Thyme Seasoned Flat Bread Dough

Using Frozen Pizza Dough

It came to my attention that while I have briefly talked about how to use frozen pizza dough for flat bread, I’ve never actually given the process it’s own center stage.  Frozen pizza dough is like gold in your freezer, and it is incredibly easy to thaw quickly in the microwave.  There is no need to wait for a solid hour or more for it to thaw out on the counter top.  So I wanted to share that information here in it’s own post and it’s own recipe.  Hopefully this will help make it more accessible and also take a bit of the fear factor out of using the dough from frozen.

This all started with a blog post about stocking your pantry with easy to make foods, that can be made cheaply, made in bulk, and frozen for storage and easy retrieval later on.  For me, the most versatile thing that I make in my kitchen is Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, and unless something terrible happens (like our freezer being such a mess that we can’t possibly see a frozen ball of delicious dough… which has happened…) I always have it in my freezer.

What I do not always have is the hour or more that it can take to allow the dough to leisurely thaw out and come up to room temperature while lounging (the dough, not me) on the kitchen counter.  This is especially true in the cold weather months.  Instead, we have been graced with the microwave.  If, like some of my dear friends, you have no use for the microwave then please by all means use this same recipe to make and freeze the dough.  You need to be more organized than I am in order to remember when to pull the dough out to thaw, but judging on the organizational skills of my friends who choose to not use the microwave that isn’t a problem.

But back to our task at hand…  Using frozen pizza dough.  This is going to be important, since the next post I do will have an amazing Turkish inspired baked tomato and egg dish.  You are going to want to make that dish, and you are going to want this easy flat bread to go with it.  Trust me.  :)

Pizza Dough Flat Bread Using Frozen From Scratch Pizza Dough

Ingredients:
One portion of premade frozen Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (white dough works well for this too!)

Directions:
If you have lots of time…

  • Remove the frozen portion of pizza dough from your freezer and place it on the counter or someplace warm to sit for about an hour to thaw. Once the dough feels slightly chilled, but no longer frozen, use it as described below.
    Frozen pizza dough lounging on the counter

    Frozen pizza dough lounging on the counter

    If you don’t have an hour to thaw your dough…

  • Remove the frozen portion of pizza dough from your freezer and remove any plastic or other coverings you had it protected in.

    Frozen dough ready to be defrosted.

    Frozen dough ready to be defrosted.

  • Place the frozen dough on a small, microwave safe plate and “heat” the dough on regular power for 30 seconds.

    Pizza dough that has been defrosted in the microwave and rested.

    Pizza dough that has been defrosted in the microwave and rested.

  • Let the dough rest in the microwave undisturbed for about 5 minutes. After the dough has rested give it a gentle poke with your finger in the center to see if it has thawed all the way through. If it still has a large frozen portion in the middle, then heat it again for 30 seconds and let it rest for 5 minutes. Continue doing this until the dough is completely thawed. Be careful since if you heat the dough too much in the microwave the edges will start to cook all the way through. You can still use your dough if this happens, but just know that those edges may get extra firm when you bake the dough.

To Bake Your Dough:

  • Roll or stretch your dough to the desired shape and thinness for whatever purpose you desire.
    Ready to roll...

    Ready to roll…

    Hand stretched dough seasoned with a little olive oil, salt, and dried thyme.

    Hand stretched dough seasoned with a little olive oil, salt, and dried thyme.

  • If you want to be sure that you don’t get too many bubbles forming in the middle of your dough, dock it at this point with a rolling docker or simply poke it all over with the tines of a fork.
  • If you want the dough to be used as a flat bread or similar preparation, season the dough with a little olive oil, salt and your favorite dried herb blend and then bake it in a preheated 425 degree oven, checking it after about 10 minutes to ensure that it isn’t browning too quickly. To give it a nice burnishing on the top, switch your oven to broil for the last minute, but watch it like a hawk so that it doesn’t char.
  • If you want to use the dough for pizza, simply follow the pizza recipe you have at hand, or check out some of the options here at thesheepareout.com.
  • Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of the Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe.

