Thursday, December 3, 2009

Playing with food

Food is something to be cherished, appreciated and eaten. I feel pretty strongly about this, and don't usually promote using food as something to play with, especially considering that so many people are lacking good food, and enough of it. We do however have the good fortune to live in a country where there is an abundance of food(although not all of it so good), and I do have wonderful memories of playing in the kitchen as a kid. I used to make concoctions and potions that I would feed to my willing and eager little sister Kendra. I greatly attribute my comfort level in kitchens and creativity as a chef, to the freedom I was given as a kid to play and create in the kitchen with food.

We do a lot of baking in our house; bread, scones, muffins, cake, pies, both sweet and savory. Mostly this happens on the weekends. We use many kinds of flours in our baked goods, both to accommodate my husband's sensitivity to wheat, as well as to give us some variety in our diet.

My son Ayo, who is five, loves, and I mean LOVES playing with flour (see photo above). After helping to bake something, he usually starts trying to sneak his toy trucks onto the counter to bulldoze and dig in the flour. A few years ago we started an "ayo bag of flour" I keep it in a drawer by the counter. We pull it out after our baking is done, and the digging and dozing begins. When he is finished, the flour goes back in the bag for next time. Now his little sister joins him in the fun too.

This week after school, Ayo's friend Eva came over after school. They both like to make things, and I could see their little hands were antsy for something to do. I'm not sure what inspired the idea, but we had some clementines in the house, and a large jar of cloves (that would take us a few years to go through), so we got busy and made some pomanders, otherwise known as oranges with cloves stuck in them. These were used in victorian times as air freshener or sweeteners. Traditionally pomanders are coated in ground spices and sometimes oils, and dried for many weeks before being used. We skipped this laborious step, and are just appreciating the smell of the orange and clove while it lasts, (before the fruit starts to rot). You can also bake the clove studded orange at a very low heat in the oven to dry it out if you like.

This is a quick, fun and satisfying project for kids, especially if you use a soft clementine, making it easy for them to stick the cloves into.
pattern #1, which morphed into many things before being completely covered in cloves (clementine in the back, below)

even little Tomi (1 1/2 years old) helped push cloves into the clementine, and kept sniffing the strong smells.

To make your own simple pomander you'll need:
1 orange or clementine
whole cloves

stick cloves into the orange in a decorative pattern.
dry in oven at a low temperature if desired


  1. wow i had no idea that ayo had his own bag of flour to bulldoze! see even I, your sister,can learn new things about my very own family on this here blog! love that you thought to make the cleminclove thingers.

  2. Hi Tagan,
    Just want you to know I'm watching and loving your blog. Rhiannon is our little experimentalist in the kitchen and often her creations are edible!! Love the bus in the snow pic.

    Keep it coming!


  3. I used to make these every year during Christmas with my mom and sister! I'm loving your blog, I just found it via a comment of yours on everybody likes sandwiches. I look forward to continuing to read, as I am definitely adding you to my google reader! I'm also into local food, but I'm in Chicagoland :) [check out which is an local organization I've been volunteering for lately!] Ok this comment is long enough now... Cheers!