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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Changes Upstairs!

For a long time, the china cabinet/bookcase
has been in the corner of our bedroom.

It partially blocked the window and I really feel that you should
put furniture in front of a window.
Even a room that has lots of windows.

But sometimes I do it because there is no where else to put it!
I'm sure we've all done that!

And so yesterday I moved it

And put this sweet little table, lamp and sewing box on it.
Two cross stitch samplers seemed fitting art for the wall.

The sweet little table was a gift from my friend, Sally,
who's moved but this sweet little table and the start of her grandmother's true Christmas cactus 
will always remind me of her.

The room looks and feels brighter and bigger with the cabinet removed!
More spacious I think!

And where did I put the china cabinet/bookcase?

In the sunroom!
It fits better I think, between the two leather chairs.
And it's a room of books anyway
so a bookcase seems appropriate!

When I got the table, I put it between the leather chairs
But it's a feminine dainty table
And the chairs are masculine.
It looked okay
But I kept thinking that it wasn't "perfect".

For a long time, I had my mother's bookcase there
And another piece that blocked one of the windows.
I moved that piece to the spare room
And the bookcase across the room
It seems more spacious without that window being partially blocked!

And then I was looking at something on the blog and ran across this picture!

I need to move the bookcase back!
And so I did!

I'm much happier with both rooms now!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Quick Breads

Quick Breads
It's the title of a group of recipes in the Betty Crocker Cookbook

"Quick" meaning no rising time.

This weekend was my
"Quick Bread"

Saturday breakfast
Saturday dinner
Sunday breakfast

None of the recipes, however, from the Betty Crocker cookbook
Not that they aren't good --
I just wanted to try some different ones!

Saturday morning 
instead of our usual breakfast
we had ham and eggs and biscuits fresh from the oven

A recipe made 8 nice size biscuits
And I didn't pat them down to the 1/2 inch the recipe said
They were more like an inch
Which is why some of them are "huge"
But they were good

There are so many biscuits out there --
the canned, the frozen
the ones you make with cream
But these were old fashioned biscuits
Made like Grandma made them
I used the mixer to incorporate the shortening into the flour
(because I'm an impatient cook and "cut shortening in until the size of peas" means to me,
jawbreaker size if I do it with a pastry cutter or fork -- but with a
mixer -- perfection)


1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 to 3/4 c. milk
2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. shortening

Preheat oven to 475.    Grease a cookie sheet.

Crack the egg into a 1 cup glass measure.    Mix well with fork.    Add milk to the 3/4 c. mark and mix well again.

In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt.    Lightly mix in the shortening with your fingers.   (I put mine in the mixer and let the mixer do the work).      Stir in the milk mixture, taking care not to overwork the dough.    On a lightly floured surface, roll or pat the dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut with a 2 1/4 inch floured biscuit cutter (I use my grandmother's).   Place the rounds 1 inch apart on the prepared baking pan.      
Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven 10 to 12 minutes until nicely browned. 

* * * * * *

Last Sunday was Easter
Easter is always ham
And even though I got the smallest, it still is a lot of ham!

Saturday supper was red beans and rice.
A different dish for me for usually I do either butter beans or Great Northerns
with the last of the ham.

But beans were scarce when Husband Jim went to the store and he
scored some red ones as that was all that was available.

So, alas, red beans and rice it was!

And I must admit that it was delicious
and a nice change from the regular ham and beans!

Now you cannot have a pot of dried beans without a pan of cornbread
Another "quick bread".

I must admit that we can devour fresh from the oven corn bread.
We eat way more than one piece each!
But there's something about hot cornbread with butter melted into it
that is one of those "heaven on earth" dishes!

I tried a new recipe.
In this time of semi-exile, I've been trying a lot of new recipes.
I thought this was really really good
And it will probably be my "go to" recipe from now on


1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 c. white flour
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
4 t. baking powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
`/4 c. melted butter, cooled
3/4 c. milk
3 generous tablespoons sour cream

Sift dry ingredients together, add milk, sour cream, beaten egg and sot butter.    Stir well.    Pour into a greased pan (I used a crockery LeCreuset pan but you can use an iron skillet, iron muffin pans or even iron cornstalk pans) and grate nutmeg over the top.     Bake in a hot oven (425) for 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top.     Serve with butter while still hot (This is the most important sentence of the recipe!)

* * * * * *

My favorite, absolute favorite "quick bread" is popovers!
But I don't consider it "quick" for the baking time is usually 30 minutes or so
Not the 12 to 20 that cornbread or biscuits or even muffins take!

Often I come down to fix breakfast and think popovers
and then realize that we'll have to wait a "long time" for these delicious
breakfast breads!

