Marcia Strykowski

Sunflowers and Sweets

dsc01039-copyI had my annual check-up yesterday and discovered my vitamin d was a tad low, so what better way to spend the afternoon than in a huge field of sunflowers!dsc01049aSunflowers have been around since ancient times, possibly even before corn was cultivated, and they’ve travelled back and forth around the world. Knowledge of their first appearance is from approximately 3000 BC in present-day Arizona and New Mexico by American Indians.
A year or so ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed butter made from sunflower seeds. I’m sure it would make a great alternative to peanut butter for anyone with allergies.
sunbutter-recipe The sunny cheerful flowers have served many purposes over the years, including medicinal, ceremonial, and food, such as grinding up the seeds into flour for cakes, or using the oil for bread. Or simply cracking the seeds open for a quick, healthy snack.

In about 1500, sunflowers were taken to Europe by Spanish explorers, mainly for ornamental use, but they were also developed as medicine. During the 18th century, the sunflower became a very popular cultivated plant and its oil was commercially manufactured to great demand.
Below is Vincent Van Gogh painting his famous sunflowers in 1888, while in turn he is being painted by Paul Gauguin.paul_gauguinI came across several artists in the sunflower field yesterday.dsc01047aBy the early 19th century, Russian farmers were growing more than 2 million acres of sunflowers for two main uses–oil production, and human consumption. The Russian sunflower seed made its way into the United States by late 19th century, where the first commercial use was poultry feed.
With the help of humans over the years, the flowers don’t look the same as they once did and their seeds are much larger now. Here’s an easy way to brighten a party table, using little individual snack cakes for the rays. Worked out well for my daughter’s birthday party one year.sunflower-cake-recipe

The sunflower is the national flower of the Ukraine and the official flower for the state of Kansas. I can’t take credit for this final shot, but wow, what a beauty!sunflower-pd-smallerHave a sunny day!

49 Comments

  1. You are always a wealth of information, Marcia! And wow, that field is gorgeous! I think I got a dose of Vitamin E just by viewing the pics, lol!

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  2. I enjoyed the fields of sunflowers in Provence when I was there in July. Sunflowers make me happy!!

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  3. What a cheerful post!! You’re lucky to have such a lovely sunflower field nearby. Loved all the info you shared and the sunflower cake is adorable. 🙂

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    • Hi, Jama! It’s funny, I never knew there was a sunflower field near me until this week. Apparently it’s been there for years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess there might be a good side to having a Vit D deficiency. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. We’re on the same wavelength today! Thank you much for sharing these glorious photos and facts abour the flowers that always, always make me smile.

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  5. Beautiful post! Amazing that we both had sunflower posts today!

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    • I was scrolling through my newsfeed and found two of you, one right after the other. It’s just a sunflower sort of day!

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  6. Love this so much! Especially that cake idea!

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    • The cake makes a nice big display and is so easy to serve. Thanks for your visit, Jessica!

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  7. Sunflowers make me smile, and so do your lovely posts.

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  8. Thanks for the history, Marcia, and the sun butter recipe – that sounds really tasty – especially with a little honey mixed in. Visiting a field of sunflowers is a great way to boost the vitamin D 🙂

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    • I ❤ honey. Funny that my plans already included visiting the sunflowers BEFORE I found out I should up the vitamin D. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ashley

    All of your pictures are awesome!! I love the first one with blue sky. I never knew how old and interesting sunflower history is. I’m going to try sun butter. Thanks!!

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    • I think sun butter tastes very good as a dip, I hope you like it!

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  10. Bette Norton

    I love your sunflower post! Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers. and i usually grow them in my garden every year, but. because of the drought this year I did not plant them. It was fun to learn all the history behind them. I had no idea. I love both Monet and Van Gogh’s paintings of sunflowers. I have a small Monet print.
    What a beautiful field of sunflowers! Love your sunflower cake. Very cute! A delightful “sunny” post! 🙂

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    • Maybe next year will be a better year for homegrown sunflowers; it seems everything is a bit small and sparse this year. Thanks!

