Erupting Chocolate Ooblek

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Today I made Veronika a new version of ooblek. Wanting to make this one stand out from the crowd, not only did this version feature chocolate, but it could explode! And yes this activity is toddler safe.

As a reminder ooblek is about 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water. From there, there are so many ways to fancy it up. Unfortunately I messed up the texture of our ooblek from the get-go because I thought I had a full box of cornstarch in the pantry. It turned out I only had less than 1 cup left, and I’d already poured in over 1 cup of water to a plastic tub. So our mixture was on the watery side, not true ooblek.

But that’s okay, because there was more for Veronika to play with here! First, we sprinkled on cocoa powder in addition to the cornstarch. This was purely for the heavenly smell. Yum!

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We also added 2 tablespoons baking soda because we wanted our ooblek to erupt. (Note: Be careful, because the baking soda will offset the now-solid-now-liquid property of ooblek, as it will dissolve in the water).

To make the explosions, add white vinegar to squeeze bottles and squirt in a bit at a time. This is great for exercising those little fingers.

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Veronika almost couldn’t believe it when the first bubbles appeared. I had to help out with lots of the squeezing, but she was transfixed watching the eruptions every time the vinegar hit the baking soda.

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The resulting bubbles are really neat ones, too, almost like honeycomb, but with a quasi-solid texture. They won’t pop until you pop them!

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This made for lots of fun poking and prodding. Veronika was a little hesitant to get her hands messy, but adding a spoon helped her get in there.

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There also was also an added auditory component to the fun, thanks to the hissing sound whenever baking soda mixed with the vinegar.

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In sum, this project made for one happy girl!

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Corn Muffins

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These not-too-sweet muffins make a great breakfast with a pat of vegan butter, or can be served alongside a bowl of soup for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, divided
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  1. In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and 2 teaspoons baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and the applesauce. Add the agave, soy milk, and canola oil.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes.

We particularly like these next to a bowl of lentil soup!

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Note: The muffins turned out quite browned on the outside, following these baking instructions. You may want to reduce the cook time by a few minutes, or reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F for a lighter cornbread.

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Ice-Cream Snowballs

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The weather hit an unseasonable 75 degrees F today, so we celebrated with homemade ice cream!

This project was a fantastic (edible!) addendum to Travis’s recent exploration of crystallization. To start, fill a large zip-top plastic bag about halfway with ice. Add 6 tablespoons coarse salt.

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In a sandwich-sized zip-top bag, combine 1/2 cup plain non-dairy creamer, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Seal tightly.

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Place the creamer mixture in the larger bag, making sure it’s covered by the ice cubes. Now shake!

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Travis and I took turns, as the recommended shake time was 7 minutes.

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Whoops, a spill at about the 4 minute mark! But we were undaunted and kept going.

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At 5 minutes, we declared our ice cream done (and our arms exhausted).

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The ice cream turned out amazing! It looked crumbly at first, but after a few minutes it softened up just enough and was just like store-bought ice cream. Rainbow sprinkles were a must of course.

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Wow, ice cream on the back patio in March!

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What a treat this was for the kids.

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