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Tuesday, October 24, 2017


This little cookie nugget is the perfect grab and go morning meal for those who say they just don't have time for breakfast. Loaded with hearty ingredients that will hold you over without the empty calories of typical baked goods.

The prep time on the recipe said 10 minutes, but it took me 15 minutes just to gather together all the ingredients! With 14 ingredients your counter will be crowded but what a win win for a cookie. There is oat flour rather than wheat. There is only a fraction of the usual sugar called for and the type used is brown sugar rather than white. There is no added fat such as unhealthy shortening. The fat comes from peanut butter and needed moisture comes from pumpkin. Rolled oats help hold it all together and additional taste and sweetness come from dried cranberries and coconut.

Basically, this sounds like a granola shaped into a more portable form. Not sweet at all, it is still tasty and delicious, great with milk or coffee. Perfect for morning but also wonderful for the lunchbox or after school snack

These cookies are chewy rather than crispy. They freeze well and are good warmed up, still half frozen or room temperature from the cookie jar.

By Sarah@The Gold Lining Girl

1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup oat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt

In a large bowl, whisk together the above dry ingredients

1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/4 cup melted peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

In another bowl, whisk together the above wet ingredients
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Fold in the nuts, coconut and cranberries

Drop by spoonfuls onto either parchment lined or greased baking sheets
Bake at 350 degrees
10 minutes for small cookies or 12 - 14 minutes for large cookies
Cookies are ready when lightly browned
Remove to wire racks to cool
Store in a cool, airtight container

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tithonia, Mexican Sunflower...A Butterfly Garden Must Have

Just as the yellows of sunflower season begin to fade, late summer unfolds the bold orange of Tithonia or Mexican Sunflower (rotundifolia). Beautiful and plentiful orange 3" wide daisy-like flowers on long stems, this plant makes for a spectacular backdrop in the garden or beautiful against a barn or fence.


A butterfly gardeners dream, Mexican Sunflowers attract several types of butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and later, seed loving birds. To further encourage butterflies to your garden, plant not only sunflowers for nectar, but Butterfly Weed or Common Milkweed for the caterpillars. Since the bloom time is late summer, the timing is perfect for traveling monarch butterflies on their way to Mexico for the winter.


Native to Mexico and Central America, Tithonia is a late season annual that will gladly thrive in a home garden as long as it gets enough sun, not too rich soil and not what they call wet feet. Not exactly drought tolerant, Tithonia is more of a water meter. During hot spells they can wilt a bit if not getting enough water. If given too much fertilizer (nitrogen) you'll get a lot of foliage growth and height but a lack of flowers. Since they can reach 6 - 8 feet tall, strong winds can topple them over, but unless the roots are actually pulled out of the ground, often they'll bend a bit to continue reaching upwards towards the sun. Some people pinch them back while young to encourage a more bushy look rather than height to lessen the risk of broken branches or falling over in a storm. Though not required, deadheading will prolong the blooming time and avoid their looking straggly by late season. In general, these flowers are survivors.

You can buy already started plants from the nursery in the spring, but these flowers are easy to start from seed. Two things to remember are to not plant too early and not to plant too deep. Here in zone 6 I wait till June to plant these heat loving sunflowers. They need light to germinate so barely cover with soil. These sunflowers are multi-branched so they need room to do their best. Thin out the plants to be about 36 - 48 inches apart. By October the flowers will start going to seed which are relished by the birds. Also, the dropped seed will happily return to reseed in the spring.

Tithonia is named for Tithonus, a Trojan prince who, in Greek Mythology, was the love of Eos, the goddess of the dawn.

By mid-October these beauties are a good 6 feet but soon to go to seed

Below is the tale of where Tithonia got its name:

Eos and Tithonus (A Greek Myth)
by Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson

Long ago the goddess Eos fell in love with Ares, the god of war, and like so many others, he could not resist the beauty of this goddess of the dawn. Rosy-fingered Eos dressed in long robes of saffron, and sitting upon her throne she glimmered and cast a look upon Ares he could not resist.
Alas, Aphrodite heard news of Ares' love, and bursting with jealousy, she cast a curse upon Eos: The goddess of the dawn would never stop falling in love.

And so it was that time after time, Eos fell in love with mortal men. This was a sad fate for a goddess, for mortal men do not live forever as goddesses do. But of all the tales of heartbreak, there was no sadder story than the tale of Tithonus.

Tithonus was a proud young man, a prince of Troy, handsome and brave, and the moment Eos saw him, she fell deeply in love. That was her way, but this time she decided she must carry him away with her, and so she brought him to her palace, away from his homeland.

Naturally Tithonus loved Eos. Who could resist the love of such a beautiful goddess? Just as she does today, in those years long ago, Eos woke the world each morning with curling rings of light, and every morning she mystically brought the world out of darkness. Whenever Tithonus looked at her, he felt a glow, the way so many people feel at dawn -- as buoyant as an April morning on those days when the first buds begin to bloom.

Tithonus and Eos lived together happily, and they had two sons, Memnon and Emathion, who also became famous among men and gods. All seemed well, but as time passed, Eos remembered something she had forgotten: Mortals do not live forever.

