Sunday, July 19, 2009

How To Make Fruit Leathers

That's what they were called when I was a kid. Fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks is the name you see now-a-days. They are very easy to make if you have a dehydrator. I don't use my dehydrator often, but during the summer it is put to good use. The fruit leather that is highly coveted at my house is the Rough & Ready Wild Yellow Plum leather. This is a plum tree that grows wild in the foothills of the Sierras. My parent's original tree was down by their pond. It was a grueling walk in the summer to get them. That made anything done with the plums that much more precious. Grueling because the pond is at the bottom of the hill. We used to joke that it was a 1/2 mile down and 2 miles back. It's summer, it's hot, it's uphill and now you're carrying bags full of plums. They are tiny plums the size of a cherry, so you need a lot to do anything with them.

What I do first is fill my clean sink with water enough to wash the plums. I pick out the leaves, sticks, bugs, and bad plums if any and wash them up. I then usually fill my biggest pot to over filled with plums. I set a lid on the top of the pile and turn the heat on to the first setting. Just as low as it can go without being off. Probably within an hour the lid is fitting nicely on the pot. I don't add any water. I let this cook on the stove on it's lowest setting until the plums are squishy. At this time I take a slotted spoon and spoon all the solids out into a bowl. The juice that's left over I save to make the worlds best jelly. Now it's time to run the plum solids through the food mill to get out the seeds and skins. I've found over the years it saves me time to run my clean hands through the cooled plums and pull out as many seeds as I can first.

After the food mill I have a bowl of plum pulp. This is what I use to make the fruit leathers.

Above is the bowl of the plum juice I save to make jelly. It has nothing to do with making fruit leathers, but it is nectar from the Gods for making jelly. Cover and stick it in the fridge until you're ready to make jelly.

Into the bowl of plum pulp I stir in just enough sugar until it tastes good. It's pretty sour to begin with. This time I had 12 cups of plum pulp and added 4 cups of sugar.

I cover my dehydrator tray with a sheet of plastic wrap or the pulp will run right through. I also tape down all 4 corners as they occasionally blow up and cause a mess. I spread 2 cups of sugared plum pulp out on the plastic wrap. It is now ready to go into the dehydrator. It takes about 12 hours to dry. I do this in the evening and then it's ready the next day after breakfast when I have time to deal with it.

As you can see the dried fruit leather just peels off. It is tasted for quality control as one should do with any food them make. :D In my house this may be the last time I get any fruit leather before consumed by the kids.

It tears easily for sampling. hmmm not sure better have another taste.

Oh no the teenagers have found out they are out of the dehydrator and ready for eating.

Well Allison how does it taste?

Can you stop for just a minute to give me an answer?

OK your mouth is too full to answer.... I'll take that as my answer. It must be good if one wolf's it down.

I sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar, so they unroll easier.

I then roll them all up.

I cut mine into thirds, which makes a generous fruit leather serving.

Put them in a ziploc bag and put them either into the fridge or freezer and watch them disappear.

You can make these with any fruit. This is the season to get wonderful ripe fruit hopefully you'll known someone with a fruit tree or you can go to the farmer's market.

Can't Concentrate On Knitting!

Why? Because I have poodle-itus. If I go some where and there is a poodle I have a hard time taking my eyes off of it. Especially if it is really cute. As was with the little poodle below. He was adorable partly, because I'd never seen a poodle so small in person. Obviously a little old man, but still as cute as ever. He was probably about 5 maybe 6 pounds. They called him Perroito, which means "little dog" in Spanish.

He wanted to visit with all of us ladies that had gathered at Bernadette's house for our Machine Knitting monthly group. He sniffed all of us and our belongings. Sticking his head into a bag here and there if it were open and smelled particularly good to him. After a while he had laid down under the feet of one particular gal and she went to pick him up to move him. All I can say is he turned all teeth and growling. He didn't bite her, but made us think he would. His owner apologized greatly telling us he's old, has arthritis and his ribs are very tender. As long as nobody tried to pick him he was the friendliest cutest thing. And can we hardly blame him for letting us know not to pick him up.