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  11. Anonymous

    The sunflower is also the national flower of Italy. Great post, Marcia. I want to try the sunflower cake at school. A favorite activity is using children’s tweezers to remove the seeds once the flower has dried.

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    • Removing the seeds with tweezers sounds like a fun classroom project and I hope your students enjoy the sunflower cake. I’m pretty sure Italy’s national flower is a type of lily. Thanks so much for your comment!

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  12. Thank you I will have a sunny day! Incredible how BRIGHT these lovely flowers are! This is quite interesting, thanks Marcia.

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  13. What a vibrant post! Love the photos and the cake idea.

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  14. Excellent post dear Marcia… in Greek Mythology there is a myth involving Apollo, the God of Sun, and two water nymphs and sisters, Clytie and Leucothea… In brief, they both fell for Apollo… and as a result they followed him and they watched him all day long while he was driving his horses across the sky (this represents the passing of the daylight)… Finally Leucothea was locked up in a cave by her sister as the latter didn´t want competitions so to speak… As a result Clytie was turned her into a sunflower, by the gods (who took pity of her)…
    Thanks for sharing this information concerning sunflowers!!!. Love & best wishes. Aquileana 😀

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    • Oh, I ❤ this! I've always been interested in Greek myths, but hadn't known/or remembered this one. Thanks so much for sharing Clytie's story, Aquileana. I'll be looking into the full version!

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  15. Hello Marcia,
    My day is much sunnier after reading your post, thank you! That last shot is beautiful indeed as is the first one with the gorgeous blue sky.
    I was excited to find ‘Call me Amy’ waiting for me when I got home from my holiday. I’m going to start reading it this evening. x

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    • Great to hear from you, Barbara. I hope you enjoy your new book, I really appreciate your interest, thanks!

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  16. Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers!

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    • Mine, too, they’re so big and bright and probably easier to recognize than most other flowers!

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  17. I had no idea sunflower seeds can be used for oil or butter. I like chewing on them. Thanks for the information. The pics are great too. Sunflowers always put a smile on my face.

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  18. Lovely post. . . Sunflowers are such cheery flowers. Whenever I see them, I just feel a little bit happier.

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  19. Wow! That last sunflower photo is stunning Marcia! What a beautiful way to spend a day out. I’m a little surprised people grown sunflowers so far north! When we lived in southern Spain, our pueblo was surrounded by fields of sun flowers in May/June. I’ve been going through all our old slides–so pick some to digitize the last few days and found one today of our white washed pueblo behind a huge field of sunflowers– one of my favorites. Anyway, loved your post– made me homesick for Spain! Hope your week is going well Marcia– happy Wednesday! xox

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    • Hi Rhonda, your pueblo location in southern Spain sounds so beautiful. Some sunflowers in New England grow very tall, but this year was rather dry for most crops. Good luck with your slide project and have a wonderful rest of the week!

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      • Thanks Marcia– looked at slides all afternoon– family camping trips and our Spanish friends in Seville. I’m awash in sweet memories– and almost wish I could shrink our kids back to elementary school days! Hope you’re getting plenty of vitamin D out and about. take care Marcia! hugs.

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        • I know just what you mean about wanting to pop back to when your kids were little, especially when sorting through pictures–such wonderful years, yet so busy there wasn’t always time to appreciate the joy of each moment 100%. Thank goodness for photographs/slides! ❤

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          • Oh gosh Marcia– that’s so true! But I am appreciating the joy looking back. Hope you’ve got a good weekend ahead– more sunflowers??

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  20. ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks

    Now isn’t this a cheery post! I can’t say I’m a sunflower type of woman but there’s just something so strong yet chirpy about them. Marcia, I did some quick Googling on Vitamin D and found that you can replenish it through salmon, eggs, cheese and soy. All very yummy!

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    • Yes, even broccoli and of course, yogurts. My D is just a tiny bit low (thanks to sunblock!), nothing that can’t be brought up. Thanks, Claudine!

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  21. I love this post. Thanks for sharing Marcia! 🙂

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