectly good hot toast in and carry it to the table
And then it is cold!!!!
I personally don't mind "cold" toast -- husband Jim does not!

You can find these silver plated toast coolers quite frequently
even in flea markets.
I think everyone who ever stayed in England and had one of these
on their breakfast table had to bring one home!!!!

With the bacon and a horde of Irish sausages in the freezer,
we've been having a full English every Saturday morning!

Sans beans, however!
I'm out!
And when I went to World Market yesterday to stock up,
they didn't carry them anymore!

I was devastated!

However, Amazon came through . . . 
next week, our Full English will be just that --
a Full English complete with beans!

It's my favorite breakfast
And it's fun to have a Full English every Saturday morning as a treat!