Click here for a printable version of the Using Frozen Pizza Dough recipe.

Pizza Dough Flat Bread

 

 

I like how the Piggy Bowl seems to strut its stuff for a number of the food glamor shots.

A Green Persian Spring

This post is a little bit late, but may I wish you all a happy welcome to Spring and a happy Nowruz.  The first day of Spring is also the first day of the new year according to Iranian tradition, hence “Nowruz.”  Dear Iranian friends first introduced me to the holiday in southern California, and since then we always celebrate it at home.  I also celebrate this holiday in my anthropology of food classes where we make our own version of the traditional Haft Seen table, or table of seven S’s that symbolize best wishes for the upcoming new year.  It’s a great excuse to get people thinking good thoughts for everyone around them, as well as focusing on the upcoming greenery that is (hopefully) starting to peek out of the dirty snow banks and brown, crinkle grass yards and fields.

If I could pull it off, I would have a massive Persian feast on Nowruz, and in the past I’ve done that using it as an excuse to have friends over to celebrate over good food and new friends.  However, as with many things in life with kids (or kid), I’ve scaled things down a bit.  At least for this year.  If there is ONE dish that I simply must have when this time of year comes around, it is Ghormeh Sabzi or Green Persian Stew.  “Ghormeh” in Persian means stew and “Sabzi” is the word for green or in this case green, leafy vegetables.  Ghormeh Sabzi is a rich, beef and bean stew with a sauce brimming with slowly simmered, finely chopped Springtime greenery.  The slight citrus acidic kick cuts through the richness of the stew itself and ties everything together.  Just writing about it makes me want to simmer up another batch, and in fact I might just do that this weekend.  Hmmm… We are having guests…

But back to Ghormeh Sabzi…  I know that the name is likely rather foreign to many of you, but as we make this transition from frozen, cold whiteness into the chilly freshness of Spring, this is the perfect stew whether the name sounds familiar or not.  It bridges both the desire for comforting warmth and the desperate need for all things green and full of life.  And frankly, what better time to try something new than a new year, whether or not you start the new year in January or March?  I hope that you all have a fantastic Nowruz (new year) and a gorgeous Springtime.

Ghormeh Sabzi - Green Persian StewGhormeh Sabzi (Green Persian Stew)

Ingredients
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 leeks, split in half lengthwise and well washed
1 bunch cilantro, well washed
2 bunches parsley, well washed
1 lb. beef stew meat
1 tsp. tumeric
3 tsp. salt
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 c. water
¼ c. lemon juice
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

IMG_9959Directions

  1. Put the rough chopped onion in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Put the onion in a small bowl and set aside.

    A roughly chopped onion ready to be sublimely and finely chopped.

    A roughly chopped onion ready to be sublimely and finely chopped.

  2. Roughly chop the cleaned leeks and add them to the food processor. Pulse them until chopped finely, then put them in a medium bowl and set aside.
    Halve the leeks lenghtwise, keeping the root end intact.  Then hold them under running water, fanning out the layers as you go, to rinse out all of the grit.

    Halve the leeks lengthwise, keeping the root end intact. Then hold them under running water, fanning out the layers as you go, to rinse out all of the grit.

    The rough chop waiting for the food processor magic.

    The rough chop waiting for the food processor magic.

    I love my food processor.  Finely chopped leeks, perfect for this stew.

    I love my food processor. Finely chopped leeks, perfect for this stew.

  3. Add the cilantro and parsley to the food processor and chop finely. Add them to the leek bowl and set aside.

    Cilantro and parsley finely chopped in seconds.

    Cilantro and parsley finely chopped in seconds.

  4. Pour 1 tbsp. of olive oil into a Dutch oven and heat the pan over medium high. When the oil is hot add the onions and sauté until browned on the edges.

    Browning the onions.

    Browning the onions.  I seem to have a number of “steamy” pictures for this recipe.  Is there a special benefit to hot onion facials?

  5. Add the stew meat to the pan and brown the pieces on all sides.

    Adding the stew meat to the pot.

