Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Different Kind of Recipe - Play Dough

As a stay-at-home Mom, I take my job pretty seriously.  I know I am lucky to have this time to spend with my kids and I really want to make the most of it.  Every day I strive to do four things with my kids:  cuddle, read books, take them outside to play, and do a mom-guided activity.   Cuddling and reading are easy because these little guys love nothing more than sitting in my lap while I read books (or the same book over and over, oy).  Going outside is pretty easy too.  We have a grassy fenced in backyard and we live in warm desert climes.  Even in the winter we have plenty of sunshine and pretty moderate temperatures. The mom-guided activities, though, are kind of a new thing.  The boys are nearing 18 months and so I've been starting to roll out the usual toddler suspects...bubbles, crayons, chalk, play dough.   Every week I try to add something (at least one thing) new to my arsenal.

We tried play dough for the first time this week and to be honest, it wasn't a huge hit.  BUT!  Making the dough only took twenty minutes, I had all the ingredients on hand (so it didn't cost anything), and it was a practically mess-free activity.  So they played with it for 10 minutes?  Oh well.  The dough is supposed to store well for months; we'll try it again soon.

I was really happy with the "recipe" though, so I thought I'd share it with you.  The dough came out buttery and soft, it wasn't smelly, and it didn't leave much of a nasty residue on our hands.  I haven't handled any real play dough in years but this was all I wanted it to be.  Not to mention that it was made out of edible items so no need to worry about the kids taste tasting it like they do everything these days still.

See what I mean?

Play Dough, recipe by MaryAnn F. Kohl, found at Tinkerlab
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups iodized salt (table salt)
1 1/2 tablespoons cream of tartar
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour
food coloring

In a medium saucepan mix together everything except for the food coloring.  The mixture will be lumpy and that is ok. 

Turn the burner on low and cook the dough mixture, stirring almost constantly.  As it cooks the dough will begin to form up and you will see it beginning to look solid and dry as you stir it away from the bottom and edges of the pan.

Keep stirring and cooking until the dough is no longer sticky.  Turn off the heat and turn the dough out onto your countertop.  If you are worried that food coloring might stain your counters, tape down a large piece of parchment paper first.  

Divide the dough up for as many colors as you want to make.  I made just three: blue, yellow and green.   Knead your (plain) dough while it is still warm until it is smooth.  Make sure to knead it well!  I didn't knead my first batch long enough so my blue has some white flecks in it.  (Not that the kids noticed, but still)  Once it is very smooth flatten the dough a bit and drip some of your chosen color onto the center.  Fold the dough over and knead the color in until it is even and smooth. 

According to Tinkerlab, the dough keeps well for months in an airtight container.  I used a simple plastic storage container. The recipe made plenty of dough for my two twinkies to be well stocked for a while.

I hope you and your little people enjoy this as much as I know mine surely will, someday... : P

Here's a couple more pictures of Aaron checking out this crazy new substance. Alex is notably absent from all pictures since he got down from the table and ran off.

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