I just did something that my ancestors could have been lynched for last night, and I still feel a great deal of guilt for: I made coloured rice. I don’t mean I cooked fancy coloured briyani; I coloured rice as a substitute for sand for the lil boss, and that by my ancestors’ books is sacrilege.
As I think of all the famines in the history of China, and how ‘rice’ aid was a key government policy instrument…
Never mind. I made coloured rice, because I needed an indoor activity for the lil boss and I had been searching for a safe alternative to sand, because he insists on tasting everything. I looked up the recipe from Powerful Mothering . which worked like a dream even though I was skeptical that two tablespoons of vinegar was all I needed to carry the food colouring.
As with any art project, I bought red, blue and yellow food colouring and experimented with colours from there. Use the lighter colour first (yellow, then red, then blue), and add the second colour in very small amounts – blue in particular overpowers everything, so using a dropper helps. Dilute with vinegar, pour into the bags of rice, swoosh everything around and voila! Coloured rice!
I didn’t have the space to air dry and I didn’t want to wait an hour, given that I was doing this at 11 pm (working mother ftw!), so I used the oven at it slowest heat setting with its fan on, spread the rice on baking trays and pop them in for about 20 minutes each.
Pretty easy way to get ‘safe sand’ and it’s really, really pretty to deal with. I put the rice in cups for the lil boss to pour into an aluminium tray and gave him sand toys to play with, but he ended up using the rice and the spade as musical instruments because the rice made a snare-drum like sound when swooshed around the tray. Next time I will introduce matchbox cars – he has not played with those yet – and the good thing is, the rice keeps!
Granted I spent a couple of hours into the late night putting everything together (a bigger oven would have shortened that time) and the lil boss spent only half an hour at best getting the rice everywhere (I had him play in the kitchen so that I could rush chores at the same time), but I have learnt that a high tolerance for mess makes things more fun for both of us.