 I have my popover pans --
two of them!
That way I can make a dozen if I have company.
But popovers are one quick bread that needs to be eaten the minute it comes from the oven

You rarely see popovers here in restaurants but in Minnesota
where Daughter Sarah lives, it often is the table bread in restaurants.
I adore that tradition -- Sarah not so much -- she's not a popover fan!

Sunday morning breakfasts should be special
Popovers and cheese omelets
sounded "special" this April morning

And I planned popovers
So they received the first attention
And once they were in the oven, I began to get the rest of breakfast ready


1 scant cup flour
1 t. salt
2 large eggs
1 c. whole milk

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 450.    Generously butter a popover pan or standard muffin tin and put it in the oven to heat.

Whisk together the flour and salt.   In a separate bowl beat the eggs until light but not too fluffy.    Stir in half the milk until smooth.    Gradually mix in the flour, then the remaining milk.    Don't use a whisk or beat the batter at this point (you'll not have good luck with your popovers if you do).  Pour the batter into the hot pan, filling about 2/3 full.    Bake in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes without opening the oven.

Without opening the oven, turn the temperature down to 350 and bake until the popovers are crisp and golden brown (about 20 to 25 minutes).     Make sure the sides are firm and crisp.

Serve hot!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Jonquils, Daffodils, Narcissus . . . The Spring Plant With Many Names

So what are they -- those mostly yellow flowers that bloom in the Spring?

Are they daffodils?
Are they Jonquils?
Are they Narcissus?

Actually they all are narcissus.

And while in different parts of the country, jonquils may be called daffodils, this is botanically incorrect!

But then the smaller variety of daffodils are often referred to as narcissus
which adds even more confusion to the daffodil, jonquil, narcissus question.

Since daffodils and jonquils are all narcissus, is there another difference?

Of course, there is -- scent!
Daffodils are barely scented
While jonquils are very perfumed.

Although the words are synonymous they do not take a jonquil a daffodil.
And with some study you can tell them apart --
Jonquils have numerous yellow scented blooms with rounded foliage and are really more common in warmer climes.

You can also tell the difference by the leaves
Jonquils have slender leaves that round on the tips
while daffodils sport slim sword-tipped foliage
Jonquil stems are hollow and shorter.
Jonquils also tend to have clusters of flowers while daffodils do not.
But they are so very very similar that a gardener
often calls all of these spring bulbs by one name --
the name they were taught as children!

And the biggest difference?
Jonquils only grow in yellow hues
while daffodils may be found in white, peach, pink and a variety of other colors.

You plant both both bulbs the same and both varieties 
love our part of the prairie.

I've been planting narcissus bulbs now for over 30 years
Some years more than others
And I am rewarded with an abundance of blooms to grace the house in April

My first bouquet -- a mixture of daffodils and jonquils
for St. Patrick's Day lunch!

An end table in the living room with some wee daffodils

A mixture of daffodils and jonquils

On the dining room table

Adding a bit of Spring to afternoon tea!

A wee Waterford vase holds wee daffodils on my dressing table

And last fall I planted both jonquils and daffodils in the new raised beds

We try to always keep a bouquet on the breakfast room table
To lend cheer to afternoon tea

And a bouquet brings sunshine to the living room

A vase of my Mother's filled with the cheery blooms
while we have leftover orange twist rolls for tea

I think of narcissus as the Easter flower as much as the Easter lily
for they're always in bloom at Easter
And this bouquet makes the Good Friday hot cross muffins
taste even better

One of my favorite daffodils -- newly planted last fall
The Poet's Daffodil
I love the white, red and yellow of this variety

Breck's knows when to send out their latest bulb catalogue --
I got mine last week.
Of course, if you order early, it's cheaper!
And I've got several variety of bulbs circled that I want to add.

I want to try more tulips, too, for I adore them -- especially the parrot variety.

Narcissus -- whether you call them that or daffodils or jonquils,
they always bring a smile to your face!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Easter eggs

It's Good Friday!

And a different Good Friday this year.
We've not been to church last night, nor will we go tonight or tomorrow
or Sunday morning.

We're in "semi-exile"

However, we still keep our traditions

Eggs are a big part of Good Friday!

I can remember only one Good Friday when I did not color eggs
(and that was when we went to England to live for a Spring -- we were on a ship taking us there)

Whether a child, a teen, single and living alone, with Daughter Sarah,
or as an empty nester, Good Friday was Easter egg coloring day!

And eggs play a big part in our Easter decorations.

And not just chocolate ones either!

These are my great great Grandmother Elvesa's eggs
Not Easter decorations but rather glass eggs to fool hens into laying.
I didn't know my great grand grandmother, but my mother did
And when she passed somehow she got these eggs.
She just kept them out year round.
I have them in a cabinet and display them at Easter
I feel really connected to Elvesa who was an amazing and strong woman.

