Tuesday, December 07, 2010

salty and sweet.

I can safely say that the salt dough ornaments were a rousing success. S loved it, and having mixed, rolled, cut, and baked the ornaments ahead of time was probably a wise move. If she had helped, she would've been upset that the shapes got distorted when they were peeled off the counter (which The Artful Parent had warned me about, but I threw caution to the wind). However, when presented with colorful pots of paint, three shakers of glitter, a bowl of "diamonds", a jar of paintbrushes, and a handful of ready-to-paint ornaments, the kid was in heaven. The result was half an hour of bliss. She wanted to surprise me with every ornament, so I had to look the other way while she painted and glittered and bedazzled. Then I would ooh and ahh over each creation, and I don't know of many activities that have ever made her happier. Seriously, you should do this if you have kids...or if you have nieces or nephews and want to be the cool aunt/uncle. Or if your friends' kids are coming over and you need something to occupy their time. And the clean-up wasn't even bad. I'm telling you, total holiday success.

I will give you this heads-up. I had done a little research on salt dough before I prepared ours yesterday because when I made it two years ago I was flummoxed by the consistency and annoyance of the process, so I'm going to share how I made this batch because it was really simple and non-stressful, and that's what we're all about around here, right? I mixed one cup of iodized table salt (48 cents at the Dollar General!!) with two cups of all purpose flour and one cup of warm tap water. I threw that stuff in the Kitchen Aid until it was mixed, then I put on the dough hook and let the mixer knead the dough for a solid ten minutes. The dough was very, very smooth and pliable, and I remembered it being grainy and difficult to work the last time, so I think the extensive mechanical kneading was a great success. Then I rolled that goop out, cut the shapes, poked some holes for ribbons, and baked the ornaments at 300 degrees for just under two hours. I started checking them at one hour, and kept them in the oven until the middles weren't squishy anymore. The only thing I'll do differently in the future is the step The Artful Parent mentioned. Next time around, I'll roll the dough directly onto parchment paper (or my handy silicone faux parchment paper) before I cut the shapes. The edges really do get a bit wonky when you have to peel the shapes off your countertop. Not that it matters because the ornaments were painted by a three-year-old...they were destined to look a little wonky anyway. We painted the ornaments with acrylic paint and added glitter and little fake jewels. Now they're drying...and once some ribbons are added, those suckers will find homes on Christmas trees throughout the family.

*The recipe makes enough for more than a half dozen ornaments. We're giving some baked and unpainted ornaments to a friend to paint, and I threw away the scraps instead of re-rolling/re-cutting. You could safely get about a half dozen ornaments out of the recipe amounts I referenced.

Now, the sweet thing I mentioned in the post title. It's really a small thing. When the fruit slices were all cut up for the gumdrop cookies yesterday, there were a couple of handfuls leftover. As M loves them, I threw them into a mason jar to keep for him. Now there's a mason jar of brightly colored fruit slices sitting on the kitchen shelf. For some reason, I am unable to look at their colorful sugariness and not smile. That jar is making me so happy. I might be a little unbalanced.


Strongmama said...

so do you think i would be crazy to do this with a classful of 3/4 year olds? Do you think I should make and bake ahead of time, or make it two days of chaos and let them make and cut and bring them back the next day to decorate? Wait a minute. Even as I write that, it sounds crazy. Decorating only. Thanks for the tips!

Megan F said...

I went to Michael's Crafts last night to find ornaments for Jackson to paint. It was an unsuccessful trip. The only ornaments they had were the ones I bought last year for him. I think maybe I'll try the salt dough. Thanks for the recipe! On another note I just saw on the food network the other day someone suggest placing the rolled out dough right on the cookie sheet before you cut out your shapes. That way you can just remove the excess dough and not have to move the cutouts and risk messing up the edges. I never would have thought to do that but it’s brilliant!

mowask said...

you have my open shelves i've been trying to convince the geomorph geek to let me do in our kitchen... i am so showing him this pic!!! i notice no big brackets... do tell on how they were constructed.
yes, ur child is ubber adorable and i love the cookies. we might make those when we get back from SF. but i really want to know about the construction of those shelves!!!! ;)