Temporary Hiatus

Creeping Charlie is underappreciated

Hi guys! I know, I know. It’s been a while.

Unfortunately, Thorns and Berries has been experiencing some computer-related difficulties, but it should all be resolved soon, I promise!  I’ll look forward to posting a new batch of spring veggie recipes ASAP.

 Aquaponic Cherry Tomatoes

Also, look what we finally managed to grow in our aquaponics system!  Sometimes I think we might be getting better at this…



Cheddar Zucchini Bread

Cheddar Zucchini BreadWell, I’ve definitely spent the past few weeks struggling through a blogging slump. There has been recipe failure (some things are just not meant to go together), photography challenges (bad lighting), technical difficulties (accidental deletions), and general loss of appetite (I’m so SICK of pumpkin). Plus, I’m still too cold. So over the weekend I was determined to overcome.

And I think this recipe might have done it! It’s easy to make. It’s cheesy and savory and kind of biscuity-tasting. And, most importantly, it uses up some of the remaining summer squash in our freezer.  Yes!

This recipe originally appeared in the Joy of Cooking, which, I have to admit, is a cookbook I probably don’t use frequently enough. I think it might be because I’m SO grossed out by the tongue recipes. But that’s a story for some other time…
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Homemade “Hot Pockets”

Homemade Hot Pockets Well, you’ve caught me having one of those days today. Yesterday, we reached a high of 84 degrees!! Today’s expected high? 49. OK, I KNOW that’s what the March weather is like in Iowa. I’ve lived through this many times. But for some reason today’s cloudy bluster has basically brought on despair. Despair that I’m back to being wrapped up in a blanket all day. Despair that everything is muddy and gross. And most of all, despair that all of our pets are back to wanting to be inside all day. Because now they are restless and shedding all over the place, and the fur + spring pollen is making me stuffed up and ugh… Why did I even get up today?

Luckily, dinner is already in the bag. A few weeks ago my brother-in-law had the completely brilliant idea of using no-knead bread dough to make homemade hot pockets! It’s so simple, with so many possible variations! You can make it with pretty much any kind of filling you can imagine: peperoni and mozzarella, ham and cheddar, pulled pork, steak and potatoes, creamy chicken and veggies… And the dough works as well for one big giant hot pocket as it does for a bunch of smaller ones. And I’m insanely jealous. Because, why didn’t I think of that? [click to continue…]


No-Time Bread

No-Time BreadThe weather has been gorgeous this week and I have been goofing off BIG TIME. Seriously. So despite the fact that I finally have a chance to get going on all of the outdoor cleaning-planning-prepping that needs to be done, I’ve just let it all pile up. The lesson here? The weather will always provide an excuse for doing nothing. Aaaaahhhh thanks, nature!

Anyway, as you know, I’m the type of person will happily spend three days just making a pumpkin pie. So obviously, we have nothing in the house to eat. We have ingredients, of course, but I’ve just been too lazy to make anything. Unfortunately, there’s only so long a person can go just eating handfuls of chocolate chips and Craisins instead of cooking a meal. So yesterday, I had to rally and cook us something. [click to continue…]


A Short Update

So Far So GoodCurrent conditions: SUNNY and 39 DEGREES. And it is SO GOOD to see these ladies alive and humming. Winter claimed two of our three hives, and honestly, there is very little in life that is more sickening than opening up a dead hive, especially one with plenty of honey.  With any luck, we’ve made it through the sub-zero stage of the Iowa winter, and we can start feeding them some sugar water soon. Fly my pretties! FLY!!

On another note, it’s been a tough few weeks. OK, I shouldn’t say something like that. Because it hasn’t been that tough, really. Everyone is healthy and nothing bad has happened. It’s just been so COLD and we’ve been really busy and also my cooking experiments have just turned out badly. So I’m complaining, as per usual. [click to continue…]


Easy Fruit Cobbler

Easy Fruit CobblerHere’s the scenario: you’ve been cleaning/cooking/drudging all day, and you’ve finally showered and settled into your jammies. And then BAM – you suddenly, overwhelmingly, need dessert. Obviously, you are too tired to make something complicated. And you are certainly not going to leave the house in what you’re wearing. Add an escalating snowstorm to that scenario, and you’ve got me, yesterday, at around 6 pm.

Naturally, I went first to the freezer. And believe it or not, we still have stuff in there! Of course, since last year was pretty miserable for berries, we had already used up our stores of our own fruit. Luckily we still had enough local “pick your own” stock to swing one more dessert. Unfortunately, once I hit the refrigerator and the cupboards, I started thinking dessert might be impossible. We had sugar and flour and that was about it. We were out of baking powder. Out of yeast. Out of milk. Ugh. Why didn’t I do the whole pre-storm grocery trip like everyone else? [click to continue…]


Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceIf you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I have already posted one barbecue sauce recipe here at Thorns and Berries. But I came to that barbecue sauce recipe mainly out of a desire to make a homemade barbecue sauce that was not based primarily on ketchup. And that barbecue sauce IS really delicious, seriously. But it isn’t the same as that good old Kansas City sweet and smoky barbecue sauce that everyone here loves so much. And as a result, I’ve still been stuck buying bottle after bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s just to keep our chicken nuggets edible.

Well, no more. At last I figured out how to solve the problem of a barbecue sauce recipe based on ketchup: make my own ketchup. And making ketchup turned out to be super easy and the results were delicious. So I took that delicious ketchup and then added even more seasonings to make barbecue sauce. And then YUM!! [click to continue…]


Homemade Ketchup

Homemade KetchupLately I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors. I love it there! I especially like the dry, recirculated air. Just kidding! It would actually be great to take the dogs for a walk or meet a friend for lunch right about now. I’d even consider organizing the garage! Unfortunately, it’s way too cold to do anything. Kinda makes you a little restless, impatient, and sick of everything… It kinda makes you start thinking about moving to Hawaii too, but that’s a topic for a different time.

Anyway, being trapped inside is also a good time to plan for the growing season. What will we grow next year? How many plants? Which varieties? How can we increase productivity? Naturally, such thoughts really force you to remember what your goals are, because planting a garden for fun is different from planting a garden for increased self-sufficiency. [click to continue…]


Amish Corn Pudding

Amish Corn PuddingUPDATE: winter sucks. The cold is back full force and there’s no relief in sight. So obviously, I’m not leaving the house if I don’t have to. And here’s where that whole bees/chickens/garden/freezer thing comes in handy. If you dig around long enough, you’ll probably be able to come up with something fabulous to make for dinner. And if you’re anything like me, doing so will make you feel like a genius-kitchen-superhero.

So yesterday, after spending the day shivering (despite being wrapped up in a blanket), I was craving comfort food big time, but was not looking forward to warming up the car. And then I found sweet corn in the freezer. [click to continue…]


Chickens in Charge

Chickens in ChargeWell, it’s winter all right, and this year has definitely been all that we expected: there has been paralyzing cold, plenty of snow, some minor wind damage, and an abundance of overall misery. For sure both the people and the other animals on our little homestead have had plenty to be concerned about. The zipper in my favorite coat broke a few days ago, one of the bee hives became completely buried in snow, poor little Skye can barely make it up the icy steps, and the chickens will NOT walk in the snow.

In retrospect, we’ve seen that it probably would have been beneficial to wrap the entire chicken run in plastic sheeting. Of course, this would have created plenty of challenges too, especially with the nasty winds we’ve been having. So basically I’m not sure we can win either way… [click to continue…]