I'm not a bad cook, I'm really not. My family likes what I make. Well, Mike does. Baking is a bit more challenging, but I do what I can. I think that I hold my own. And see? I'm not defensive about it at all.
So the other day, Henry brings home a recipe from school for homemade play dough and says that we have to make some. I eyed the recipe warily, because making play dough seemed kinda closer to "baking" than to "cooking" and that's always a bad line to cross for me. The recipe assured me that it was "easy" and "only took a few minutes." I scanned the ingredients, noting that we had everything except for Cream of Tartar, which I borrowed from my mother-in-law. Last night was the big night: we delved in, Henry excitedly by my side.
Cup of flour, check. Cup of water with food coloring of choice, check (after Henry made a mess picking out his color). Some cooking oil, check. The Cream of Tartar, check. Cup of salt. Wait, WHAT? A *cup* of salt? Holy cannolis. I mean, I know that play dough is salty. NOBODY JUDGE ME. Who hasn't eaten play dough? Anybody?
I know you're lying.
Anyway, moving on. I was a bit shocked at the sheer volume of salt that was called for. But I was in a pinch (no pun intended) now because I had already waited a few days to secure the Cream of Tartar, and I didn't look at the salt content before. Now, I had to send it in the next day and I certainly didn't feel like running to the store for salt. With the optimism of somebody multiplying loaves and fishes, I emptied our salt container into my measuring cup.
Not even close.
In desperation, I re-opened the spice cupboard. Ah ha! A can of sea salt. Will sea salt hurt the play dough? I really don't care. I dumped it in, and got a full cup. In it went.
The ingredients were together, so we stirred it over a low flame, just like the directions said. A dough-like substance started to form, and I released a breath of relief.
Until I took it out of the pot and put it on the counter.
It just felt...weird. Henry wrinkled his nose at it.
"I think you put too much salt in it, Mommy."
"NO I DIDN'T!!! I mean, I just followed the directions, Sweetheart. What are you doing with the play dough anyway? Making a model or village of some kind?"
Henry gives me a look like I must be completely daft.
"No, Mommy. We're *playing* with it."
Oh. Of course.
I left the dough on the counter hoping that the cooling process would make it more play worthy. And yes, I did taste it.
It tasted like play dough. So there.
30 minutes later, I wander back over. It still seems too squishy and soft to me. Kinda wet. Mike comes over to investigate.
"Honey, does this feel like play dough to you?" *anxious*
"Yeah, it kinda does."
"It has a lot of salt in it. But play doh is really salty."
"I wouldn't know. I've never eaten play dough."
Well, la de da.
"I'm sure it's going to be fine, Sweetie. Don't obsess over it."
Easy for him to say. The teacher won't be shaking her head over *his* inept play-dough-making abilities tomorrow morning. Clearly, I'm a failure as a mother.
The anxiety overtook me. I popped the play dough back into the pot to apply more heat, hoping this would help the texture. It worked, at least a little bit. The dough became less wet and firmer. So I plopped it onto the counter again.
30 minutes later, the outer layer was a bit crusty, and upon prying some of it off, the middle still broke apart easily and didn't seem clay-like enough. Sigh. I put it into a giant Ziploc bag and hoped for the best.
This morning, Henry went to school with his mint green play dough tucked into his backpack. I hope it's ok, and that he's not ridiculed for his freakish play dough. I'm just so bad at this stuff. I mean, I knit and crochet. I'm supposed to be CRAFTY. But I'm not. My skill set is very specific. Which is a nice way of saying that I suck at most crafts and all baking that doesn't involve Betty Crocker or the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
And it's brownies, even Betty can't help me.