    Adding the stew meat to the pot.

  6. Add the turmeric and salt, and stir to combine.

    Turmeric and salt ready to go.

    Turmeric and salt ready to go.

  7. Add the leeks, cilantro and parsley to the pan, along with the kidney beans, water, and lemon juice. Bring the stew to a simmer and let it bubble away gently for 1 ½ hours. Taste to adjust seasonings.
    The amount of raw greenery can look daunting in your stew pot, but it will become something magical.

    The amount of raw greenery can look daunting in your stew pot, but it will become something magical.

    Adding the beans and remaining ingredients.

    Adding the beans and remaining ingredients.

    Everything looks a bit raw when first added to the pan, but after the long simmer...

    Everything looks a bit raw when first added to the pan, but after the long simmer…

    After the long simmer, all of the flavors come together and this stew is the perfect cold Springtime dinner.

    After the long simmer, all of the flavors come together and this stew is the perfect cold Springtime dinner.

  8. Serve over steamed basmati rice. Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of the Ghormeh Sabzi (Green Persian Stew) recipe.

I like how the Piggy Bowl seems to strut its stuff for a number of the food glamor shots.

I like how the Piggy Bowl seems to strut its stuff for a number of the food glamor shots.

 

Beds on the Roof

Birdsong

Recently I’ve been getting caught up with special archaeologist friends and reminiscing about our days in Turkey.   I shared with them the post about our soccer adventures (Taking One For the Team) and was reminded that our team name was the Bismil Eşekler.  Bismil is the village where we stayed and eşekler translates to “donkeys.”  You can put the two together nicely.  I was also reminded of the way we all felt completely stunned, stopped in our tracks, when we turned the corner of the little field expecting to see our normal, slightly dusty, excavation workers and instead were met with a professionally outfitted team moving through their confident warm up routine.  As my brother would say, we were gob smacked, mouths open, stunned.  The other team smiled.

Inspired by these memories, I looked back into my emails written home from this time and found an entry that I’ve called Birdsong.  This isn’t at all like Taking One For the Team, but simply holds one of those moments in your life when you want to look around and remind yourself to not forget.  To remember the sound, smell and look of everything happening around you.  I don’t have the picture that I’ve been looking for to include here, but I did find one of our rooftop beds.  I’ll tell you another story that goes with that picture later.  I don’t have a spiffy recipe for delicious Turkish inspired food, though one will be coming soon.  But I do have a wistfulness for the moment of peace captured here, and the hope that we can all have such a moment again.

BIRDSONG

The weather here is finally getting to the Turkish weather that I remember and love… meaning really hot and dry. I feel like my bones are finally thawing and drying out from the last crazy Binghamton winter. We will probably start getting up an hour earlier for the fieldwork, meaning that we’ll get up at 4am so that we’re at the tepe (excavation site) working by 6am when the sun comes over the horizon. The minute the sun peeks over the Tigris River, you feel the heat wash over you like a wave. We will also have to leave the tepe an hour earlier (around noon) to avoid a bit of the intense heat of the afternoon where it easily tops 110º Fahrenheit in the shade.

The fields that have been a rolling deep green are now a beautiful golden and when the wind moves across them it looks like a sparkling golden ocean. Where my new trench is on the back of the tepe there are these gorgeous green birds and a small stream edged by green with singing frogs. If we could just get rid of the thousands of little flies from the millions of sheep and goat pellets that would be nice. Our days are punctuated by one of us (myself, my workmen or another crew member) choking on a bug as it goes straight down our throats or up our noses in their own desperate search for moisture. Who says archaeology isn’t glamorous? Bet you never say Indiana Jones hacking on a fly… We all now joke about the tasty bugs.  Makes your coat glossy.

