[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:
Make fruit leather
Grow herbs (successfully, for once; it must be possible)
Teach them to make a vinaigrette, with variations galore (does unconditional love meet its limits at bottled dressing? Oh, stop. I’m kidding)
Work our way through a collection of bread recipes (including, but not limited to, tortillas and fougasse and pretzels and…)
Plant a citrus tree (I’m thinking Meyer lemon)
Teach them the fundamentals of tomato sauce
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)
Make jam (preferably raspberry)
Learn how to make a fresh catch edible
Teach them about quality chocolate and using chocolate in recipes
Learn to make pickles
Adapted from my Grandma
1 C flour
1 C water
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp alum
½ C salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
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.