In this household, I just don't cook with white flour, refined table salt, oils other than coconut (and occasionally olive and butter), or traditional food dye -- you know, the ones in those little bottles with labels that say things like 'red dye number 4' on them. Have I really become such a food snob that I don't even regard these items as food anymore? Sadly, yes. I have to admit that I will go through incredible feats of culinary engineering to avoid using white flour even in a cake. Kamut flour, coconut flour, almond flour, I bow down at thy altars ... Shame on me? Perhaps.
I have food dye lying around from the last time I made fake blood (which is, incidentally, the only time I will ever use corn syrup), thus only in yellow and red. I have a container of refined table salt that my husband had from his bachelor days, and a bottle of grapeseed oil that I wouldn't use for cooking because it's definitely old ... And a bag of organic white pastry flour that I probably bought last time I made a traditional cake ... when was that?
Despite the fact that I can't cook with these items, I still can't through them away. Because that feels wasteful, and ... there are people hungry in the world ... even if this isn't actually food. (Yes, I'll say it again -- shame on me).
Perfect. I made play dough for my son. I knew I was keeping this stuff for a reason ...
He received some homemade playdough as a party favour from a birthday party a few weeks ago, and has been loving it ever since. This morning, we found it had starting growing mould. A quick internet search later, I found many recipes for play dough that involves only things I already have (and most of them never use). The consensus is: 2 flour 2 water 1 salt, with some other things thrown in for texture and effectiveness. I found recipes for edible play dough, long lived play dough, non-cook play dough, and every thing else you could imagine. Why would anyone want their kid to think it's okay to eat play dough? I had to shudder when I read the recipes anyway, because I don't actually consider the ingredients to be edible. (All together now: Shame On Me)
To stave off the insurgence of mould, I added some peppermint essential oil, which has good anti-microbial properties. However, you could also just keep it in the fridge when you are not using it. Or keep it for a few weeks and then compost it and make more. Yes, this is completely bio-degradable.
1/2 cup white flour (mine was organic, but here you could definitely use conventional)
1/4 cup salt (save your expensive sea salt for something edible, and use that vilified table salt)
1 tbsp cream of tartar (you can buy this powder in bulk, or in the spice section of a grocery store)
1/2 tbsp oil (use whatever's cheap and cheerful that you have lying around, but save your expensive oil)
1/2 cup water (hah -- I didn't even filter it) (okay, one last time: shame on me)
essential oil such as lavender or peppermint if you have it (totally optional)
food dye (if you don't have any, you can skip this, use berry or beet juice, or a little water based paint)
1. combine all ingredients except food dye in a pot and cook over low heat until it forms a ball of dough, stirring constantly. This will take just a few minutes.
2. take the ball of dough out of the pot and knead it on a piece of parchment paper or a silicone mat
3. add food dye. (I divided mine into 3 balls of about 90 g each, and added 4 drops of red to one for pink, 4 drops of yellow to one for yellow, and 4 drops each of yellow and red to one for orange.)
4. flatten the balls, and add a few drops of food dye, and knead it in. Try not to get it on your hands ...
This makes a lovely consistency of play dough, and will keep in a sealed container or baggie.
Oooh, and what pretty ice cream colours.