Clearing the playdough from the fridge


The other day, I needed a phone number. So, I walked over to the fridge.

It was a number we had on a piece of paper held in place with a magnet. And while there, I noticed that several of the things decorating my refrigerator really needed to be tossed away.

Business cards from places several hundred miles from where we now live (and almost without question never to be used again). Menus from restaurants that we grabbed while getting takeout on a night here or an afternoon there in order to have on hand later, only to find the food wasnít that good and we never went back. Magnets and more from spots that long ago closed their doors. And a recipe for Playdough.

Thatís the spelling on the recipe. Playdough. A recipe which, since to my knowledge itís never been used, I can only imagine is a make-at-home version of the classic Play-Doh.

At first, I looked at it and chuckled, thinking something close to ďwow, go figure, make it in my own kitchenĒ while removing it from under a magnet. Realizing we had never made it, and likely had no reason to make it any time soon, I began moving toward the trash can. And during those few steps is when I read it.

A cup of salt? Really? Thatís uhÖ thatísÖ thatís just a lot of Ö wait, hold onÖ cream of tartar?

I am fairly certain the only times I have ever used cream of tartar involved snickerdoodles. I havenít baked them in years. And while I am now currently writing these words while attempting to hold a significant snickerdoodle craving in check, I will purchase cream of tartar because I lost that fight and needed the cookies. I will not head to the store so I can toss a couple of tablespoons into a batch of homemade playdough.

There is another side to this story. An opposite view in the argument. And I have to admit, that other side has some compelling thoughts. Colors get mixed and blended and mushed together, forcing a need to get some new batches if you want blue or green and not all-purpose sludge. Same idea for when it dries out. (Just askingÖ anyone ever use Play-Doh as spackle? Really. Just asking. Train of thought question while thinking about dried out Play-Doh. Nothing else.) I havenít priced it out, but since I am aware of many different sets available for purchase, I can only imagine what it might cost to pick up a few cans. For these reasonsóand plenty more, Iím sureóit can be incredibly appealing to have the ability to make a batch of dough in your own kitchen, break it into several balls and then add different food colors to each ball.

But a cup of salt? Tablespoons of cream of tartar? Iím honestly wondering why it doesnít just shoot for a trifecta and add in some cardamom or other rarely used ingredient.

Whatever happened to Silly Putty? And does anyone ever think about Mr. Bill? These questions are on my mind as I consider Play-Doh. I really donít know why people would need a large supply of it. I donít know why making it at home from scratch is important. You keep a puppy or a baby, despite the messes and aggravation, because theyíre cute and you love them. Anyone care to take a shot at explaining the lasting appeal of Play-Doh?

Never mind. Because honestly, jokes arenít really important here. Play-Doh is fine, and I wish the company well. (Have fun kids!)

Instead I just find myself wondering about the stuff I have in my kitchen. From cream of tartar to food coloring, Iím not sure if there was ever a time while I was growing up that I couldnít have made this recipe. All of the ingredients were virtual musts to have available. Including the food coloring. Today? Not so much.

I canít recall ever having cream of tartar in an apartment or house since I moved away from my childhood home. My recipe has six ingredients and Iím missing two of them.

Several months ago, I saw a coffeecake recipe I wanted to try. Needed some cardamom for it. And that set off an unexpected adventure of amazing scope and effort. Most stores didnít carry it. Couldnít find it. And as the search became more organized and intense, we moved from wanting to make a coffeecake into an epic quest to just find some darn cardamom.

Quite honestly, if ever comes the day that I need some Play-Doh in the house, Iím fairly certain Iíll head out to the store and buy some Play-Doh. I wonít make a list and set off to pick up some cream of tartar and a 25-pound sack of salt.

That said, I would like some snickerdoodles. So if youíll excuse me, I have some shopping to do.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at