Jul 25, 2009

Giant cookies and Cookie pizzas.

We've been making more desserts here. Too many in fact to be able to eat ourselves. Gonna have to have a party :)

After the bunny cakes "cooking" last weekend (we nommed it all on Tuesday when five other kids came over to help us) my four year old requested that we make "the most hunormous cookie in the whole earth". Budgetary constraints, logistical issues and sanity prevented us from doing this, but we were able to make the biggest cookie my kids had ever encountered and that would have to do.

I mixed up the dough while we had freinds over, but we got caught up in other fun and never found the time to make the cookies together, so I packed up a set of dough with a tray each for our freinds to take home and we made our cookies later that day.

It's just regular, nothing special, sugar cookie dough with some different food colourings in it. The kids picked bits off and squished it into the tins until they had a multicoloured psycadelic cookie dough circle, then I gave them some wooden stamps to smoosh into it.

We baked them at 375 degrees farenheit for about 12 minutes and they came out prtty evenly cooked. I was worried that the outside would burn before the middle had cooked fully, but they came out fine and when cooled, they popped out of the trays really easily. The stamped shapes don't really show up, partly because they cooked out and partly because the kids squashed them whilst flattening out the cookies before even going in the oven. Hey ho.

Decrations with icing (just water and powdered sugar for dribbly drippy icing) and some sprinkles. It seemed a shame to cover the multicoloured cookies with icing, but the kids really enjoyed dripping it on.

Having done this and still having some cookie dough left, I washed out the pans and the next day we set about making some cookie pizzas. We made cardboard pizzas ages ago, but ones made of cookie have to beat that right? Cookie pizzas are not a novel concept, there are plenty about on the web. Many glorious varieties! Yum!

The kids squished more dough into the pans again and we baked them, then when they came out and were still warm, we tamped down the center to make it look a bit like a pizza base with a raised crust.

My first thought for tomato sauce was to use jam, but the only jam we had left was purple, so we used cream cheese icing with red food colouring instead.
The melted cheese was just water and powdered sugar mixed with a little yellow food colouring to make it look all melty when it was drizzled on.

If you do this, don't even momentarily entertain the notion that the kids might refrain from eating the icing while they are putting it on. I mean I couldn't resist tasting a bit either. I would have maybe used shredded coconut with yellow food colouring if my kids didn't both utterly hate coconut. Shame.

The toppings were quite fun to do. I cut circles out of a few fruit leathers for them to put on as peperoni and I coloured a handful of kettle corn from the farmer's market with brown food colouring to use as Italian sausage.
Here's the finished thing. Looks kinda freaky huh?

Tastes good though! We do have a stupid number of cookies now though. I'd better go get my stretchy pants out.

Jul 19, 2009

Bunny Cakes

This was something the girls had been asking to make all week. I picked up a copy of Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells from Goodwill. Goodwill and Savers are my favourite places for books because they are never more than $1.39, even for the monumentally cool hardbacks, which would set you back 15 to 25 buckeroos a pop if bought new. Of course the library is free, but as a reward strategy, a whole new book for $1.39 kicks the pants off some candy.Anyhoo, this book is one from the Max and Ruby series (also on tv as an animation in the US, on NickJr). It's a very sweet story about Max and his big sister Ruby making cakes for their grandma's birthday. Ruby makes an angel surprise cake with raspberry fluff icing and Max makes an earthworm cake with red hot marshmallow squirters.

The kids had been asking to make these cakes all week. They really wanted to make Ruby's cake and said Max's cake was gross, so we all made a cake together using a box of cake mix. Yeah, Martha Stewart would have an embolism reading this, but the cake mixes are great for preschooler baking. I've got them as cheap as a dollar on sale and the kids drool over the box graphics and photo of the cake, then there's the easy to follow recipe and cooking instructions, WITH PICTURES!!! so it's really easy and fun.
While the cake was cooking the kids played with the many shades of grey and brown playdough that have evolved from all the playdough activities we've been doing recently. They made various reconstructions of Max's earthworm cake with string for worms and cut up bits of these weird red plastic popsicle sticks for the marshmallow squirters. One of my mates gave me a bunch of kid craft gear for my birthday last year and these popsicle sticks were in the bag. They are kind of like corrugated cardboard in structure, but plastic and in different colours. The kids find them really easy to snip up with kiddy scissors, so they worked great for this.
Once the cake was baked I cut it and put jam in the middle, then iced the sides and the kids iced the top and stuck on marshmallows and sprinkles.
Then, while I cooked dinner (no cake before dinner because I am clearly a fascist dictator), the kids played cutting out and colouring "Bunny Money" from Rosemary Wells' website. Looking around there are some good Max and Ruby games and colouring bits on the web. Some on Rosemary's site and some on Nick Jr, including this awesome Max and Ruby dollhouse puppet theatre, which we will have to do soon because the kids will go nuts for it.
After dinner we scoffed some cake and read the book again. Mmmmm cakeface.Can you think of any other children's books about cooking that you've read that could be adapted to allow kids to reinact the story in the kitchen? No, we're not doing George's Marvelous Medicine! I so wanted to do that as a kid. Sigh, my parents must have wanted to murder Roald Dahl for that one.

Jul 16, 2009

Paper making?