The other day was a special evening at the dig house; I hope I never forget it. Our dig house consists of the 4th and 5th floors of a six-story cement apartment building. I had gone up to the roof where we sleep, and where it was cooler. It was still light out so I wanted to get caught up with some of my trench journals. I was there by myself, listening to the ethereal music of the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack (the remake, not the original). The sun was just setting behind the other houses in the village, and at this time of year that means a crazy sort of pinkish opalescent color all across the sky. It affects the rest of the light so that everything is bathed in this pinkish glow. It even makes Bismil (the locals call our village Pis-mil, and “pis” in Turkish means “dirty,” so when the locals rename your down as dirty…), with its piles of dung cakes and wandering donkeys beautiful. As long as you don’t inhale too deeply.

I was enjoying the light and the music and the space to think and write up my journals when suddenly there were dozens of sparrows flying everywhere. I guess that the bewitching hour is also when it’s cooled off enough for lots of tasty bugs to come out. These sparrows and a few bats appeared out of nowhere, and suddenly I was surrounded by beautiful birdsong and these birds and bats swooping and diving everywhere. It was stunning. The journals were set down and the music discarded. I laid back on my little bed on the rooftop and simply watched and listened. I never want to lose this memory…

Dave trying desperately to fight the sun and sleep longer.  The rest of us already caved to the sweaty 6am heat, but it will take a daring bird to remove this sleeper from his roost.

Dave trying desperately to fight the sun and sleep longer. The rest of us already caved to the sweaty 6am heat, but it will take a daring bird to remove this sleeper from his roost.

Meditteranean Style Tuna and Hummus Open Face Sandwich

More Thoughts on Hummus

Like I mentioned in my last post, hummus is one of those versatile recipes that can be used a dozen different ways.  When I made the batch for the Request for Hummus post, I wanted to use the hummus for more than just a meze (a Turkish or Greek… why does it make me nervous to type both of those names back to back… dip or snack food), but as a part of a larger meal.  What came to mind was a sandwich that I’d fiddled with before, but hadn’t yet perfected.  What it needed was a silky layer of hummus to really pull all the flavors together, and voila, the Mediterranean Tuna and Hummus Sandwich was created.  You’re really going to like this one.

Mediterranean Style Tuna and Hummus Open Face SandwichThe sandwich has three main components, the flat bread, the hummus and a Mediterranean-style Tuna Salad.  The flat bread could be bought from your local store, or substituted out for a nice crusty roll, OR you could use some of the fantastic Whole Wheat Pizza Dough that I wrote about for stocking your pantry.  As I’ll describe below (or click here for a “how to” recipe for Using Frozen Pizza Dough), you simply roll out the dough, season it with whatever dried herb mixture you prefer, and bake it until crispy.  It’s delicious!  The hummus, while you could buy it from the store, is so easy to make at home that once you get this recipe (Marie’s Hummus) down you’ll never look at the pasty stuff from the grocery store in the same way again.  The last part, the Mediterranean-style Tuna Salad, is included here.  If you’re not a big fan of the traditional mayonnaise-based tuna salad, this one is for you.

While I actually am a fan of a good, rich, mayonnaise-based tuna salad sandwich (in fact I think that’s what we’re having for dinner tonight) there are times when I want something a bit different, and that’s when I use this Mediterranean-style Tuna Salad recipe.  It has a nice, briney bite from kalamata olives, a little feta cheese gives it a creamy-richness, and there’s plenty of crunch from vegetables like onion and celery.  In fact, you’ll be surprised by how much salad one little can of tuna can create since it is well supported by a crunchy cast of characters.  The salad is a cinch to toss together, the flavors get better if they have a chance to hang out for a bit, and it’s great to serve over lettuce for a large salad, or you can serve it with crackers for a snack or appetizer, OR even better you can serve it as a part of a great, layered open face sandwich like the one shown here.

Mediterranean-Style Tuna Salad

Ingredients:
3 eggs, hard boiled and separated
1 can tuna in water, drained
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
¼ cup feta, crumbled
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced
1 cup English or hot house cucumber, diced
½ small onion, diced
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. herbs de Provence, or other dry herb blend
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Separate the egg whites from the yolk, and discard two yolks. That is where most of the fat and cholesterol reside. Use them if you want, the salad will be even more delicious. I discard them here to lighten the salad. Finely dice the remaining yolk and whites. Add them to a large bowl.
  2. Add the tuna, celery, feta, olives, cucumber and onions to the bowl and toss to combine.
    The salad ingredients

    The salad ingredients.

