Thursday, March 5, 2009

What I've learned from Playdough

No, this isn't a reflective blog entry on how playdough has taught me to be flexible, bend to be what the people around me need, etc....

No seriously - this is what I've learned about the process of making playdough. I know for most this will be a bizarrely boring entry.... but so many people told me they heard it was sooooo easy - and I'd like to shed a little light on the subject.

First let me say in hindsight - it is easy..... but it would've been great to have someone walking me through it because the first 2 batches were a bit frustrating. I followed the directions to a tee, but for some reason it was not "easy" and I was not enjoying the process. Then today (prior to me making my last 2 batches) I chatted with a mom (Thanks Amy F.) who had made it every year for her daughters pre-school. OK - finally I knew what I was doing wrong!!!!!

First you start with this.....
And you cook it and cook it (adding whatever color you want - and use a LOT of it)...

And you cook it until it looks like this. Now although the directions may say it'll be done at this point on the clock, it's not done yet.... So keep on cooking it (my initial mistake, I was going with the 5 minutes, no directions explained the "consistency" issue).
When it's ready to take off the heat - it'll come out in a big lump - like this....
Note the flour on my board because in all my batches I still needed to kneed in some flour because it was so sticky.
And after a few minutes of kneading and adding little sprinkles of flour, you come out with a beautiful ball of homemade playdough that looks like this....
It's hard to imagine how much that is - so I broke it down into "playdoh can" amounts...

So one batch makes the equivalent of about 6 cans of playdough. According to everyone I know - if you put it in airtight containers or ziplocks it'll stay fresh for months. I'll have to let you know about that one.
So how much did all that cost?

I would say I made 4 batches = approx. 24 can's of playdough
For about $5-7

Part of that would be dependent on if you had cream of tartar just hanging out in your spice cabinet. So it's definitely cost efficient. It's not something I would do with Megan at this point because it's too labor intensive and I couldn't hold her up to look at it, and when you take it off the heat it's hot and she wouldn't be able to kneed it.
At any rate - it's a great nap-time project if you are wanting some playdough but don't want to spend $1 per can....

Here's the recipe I used:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups water
food coloring

mix it over medium/low heat - don't stop stirring! Once it's all combined - add your food coloring of choice. You'll need to plan on using a good amount if you want deep colors. Then continue to cook it and stir constantly. It'll get lumpy and then it'll start to pull away from the sides as you cook. If you think it's done, I'll give it a a few more seconds for good measure and make sure it comes out in a lump. If it's more runny than a lump - cook it longer. I'd say I cooked and stirred about 7-9 minutes (the recipe says 5 - whatever). Then put it on a cookie sheet or cutting board and kneed it as it cools. I would have some flour handy to help you kneed it not get all stuck to your hands. Once it's nice and the consistency you like it - put it in an airtight container and you've got playdough!

Happy Playdoughing..... I'm sure you'll see it in use very soon!

1 comment:

Dawn said...

You're amazing, Val!