School’s Out

School’s done for the year and you need help keeping your children entertained until day camp begins — right? Look no further than the kitchen. Yes, you can mix up a batch of cookie dough or cupcakes for them to decorate, but sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to turn on the oven. We’ve got some other kitchen-based creations that will make those hours fly by.

Using basic household ingredients can yield some pretty interesting things — from clay to paint to bubbles. Read on for more information and clip this column to your refrigerator for long summer days to come.

Homemade Clay Dough

This clay is entirely edible, if a bit salty, so it’s kid-safe

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar*
  • Paste food coloring
  • scented oils (optional)
    *available at The Peppermill — this ingredient adds elasticity to the clay

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized saucepan and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes. When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle.

Important note: if your clay dough is still sticky, you simply need to cook it longer

Turn the dough out onto a clean counter or silicone mat, and knead vigorously until it becomes silky-smooth. Divide the dough into balls for coloring. Make an indentation in the center of the ball, and drop some food coloring in. Fold the dough over, working the food color through the body of the clay dough, trying to keep the color away from your hands and the counter.

When you’re done, store it in an air-tight container. If it begins to dry out, you can knead a bit of water in again to soften the dough. If it gets too dry, though, you will have to start over—but that’s for another day!


Sidewalk chalk is another great activity for kids. While you can just go out and purchase a bucket, making your own is a lot more fun. The best way to make it from eggshells—yes, the ones you were just going to throw out.

Eggshell Chalk

Better start saving them because your kids are going to want to make chalk in lots of colors.

  • The shells of 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon very hot water from the tap
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • Paste food coloring

Wash the eggshells well, so they don’t have any egg left in them. Dry them and grind them into a fine powder in a food processor. You’ll need one tablespoonful of this powder to make a stick of chalk.

Measure the powder. When you have enough powder to make a stick of chalk, sift or pick out any little bits of eggshell that are still not ground up and throw them away.

Stir the flour and hot water together in a small dish to make a paste. Put the tablespoonful of eggshell powder into the paste and mix well. It may help to mash it with the back of the spoon. Add a few drops of food coloring.

Shape this mixture into a small log like the chalk sticks you buy. Then roll it up in a strip of paper towel and set aside to dry for one to three days. Then just peel the paper off one end and you’re ready for some sidewalk art.

For really big sticks of chalk, try making 3 times this recipe, and stuff the mixture into an empty toilet paper tube. When it’s dry, you can peel away the cardboard as you use it.


Bubbles

Kids and adults are fascinated by bubbles — it will keep everyone busy for a while

  • 4 cups water
  • 12 teaspoons glycerin*
  • Ivory soap bar, grated with a fine grater to give you 8 teaspoons of grated soap
    *Available at The Peppermill

Gently mix together all ingredients. Let liquid stand for 24 hours before using.

To make really big bubbles, pour soap bubble liquid into a large tub or bucket. Bend a wire hanger into a hoop. Hold it by the handle and dip into the liquid. Raise it up slowly and wave it through the air gently — wow!


Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to peppermill@hamodia.com. This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.