While they’re still here

[Recipe: Homemade Playdough]

So it hit me the other day, with the start of another school year, that my kids are growing up and all that. You know, getting bigger. Getting smarter. Learning stuff. Becoming more aware.

I guess that’s what kids do.

If they really are growth-spurting their way toward the ranks of mature humankind, then I suppose that means they won’t be running (squealing? bickering?) around my little house forever. Sometimes I think they will. Sometimes I imagine we’re congealed in a time warp that has me slicing up baby carrots so that they’re braces-friendly and folding tiny underpants and vacuuming up pink Polly Pocket wedges -– how impossibly tiny can a toy be, for crying out loud? –- for all perpetuity.

But I know it’s not true. Those Polly shoes will one day vaporize along with all the other outgrown toys, and with them, my opportunities to mold my young breed (Mary Poppins, anyone?).

Guess I’d better get on with it then, this molding thing. They are still impressionable after all, my girls, just like this homemade playdough. Not only do they pretty much believe everything I tell them, they still think it would be cool to grow up and be me. And why ever should I argue with them?

Before they’re outta here, then, there are a few kitchen/food specific things I’d like us to do together. Some of the things on my list are replays of my own childhood memories, like this playdough we always made at Grandma’s. And some are things I’ve never done, which is good, because learning new things keeps one young, right? At least that’s how it works for us grownups. Here, for now, is my top (baker’s) dozen:

  1. Make fruit leather
  2. Grow herbs (successfully, for once; it must be possible)
  3. Teach them to make a vinaigrette, with variations galore (does unconditional love meet its limits at bottled dressing? Oh, stop. I’m kidding)
  4. Work our way through a collection of bread recipes (including, but not limited to, tortillas and fougasse and pretzels and…)
  5. Plant a citrus tree (I’m thinking Meyer lemon)
  6. Teach them the fundamentals of tomato sauce
  7. Make tofu
  8. Learn to grow tomatoes (and if that goes well, there will be no holding back. I’ll go full vegetable garden if I have to)
  9. Make crackers
  10. Make jam (preferably raspberry)
  11. Learn how to make a fresh catch edible
  12. Teach them about quality chocolate and using chocolate in recipes
  13. Learn to make pickles


Super Playdough

Adapted from my Grandma

1 C flour

1 C water

1 tbsp oil

1 tbsp alum

½ C salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

Food coloring

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium saucepan. Add the oil and water (if you want the entire batch to be the same color, you can add food coloring with the water). Stir constantly over medium heat until it reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Divide into balls (as many as you want colors) and make an indentation on each with your thumb. Drop color into the indentation, then knead color into the dough ball, adding more color as necessary. Store in a plastic bag or closed container in the fridge.

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8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    my kids think you are a superstar!

    guess what i’m making tomorrow???


  2. 2

    This is great. I’ve never been featured in a ‘magazine article’ before.

    I enjoy all of your writings and your pictures. You do a professional work.

  3. 3

    tiiff said,

    I love the playdough recipe, I’ve never heard of adding vanilla, but it’s brilliant, it would make it smell so much better! And one other thing, can me and the boys come over and when you do any of your top 10 list????!!!!

  4. 4

    Jen said,

    I love this, and your list is so perfect it is like you are in my head!!
    We make playdough all the time and love it too!

  5. 5

    Maggie said,

    I love your list! I’ve tried several different playdough recipes with my son. It’s fun to see what different flours and starches can become. We’ll give yours a try soon.

  6. 6

    sarah said,

    I loved this post. So many levels that I can relate to, and I love home-made playdough. I never thought something not very tasty would be such a hit my house. I’m the most exciting thing for that day (even better than spiderman?).

    Well I just would like to pass on this “Beautiful Site award” on to you as your site truly is beauty!


  7. 7

    Trisha said,

    SteamyKitchen & Maggie: Thank you! Let me know how the recipe works out for you!

    Grandma: I so love it when you drop by and see me here! Thank you for supporting me in this.

    Jen: Thank you so much! My goal in making this list was so that it would spur me to action. Now I just need to pick something and get on it!

    Tiff: For sure you can join us! Let’s start with fruit leather — your boys would be all over that, right?

    Sarah: I’m seriously so flattered!! I appreciate that so much! I’ve been really enjoying your site, too, by the way!

  8. 8

    Chris said,

    Gosh, adding vanilla would make the kids at our childcare eat even more of the stuff! Gorgeous photo =)

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