The title has a question mark because this isn't something that I had planned to do and truthfully it could also be entitled "How to make your back yard look like an explosion in the Kirkland toilet roll factory".

So, my younger daughter, who is three, has been fine going to the toilet all by herself for a while... until this week. Three days in a row I have gone to check on her after she's been in there a little too long and found her splashing in the sink quite delightedly with a load of soaking wet bogroll. You can't blame her for thinking it's really really cool. I mean the tactile squelchiness of it is brilliant, but after sneaking off three times to do this quietly until I found her and cleaned it all up I kinda figured we might have to take this activity outside and let it run it's course before our bathroom sink is irreprably blocked and she starts to think that she has to hide from me if she wants to play with squelchy stuff.

I got out the big plastic storage box from the garage and we put about six inches of water in it, then the kids decimated a toilet roll and made a vat of pulp to play with. Spatulas from the kitchen for stirring and a fold away table on the side for splatting and squeezing out the water from the pulp.

That kept them entertained for a while, then I started to wonder if we could make a sheet of paper with this almighty mess.

I didn't have screens, or the willingness to leave the kids alone with the vat of pulp for any length of time (someone had already tried throwing a wad of it at her sister), so I figured the closest thing that might do the job was the ancient decrepid laundry sack inside the garage door.

I put it ontop of one side of the vat for a while for them to experiment straining the pulp with, and then we tried pushing it to the bottom of the tub and pulling up a sheet of pulp. It kinda worked. Ish.
I think we had a bit too much paper in the water, because it came up with a very thick sheet that is still drying a day and a half later, but the kids thought it was cool and wanted to do it again, so we made two big sheets. We tipped them out onto one of the old bed sheets that we use for painting, so they could dry in the sun.
I left the tub out overnight thinking they would probably want to play with it more the next day. Before we went to play with it again I tried to make them some more normal screens than the giant unweildy laundry sack that took all three of us to use.

I have a couple of packs of Ikea frames that I have been meaning to put photos in and not got around to, so I used one of those packs for the wooden frames (I think they were $5 for the pack of three) Bet there would be a decent frame in the dollarstore for this too though. I used a really old reel of tulle that I got from Savers a while back to make tutus. That came in a bag with some other sewing stuff for 99cents. All I did was cut the tulle and staple it over the frames to make screens. I'm not sure what material you are supposed to use for making screens, but this seemed to work fine.
I am the lady that saves even the ripped bits of tissue paper from gifts, because it might be useful for a kid craft one day, so we had a little stash of tissue paper handy to try and make the paper more interesting this time.

The kids ripped up the tissue paper and squelched it into the pulp that was still in the tub. This made the pulp go a nice shade of pink. Ooooh! Princess paper! I got out some of the black or dark coloured felt from my sewing gear to turn out the paper onto, because I wasn't sure if the tissue paper in the pulp would cause it to stain things.

They knew what the score was with how to make the paper after we did it the day before, so they had no trouble pulling up a few sheets. They weren't overly obsessed with putting the sheets out to dry though, so we only ended up with a few finished dry ones. They were more interested in playing with pulling up the screens full and then rinsing them off. Or once they tipped out the paper onto the bits of felt they wanted to scrape them back off and put the pulp back in the vat again. I wish it was socially acceptable for me to wear a hunormously mahoosive blue ballerina tutu for the hell of it, whilst going about my day.

Here's a pic of one of the freshly turned out pulp sheets before we sandwiched it between two bits of felt and squeezed out the water fully.
We were all very impatient, especially after the giant sheets hadn't dried overnight, so I put a pile of the little princess papers stacked up with felt inbetween in the microwave and that dried them out in five minutes, so the kids could draw on them right away.Yes, that's right from one toilet roll, all that mess and mayhem later and we had made.... da da daaaaa.... *Pink* toilet roll. I'm going to pretend that I can't hear you laughing at me.I'm off out into the yard now to strain the rest of the pulpy mess through the laundry sack, so I can mix it with some flour and make some paper clay for them to use tomorrow. I'll let you know if that is just as unfathomably messy.

Jul 14, 2009

Aluminium foil river

Just a quick post about something we played with this afternoon in the yard. I didn't manage to get the shopping list post sorted over the weekend, but I'll get to it soon.

The kids love water and playing with it and so I keep trying to come up with new ways that they can explore games with water (usually outside).

All I did for this was get about five meters of aluminium foil off the roll from the kitchen and lay it out flat on the floor in the yard, then pinch up the sides of it to make walls, and then we put the hose pipe on at a trickle and waited for a river to form.
We got the river to be about an inch deep and the kids floated bottle tops down it for quite some time. I had about 20 different brightly coloured bottle tops saved, but I didn't get photos of that. With there being so much water in the equation, I just took a handful of pics and then put the camera back inside the house. You get the idea though.
I left the tin foil out in the yard tonight, because if the weather is this good again tomorrow then we might try making mini boats with sails for them to blow down the river or fan with newspaper.

Because it's just one big bit of foil with water in it, I can just scrumple it up when we are done and throw it in the recycling bin.

We may use this idea in the future to build some more complicated winding canals or a moat for a castle. So many possibilities. First things first though, we need to make some boats with sails.