Sunday, August 23, 2009

Melted Crayons

In the never ending task of organizing my craft space (pictures of finished product coming soon….. I hope) and the frenzy of back to school shopping (teachers snag those marker deals while you can) I realized that most of the crayons that I have in the giant shoe box under my desk are awful. After going through and picking out all the tiny nubs and random no brand crayons, leaving behind only good looking Cryolas (really, any thing else is just a waste of money) I had almost a full box of crayons left. Since I am a pack rat, and totally unable to get rid of anything that I know could still be used, unless I’m giving it away to someone to use, I decided to make some new crayons.
The exciting thing is, making your own crayons is really easy, but they aren’t going to be the skinny sticks you’re used to, unless you have a mold. The advantage to not having sticks is that the crayons will be a lot easier for little kiddos to hold onto, and you can give out multi colored crayons in goodie bags, or as prizes, and kids are always excited to see the cool colors in their crayon. These flat wafer crayons are also perfect for texture rubbings.
Step 1: after separating out the crayons you want to use, peel of the paper wrappers. Depending on how many crayons you have, this could take a while, so put on a good movie, or grab a friend to talk to and help out. After your first 200 crayons your fingers are going to hurt if you are peeling with just your nails (and by the way, paper cuts between your nail and finger really hurt.) I would suggest getting an exacto knife and slitting the paper down the length of the crayon, and then peeling away, much easier and much faster.
Step 2: Pick out the colors you want to use, break them up into small pieces. You can do this snapping them by hand, but you might get a bruised finger. A hammer works well too. The smaller the pieces are, the quicker they melt, and when a crayon doesn’t melt all the way, then it is susceptible to cracking. (as seen)
Step 3: Stick the crayon pieces in a mold. I used a mini muffin tin, but you can use anything as a mold, as long as it will go in the oven or stand up to heat. Candy molds can make cute shapes, but if the mold isn’t metal then you will have to pour the wax in. Do this by melting the wax in a jar using the double broiler method, and pour wax in mold. If you want to do multi colored crayons this is not the best way to go.
Step 4: Turn the oven on at 250 degrees (keep warm setting on my oven) and bake the crayon mold until all of the wax is melted, this will take between 7 and 10 minuets.
Step 5: Take tray out of the oven and stick it in the freezer. Leave in the freezer for about 20 minuets.
Step 6: take out of freezer and pop crayon wafers out. The colder they are the easier they will come out. But be careful, the colder they are the more likely they are to break if you pop them out and they fall on the table. (as seen)
While the new crayon discs look cool compared to the nubs they used to be, they are unfortunately no better then the crayons they originally were. This means that if you have been buying cheapo brands like rose art your new discs are still gonna suck. The good news is that the cheap crayons tend to rise to the top when they melt, so you can rub the bad part off if they accidentally get mixed up with good quality crayons.
So have fun, experiment. You can do crayons according to seasonal colors, complementary colors, solid colors or even a rainbow. This is an easy project for kids to help out with too, they will be excited to color with something that they made. If you don’t want to keep all of the wafers you made, you can always give it to your students art teacher, or a local daycare, I’m sure they will enjoy the new crayons much more then the dirty broken pieces.
UPDATE: My mentor during student teaching shared her method of making rubbing crayons.
1. Use an electric skillet and soup can to make a double broiler. Fill skillet with water and soup can with crayons. Turn on.
2. When crayons are melted pour crayons into a mold. My mentor used the plastic balls that bubble gum machine prizes come in, sitting in an egg carton.
3. Put mold in freezer.
The pros: crayons melt all the way, so breakage is reduced. You don't have to heat up your whole oven.
The cons: You might have to find supplies, they aren't always in your kitchen like my method. You cant make multicolored crayons. the colors mix too much.
Until next time!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stuffed chicken

New delicious recipe! I trimmed my basil plant again and used this recipe to get rid of some of that delicious herb. As always, I didn’t exactly follow measurements (or even bother to get out a measuring cup) but I did try to stick close to these general measurements. this fed about 5 people with a breast left over, but if you have big eaters I'd generally say one breast per person.
4 boneless chicken breast
halves, skinned
2 Italian sausages
¼ to ½ cup sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese (feta or other)
3 basil leaves, shredded or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled (I used a lot more then this)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg, beaten to blend
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter melted

Mushroom-Wine Sauce
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
¼ red onion
2 garlic cloves
2/3 cup chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 4 pieces
Salt and pepper

For chicken:
sauté sausage in a pan.
Preheat oven to 350F. Pound chicken between sheets of waxed paper to thickness of 1/4 inch using meat mallet. Pat chicken dry.
On top of chicken layer cheese, cooked sausage, basil, and sun dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper ( I didn’t). Roll chicken up, starting at one long side, into tight cylinders. Tie ends with string or stab with toothpick to secure. Or you can cut a slit in the breast and stuff that way. Dip chicken in egg, allowing excess to drip into bowl. Roll in breadcrumbs, shaking off excess. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate.)

Place chicken in 8-inch square baking dish. Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter over (or put a piece of butter on top of each piece of chicken. Throw extra chicken stuffing and basil leaves on top of chicken in pan. Bake until cooked through, about 40 minutes.

For sauce:
Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, minced garlic and mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add wine and boil 3 minutes. Add stock and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and swirl in 4 tablespoons cold butter 1 piece at a time (to thicken). Season sauce with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Remove string or toothpicks from chicken. Cut rolls crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Fan on plates. Serve immediately, passing sauce separately.

I served this with steamed red new potatoes. It was reallllllly good.