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Of Hornworms and Hummingbird Moths...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hi Sparkers!

I'm writing a bit more today about tomato hornworms, since Henry's Mom expressed concern that I'd gobbled a few of them down, which... I did not. Promise! YET! ha
I'd like to point out that there's a difference between CONSIDERING a recipe and actually trying it.
In my case, Hornworms and Green Tomatoes never made it past my palate, but here's a link to the recipe in case you'd like to try it:

I think its a pretty safe bet to guess that anyone who has grown tomatoes, has run across these phantoms of the garden, whether they knew it or not.

More often than not, you will see their damage before you see them. Reason being these guys are masters of disguise, they are mostly nocturnal eaters, staying frozen in position during the day so as not to attract bird's attention.
Or mabbe its just to digest the prodiguous amount of leaves they just consumed like a reveller after a Thanks Giving meal.

Judge for yourself!

Yes, Sparkers, there really IS a tomato hornworm in that photo!

This ability to merge into their environment allowed 35+ of them to defoliate the nicely flowered, leafy new branches of my 'maters in plain sight.

It took 3 tries, one in the morning, another in the early evening and a third with the help of an ultraviolet flashlight (they glow in UV light) under the full moon to remove them all.
At least that's what they want me to believe.
I'm not fully convinced another won't turn up!

No hornworms were injured.
I don't believe in killing things unless absolutely necessary.
Particularly since these catepillars morph into equally fascinating hummingbird moths. Check out these moths doing their thing on a night blooming Datura!

They were put in a jar and dumped on the other side of the bike path in the forest where they had plenty to munch. A few of the larger ones didn't appreciate being moved and reached back to give me a good nip with their jaws as I was pulling them from their perch.

Have fun, winter is coming and with it an end to all things growing and green!
: )

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MZZCHIEF 9/20/2014 11:22AM

    OMG, thats funny in an awful sort of way!

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CTUPTON 9/19/2014 9:51AM

    I looked at the rest of the recipes after the tomato hornworm recipe. Uh--eating a penis? No way. And not a stuffed pig's stomach either! chris

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CTUPTON 9/19/2014 9:40AM

    They glow in UV light! I find that fascinating! Thanks for posting this.

Oh-- I looked at the hummingbird moth info. I love learning about things like that.


Comment edited on: 9/19/2014 9:42:16 AM

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AQUAGIRL08 9/15/2014 12:51PM

    Wow! Math at would probably explain what has happened to my tomato plants! You were kind to relocate them! :)

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GOANNA2 9/15/2014 8:14AM

    Wow, I never guessed they glowed. Hey, I have
eaten witchety grubs which the Indigenous
Aboriginal people of Australia eat. They tasted like
chicken actually. This is real bush food and tasted
great. I am not sure about hornworms though.

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LJCANNON 9/14/2014 10:19PM

    emoticon Well, I have to admit, at first I would have just Killed them outright. Then you said they turn into Hummingbird Moths, and I was All Happy about relocating them.
emoticon Then you said they BITE!! Now I am not Sure what I would do!!
emoticon I am skipping the Recipe, LOL!! Kill them or Not, I Ain't Gonna Eat Them!!

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KONRAD695 9/14/2014 7:25PM

    Thank you for the info and links. Sorry, but I will have to pass on the new recipe.

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 9/14/2014 5:40PM

    Wow! They glow under UV light and turn into awesome hummingbird moths! I had no idea!
Thanks for taking good care of them by relocation!
Love & Hugs!

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SPARKNB 9/14/2014 5:23PM

    Huh - never knew they glowed in UV! Knew about the moth metamorphosis. Didn't know about cooking, but then not sure they would be particularly tasty, and again, forgoing subsequent moths then. The way I find them is by looking for their telltale poops. Fresh poops look little black grenades, which are highly contrasting and visible when I watering; after a while there are lots of them, but defoliation has been going on for awhile then, and the poops have probably gotten wet and are more bloblike. One or two of these grenades, and I start taking slow meditative sits to find and pull these caterpillars. Like you, no kill, just relocate - plenty of other foliage in the world besides what I am growing!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/14/2014 5:26:15 PM

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    They can destroy a plant in a day. They are really gross to me. Ewwww!!

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GUNNSGIRL91303 9/14/2014 3:07PM

    Wow. Never thought of putting worms in a recipe. Ate one once in outdoor school when I was 11 and it truly had very little taste. But to actually cook with them? I think I'd be willing to try it but no one else in my life would.