    Tossed to combine

    Tossed to combine

  3. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl to combine.
  4. Toss the salad with the dressing and enjoy!

Click here for a printable Mediterranean Tuna Salad recipe.

Mediterranean-Style Tuna and Hummus Sandwich

Ingredients:

One portion Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
1 cup Marie’s Hummus
1 batch Mediterranean Tuna Salad
1 tsp. Herbs de Provence blend
1 cup salad greens or arugula
Olive oil to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  2. Roll out the dough into a wide oval, about ¼ inch thick. With a fork (or docking tool) poke holes all over the surface of the dough. This will keep it from bubbling up and distorting. Brush the dough lightly with about 1 tsp. of olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and the Herbs de Provence over the dough. Either slide the dough directly onto a pizza stone in your hot oven, or place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and then into the hot oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until just browned in spots. Remove the crust to your work area.
    The prepared dough for flat bread.

    The prepared dough for flat bread.

    Note that the shape of the dough changed significantly.  :)  This is what makes it "rustic"... When things don't go as planned just call them "rustic" and they'll still taste as good.

    Note that the shape of the dough changed significantly. :) This is what makes it “rustic”… When things don’t go as planned just call them “rustic” and they’ll still taste as good.

  3. Spread the hummus in a thin layer over most of your crust, leaving a 1 inch border around the edges.

    Leave a thin border around the edges for a good place to hold onto your open faced sandwich.

    Leave a thin border around the edges for a good place to hold onto your open faced sandwich.

  4. Mound the Mediterranean Tuna Salad on top of the hummus, leaving a narrow border around the edges so that the hummus is visible.

    Each added "layer" should leave a little of the previous layer visible so you can see a bit of everything.

    Each added “layer” should leave a little of the previous layer visible so you can see a bit of everything.

  5. Mound your salad greens or arugula on top of the tuna salad and drizzle it lightly with olive oil.

    I used hearts of romaine here for the last layer, but my favorite is arugula.  Water cress would be great too!

    I used hearts of romaine here for the last layer, but my favorite is arugula. Water cress would be great too!

  6. Cut into “slices” and serve. Enjoy!

Click here for a printable Mediterranean Style Tuna and Hummus Sandwich recipe.

If you want to find an easy “recipe” for using your frozen from scratch pizza dough, click here: Using Frozen Pizza Dough.

 

One delicious open face sandwich.  You can make smaller sized ones for individual portions if you want to be fancy, or make one large one like this and cut it into quarters or long slices to serve family style.

One delicious open face sandwich. You can make smaller sized ones for individual portions if you want to be fancy, or make one large one like this and cut it into quarters or long slices to serve family style.

A perfect dish for sliced flatbread, fresh veges, or even as a "sauce" for sandwiches.

A Request for Hummus

One of the best parts of this blog has been reading and replying to comments from readers; and most recently receiving requests for recipes from friends.  Cooking is a way that I connect with people.  It’s something that I can do as a gift, or as a way to build a friendship, or to show love to friends and family.  Often when I am cooking for someone, I am also thinking about that person while I’m chopping the onions and garlic, stirring the veg in the pan, or tasting for final seasoning.  It makes cooking more than just putting ingredients together for a meal, but it gives me time to also think about the person or people that I’m cooking for.  Its’ an act of love, not just of eating.  So when friends request recipes from me I take it as the highest compliment.

It is therefore a great joy that in a couple of upcoming posts I will be sharing a couple of recipes requested from friends who are distant in geography but close in my thoughts.  The first recipe I’ll be sharing is for hummus.  Hummus is one of those foods that is super simple to make, irks me to buy premade, and is incredibly personal in how you prepare it.  The two greatest influences for me in my hummus was the first time I was taught to make it in Beirut, as well as from my experiences in Turkey.  In Beirut, the friend who taught me to make it created an amazingly herbaceous version, speckled throughout with finely chopped parsley.  In Turkey I was most influenced by our amazing excavation chef, Necmi, who guarded his culinary secrets dearly, but whose hummus was incredibly silky and redolent with garlic and tahini.