In my mother's compote on the sideboard with some German egg candy containers that I just bought
because they were colorful and German!

Our centerpiece of Easter decorations is always the Easter egg tree

One year we were in Germany during Lent
and every bed breakfast we stayed at had a bunch of branches with eggs hanging from them
An Easter egg tree they said when we asked
And when asked where they had gotten their egg treasure to hang on the tree,
they replied

So off to Woolworth's we went, found the eggs and for about 75 cents each,
we bought a dozen to bring home so that we, too, could have one of these wonderful trees
(This was before places like Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's had Easter egg tree decorations -- they were a novelty)
They are handprinted and are real hens eggs.    Blown out and a string or ribbon attached to hang from a branch.
That was 28 years ago and we still have the whole dozen
although one does have a bit of a hole in the end -- it got dropped

They are a sweet reminder of a wonderful trip and I enjoy them in the Spring as much as I enjoy the Christmas tree in December

Each one is different.

And as tempted as I sometimes am, I've never added to that original dozen.
It is the Easter egg tree -- a souvenir of a Lenten trip to Germany
And so it shall remain!

This year, I've gotten some new eggs

Glass eggs like Elvesa's
But these are hand painted (like the ones on the tree)
A gift from friend Sally
who's moving
They shall be one of the many reminders of a dear friend
And they, like the ones on the tree, shall come out each and every Easter
(and only on Easter)

Today, being Good Friday will find me in the kitchen
dying the dozen and a half hard boiled eggs

No fancy equipment or dye for me --
coffee cups are great for egg dying
And food color and vinegar makes a great dye!

Nothing fancy either -- just vibrant colored eggs

And what do we do with a dozen and a half hard boiled eggs --
just the two of us?

A plateful gets made into deviled eggs for Easter dinner
served on my Grandmother's egg plate
It's tradition -- Easter dinner without deviled eggs would be like Thanksgiving without turkey!

And the week following Easter,
we'll alternately lunch on

egg salad sandwiches (on toast)
or ham sandwiches

That's tradition as well!

This Good Friday morning the Easter egg tree and Elvesa's eggs were bathed in sunlight.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

I Still Like to Cook!

We're in "Semi-Exile" because of the Virus.
Semi because I still go to the store weekly
Semi because I do drop by the post office drop box weekly
And that's it
And has been since mid March

It's different for me, this once a week shopping trip.
None of this "oh, that sounds good but I need this and that to make it"
And off I'd go to the store for this and that and that's what we'd have for dinner.
I live five minutes from a grocery store
And don't really need to keep a big supply of extras
because the grocery store is only five minutes away!
And I've been operating like that ever since I retired
Because I had the time!

But now is not a time to run out willy nilly!
You need to limit your trips and I have.
Making one big grocery order every week
And keeping an extra bag of flour, sack of sugar, baking powder
in the larder.

This plan has worked well and I'll probably continue with the once a week shopping
when the "all clear" is lifted and we can go back to our old life.

I've always said that we don't eat out much.
And we don't -- not the plan to go out, sit at a table and order eating out.
But what I didn't realize is how many sandwiches I picked up for lunch
because "I was out" or how many dinners I got to go after a meeting
"because I didn't want to cook at 7:30 and didn't want to eat at 5".

Except for grocery shopping day, we absolutely do not eat out and ghat one "to go" meal is a real treat for us!

I've been fixing more comfort food.    Nothing exotic but simple food.
And I must say that we've been eating well!

Corned Beef and Cabbage plus potatoes and carrots
(we also had an Irish soda bread and an apple cake for dessert)

A plain cheeseburger but with homemade fries.
Potatoes are cheap and homemade fries are exceptional
(This is one of Husband Jim's favorites)

Ham and Beans and cornbread
(The ham was in the freezer, the beans were almost impossible to find, but find them we did)
When I ate this meal at Grandma's (sans ham) she also served fried potatoes!

BBQ ribs, baked beans and coleslaw

Cornmeal fried local bass, fried potatoes and Jalapeño Spinach

Not dinner but breakfast
biscuits and gravy!
(it was a cold rainy morning and this was a great way to start)

We love fried tacos but they're messy and time consuming
But I have the time both to prepare and clean up the mess.
Boy, are they ever good!

Sunday Dinner
fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and coleslaw
Can't get any more traditional than this!

Chicken and noodles
(noodles homemade)
Chicken from the back of the whole chicken I bought to fry!
So it's a pennies dish!

Pavlova with strawberries
Made because I had 3 egg whites leftover from the noodles and I didn't want to throw them out!