Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DIY Apricot Fruit Leather

My kids are lovin' all the apricot fruit leather I made last week. And no wonder--it is delicious. 

We have an apricot tree, and I love having it. As I mentioned in my apricot-thyme jam post, we've been enjoying our apricots in all sorts of ways, but this is probably my kids' favorite. (Although, I think the apricot-strawberry smoothies have been divine.)

Once you know what you are doing, making fruit leather is a snap. I started doing it last year when a friend gave me a whole lot of plums from her tree, and by now I can whip it out without much thought, effort or recipe, which is nice because I often feel like my brain is too full and it's nice to just be able to do things easily. 

Want a give it a whirl? 

Here's what you need:
  • 2 cups fruit puree (blend it or food-processor it)
  • sugar? maybe? I didn't put any in the apricot fruit leather, but that plum fruit leather last year was TANGY and I'd put some in. (And a pretty good rule of thumb is, if I say it is too tangy, then for sure it is too tangy because I do like to pucker a bit when I'm eating my fruit stuffs.) 
  • cookie sheet or jelly role pan
  • parchment paper cut to fit. 

Here's what you do:
  1.  Preheat your oven to as low as you can go. Mine went to 170. When reading about how to do this, most places recommended propping it open with a wooden spoon if your oven won't go any lower than that. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. :)
  2. Put your parchment paper onto your cookie sheet.
  3. Put your pureed fruit on top of the parchment paper and spread it as evenly as possible. Make sure to stay completely on the parchment paper. Make sure and keep the edges a bit on the thick side. If the puree tapers off real thin, then the edges will get crispy before the middle is dry enough. 
  4. Now place it in the oven and let it dry out. I can't really even tell you how long--4 to 8 hours would be a good guess. It just depends on how thinly you spread it. Seems like I'm always in and out of the house when it is going, so I turn the oven off when I leave and back on when I get back. sometimes I start it at night and turn the oven off part way so it doesn't over do it in the night and then just turn it back on in the morning. It'll be done when it is no longer wet but before it gets crispy. You know, when it feels like leather. 
  5. When it is finished, I like to role it up with the parchment paper like a fruit roll-up. (I've thought about making individual-sized fruit leathers like you get at the store--just by putting dollops of puree on the parchment paper--wouldn't that be fun?). Then I place toothpicks into through the role about every 2 inches or so as shown below:

6. Then, use some clean scissors or kitchen shears and snip the fruit leather in between the toothpicks.

And now you can enjoy it! Store in an air-tight container and you are good to go. They should last quite awhile (as in months), but mine are always gobbled up pretty quick, so I wouldn't know for sure. :)

Have fun and enjoy!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Apricot-Thyme Jam

 We have an apricot tree, and the apricots are on! We've been eating them as-is, making smoothies, fruit leather (posts to come about that one), syrup, apricot butter, apricot jam, apricot German pancakes....oh yeah, we've been enjoying our apricots. :) I decided it was time to mix things up a bit, so I made some apricot thyme jam. Apricot lemon-thyme to be exact. My mom gave me a start of her lemon-thyme plant and it has been doing well. That is one herb that is goo-ood! Love it. I wish I would have put a little more into this jam--it is a bit too subtle. If you just eat a spoon of it with a leaf or two in it (but I never do that, wink, wink) then it is divine, but the thyme is very subtle if there isn't a leaf in that bite or if you go ahead and bother with smearing it on bread. (Ha! I'm totally kidding, I really don't eat jam by the spoonful--except maybe when I am making it. :)
Maybe because it is lemon-thyme? 
Either way, it really is good. Next time I will up my amount of thyme to 3 tsp, rather than 2 tsp I think. 
And there definitely really will be a next time--next season probably.

 And did you see that cookbook, The Forest Feast? Well, you should. It is completely beautiful and lovely and awe-inspiring. So much so in fact that when my girls were water coloring this morning, I decided to sit with them and play with some paints a bit. Extraordinarily enjoyable. I'm definitely missing out on some art time in my life, and I'm hoping to do more of it. As long as my girls continue to want to have "art mornings," it shouldn't be too difficult to squeeze in, right?

Anyway, here is my recipe for apricot jam!

