Monday, November 21, 2011

Play Dough Recipe & Gift Idea

I found a website tonight quite by chance.  It is Sensory Processing Disorder.  I was doing a web search for a homemade Play Dough recipe and stumbled upon the website.  After glancing through as much as my phone would allow, I thought I would pass the link along.  What I noticed is that they have a lot of information about Autism and other types of sensory disorders.  If you have need of this type of information and resources, then that is a site that may be of interest.

As I mentioned, I was searching for a play dough recipe.  I used to have a really good one, but it was misplaced.  Our son is getting more involved and wanting to mimic what our daughter and grandson are doing.  With this in mind, I decided to make play dough again.  In the past, our son was not interested in anything that felt sticky or strange on his fingers.  Commercially made play doughs have a slight stickiness to them that caused him to not want to touch it.  In making homemade versions, I am able to control the dough consistency to match what he will tolerate.  I have been finding that if I knead in a bit of Cream of Tartar into the dough before giving it to him, it makes the dough more smooth.  Cream of Tartar also has a quality in it that will extend the shelf-life of the play dough.  The following recipe, found on the above mentioned website, will last about 3-4 months.

Play Dough Recipe

In a 2-quart pan mix together:
1 cup flour
½ cup salt
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar

1 Tablespoon oil
1 cup water with food coloring in it

Cook over a medium heat.  At first it will appear to have too much water in it but will quickly begin to form into a ball of dough.  When dough pulls away from the sides of the pan, take out of pan and lightly knead until smooth.  If necessary, knead in a little flour to remove any stickiness.

Store play dough in baggies or air-tight containers for 3-4 months.

If you do a web search for play dough activity ideas, you will find many activities to teach fine motor skills and sensory activities for young children to enjoy.  With the holiday season coming up, you can make up a batch of dough without food coloring.  Choose a recipe that can be baked to harden the dough after it is formed into shapes.  Allow the kids to roll the dough about 1/4" to 3/8" thickness.  Cut out into shapes using holiday cookie cutters.  With a drinking straw, make a hole near the top of the shape for threading a ribbon through after it is baked.  Place the cut outs onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake according to the dough's recipe directions.  When hardened and cooled, use markers or paints to decorate the ornament.  Let dry.  Thread a length of ribbon through the hole to make a hanging loop.

One Christmas gift that the kids are making for their Grandparents are hand prints pressed into the clay.  The dough will be rolled out about 3/8" thick and cut the size of a dessert plate.  Once their hand print is pressed into the clay, it will be baked until hardened.  They will then paint the hand print, let dry and add the ribbon for hanging.  I will write our son's name and year on his.  Our daughter will write her own name and the year on her hand print.

If there are little ones on your gift list, consider making them a basket filled with various colored homemade play dough.  Include in the basket the recipe for their Mom to help them make more as needed throughout the year.  I have also seen batches of homemade play dough prettily packaged in little baskets or containers of about 6 colors each being sold in craft shows.  Using unsweetened drink mix, such as Kool-aid to both color and scent the dough is a fun option for doughs you give as gifts.  The only caution I would add to that is to be sure the scented play dough isn't given to a child who is likely to eat some of the dough because of it having a fruity scent.



Home Canned Thanksgiving

We had Thanksgiving a week early in our home. Joe had the weekend at home, so we took the opportunty to celebrate together. As I was preparing the meal, I did something different this year that turned our really well.

I bought twice as much turkey as we needed and roasted both. One was served for the meal, the other was deboned and packed into canning jars with a bit of water & broth. I filled the canner with the jars of meat and processed them.

When I made the whole cranberry sauce from fresh cranbarries, I used 2 bags of cranberries instead of the typical 1 bag. I was able to fill 2 pints and 6 half pint jars. I processed the half pints and 1 pint jar for later and served the 2nd pint jar with the meal.

Sweet potatoes from the produce department were already diced and canned in pint size jars. I drained the liquid from a few jars and seasoned them as I mashed them for making sweet potato casserole.

I baked a whole pumpkin. It was then sliced into wedges that I peeled and diced to be placed into pint jars. I filled the jars with water and processed them also. I now have a supply of pumpkin to use for pies or breads this winter. I will be adding another whole pumpkin's worth of canned pumpkin as soon as I get that one baked as well.

I am now thinking that in the future, I will be home canning much of the holiday meal's foods ahead of time. Having the canned sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and cranberry sauce made preparation of the holiday meal so much faster and easier.

Joe is loving it. I made up a box of Thanksgiving foods in jars for him to cook on the truck. When he cooks the turkey, he will likely be adding a scoop of dried seasoned bread stuffing mix to the pan to make his turkey & dressing. Add the canned gravy and his meal is all set!

With the actual holiday still a few days away, I hope this may inspire others to give it a go.