Few things in the wonderful world of mud capture the imagination as much as a mud pie. Perhaps because you are combining two of the best words in a kid’s vocabulary—mud and pie. The beauty of mud pie making is that it can start simply and be added to over time with elaborate recipes and kitchen set ups. But to start all you really need is a good patch of dirt, some water, and some meal ideas—pies, pizza, tacos, muffins, soup. Ask your parents if they have any old kitchen items—empty spice jars, mason jars, rusted muffin tins. If not, see if they can take you to a yard sale or a thrift store as a little investment in your mud pie kitchen can go a long way. Recyclable containers, such as the bottoms of old milk jugs and plastic salad containers, also work wonders with mud cooking. That is all I will say. I am not going to tell you how to do this, I only want to give you pointers for some of the great things to keep an eye out for to add to your mud kitchen. Remember that word instinctive, meaning you were born to do this, well, mud pies, my friend are every child’s birth right. And I have to tell that some of my favorite dining experiences ever were when my children served me at their mud cafes. Menus were passed out with such items as mud puddle soup, grilled mud sandwiches, grass gumbo, mud loaf, and mud pies a’la mode for dessert. Delicious!

If, when you get started, you are hungry for other ideas, you need to check out the best cook book ever, Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow. This book is intended as a cookbook for dolls in “kind climates and summertime” and “it is an outdoors cookbook, because dolls dote on mud, when properly prepared, they love the crunch of pine needles and the sweet feel of seaweed on the tongue.” And as she so wisely advises for your mud pie kitchen, “You can use a tree stump for a counter. The sea makes a nice sink; so does a puddle at the end of a hose. For a stove there is the sun, or a flat stone. And ovens are everywhere. You’ll find them under bushes, in sandboxes or behind trees.”

Some Items for Your Mud-pie Kitchen

Large buckets of water

Smocks

Recipe cards and pencils

Pots, pans, cooking lids,

Large metal or plastic bowls

Cooking utensils

Dirt

Pitchers of water

Recycled spice jars: Fill empty spice shakers with toppings such as crushed eggshells, tiny pebbles, saw dust, dried coffee grounds, and crushed dried leaves.

Sifter or colander

Towels and pot holders

SIDE BAR

Recipes from Mud Pies and Other Recipes

Boiled Buttons

This is a hot soup that is simple but simply delicious. Place a handful of buttons in a saucepan half filled with water. Add a pinch of white sand and dust, 2 fruit tree leaves and a blade of grass for each button. Simmer on a hot rock for a few minutes to bring out the flavor. Ladle into bowls.

Bark Sandwich

Make a buttery mix of dirt, lake water and pine needles. Heap this on a piece of birch bark and serve.

Back Yard Stew

Mark off a big square in your back yard by walking 8 giant steps in each direction. Into a large stewpot put anything you find in this square such as grass, leaves, stones, twigs, berries, flowers, weeds, and so forth. Season generously with white sand and dust, and add puddle water to cover. The longer this dish stews the better it is.