Thanks for sharing and though I spent a good 5 minutes looking for the worm in your pic I never did find it. Going to go out to my mater plants and look for some!

Great blog!

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Teff Love!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I'm always on the outlook for new healthy taste experiences.
Especially those that are gluten free.

Case in point, I briefly entertained the thought of making an online recipe I found for tomato hookworms, after I plucked a lovely plumb one, intent on eating my tomato plants to the ground. For all the world it resembled a green bean... well if you could get past the legs.

But I digress...

So when I ran into Teff flour, I knew I had to try it and concocted a delicious porridge from it... no hornworms included. You can find my recipe in my last blog.

Previously I'd had Teff at a local Ethiopian Restaurant, in the form of injera, a spongy, sourdough pancake that is used both as a utensil to pick up food and a plate to serve the food on.

More recently, I bought the grain, which is as small as... well the period of this font!
The problem with the grain versus flour, is that if you're in a rush, and texture isn't an issue in the recipe you are making, it takes about the same time as it does to cook rice... which is to say 20 minutes once you get the water up to a boil.

Whereas the flour cooks almost immediately.

Speaking from experience.... failure to fully cook Teff grain the full 20 minutes, may result in um.... a musical performance later on in the day?

So why Teff? Teff is high in fiber, iron, B vitamins and a host of other trace minerals.
But rather than go on about it in my own words, I found this article :

That blabs on about every fact known about it. Which is what I usually do but there's no sense in reinventing the wheel here, especially when my chores aren't done and the day's half over.

Bon Appetit
: )

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOANNA2 9/14/2014 6:15AM

    I read the article and l will ask if my health food
shop has it. Worth trying. Loved the picture of
the worm.Thank you. emoticon

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MORTICIAADDAMS 9/13/2014 10:05PM

    I hate tomato horn worms. I just killed some that were on my tomato and pepper plants. They are so gross.

Teff is good though. LOL.

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AQUAGIRL08 9/13/2014 8:53PM

    Sounds new and interesting. Thanks for the heads up!

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GUNNSGIRL91303 9/13/2014 4:52PM

    emoticon for sharing this info. I have never heard of Teff but will look into it and read the article as soon as I get the chance!

Love the photo of the worm, so pretty!

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 9/13/2014 3:49PM

Sorry, I guess I have enough trouble with animals...not into bugs!
We have had many pet bugs and worms...just sayin!
No judgement, just surprised!

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Tasty Tip #82: Teff Porridge with Extras

Friday, September 12, 2014

I would post a photo of this, but it looks just awful and I don't want to discourage anyone from making it based on an ugly duckling photo.

This porridge can be an alternative to your daily grind, its full of Omega 3 fatty acids, and trace minerals, thanks to the seeds and teff grain it contains.

My recipe:

2 cups of filtered water

1 tablespoon Teff flour
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon ground sesame seed
1 tablespoon chia seed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 ground dried figs

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
Fruit (raspberries, blueberries, nectarines, apples... whatever you have on hand).

Fill pan with 2 cups of water.
Add Teff flour and cinnamon, stir.
Put whole sesame and flax seed in grinder, grind until you don't see any intact seed.
SET aside.
REMOVE the hard stem on the top of the fig.
GRIND figs until crumbly. Sometimes I have to shake my grinder to get the figs close to the blades
ADD ground sesame, flax and figs to the water and teff.

TIP: DO NOT grind the flax, sesame and figs together. You can grind the two seeds together no problem. Big Problem if you try it with the figs. You will not save time. You will have a big mess. Don't try it! ha

Turn on heat, stir and cook 5 minutes after its come to a boil.
Remove pot from heat.

TIP:At this point you will be thinking: "OMG I did something wrong", because the contents of the pot are still soupy. That's how you want it! Because your going to:

STIR in chia seed. Cover pot with lid, let sit 5 minutes.
Chia seed needs water to swell, or it will cause constipation problems.
Hence the need for it to be a bit runny.

To your waiting bowl:
CUT up larger fruit into bit sized pieces. If you are using berries, there's no need.
ADD 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt. This will further thicken the porridge.

DUMP the pot containing the hot seeds into your cereal bowl, on top of the yogurt and fruit, mix.

It tastes just like fruit pie in my opinion.
If you've got a real sweet tooth, honey is a good add.
But for me the three dried figs and fruit is plenty.

This porridge will also keep you full, for almost half the day.
AND its gluten free.

