August 7, 2013

How to make the best dyed pasta. Ever.

What's the true badge of motherhood?  A dyed pasta necklace of course!  Okay, there are many other badges of motherhood.  Stickers stuck to your hair or derriere that random strangers alert you to hours after they were applied.  Being able to pick out the sound of your crying child amongst an entire preschool within 3 seconds of the first cry.  I could go on, but I won't because it will end in stretch marks.  Back to dyed pasta.

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The other day Craig was heading off to play tennis and that left me with 1 energetic child who DESPERATELY wanted to to do an art project.  No surprise there.  Feeling rather uninspired I tried to think of the most basic of preschool crafts and it took about 30 seconds for dyed pasta to enter my brain.  I almost dismissed it as silly but then I realized that someone would probably looooove it.

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At the end of this story I wind up making an excessive amount of rainbow noodles and wind up sending it to preschool for a little sanity break for Kayla's teacher.  Along the way I discovered a few things that ensured success and some nearly perfectly pigmented pasta.  Challenge your kid to say that alliteration a few times.  First, rather than trying to perfectly formulate colors with the basic 4 pack of liquid food coloring we all remember from our own childhoods I used this fancy concentrated gel food coloring.  Just a bit goes a long way.

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I mixed the gel food coloring with rubbing alcohol which helps lock the dye into the pasta rather than on your child or your brand new white sofa (we don't have one of those, but I'm just sayin') As far as proportions go it's a little bit of a trial and error process but I found that about 2 tsp of rubbing alcohol and enough gel food coloring scooped out with the tip of a steak knife worked.  Meanwhile I let Kayla bag up some pasta in shapes that I knew could be easily strung.

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We poured the dye in the reclosable plastic bag and started to shake it.  Now, here is where I learned something the hard way.  YES, the bag was closed, but I hadn't really thought too much about those sharp little pieces of pasta so learn from my mistake and DOUBLE bag your pasta to ensure that you don't wind up with dyed hands or a dyed kitchen.   Once we got the double bagging thing down the rest was a breeze.  Here's where your energetic child can shine.  Let them do the hard work and go wild with the bag.

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I lined a baking sheet with wax paper and when I emptied the pasta out of the bag and onto the paper I stuck a paper towel down first.  Then I dumped the pasta on that and slowly removed it from under the pasta so it soaked up most of the extra dye and allowed for the dyed pasta to dry more quickly.  I was only planning to make two colors but by the second time around it seemed so easy and the gel food coloring made such pretty and vibrant colors that I got a bit carried away...

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So crazypants me wound up making the whole rainbow. Okay not really the whole rainbow and naturally Kayla was quick to point out that indigo was not present.  When is she going to Kindergarten again???

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After about 20 minutes of drying time (goes faster in the sun obviously) it was time to make jewelry.  I found myself thinking how hysterical this moment was given that there were no pieces of labradorite, no rubies and no turquoise which I spent eons obsessing over at work.  Just rainbow pasta.  Kayla quickly got to work making this necklace with zero assistance.  I found myself surprised at how not-that-hideous and actually cute it was!  Perhaps she has a future in jewelry? Or color trend prediction? I'll be a proud parent either way.

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