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Friday, June 7, 2013

all-natural, worthwhile play dough

I remember playing with play dough as a kid. On occasion, we had the commercial stuff. Mostly, though, my mum made it for us using kitchen ingredients. While cool stuff, the overriding memory I have of that play dough was a fast drying time, which led to crumbling, and a kind of grainy texture in the hands.

Of course, I had to try to one-up my supermom mother on this. Turns out that Martha Stewart already beat me to it.

We made this play dough today. It's lovely! Silky smooth, springy, soft, even better than the yucky commercial dough you can buy which is full of toxins and unnatural colorings. However, I did make one small improvement to Martha's dough. I didn't use food coloring. I used real food.

Check out Martha's original recipe, here.

She cooks up these until they resemble lumpy mashed potatoes, so I did the same:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 cups cold water

Then, she kneads by hand, adding drops of food coloring until she obtained the desired tint.

I did not.

I took half my large lump of warm, cooked dough and dumped it unceremoniously into the KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook attachment. Two drops of lemon essential oil, for lovely scent and just a hint of preservative action due to the antibacterial qualities, and then about a tablespoon of beet powder. With the mixer on, I could see that it was just the slightest touch dry, so I added a few drops of cold water while things were kneading.

Result? Beautiful. Springy, soft, and a lovely dark pink, almost red dough that smells better than any other play dough I have yet smelled.

Then, I took the other lump of dough and repeated the process, using a tablespoon of powdered turmeric. Turmeric has a distinct smell, more bitter, which was quite evident at first during the mixing. I had my essential oils box ready for action. Didn't need them, though. Still only two drops of lemon oil, a bit of kneading, and I had a sunny yellow dough to offset the beet red.

For other natural colors, I will have to post back once I have finished results but I am already formulating a plan. The two cups of cold water might be brewed and chilled herbal tea, basically, using perhaps elderberries for a dark purplish blue, cinnamon sticks and clove make brown, and I may have to think for a bit about green but I'm sure it can be found.

So, watch this space for future updates! But I do urge you to try Martha Stewart's recipe, at least with food coloring, because something so easy, so fun, so basic a toy for children for years, so cheap to make, and is even better homemade and poison-free than storebought brands can give has to be given a chance!

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