Friday, November 14, 2008

Incredible Inedbile - Homemade Playdough

Away from the maddening wedding crowd: All ages, from 18-months to 13 years, have fun at the playdough table. (Photo by Skye)

A few weeks ago, I hosted a small wedding ceremony and reception at our home for my brother and his bride. My job, big brother said, was to "just show up," and, in theory, I could have done just that. After all, the wedding coordinator, my brother and his bride had taken care of the the caterer, cake, flowers, music, photographer and the dozens of other details that go into pulling off a wedding.

But I wasn't content to loan the house and garden and "just show up." I wanted to leave my little mark in some other way. A few days before the wedding it hit me. I would create a play station for the five children (and any playful adults) attending the wedding.

On the wedding day, I set up a separate children's table away from the more formal adult setting and threw on a vintage table cloth. My niece helped me make the playdough while I perused two local thrift stores for fun things for shaping or poking into the dough. I hit "play dirt" at our local Altadena shop - for $1.00 I got a bag with dozens of miniature forks, little parasols and clowns. I found a bag of of small plastic animals in my garage and pulled out mini muffin pans, a meat ball maker and plastic cookie cutters from the kitchen stash.

The secret to a great playdough station: things for shaping and things for poking. (Photo by Susan)

Nephew Will shows off his mini fork. (Photo by Skye)

Forget fancy-schmancy tools from the toy store. Just use what's on hand at home. (Photo by Skye)

(This is the same recipe that I used when my daughter, now 19, was a tadpole.)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt

1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
food coloring

Mix flour, salt and oil, and slowly add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the playdough with your hands until of proper consistency. Add a few drops of food coloring. Store in an airtight container.

Advantages of Homemade Playdough
- It's cheaper to make than to buy.
- All of the ingredients are kitchen staples, so you don't have to run out to the store
- It's less crumbly than the commercial version.
- Children can be involved in the making.
- There's no need to get the right color playdough back into the right color can.
- You can create your own colors and even jazz it up with glitter. (Pink Princess Playdough, anyone?)
- No need to worry about children eating it - the salt will turn them off right away.


Laurie said...

Susan, these shots are amazing. I'm ashamed to admit that I've never even thought of making Playdough!

And even more ashamed that this is my first comment on your wonderful blog...

I'm going to prowl your archives now!

Susan C said...

Hi Laurie, Glad you came by. I can't believe you've never made playdough. I still love playing with the stuff. And I like coloring too, but outside the lines.

Anonymous said...

Does it smell the same? Now that I've read the ingredients I understand why it tastes so bad. Still didn't stop me from trying over and over to eat it. Guess I was expecting a different result each time. Never happened.

Susan C said...

PA, No, the homemade playdough does not have that obnoxious smell of the commercial stuff. That's another plus.

Did you really eat the stuff? Ugh! I stuck to the paste that came in the jar.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

The recipe I use is similar minus the cooking and tartar. I made it recently for my cousin's baby who really had fun pressing shapes with a cookie cutter.

Cafe Observer said...

SC, I love your environmentally green backyard!

Did you ever get over to my Auntie Em's? If so, what ya think?

Paula L. Johnson said...

I'm pretty sure your Play-Doh recipe was my mom's dumpling recipe.


Susan C said...

WC, I've never heard of an uncooked version of the playdough. Ahh, you're a good auntie figure, but that doesn't surprise me.

CO, I still haven't made it to Auntie Em's, but it's still on my list. I did finally make it to Daisy Mint in Pasadena and LOVED it.

Susan C said...

Paula, LOL At least hope that your mom didn't make green dumplings.

Piper Robert said...

Yep! The playdough was a big hit. The kids loved it. Big Will and Matthew were in work mode and had a blast. That was a great idea.

Yes, I tried to get you to hand over the reins to wedding planner Susan, Bonnie and I. I was really hoping for a 75 percent reduction in physical involvement, realizing you would probably still weild a big stick and direct traffic. With your work ethic, I know it's impossible to just sit back and watch. Grandma and Dad have the same admirable trait.

You looked very relaxed when holding Nathaniel. Maybe you should get involved with a nursery and hold little newborns more often.

Paula, you're hilarious. BTW, I bought "Outlander". Great reading.

Again, great fun with the playdough.

Susan C said...

PR, I really didn't do that much.
You're right about the healing and relaxing power of holding a baby, especially one as engaging as Nathaniel.

Paula L. Johnson said...


You might as well buy the rest of the series now. Once you get sucked in by Outlander, there's really no going back.

If you have an iPod, you can even download free podcasts by Diana Gabaldon.

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