Saturday, December 12, 2009

Peppermint candies, sugar scrub, and dyeing play silks.

So much fun stuff we did during our gift-making class, I couldn't hardly manage to snap but one or two photos. We dyed play silks (and a nice tutorial about it all is here at the Artful Parent) though we did it a bit differently. We dip the silks in warm water, then sprinkle plain koolaid powder all willy-nilly over the silk however you'd like it, and you can also kind of get all finger-paint-y if you so choose (and the toddlers do choose) though I must warn you that your fingers will probably be pink or orange for the next day or so. Also the tutorial tells you that you should microwave the silks to really affix the color, but in my experience that kool-aid is powerful stuff. And I don't have a microwave. So I just let them set off to the side for several minutes, then we rinsed them and hung them outside to dry. You can buy the silks for cheapie cheap cheap at Dharma Trading Company. You know from some nice Waldorf-y store they cost like 8 dollars apiece if not more... plain silks from this place (average size) cost about $1.50, and you could also buy one of those long long long ones and dye it like a rainbow... you could also be all uber-natural-y and try to dye them with blueberries and pine needles and butterfly wings (butterflies who died from natural causes, of course)... there's a multitude of choices, and all of them fun. Do try it, won't you?
We also made these delectable peppermint candies from this fabulous cookbooks, The River Cottage Family Cookbook. I absolutely love this book: the recipes are divine, the photos are fabulous, and it's English so they're always making things like jellies and lollies and bangers and stuff like that. It's also got lots of really fun cooking activities to do with your kids... like having a pancake relay race on Shrove Tuesday .I don't know, that just sounds so fun, I've wanted to do it ever since I got this book, but Shrove Tuesday just keeps passing me by. I'll have to try to do it this year, for sure.
We also made this completely simple, satisfying (and softening!) sugar scrub, orange-lavendar sugar scrub to be precise.... it's a breeze to make and I was truly amazed when I tried it out on my rough, dish-pan little hand.... suddenly soft as a kitten. I think my boys and I will make some for their teachers.
Here are the recipes... maybe I should sit on them in the hopes that you'll take this class with me next year, but I don't care... all this is so fun and easy, and I just want to spread the homemade-gift love around.
Orange-Lavendar sugar scrub (copied directly from )
OK, folks. Get ready for almost unbelievably soft skin (even for those of us with older skin).
The other day I was speaking with Larry Pleasant, CEO of The Vermont Soapworks, and he mentioned that he and his staff had spent the morning testing homemade sugar scrubs, and that everyone was commenting on how incredibly soft their skin felt. Aware that sugar cane produces glycolic acid, one of the natural alpha hydroxy acids that exfoliates the skin, I was immediately curious about his recipes.
50 percent white cane sugar (note that organic sucanat, while the best choice for food, doesn’t work as well for this recipe)
50 percent vegetable glycerin to moisten the sugar (I used avocado oil since I was out of vegetable glycerin and it proved to be a successful substitute)
Small amounts of aloe vera gel, vitamin C crystals, or anything healing that dissolves in water
1 or 2 drops of essential oil if desired (Larry recommends combining orange and lavender)
Enough ground hibiscus powder for pink color (if desired)
Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Scoop some of the scrub onto your hand and massage gently onto your skin for a minute (the scrub will actually tighten onto your skin like a masque). Leave on for 3 to 4 minutes before rinsing.
Let me warn you in advance that you’ll want to use this sugar scrub on your entire body. I started on my face, returned to my desk, and my skin felt so baby soft that the skin on my neck felt like sandpaper, so I needed to use the sugar scrub there, and on and on.
PEPPERMINT CREAMS (copied straight from River Cottage Cookbook)
This is probably the easiest bit of cooking you'll ever do. Not that anything actually gets cooked. You're really just making edible, mint-flavored Play-Doh.
Powdered sugar, 2 c. and a little more
Egg white
Peppermint essence
A few drops of cooking oil
Green food coloring (optional)
Sift about 2/3 of the sugar into the mixing bowl.
Lightly whisk the egg white in a cup with a fork. Should be well mixed and lightly frothy.
Pour the beaten egg white and a few drops of peppermint essence onto the sugar in the bowl, then use the same fork to start mixing the liquid with the sugar.
As the mixture begins to stiffen, scrape it off the fork and start using your hands to work it into a paste. It will probably be very sticky, and you'll have to keep adding a shake or two of sugar.
Keep kneading the mixture and adding sifted sugar until you have a smooth paste you can mold like Play-Doh. Keep your hands dusted with sugar all the time.
Now prepare the sheet of waxed paper by rubbing it lightly all over with a few drops of oil.
You can shape your peppermint creams in various ways. First roll out the dough to about 3/8 inch thick with a rolling pin-- but dust the work surface first with powdered sugar first or it will stick horribly. You can then cut the dough into squares, triangles, or diamonds. Or you can use small cutters to stamp out any shape you like. Then squish up the leftover mixture, reroll it with a fresh dusting of powdered sugar on the work surface, and make more shapes.
Or, if you don't have a rolling pin, you can simply roll little balls of the mixture between the palms of your hands (also dusted with powdered sugar), then flatten each ball a bit with your finger or thumb.
Place the finished peppermint creams on the lightly oiled sheet of paper. Leave them uncovered in the kitchen to dry out for a few hours. Keep them in a plastic container.

No comments: