Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rainy day (or in our case too hot to play outside day)

Salt dough has been a revelation. Until a few weeks ago I had no idea it existed. I have made other non-edible dough but never have I seen 2 people have more fun than my kids and this dough. There is no "cooking" except the 20 mins in the oven and you most likely have everything around the house for this one. Salt, flour, oil, water. It can be that simple but then we decided to paint them. We used poster paint mixed with PVA or craft glue (Elmers) but I would recommend using acrylic paint if you have it. The glue makes it nice and shiny so I would still mix it in to the paint. If your kids are big paint wasters (yep) then maybe just stick with poster paint. Its way cheaper. This was a great activity for us because Poppy, being 7, is a little more advanced artistically than Asher who considers all activities in this world a type of smashing game. But they both had fun and can do it to their own skill level. I gave them a huge pile of kitchen gadgets like the garlic crusher, forks, paper clips, erasers, plastic bottles and lids, cookie cutters, anything you can use to make a pattern is fun. 
**I can not stress enough that this is a non toxic dough but it is in no way edible! YUCK.**

You will need 
a big bowl
the recipe
cookie/play dough cutters
kitchen/play dough gadgets
rolling pins 
a baking tray
PVA glue
and a big pile of news paper

Rolled out and ready for the oven

Just out of the oven

Aren't we supposed to be painting the dough?

Some of the finished projects
300g(10 oz) plain flour
200ml(1/3 pint) water
300g (10 oz) table salt
2 tsp oil
mix and squish until a dough forms
(adapted from the Rainy Day Book by Jane Bull)

You can play with this the way it is or shape it and bake it for 20 mins at 180º/350º. Some pieces may take less or more time depending on size and thickness.

This dough will last a couple of weeks in a air tight container. It does get softer as the salt absorbs moisture but we just added more flour.

Don't use kosher or flake salt for this or the dough will be to rough for little hands.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pancake Perfection

I must preface this by saying that these are pancakes not crepes. Pancakes! The fluffy sweet pillowy type you get at real old school pancake restaurants. So for those Aussie readers out there who masquerade crepes with lemon and sugar as pancakes this is not the recipe for you. You can however use this recipe for pikelets. I will at a future date post an amazing recipe for crepes but not today. These are our Dinner Cup pancakes and the recipe is fool proof and easy. Almost always served with blueberry sauce and often with crispy bacon. You will, I hope, notice a pattern which makes it easy to remember.

Perfect Pancakes

2 cups Self-raising flour
2 cups milk
Time to flip...
2 large eggs
2 tbls melted butter (cooled)
2 tsp sugar (optional)
2 tsp vanilla
a generous pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Let sit for 20-30 mins.
Heat a large non stick pan on medium heat. Spray once very sparingly with non stick spray. Pour 1/3 cup of batter in to pan and cook until big bubbles form all over the pancake then flip. I never re-spray and if you have a good non stick pan you should not need to*. Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup or my quick blueberry sauce. 

Quick BlueberrySauce

In a medium glass bowl add
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon of corn starch (optional)
1 tbls butter (optional)

Put the blueberries, sugar, and corn flour in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave on high for 2-3 mins depending on your microwave. You want it to boil and bubble for about 30 seconds. Let cool for 5 mins and it will thicken slightly. Stir in the butter. I say optional for the corn flour and butter because some frozen blue berries are more mushy than others and the butter because some folks just don't do butter. The butter does give a glossy sheen to the sauce.
Serve over pancakes.
Incidentally this sauce is delicious served warm over ice cream and anything else you can think of. 

*If you follow this method you will get perfect pancake house pancakes. When you add oil it makes patterns on the surface of the pancake and they are not as tender. 

The happy diners.