Friday, March 29, 2019

Vintage Recipe: German Oven Pancake (Dutch Baby)

I'm digging into old recipe boxes and rediscovering the family favorites hidden inside! You'll find carefully handwritten recipe cards, newspapers and magazines clippings and even some hastily scrawled directions on scraps of paper, all from years (and years) ago! They're all getting scanned and transcribed so you can enjoy them in your own home kitchen. 


If you've been around cast iron for very long, you've probably heard of, seen or even made an Oven pancake similar to this one (also called a Dutch Baby or German Pancake).

Some of the recipes I've seen have sugar added. This one does not. You can make it sweet simply by topping it with powdered sugar, jelly or jam (as suggested in the recipe), berries and whipped cream, or maple syrup.

Or make it a savory dish and serve it with sausage gravy, shrimp in a cream sauce, a blend of buttered veggies, or a poached egg.

The key to getting the "puff" is whipping it a lot which is achieved in a blender. You can also use an electric mixer but be sure to really whip air into it.


You'll see in the recipe, this  oven pancake only calls for 2 eggs. It is fine for 2 people with average appetites, especially when serving it with other other items. However, The Boy could have eaten this whole thing by himself with no problem (and then asked for more).

This recipe for an Oven Pancake, was handwritten on both sides of an index card. It was found in an old large recipe file box. The age of the recipe card is unknown.



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Friday, March 22, 2019

Vintage Recipe: Jean's Fish Recipe (Baked Fish)

I'm digging into old recipe boxes and rediscovering the family favorites hidden inside! You'll find carefully handwritten recipe cards, newspapers and magazines clippings and even some hastily scrawled directions on scraps of paper, all from years (and years) ago! They're all getting scanned and transcribed so you can enjoy them in your own home kitchen. 

This is a very versatile recipe for baked fish. You can make a little or a lot. If you use Jean’s suggestion for adding lemon pepper and milk to the bottom of the pan, do not increase the amount for larger quantities. Use only that amount for a full pan.




DISCLOSURE:This post may contain affiliate links. I earn from qualified purchases. Thank you for supporting Little House In Colorado.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

2019 Winter Sowing


In order to raise money for the community garden, I'm wanting to have a plant sale. To have plants ready for a late-May plant sale without taking over my dining room table with puny little seedlings, heat mats and grown lights, I plan to winter-sow them.

Winter Sowing is a special technique to grow 'hardened' seedlings. It means I can plant my seeds and keep them outside (freeing up my dining room) and once they sprout, they will be in it's sheltered little "greenhouse" (a milk jug) which will supply sunlight and efficient moisture (if there is no snow or rain then some watering may be required). When it is time to transplant, the seedlings will usually be bigger and stronger than indoor grown seedlings, and they will already be hardened off and ready to plant.

Last year was the first time I had tried winter-sowing and was I was pleased with how they turned out. It really seemed to extend the growing season for me and gave me much hardier plants to work with!

I had already been saving up milk jugs and had 13 of them by mid January, but with the new plan to have a plant sale, I knew I was going to need a LOT more milk jugs.

A request was sent out in my neighborhood (through NextDoor) for milk jugs and/or 2-liter bottles for winter-sowing and let me tell you...my neighbors really through! This is just half of the milk jugs I received! And I still have more to pick up!


The original plan was to start winter sowing in late March (since last year I didn't get sprouts until mid April anyway) but I wound up with so many milk jugs to plant that I figured I'd better start as soon as possible and just do a little at a time until they're done.

It really helps to get the jugs prepared ahead of time. I prepped a bunch of milk jugs in early February (when a bunch of these pictures were taken) and kept them stored in giant bags until I was ready to plant. When a pretty day in early march arrived, I was ready to tackle the planting.

Preparing Your Milk Jugs:

To start, remove the lids. You can toss or recycle the lids. You won't be needing them. Then cut around the milk jug, leaving a space below the handle to act as a "hinge."




Next, poke or drill drainage holes into the base. I use the same drill and 1/4" drill bit for these holes. It makes this part of the preparation go very quickly.


Be sure to have something beneath your jugs so the drill doesn't ruin anything important (like your wood decking or furniture). I just use a piece of scrap wood. It might be time to find a new one to use...


You want make sure you have enough holes so your seedlings don't get too wet and rot in the soil. For a gallon container, I aim for at least 12 holes - 3 in each quarter section. I also put a couple holes in each corner about 1" up from the base.



Planting Your Milk Jugs:

You can plant your milk jugs anytime. It doesn't matter if you have three feet of snow on the ground. This is really nice if you're itching to plant something in the middle of winter. I chose a relatively sunny day to plant since I would be working outside. The sun just made it more pleasant. You could do the work in your basement or garage in the middle of a blizzard if you like and set the jugs outside when you're done.


First, fill the base of your jugs with soil. You want good quality soil here but try to avoid potting soil with fertilizers. Happy Frog is a great soil that is often recommended by winter-sowers. Last year, I used "Roots Organics Greenfields Potting Soil" and it seemed to do just fine. This year, I'm trying "Black Magic" potting soil that was on sale at Home Depot.