Apricot Lemon-Thyme Jam
Adapted from the Ball cookbook--I just added the thyme. :)

8 cups of coarsly-pureed apricots (I pulsed them in the food processor just a bit)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 c. of sugar
2-3 tsp. fresh lemon-thyme leaves

1. Put it all in a big stock pot (the bigger the better because it'll spit and sputter a bit--ouch).
2. Cook until you get to the gelling point. (Don't know what that is? yeah, me either when I started reading and comparing recipes. I googled it). :)
3. Then either can it according to instructions for your altitude or freeze it.
4. Super good as-is (hee, hee), on bread or toast, or even on some ice cream. yum-o!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Announcing the A-to-Z Back to School Series

Back To School A-Z Series - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
 Hurry, hurry...the school bus is coming! Grab your lunch box, your back pack and those good lookin' school smiles because the bell is about to ring! Can you believe that in just a couple of weeks, school is starting and our kiddos will be out the door racing to the bus, skipping to their brand new classes, running around with their friends at recess and meeting their new teachers? Crazy!!! This time of year brings so much excitement...including new school supplies, new clothes and super cool shoes (that of course make you run faster and jump so much higher!) and don't forget new teacher gifts that requires our creative minds and juices to run wild! Speaking of...have I got a surprise for YOU! I can't even wait!!! This month we have creative minds and juices running more than wild!!! All of August we are going to brush up on our alphabet skills creativity at it's finest with 26 of the MOST creative and FABULOUS ladies I have ever met! I have teamed up with these blogger buddies to bring you the funnest series ever!!! We are celebrating the alphabet one letter at a time Back To School style!
Back To School, A-Z Series - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Here's how it works. Starting tomorrow, these lovely ladies are going to be getting crafty with their assigned letter of the alphabet! Their homework assignment was to come up with and to create a super awesome project that celebrates their letter. One day at a time, these innovative ladies will share their letter project with us, right here, front and center!! I can't even tell you how much fun this is going to be!
  Back To School A-Z Series - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
 Are you ready for the letter line-up? Hold onto your hats!
"A" - Amber, Crazy Little Projects
"B" - Becky, Patchwork Posse
"C" - Christine, I Dig Pinterest
"D" - Amy, Ameroonie Designs
"E" - Bev, Flamingo Toes
 "F" - Kim, Seven Thirty Three
"G" - Kimbo, A Girl and A Glue Gun
"J" - Sky, Capital B
"K" - Emily, The Benson Street
"L" - Adrienne, Free Time Frolics
"M" - Michele, The Scrap Shoppe
 "N" - McKenzie, Girl Loves Glam
"O" - Janica, JaniJo
 "P" - Melanie, Find it, Make it, Love it
"Q" - Elizabeth, Simple Simon and Co.
 "R" - Michelle, The Ribbon Retreat Blog
"S" - Mandy, Sugar Bee Crafts
"T" - Natalie, The Creative Mom
"U" - Becky, U Create
"V" - Kami, Sweet Charli
"W" - Terra, Mama Says Sew
 "X" - Jessica, Running With Scissors
"Y" - Lisa, Mabey She Made It
 "Z" - Emily and Jaime, Everyday Art
Wow, right?!? This is going to be spectacular and full of yummy creative goodness! So get those rulers out and your scissors sharpened because you are going to need them! Your assignment??? Make sure to check in every day of every week in August, Monday - Saturday, to help us celebrate and learn more about our alphabet and how these incredible ladies transform their letter assignment into pure crafty genius!!! And...what is an awesome series without an awesome giveaway??? Hehe...don't you worry because this series is totally jammed packed with inspiring creativity and an INCREDIBLE giveaway too!!! But, you are going to have to be a little patient, because the giveaway won't come until a little later, so stay tuned and make sure to check back every day!!! See you tomorrow class, where we will learn all about the letter "A"!
Back To School, A-Z Series - The Ribbon Retreat Blog
Happy Creating & Happy A-Z Series!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ribbon embroidery hoop

 I mentioned the other day how much I was enjoying doing some embroidery

Well, this project isn't embroidery at all, but it does use a cute little embroidery hoop (and your stash of leftover ribbons and such)

 Super easy and quick--just pick out some somewhat-coordinating ribbon, got glue it to a fabric and put it in the embroidery hoop.

 I decided to add a little pizazz and decorate the hoop with some contrasting ribbon. In the end I discovered and imporant thing: it is extremely difficult to wrap the ribbon around the hoop when your hoop is one of those (lame) old-fashioned metal ones with the dent around it. SO tricky to do and have it look well. 
Oh well, it was a quick craft I did in an hour or so. It was fun to try something different.



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