Then there was Iowa… Not a statement that normally follows a genealogy of hummus.  But it was in Iowa that I was able to expand my initial anthropology of food course into a series of courses, spanning food production and politics; to the cultural expressions of food and identity.  It didn’t make sense to me to teach a course on food and not get to taste or prepare food to share in class.  So for those classes, especially, I tried to make sure that I brought food to share with my students, and in a couple of cases (some more successful than others) to make food with the class on campus.

One of the most successful cases of this was with my Food Politics class when we spent one class meeting in the college kitchens making ricotta cheese and pizza dough for our own white pizzas. This isn’t just a “fluff” exercise, but it takes the intellectual side of talking about a subject and makes it real by actually touching, preparing, sharing and eating food together.

For this particular class it happened that I had a couple of students who were lactose intolerant and I didn’t want to leave them out.  So I started thinking of the bare pizza dough, fired in the oven, what would go well with it?  Hummus…  Make the pizza dough into a spiced flat bread, serve it with the freshly prepared hummus and you’ve got a rock star food to share.  So that’s what we did; made pizza bianca with the homemade dough and ricotta, as well as a meze of hummus and flat bread.  I was greatly impacted by many of the students from that class, and it’s been great to keep in touch with them as they graduated (or will soon!) from college and we’ve moved up north.  This recipe was requested by one of those students, but she and her friend were inseparable and therefore I can’t bring myself to dedicate this hummus to one without the “other” (anthro humor there… sorry…).  Chelsea and Becca, this is for you ladies.

As you will see with this recipe, basic hummus is a great blank canvas for a myriad of flavors.  I’ve added smoked paprika for a little Spanish flare, spinach for some extra greenery in a form that my son will eat (sometimes), or roasted red bell pepper for a different savory taste.  The sky (and your imagination) are the limit here, so feel free to whip up a batch and personalize it to your tastes.

I like to serve hummus in a shallow bowl, with a depression at the top to hold a little golden olive oil, and a sprinkling of paprika over top.

I like to serve hummus in a shallow bowl, with a depression at the top to hold a little golden olive oil, and a sprinkling of paprika over top.

Hummus

Ingredients:

2 garlic clove (or more to taste)
2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3-4 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed) paste
3-4 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. salt
Approximately ½ cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Drop the garlic one clove at a time into a running food processor through the feed tube.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
    Dropping garlic into the feed tube.

    Dropping garlic into the feed tube.

    Scrape down the sides of the bowl so you don't lose any of that garlicky goodness.

    Scrape down the sides of the bowl so you don’t lose any of that garlicky goodness.

  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the olive oil and pulse until the ingredients are mixed but still a bit rough.

    A rough mix of ingredients.

    A rough mix of ingredients.

  3. Then turn the processor on and through the tube slowly pour in the olive oil in a thin, steady stream until you get the desired creamy consistency.

    A smooth, creamy hummus.

    A smooth, creamy hummus.

  4. Taste and adjust for seasoning.  Blend the hummus again.  Taste.  Blend.  Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of Marie’s Hummus recipe.

A perfect dish for sliced flatbread, fresh veges, or even as a "sauce" for sandwiches.

A perfect dish for sliced flatbread, fresh veges, or even as a “sauce” for sandwiches.

The rainbow and coin hidden inside the castle tent.

Leprechaun Games – Day 3

We reached the end of our Leprechaun Games adventures on Monday, the official date for St. Patrick’s Day.  Little Man had successfully found six coins through the Leprechaun Cloud and Magic Treasure Stones activities.  Now on this last day of the treasure hunt, he awoke to find that the leprechauns had returned over night to hide the final installment of three coins.  This time they had hidden three coins under three rainbows in the living room.  Just between you and me, the original plan of the leprechauns was to hide the coins and rainbows outside but St. Patrick’s Day ended up being a bone-chilling cold and rainy day.  Therefore the leprechauns took pity on us and left the booty in the nice, warm, dry house.