Bon Appetit!
: )
PS if you don't have TEff, you may want to try this recipe with Oat Bran. I've made it with whole Teff Seed, but it takes too long to cook the seed in my opinion when you can have it in five minutes with the Teff flour or Oat bran.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AQUAGIRL08 9/13/2014 8:54PM

    I think I'd like to try this one! Thanks!

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MZZCHIEF 9/13/2014 2:11PM

    hI Sparkers!
Thanks all that read and took the time to comment.
I do hope some of you will make this recipe and enjoy it.

Be well!
: )

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GOANNA2 9/13/2014 9:10AM

    I have never heard of Teff flour but will use oat bran
and give it a go. emoticon

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    I made something like this once, without the fruit, and you are right, it looked awful. LOL. I was shocked. I'm sure the fruit would really enhance the flavor.

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ELISADENK 9/12/2014 7:26PM

    Sounds interesting!

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MSGRANNYMAE 9/12/2014 6:41PM


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ANAWESOMELIFE 9/12/2014 4:35PM

    Sounds very good and healthy!

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NEW-CAZ 9/12/2014 2:36PM

    emoticon emoticon

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Tomas o the Green

Friday, January 03, 2014

5/28/00 - 1/2/14
My dearest boy, ray of sunlight, my happy faced, good natured friend.
Go gently into that good night,
Do not fear...
You're in my heart,


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

1BEACHWALKER 2/17/2014 3:47PM

    So sorry to hear of the loss of Tomas. My sympathies. I know how it feels to lose a beloved family pet. Hope you are doing well and time does heal. But, the memories will live on and I am sure he gave you happy ones! emoticon

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MZZCHIEF 1/31/2014 2:54PM

    Thank you ladies!
I appreciate every one of your comments.

: )

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MISSCUS 1/31/2014 1:20AM

    It's been a busy month for me and I've missed my friends. I was getting around to my SP friends. I got to your page and blog. Oh I am just so sad for you and the loss of Tomas. I know he had a great life with you though. It's hard to lose our loved and special little ones. In 2001, I was ending a 2 year life in Germany, I had a kitten for 3 months. Had to take her to the vet for travel papers 2 days before my flight. The Army Vet took one look at her and said she had Feline Leukemia, she tested positive. I had no choice but put her down. I did hold her until she died. It was the most decent thing to do, and I often wonder why she had to get sick, she was such a joy! However, to this day, I still cry when I think of that moment. Like right now.
I hope you have happier days ahead. That was a very nice eulogy for Tomas that you wrote. Sweet little guy. Honestly, they become like one of our kids.

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AQUAGIRL08 1/27/2014 8:33PM

    I am so sorry for your loss and can't begin to imagine the pain and sorrow you must be feeling.

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BEST_LIFE_NOW 1/20/2014 8:10PM

  I'm so sorry. emoticon

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MARILYNROBERT 1/10/2014 1:08PM

    I'm so very sorry. emoticon

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ANOTHERMOMOF2 1/6/2014 9:09AM

    I'm so sorry for your loss and that you didn't get to say your goodbye! I know how heartbreaking it can be. Hoping today is better. emoticon

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    What a darling little fuzz baby. So sorry. emoticon emoticon

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    I am so sorry for your loss. I lost two last year and each one is unique and they become such a part of our families. I hope you and your other dog can comfort each other. emoticon

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STRINGS58 1/5/2014 12:04AM

    My heart goes out - it's a lovely tribute

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MSGRANNYMAE 1/4/2014 3:57PM


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MZZCHIEF 1/4/2014 10:01AM

    thank you ladies
I was quite upset when I posted this... he passed over yesterday... 2014, not 2013.

Worse part about it being we went to the vets expecting antibiotics for an intestinal infection that was causing all sorts of havoc and weight loss...but they discovered a navel orange size mass in his upper GI track.

I should have just held him in my arms while they gave him a shot to put him to sleep, instead I opted for surgery. When they got in there it was inoperable. Just like my sister's was.

So I never really got to say a proper goodbye, send him off to a dignified death, I wasn't there when he passed over.

Death is never easy, but its worse when we chase hope where there is none.
Still have my girl dog, it must be worse for her not knowing where he is.

Comment edited on: 1/4/2014 10:01:56 AM

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GOANNA2 1/4/2014 6:27AM

    Sorry to hear about the loss ofyour beloved friend.
Anniversaries are always hard. He is always in
your heart. emoticon

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NEW-CAZ 1/4/2014 3:13AM

    so sorry Mzz. emoticon

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MRS.DOYLE 1/4/2014 1:08AM

    A sad loss, but a great photo and happy memories.

