Like every single other person on the planet, I have fond memories of salty, unnaturally-hued, secretly delicious home made playdough. I remember using it primarily when I still lived in Sydney – prior to The Great Move To The Country – so I could not have been any more than 11 at the oldest (I celebrated my 12th birthday shortly after we arrived in said country town. It was memorable for being shimmeringly hot and brown, and because I was given a red walkman and a cassette of Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet). I don’t recall making anything much of note with the dough – I’ve never been particularly crafty – but I remember well the smell, the texture and the marbled purple brown it goes about ten minutes after the colours get mixed together. About another ten minutes after that come the tears because there’s no unscrambling the egg and you’re stuck with a mottled mess and a promise to next time, next time for reals, keep the colours separate.
I am fairly sure my mother made playdough for us in a saucepan on the stove on rainy days to keep her four kids relatively quiet. I seem to recall sitting around the table in anticipation while she stirred it, but that could also have been for cake. Other rainy day tactics included the ‘busy box’ (directly stolen from play school and in my memory filled with all manner of crafty delights, such as all our old toilet rolls…actually, that’s the only crafty delight I remember being there and may have been more to do with recycling than craft), dress ups, lego, baking, and sitting around an electric frying pan on the kitchen floor waiting for popcorn to pop and catching it to eat. Also doing the same and waiting for pikelets to cook – clearly my mother had a thing about making us cook and eat on the floor.
I’d not even thought about playdough in approximately 28 years until my sister-in-law requested a batch. I was (with ridiculous generosity) gifted a Thermomix prior to the baby arriving; my bestie organised a bunch of friends to pitch in for it for us. And word on the street is that Thermo playdough is the easiest and smoothest playdough out there (although I am presuming store bought actually pips it at the post. Technicalities.). So, unaware of the trip down memory lane that would ensue, I knocked a batch up this morning in time for my nephew’s third birthday party this weekend. I used this recipe, but I gotta tell you I don’t think it’s the ‘best’, as claimed. It was too wet for starters; I added about a cup more flour to the overall mix. And also there has to be an easier way to incorporate the food colouring, because really:
What is the point of owning a German Super Mega Future Machine that can allegedly do my laundry if I have to schlep around with dye hand? Although I did wield it proudly on the bus today, almost like a badge of my current stay-at-home-mum status. (Or just evidence that I clearly don’t wash myself terribly thoroughly.)
At any rate, the end result was fine. I mean, it’s playdough, not a wedding cake. Although the beauty of playdough is that it can be both I guess. Pretty ugly wedding cake though based on the colours below. My colour distribution was a bit half assed (we were running late for swimming lessons, also THE HAND) but since it’s destined to become universal playdough sludge in the near future, I’m not losing sleep over it. I also confess I may have put the tiiiiiiniest bit in my gob – for old time’s sake. Yup. Salty playdough flavour still exactly the same.