If you've never made fruit leather you are in for a treat.  I've been playing around with different fruit combinations for over a year now and the results have been consistently good.  My kids devour this stuff.  I always envision myself making enough over the summer so that I can toss it in their lunches during the school year, but I'd have to find a really good hiding spot first.  

I first thought about making fruit leather when I came across a recipe for it in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.  Ball suggests using the following fruits alone or in combination:  apples, apricots, berries, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapple and plums.  I often toss in a banana or a few tablespoons of plain or vanilla yogurt.  (I would love to experiment with cooked rhubarb.)  Fruits that oxidoze and turn brown need to be heated very briefly before spreading.

You will need a blender, two sheet pans, non-stick aluminum foil and a spatula.  Oh, and fruit.

The first fruit leather I make every year is strawberry, so for the purposes of this recipe we will use strawberries.  First, fill your blender with clean, hulled strawberries.  Puree the strawberries.  I have found that about 1 1/2 cups of fruit puree equals two sheet pans of fruit leather.  Taste the strawberry puree to determine if it needs any sweetening.  If you decide that it is a bit tart add 1 tablespoon of honey or corn syrup.  Sugar will not work because it absorbs moisture and will result in a sticky leather.  

Pour the strawberry puree on to a half-sheet pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil.  (Be sure that the non-stick side is up... learned that the hard way.)  Using a spatula spread the puree evenly to 1/8 inch thick.  

I dry my fruit leather above my stove using the warming lights on my hood vent.  If you don't have such a setup, preheat your oven to the lowest temperature and turn it off.  Place the sheet pans in your oven and prop open the door.  You may need to toy with this a bit by turning your oven on here and there and switching the position of your pans.  Usually my fruit leather is done in about a day.
When my fruit leather is no longer sticky I peel it off and flip it over to allow the other side to dry for a few hours.  Then I roll it up in wax paper, cut it into strips and toss it in a canning jar.  

(I fiddle placing the 5 Minute Friday badge on my post, thinking about what to write, how much to share...but dammit, hubs has already moved in with his girlfriend.  Here goes everything and nothing...)

Distance.  Until recently I had never given much thought to the distance across the United States.  Sure, it's big.  Do you realize that 2,378 miles lie between my home in Michigan and Vancouver, British Columbia?  That's 40 hours of solid driving.  I've checked.  My bum gets sore just thinking about it. 

Why does the distance between my home and Vancouver matter?  Because my heart is tied to a man in Vancouver.  We joke that recent earthquake activity keeps pushing us closer together.  I laugh, but it's hollow.  The distance isn't funny.

But the distance is a blessing in some ways.  My divorce is not yet final, and ideally I wouldn't even be looking at men.  (I think I'm still supposed to be dried up and bitter at this point.)  But there HE is. HE is there.  Sigh. 

We tease on Twitter, chat off and on during the day and sometimes share the wee hours of my mornings talking on the phone (The time difference is a bitch.) We plot and plan.

And I wonder, if he lived closer...what? 

I would have seen him. 

I will see him. 

Soon. *shivery shivers*

...an off switch.  That sounds wrong.  Actually, a PAUSE botton would be perfect. As a mother of four sons a pause button would be so incredibly useful.  I would pause those perfect moments, the ones where my sons are giggling, cuddling, loving each other and me.  The times when they are all walking ahead of me, look alike stairsteps, and I think, other people must be jealous!  Look how gorgeous my boys are!

But I would also pause the bad times.  Times when I am exhausted after a night up with a non-stop vomiter (yes, I just made that word up).  I would pause to rest, to take a nap after a long week, catching my breath so that I have the energy for a fun Friday night.  I would pause when asked a difficult question, giving me time to carefully consider my answer.

And lately, I would pause to cool down before my children witness another argument between their parents.  I would pause so that we could all linger a little longer over the rare family dinners we try to have together.  Most of all, I would pause to just slow this whirlwind down for us all.