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BERRY4 1/3/2014 11:25PM

    So sorry for your loss of this pet friend. There must be many special memories...

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PATRICIAAK 1/3/2014 8:37PM

    my condolences

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    I am so sorry, GF. My heart goes out to you. The anniversaries of their deaths are so hard. emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/3/2014 7:44:41 PM

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MEGAN6277 1/3/2014 7:20PM

    I am so dreadfully sorry for your loss. He looked like a lot of fun. emoticon emoticon

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Quick Tip #81~ How to avoid cinnamon "scum" in your tea or coffee...

Thursday, January 02, 2014

I'm sure ya'll know the blood sugar benefits of adding cinnamon to your beverages and foods, so this blog isn't about that.

Its about the mess cinnamon makes, left floating on top of your cup of tea, or stuck to the rim, or lining the sides of the cup, you just drank your brew from.
Or worse yet, waiting for you in all its slimy glory at the bottom of your cup, unconsumed and doing your blood sugar no good as a consequence but sparing your tongue the dread slime texture.

Well, hope is alive and well... as I inadvertently discovered a method to keep this from happening while waiting for my tea to brew.

The secret seems to be to mix the cinnamon together thoroughly with black strap molasses in the bottom of your waiting and ready mug.

You've got to whisk it around until there's no powdered cinnamon in the cup.
That's right, its got to be all glommed up, imprisoned in the molasses.

If you are gagging just thinking about black strap molasses... turns out this method works with just fine with honey too!

And you might want to give the black strap molasses a try, since its full of minerals, lower in calories and has a lower glycemic index that many sweeteners.

Granular sweetener, sugar, or 'no sweetener please' users...sorry... I've not found a method to prevent the Clinging Cinnamon Blues.

But if you have, please share!

Bon Appetit!
: )

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AQUAGIRL08 2/6/2014 6:07AM

    I bought cinnamon tea at a gourmet shop a number of years ago and find it to be delicious. I like the suggestion of using a cinnamon stick in my tea because there isn't any residue left in the cup. I plan to try your suggestion this week. Thanks!

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    I use a stick added to the kettle.

I also add whole cardamom pods (there are 2 kinds, green not black) and cloves to the kettle.

Boil water, add the spice(s), boil a min or two more til it turns slightly pink.

The water will turn black thanks to the cloves, if you become distracted and accidentally let it boil too long.

Done right, it's heavenly scented water, lightly rose colored. Then pour it over a tea bag in a cup. No scum. Even with a plain ole' Lipton or generic tea bag, the most delicious tea ever. I usually add a green tea bag as well.

If not feeling quite right, add fresh ginger slices and/or grated nutmeg to the water.

Reuse the spices for 2-3 kettles until they start looking gnarly.

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FRANCESCANAZ 1/3/2014 5:25PM

    Gracias! emoticon

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GOANNA2 1/3/2014 9:14AM

    Wow, thank you for giving me a solution as I
always found the cinnamon sitting on the bottom
of the cup. emoticon emoticon

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NEW-CAZ 1/3/2014 3:13AM

    emoticon emoticon

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ANOTHERMOMOF2 1/2/2014 9:45PM

    I will have to remember that. Thanks.

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    I love honey and cinnamon mixed together. I buy cinnamon oil.

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MSGRANNYMAE 1/2/2014 7:47PM


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BERRY4 1/2/2014 7:13PM

    My typical use of cinnamon is in my oatmeal along w/ 1/2 a shredded apple.
Not sure I want molasses in my coffee!?! But thanks for trying to "solve" the problem!

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SCOTMAMA 1/2/2014 7:12PM

    Sounds good -- sounds good to me, anything to avoid the scrungies!

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ELISADENK 1/2/2014 7:05PM

    emoticon emoticon

I've encountered that same problem, too many times.

Thanks for the solution!

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LINOVER 1/2/2014 6:17PM

    emoticon I will have to try this!

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 1/2/2014 4:17PM


I'm gonna try it right now....

.*) ✫ .*)
(. . .`.✫
.*) ✫ .*)✫ Spread the Spark
(. . (..`.✫

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PICKIE98 1/2/2014 4:06PM

    I do not put it in my drinks, I put it in a spoon full of applesauce..
I also make crockpot baked apples with tons of it on them..
I am diabetic and unable to use either of your choices,, so eating my homemade sauce with the cinnamon on it works great!

Comment edited on: 1/2/2014 4:07:06 PM

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BEST_LIFE_NOW 1/2/2014 4:05PM

  emoticon Thanks! I don't usually put it in tea for that very reason.

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