Friday, January 16, 2009

Play Dough

It has been cold here. When I woke up on Tuesday, it was -27. Wednesday was a bit warmer, but Thursday and Friday? Ridiculous. It was so cold that they canceled school pretty much everywhere in the whole state. With the windchill, it was anywhere from -25 to -50. I just read that it is supposed to be a balmy 19 above tomorrow! Hurray! But how do I entertain two girls with cabin fever two days in a row? I make fresh play dough, that's how.

My mom teaches preschool. She searched for the perfect recipe for years, and finally found this one. It is a keeper for sure. While it only lasts five to ten days with 17 kids using it for thirty hours each week, it lasts for months at home with two kids. Yes, months.

Here are the assembled ingredients. For the most part, these are things I always have on hand. I have to buy Kool-Aid when I see that our play dough is starting to get gross, but I always have the other stuff in the cupboards.

Inese's* Play Dough

4 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup salt
1/2 Tablespoon Granulated Alum (in the spice aisle)
5 Tablespoons vegetable oil (or 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon)
1 packet of Kool-Aid
3 cups boiling water

Mix the flour, salt and alum in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the oil.

Mix the boiling water and the Kool-Aid in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Add to flour mix. Stir until it is pretty much mixed. Dump it all onto the counter or table and knead it until it is completely mixed.

OR do what I do, if you can. It is a lot easier and saves your hands from getting burned and dyed weird Kool-Aid colors.

Mix the Kool-Aid and boiling water (this is for even color distribution. If you add them separately, it is really hard to get the color even). Put the rest of the ingredients into the large bowl of your stand mixer. Pour the boiling hot Kool-Aid on top. Mix on the lowest speed using the dough hook. When it is pretty well mixed, dump it onto the counter or table and knead until soft and thoroughly mixed. Test the temperature, and when it has cooled to a safe temp, let your kids have at it. It is fun to play with warm, fresh play dough when it is wicked cold outside. Just make sure to store it tightly covered, away from air, when they are done. It will stay soft and wonderful for months.

*My mom did not actually invent this recipe, but we do not know where she found it, so I am calling it Inese's recipe. Also, Inese rhymes with Venus. She was born in a displaced persons camp in Kiel, Germany, where my grandparents fled from their native Riga, Latvia. I don't know whether Inese was a popular name in Latvia.

This is Nora with the entire batch. It makes a lot-enough to fill my 2.3 quart Rubbermade container.

I like play dough time because the girls actually cooperate with it. They use it to build things together, and then they play "guys" with it. They use squeaky voices and fantastic story lines and are the best of friends. Pretty fun to watch, and so much better than the arguing from this morning.

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