One leprechaun showing where the coin was going to be hidden in the rainbow of cups.

One leprechaun showing where the coin was going to be hidden in the rainbow of cups.

The first rainbow was found on the living room table crafted out of Little Man’s rainbow cups.  He found this one quickly since the leprechauns used their favorite color green cup as the hiding place.

Little Man found the hidden coin quickly.

Little Man found the hidden coin quickly.

The rainbow and coin hidden inside the castle tent.

The rainbow and coin hidden inside the castle tent.

The second rainbow was hidden inside Little Man’s castle/tent.  He was relieved that the resident dragon (aka really fluffy cat) hadn’t snuck into the castle to play with the treasure.

Little Man with rainbow in hand and recovered coin by his foot.  Teddies at the ready to protect from the dragon-cat.

Little Man with rainbow in hand and recovered coin by his foot. Teddies at the ready to protect from the dragon-cat.

The third and last rainbow was one drawn by the leprechauns on Little Man’s art easel.  The plan was to give us an art project for later on in the day, and a chance to talk about rainbows, their colors and the mixing of primary colors.

The final rainbow drawn by the leprechauns on Little Man's easel for coloring later.

The final rainbow drawn by the leprechauns on Little Man’s easel for coloring later.

Once the last three coins were recovered, they were set aside in a fittingly green dish to wait until nap time.  (Now you will notice that at this point in the post there are near to no pictures.  That is because I seem to have lost my camera.  Wah!  More pictures will be forthcoming, but those of the final part of this adventure are gone.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.)

On the way to his bedroom for nap time, Little Man set up the letter and the coins for the leprechauns.  We retrieved his leprechaun letter and rolled the coins back up, leaving it all on his little stool.  When Little Man awoke, his first request was for his toy samurai and the second was to go and see what his leprechaun reward was.  I’m not sure if he thought he needed samurai protection from the leprechauns?  When he got to the stool Little Man found that the letter was unrolled, and on top of it rested a small, wooden treasure chest.  The chest was filled with leprechaun gold, and the letter thanked him for playing with the leprechauns and that they’d be back again next year.  They also welcomed him to look for them at the end of a rainbow whenever he wanted.

The treasure chest was a huge hit, and Little Man was quite impressed that he got so many “golden” coins.  Last night the treasure chest “slept” in the castle/tent so that it would be safe from dragons.  The bottom of the chest was decorated by the leprechauns with his name, a rainbow and the date.  Now I think he’s just plotting what to do the next time he sees a rainbow, and on the island he might not have to wait too long for.

The dragon lurks outside of the castle dreaming of treasure... or at least a quiet, dark place for a nap.

The dragon lurks outside of the castle dreaming of treasure… or at least a quiet, dark place for a nap.

We posed the Treasure Stones for Aiden on his little stool and with a rainbow that he'd made with his music teacher.

Leprechaun Games – Day 2

On Day 2 of our Leprechaun Games (inspired by Fun at Home with Kids), Little Man awoke to find that the leprechauns had returned to continue the search for gold game (Read about Day 1 here).  This time he was met with a tray of “Magic Treasure Stones.”  We took the Treasure Stones to the table (with copious towels and clean water again) for him to “excavate.”

One Treasure Stone

The basis of the Treasure Stones is the awesome fizzy reaction that happens when you combine baking soda with vinegar.  It can make science fair volcanoes explode, and Magic Treasure Stones erode away to reveal hidden treasure.  For our purposes we repurposed an empty mustard container that I had set aside for future water table activities, and filled it full of plain, white vinegar.  This activity takes a good amount of vinegar, so you may need to stock up… I did.

Spraying the Treasure Stones with "magic water" aka white vinegar.

Spraying the Treasure Stones with “magic water” aka white vinegar.