Water the soil. Make sure to water it well and make sure the excess drains out the bottom. I do this before putting the seeds in so I can make sure the soil is watered well without having to worry about the seeds being disturbed by the water flow.

Plant your seeds. You can certainly plant more than one or two, especially if you are planting in a gallon jug. Last year I poked 3 holes in the soil and planted 2 seeds per hole. This year, I'll be transplanting a lot of them to individual containers with 2 seedlings each so I planted 8 seeds in each gallon jug (4 holes with 2 seeds per hole). I'm hoping that's not too many. We'll see what happens. It's all a learning process and they'll only have a couple months to germinate and grow before they are separated.

Label your plants. I put a label on the inside AND write the name on the jug. I use these Rapiclip 6" Plant Labels on the inside. They can be reused again and again year after year assuming you are planting the same thing.



Many winter-sowers have said to use paint pens on the outsides of the jugs because Sharpies don't stay on very well. I used a Sharpie last year and the writing didn't even fade. Perhaps moisture plays a big roll in the "wearability" of the ink. There isn't a whole lot of humidity in Colorado and the snow hasn't affected the ink at all. I also keep the side of the jug with writing facing east so the ink doesn't fade (our afternoon sun from the west is really intense).

Tape the lid in place. Plain grey duct tape will work well for this. Don't use packing tape, masking tape, electrical tape, scotch tape, etc. They won't work. Just use strong, plain duct tape. Some people find it helpful to use small duct tape pieces to first hold the top in place and then use longer pieces to completely go around the jug (you'll see the jugs in the last photo have the tape all the way around the seam). Make SURE the seam is sealed. The tighter the seal, the more your jug can become a "mini greenhouse."



Pack the jugs together right up next to each other so they can provide stability and protection for each other. Be sure the lids are removed so water and air can get in.


Now you wait. Patience is key here...especially if you plant really early. The seeds will sprout when conditions are right. My seeds didn't sprout until mid-April last year. You don't have to check them every day. They will be fine. HOWEVER...you do need to be sure the soil is moist (if there has been no precipitation, you may need to water them). Also, if you have a long warm spell and the seeds sprout too early, you will want to take precautions so they don't freeze if the temperature drops again. Give them extra insulation. Move the to the middle of the group. Cover them with blankets. Do what you can to get them through the freeze.

The first day of winter sowing this year and I finished 23 jugs. Woo Hoo!

Want to watch some videos about winter-sowing and learn how to do it in your own garden? Here is a playlist on YouTube that is FULL of great winter-sowing information!





DISCLOSURE:This post may contain affiliate links. I earn from qualified purchases. Thank you for supporting Little House In Colorado.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Vintage Recipe: Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake

I'm digging into old recipe boxes and rediscovering the family favorites hidden inside! You'll find carefully handwritten recipe cards, newspapers and magazines clippings and even some hastily scrawled directions on scraps of paper, all from years (and years) ago! They're all getting scanned and transcribed so you can enjoy them in your own home kitchen. 


I grew up with Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake (though it was a different version from this one). Don’t let the word “mayonnaise” turn you away. The mayonnaise makes the cake extra moist. My mom would also add pudding mix and chocolate chips to the batter. She would bake 3 layers and frost the inner layers with whipped cream and the outside with a rich chocolate frosting. It was the only chocolate cake I ever really liked…and I LOVED it. Decadence.



DISCLOSURE:This post may contain affiliate links. I earn from qualified purchases. Thank you for supporting Little House In Colorado.


Monday, March 11, 2019

DEBT FREE (And Staying That Way)



This is a recent picture of Mr. LH and I on our 20th anniversary. We celebrated it with a rare night out, but instead of it being just the two of us, we took the whole family. The Boy and The Girl (a.k.a. "The Pickles") came along because this was also a family celebration. We were celebrating being DEBT FREE!

That's right! We did it! We paid off our last debt in our debt snowball! A big, ugly student loan.

Full disclosure...our debt snowball did NOT include our house. That comes later in the process.

Our debt-free journey has been a long one. We started it waaaay back in 2012 and went full force for about three years as we followed the Dave Ramsey baby steps word for word. It was incredible how much we were able to pay off!

Baby Step 1: Put $1,000 into an Emergency Fund DONE!
Baby Step 2: Pay off all debt from smallest to largest using the Debt Snowball DONE!
Baby Step 3: Save 3 to 6 months of EXPENSES
Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of household income for retirement
Baby Step 5: Save for college for children
Baby Step 6: Pay off home early
Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give!

This book changed our lives!
In 2015 we had to move because our landlord was selling the house we were renting. And even though we weren't quite ready, we were able to buy a house because our debt-to-income ratio had dramatically improved. We tried to buy the one we were renting but it didn't work out.

After buying our house, we weren't quite as intense in our debt paying as before. After all, the driving force behind paying off our debt was buying a house. And while we still wanted to get out of debt, we now had the house.

We still didn't use credit cards, we still did a budget, and we still paid extra on the debt. In fact, we only had one big debt left...that student loan. We had been paying on it a LONG time and it didn't seem to be going anywhere. But we weren't REALLY hitting it hard with everything we had, either, so of course it wasn't going to go away quickly. We painted rooms, bought some furniture, did some landscaping, went on vacation, etc. We did a lot of those things you're NOT supposed to do while you are tacking your debt snowball.