One of the gals brought out a sheep she had knitted on her knitting machine. It was about as big as Perroito and he saw it immediately. He trotted over as if saying, "For me?!" Us dog lovers thought it was pretty funny. The gal with the sheep was not amused that he was trying to take her sheep. Can't blame her she worked hard on it I'm sure. Perroito's mommy said she'd make him one of his own. I didn't know how to show my kids how small he was in a picture then got the idea to take one of him next to my purse.

When I got home I took a picture of my miniature next to my purse. Quite a big difference in sizes. I often wonder why they refer to the size of my poodle as a miniature, because there isn't anything miniature about her. She's 23 pounds of poodle muscle. She thinks she's small as she jumps on you or walks across your belly, so she can get to the other side of the couch or bed. When she plays she's a brute. I often refer to her as "you vicious thing" when we play. I probably shouldn't do that, because that just eggs her on.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


To sacrifice is not something a teenager normally does willingly. My daughter had 13 inches of her hair cut off for Locks of Love. Getting one's hair cut is not something someone would normally regard as a sacrifice. Unless you're someone who likes their hair long as my daughter does. Getting her hair cut is almost like running around without clothes on. Not only did she make this sacrifice once, but this is the 2nd time she's done it.

When my daughter was about 9 I had a friend who found out she had breast cancer. She found out right before summer. She had a lumpectomy and then went right into chemo therapy. We talked about the fact that she'd lose her hair. She is like me pretty matter of fact. Why worry about something you don't have control of. Just go with the flow and make the best of it. I found a pattern to make a scarf like hat and made her about 5 in different fabrics I thought she'd like. I drove her kids and my kids to day camp, so she could have some time to herself knowing the kids were having fun. I drove her to chemo therapy treatments when her husband couldn't. I even drank shots of wheat grass at Jamba Juice with her as was her after chemo ritual.

It was my daughter though I think that made the most thoughtful gesture in donating a part of herself.... her beloved pony tail. She was 9 years old and already thinking of others. I have to admit she's always been a kind soul. In preschool I called her my Goodwill Ambassador. She broke up fights, mended hurt feelings and help injured students to the office and she was only 4.

She found out about Locks of Love during my friends ordeal. When she heard about their program of taking donated hair and having wigs made for children who have lost their hair she was in. We went to a salon that advertised a free hair cut and they'd mail in the donated pony tail. The length of the pony tail was to be 10 inches. The hairdresser said let's make it 12 inches to be safe. SNIP! My daughter wasn't expecting her hair to be up to her ears. More like shoulder length. She got an adorable hair style. About 2 months later I asked if she wanted to go trim up her cute doo and she said, "No Mom I'm growing it out for Locks of Love."

So, it's been 5 years of growing. She said she wanted to make sure it was good and long so it wouldn't be up to her ears this time. I said I would cut the pony tail before we went. No she wanted the hair dresser to do it. The hair dresser is the mother of her soccer team mate. She really likes her and trusts her. We get to the salon for her appointment. This time I'm helping with the measuring as my daughter had called me over for help. First thing the hair dresser did before we could holler "NO!" was snip off 2 inches of the bottom of her pony tail declaring it too whispy. Then we measured the 11 inches of hair to make sure it would be long enough. I just shrugged my shoulders, smiled at my daughter. and said, "Good thing your hair grows really fast. I've been teaching her not to worry about things we have no control over too.

The hairdresser cut her hair exactly as a picture my daughter, the artist, had drawn. With my daughter's natural waves the hairdo looks great. After the initial first week of shock my daughter has gotten use to it and loves it too. After a few weeks past I said we should make an appointment to get your hair trimmed. She said, "No mom I'm growing it out for Locks of Love."