It has been so cold (for Texas) for so long (for Texas). It’s the longest, coldest winter here that I can remember. Since late December, it’s been in the 30-50 range almost constantly. We’ve had perhaps a total of five days where part of the day was around 60, but then it goes right back to being cold again. We’re used to something more like 2-4 days at a time of that kind of cold, then 2-4 days of something warmer, or a pattern similar to that. I can’t believe how many days I’ve told Jax we can’t play outside because it’s just too cold today. I know that Northerners will scoff at me, but I’ve lived my life in either Southern California, Phoenix, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas, with a five-year college stint in Tulsa, Oklahoma (where it actually did snow and ice). I’m a Southern girl and I’m a wimp about the cold.
We’ve been playing puzzles, coloring, building with blocks, playing with trains, reading books, and any other oddball activities I can think up to keep him entertained and let his brain learn something new. He is a voracious learner, and I can sometimes see these wheels spinning where he just needs something to do that will give his brain or body something to work on. He starts bouncing off the walls, dumping things out and breaking things in this crazy whirl of energy that is just trying to find a creative outlet. So I try to give him creative AND productive outlets before something messy or destructive occurs.
So today Jax and I made gluten free playdough.
This is the recipe I tried.
The bad news is I neglected to read the complete instructions and didn’t realize until it was too late that you are supposed to COOK it. It didn’t occur to me that you would need to cook it since it calls for hot water. If a recipe calls for hot water, heating up the water should be all the cooking that is required (not for yeast bread, duh, but anyway). Otherwise the instructions should call for cold water, and heating it on the stove would be the first piece of instruction, because after it’s hot you add the other things into the pan. But that’s a criticism of the way the recipe is written, not whether or not it is a functional recipe if made properly.
The good news is that it works even without cooking; you just have to adjust the proportions.
It calls for white rice flour, but I used organic brown rice flour because that’s all I had in the house. Too bad because that makes for some pricey playdough. It also gives the dough a beige hue that the white rice flour would not have.
I also tried turning some uncooked rice into rice flour in my Cuisinart food processor, and that was a total fail. It made an awful noise that Jax finally had enough of and told me he was scared, and I let it run for probably 5 minutes straight with next to zero results. And the food processor got really hot and started smelling funny which isn’t a good sign.
I didn’t measure, but I probably ended up with something like the following.
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup salt
1 cup hot water (I boiled it in a tea kettle, then added a bit of room temp water to bring it below scalding)
1 tsp canola oil
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
I gradually kneaded the flour ingredients, and probably added another Tbsp or two of cornstarch until it was the right consistency.
We were also out of food coloring, so I used my mom’s old cake-decorating frosting colors. They are water base, so it worked just fine. It takes a bit of kneading to work the dye into the dough, but it’s part of the fun.
Jax played with it for probably an hour, which might be a record for playing with one thing without stopping, other than if he is outside. So I would call that a win. I was playing with him part of the time and cooking dinner part of the time, while he stood at a chair by the counter to play up on the counter near me.
I only made two colors – blue and green, so if they got mixed we would still have a pleasant color. I gave him toothpicks to stab into it, and buttons to press into the sides to make wheels for things. I shaped a few things for him to play with – a whale, a hat for his little people, a bulldozer, a train, a car. The vehicles slid across the counter better when I pressed some toothpics flat under their base. Otherwise they would get stuck on the counter and he was frustrated. The buttons also became rocks for the bulldozer to push around, and the toothpicks ended up harpooning the whale.
We had fun together. I’m so grateful for days like these.
Side note, the upper left corner of the photo is my apron. My mom made Jax and I coordinating aprons to wear when we cook. We love them.