Then in 2018, almost three years after moving into our new house, it seemed like everything started to go downhill. Murphy's Law. "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." Dave Ramsey would say "Murphy moved in with us." But truthfully, we kind of invited Murphy to stay a while.

Mr. LH and I took a vacation to Washington while The Pickles visited family in Florida.


We could have stayed home instead and enjoyed a stay-cation. But we didn't.

I loved visiting Washington and I am glad we went, but even after carefully watching every penny on that trip, I can't help but think of the money we spent that SHOULD have gone towards debt. So yes, we did contribute to the problem (although we did NOT accrue more debt from the trip).

2018 also brought some dark time to our family. A death in the family meant we needed to travel across the country on short notice. When something tragic happens, you don't want to sit there worrying about money. But when you have debt, you worry. How will you be able to make everything work?

We couldn't afford the price of last minute airfare for all of us and leaving some of us behind was out of the question. We would just have to drive. But we had to replace a power steering pump on the car first.

A few months later, a huge hailstorm hit. Two inch hail. Maybe larger.


Hail is common here, but this was the biggest hail I had ever experienced.

With the hailstorm came the need for a roof replacement. We needed to pay the deductible for that.

The timing belt went out on the car and did a ton of damage (the same car we just had the power steering pump replaced on). Thousands and thousands of dollar signs went flying out the window.

In the fall, we got news that The Pickles BOTH needed their wisdom teeth removed. We scheduled it during Christmas break so they would have plenty of time to recover.

The thought of another setback made me feel nauseous. We were so close to being debt free but after all of this, I felt broker than I had in a very very long time. We cut our modest Christmas budget in HALF so we could use the funds to take care of some of these issues (and you know, we still had a great Christmas).

Regret sank in as I remembered the vacations and those 3 years of lackadaisical debt-paying we did. If we had just kept up the momentum it would have been paid off by 2017...maybe even sooner!

In early January of this year, we took our cars in for oil changes and received another laundry list of needed repairs. For what it's worth, our cars are old...2001 and 2004 year models, and we don't usually have this much stuff to do to them. It just all coincidentally happened to hit at once.

That was IT. Murphy needed to move out. The debt HAD TO GO. We didn't have much left, but it was going to GO AWAY.

Every dime extra that we had laying around went toward the debt. I avoided going out to the grocery store and instead made some interesting creations from what we had on hand in our freezers and pantry. I avoided shopping of any kind. I spent my time freelancing or working on my Etsy shops trying to earn a little extra. Any tax return we received would be dedicated to debt and car repairs.

For motivation, I borrowed Chris Hogan's book, Retire Inspired, from the library (and realized we HAD to get moving on our retirement savings quickly).

I listened to Dave Ramsey's show while I worked and listened to people do their debt-free screams.

I crunched numbers to see how much we could save this year once we were debt free if we attacked a savings plan as intensely as we were now attacking the last of our debt.

And all of those actions combined to FINALLY push us across the finish line to FREEDOM.

The student loan now has a balance of ZERO. The car repairs have been DONE.

Our dishwasher even broke the same week but I was able to just shrug it off and order the replacement part to fix it myself without too many days in between of hand washing (we go through a LOT of dishes at our house).

If you have debt but haven't started this journey yet, do it. If you think you can't do it for whatever reason, change your thinking. It may take some time, but slow progress is still progress.



DISCLOSURE:This post may contain affiliate links. I earn from qualified purchases. Thank you for supporting Little House In Colorado.


Friday, March 8, 2019

Vintage Recipe: Spanish Rice

I'm digging into old recipe boxes and rediscovering the family favorites hidden inside! You'll find carefully handwritten recipe cards, newspapers and magazines clippings and even some hastily scrawled directions on scraps of paper, all from years (and years) ago! They're all getting scanned and transcribed so you can enjoy them in your own home kitchen. 


This recipe for Spanish Rice was fairly quick and easy. Instead of the bouillon cubes and water, I used 3 cups of unsalted chicken broth and 1/2 tsp salt. I make my own chicken broth but you can certainly use canned chicken broth instead. If you used canned broth, you may want to wait on the addition of salt. Canned broth can have a high amount of sodium.



DISCLOSURE:This post may contain affiliate links. I earn from qualified purchases. Thank you for supporting Little House In Colorado.


Friday, March 1, 2019

Vintage Recipe: Fudge Squares

I'm digging into old recipe boxes and rediscovering the family favorites hidden inside! You'll find carefully handwritten recipe cards, newspapers and magazines clippings and even some hastily scrawled directions on scraps of paper, all from years (and years) ago! They're all getting scanned and transcribed so you can enjoy them in your own home kitchen. 

This recipe for Fudge Squares appears to be similar to (if not exactly like) a chocolate brownie. The recipe was handwritten in beautiful blue script on both sides of an index card. The recipe card is dated 8/8/41. 





DISCLOSURE:This post may contain affiliate links. I earn from qualified purchases. Thank you for supporting Little House In Colorado.