Eos began to mourn the future. How would she survive without her love? She could not imagine such a life, and so she asked the greatest god of all, Zeus, to grant Tithonus immortality.
"Please," Eos pleaded, "let my beloved Tithonus live forever." Her eyes filled with tears, her skin flushed, and even Zeus was moved, and so he granted her request.
Now Tithonus was immortal.

Never was there a happier man. Loved by a beautiful goddess, he was a proud father and ruler of a bountiful land, and Eos too was joyful, but they hadn't realized one thing.
Tithonus would live forever, but even Zeus did not have the power to make him a god. And so, as time passed, Tithonus, like all mortals, began to age. First Eos noticed the wrinkles upon his brow, and as the years passed, his muscles began to grow weak, his arms and legs grew slender, his hair grew gray and thin. Even the light of his beloved Eos no longer gave him the strength it once had.
When Eos understood Tithonus's fate, the sight of him filled her with such sadness that she could not bear to look at him. So she left him alone and traveled, falling in love with others.

Eos fell in love with other mortal men and other gods, and when she returned to Tithonus she would see her once-handsome beloved withering away. Day after day, he grew older. Like a shadow he roamed silent palaces of the gods of the east, thinking of long-ago days, remembering Eos' wish for his immortality, and ashamed of his desire for it.

How arrogant he had been. He hadn't thought of the future. In his youth he had never even imagined waste, and now here he was wasting away. Even love and beauty and power could not save him. Soon he wanted to be like other mortal men. He wished for the return of the natural order of life.

Some mornings when a soft breeze parted the clouds, he looked down at the dark world where he had once lived, and again he looked at Eos. Seeing her mysterious glimmering face and her exquisite light, he remembered the way she had once loved him. He watched with longing as the gloomy darkness below parted, and the rosy light of his beloved Eos warmed the world. This made him still sadder, for her warmth and glow were now lost to him, and he began to sing, "Give me back my mortality." But even the gods could not grant this request.

And now the rosy shadows of Eos bathed him in coldness as he looked down at his wrinkled feet, and cried out to Eos: "Every morning you renew your beauty, but I am a fool, a fool who desired to be different from his fellow men, and now I cry to you, forever. I will never stop singing this song. I sit here remembering what I cannot be."

Eos could bear this no longer, and so she used her powers to transform this shell of a man into a cicada. She watched as he emerged from the ground, his body pale but fresh as he shed his old skin, wings spreading where once there were arms, and that voice, singing on, and on, and on.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tobacco Flower, Heirloom Nicotiana Alata, Jasmine in the Air

By the end of the summer season when many of our annuals are petering out, the stately tobacco flower will be just coming into its own! A majestic plant named for the 16th century French diplomat Jean Nicot, he once believed it was a cure-all for just about everything. While historically the leaves were used as a relaxant, it is now known to be highly addictive so fell out of favor medicinally. However, it does make for a great pesticide. Soak the dried leaves to make like a tea and then put in a foliage sprayer to apply to your garden plants.

Gardeners looking for the large, old-fashioned heirloom Tobacco Flowers won't find what they're looking for at a nursery. These tall, Jasmine smelling, night blooming beauties need to be grown from seed which can be found through seed banks or catalogs. "Only the Lonely" and  "Perfume White" are good varieties. The seeds may reseed themselves on their own or you can save those seeds and replant in the spring (wait till about 2 weeks after the last frost date for your area).

Technically a perennial, Nicotiana alata, is grown as an annual in areas with a colder winter. Flowering tobacco belongs to the nightshade or solanaceae family. Since it is in the same family as potatoes and eggplant, don't plant near each other or there is a greater chance for the pests, hornworms and flea beetles, to have a feast. Should you have a problem with flea beetles, (pin holes in the foliage) try floating row covers while the plants are young and/or diatomaceous earth. If you have plants that seem to just loose their foliage, it is probably the tobacco hornworm. Large healthy plants won't actually die from these green caterpillars, so if you want the hummingbird moths to later visit your night blooming flowers, you cannot kill all the caterpillars. But if you must kill them, hand pick them off or apply bacillus thuringiensis.

Tobacco Flower at its full size
Tobacco Flower five petaled tubular flowers
Nicotiana seeds germinate quickly in warm soil and being so small, just barely cover when planting. Choose an area with full sun and rich soil. The tall type of tobacco flower grows a good 5 feet tall and don't bloom till late in the season. The garden pack varieties are small, compact and are bred to flower even while still in the nursery packs. What they have in color, they lack in fragrance. If you want the sweet scent of jasmine, you need to plant the heirloom type, Nicotiana alata. The leaves are large as you'd expect from the tobacco plant. Fuzzy and sticky, the flowers look like long trumpets with a flare on the ends which are actually five petals.

Though nicotiana likes full sun for best growth, the flowers tend to droop in the heat and wait to perk up in the cool of the evenings. Some shade is tolerated in areas with really hot summers.
Plant in an area where you can enjoy them at night. Spending time outdoors on summer evenings is wonderful with the intoxicating scent of jasmine in the air.

The flowers are a great attraction to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds during the day and moths during the evening.

Two good sources for getting your seed are Select Seeds and Renee's Garden

Once the flowers fade and go to seed, it is easy to save the seed. Below is a video showing how to gather and save tobacco flower seeds.

Tobacco Flowers going to seed