Little Man squirted the Magic Treasure Stones with the vinegar (aka “cloud water”) and watched as they fizzed and foamed, slowly revealing their treasure.  Three of the stones contained “golden” coins, and two contained “sea gems” (aka glass blobs).  He had a great time smashing the partially eroded stones and rinsing the coins off in the water.  In fact, I think he would have been happy simply with the coins and the dish of water.  I’ll have to keep that in mind for future water table activities as the weather gets warmer…

Over the course of the rest of the day, he played with his “treasure” and we talked about leprechauns, rainbows and golden coins.  He went to bed after rereading his letter from the leprechauns, excited about the search for the last three coins, and what the leprechauns would give him when he completed their game.

Now we two leprechauns need to plot our last installment of the Leprechaun Games, as well as a delicious St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  After all, a good game needs a good dinner to pull it all together.

Here’s how I made the Magic Treasure Stones:

Equipment:
1 large glass baking dish, or clear plastic tub (like for sensory play)
1 box baking soda
Green glitter and shamrock confetti
Green Finger Paint (Color Safe)
3 “Golden” Coins
Assorted sensory fun like glass beads
2 tbsp. water, plus extra
2 cups white vinegar
Squeeze bottle

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl mix together the baking soda, green glitter and confetti, and a good squeeze of your color safe green finger paint.
    All the equipment needed.

    All the equipment needed.

    The "dry" ingredients.

    The “dry” ingredients.

    A good squirt of color safe finger paint.

    A good squirt of color safe finger paint.

  2. Drizzle the 2 tbsp. of water over the mixture and give it a good stir to evenly distribute the water.  Then add one more good squirt of the finger paint and stir again.  The mixture should look pretty dry.  This reminded me of making a pie crust or scone dough.  You don’t think it will hold together, but it will.  Test your mixture by grabbing a handful and forming it into a rough ball.  If it won’t hold its shape, then drizzle in a little more water until they just hold their shapes.
    The mixture will look very dry, like it won't hold together.  Just have faith.

    The mixture will look very dry, like it won’t hold together. Just have faith.

    A last dose of paint for a little more color.

    A last dose of paint for a little more color.

    The mixture will just hold together when formed into "magic balls."

    The mixture will just hold together when formed into “magic balls.”

  3. Finish your first “stone” by inserting one of the golden coins into the stone and forming it again.  Carefully set this stone aside in the glass baking dish.

    A Magic Treasure Ball.

    A Magic Treasure Ball.

  4. Divide the rest of the mixture into four portions in the bowl, and continue forming treasure stones and inserting the treasure until all five balls are completed.

    Set them aside into the same tray you will use to "excavate" them.

    Set them aside into the same tray you will use to “excavate” them.

  5. Set the stones aside some place safe and allow them to dry overnight.  You want the balls to be nice and dry for the best reaction with the vinegar.
  6. When you are ready to go, please the stones somewhere that your little one can find them.  I recommend leaving these in the baking dish rather than scattering them around.  They are fragile.

    We posed the Treasure Stones for Aiden on his little stool and with a rainbow that he'd made with his music teacher.

    We posed the Treasure Stones for Aiden on his little stool and with a rainbow that he’d made with his music teacher.

  7. When you are ready to excavate, fill your squeeze bottle with the vinegar and show your little one how to spray the treasure stones.  The stones will fizz and slowly erode to reveal the treasure within.  Your kids will likely enjoy smashing the opened, softened stones, so be sure to have towels and clean water handy.
    Spraying the Treasure Stones with "magic water" aka white vinegar.

    Spraying the Treasure Stones with “magic water” aka white vinegar.

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    Squashing eroded Treasure Stones.

    Squashing eroded Treasure Stones.

    Retrieving the treasure.

    Retrieving the treasure.

    Treasure in the sludge.

    Treasure in the sludge.

  8. Rinse off your treasure and the three additional golden coins.  Have fun!

Click here for a printable version of the Magic Treasure Stones “recipe.”

Rinsing off the treasure was more fun than finding it in the first place.

Rinsing off the treasure was more fun than finding it in the first place.