“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.” –Marjorie Winslow from Mud Pies and Other Recipes
Spring is officially here. Though Mother Nature still teeters between allowing the daffodils to bloom or be blanketed with snow, we are – or will very soon – be faced with an abundance of mud. Luckily, mud is “nature’s glue,” as one of my fairy-minded friends said, and so creating mud projects is the perfect antidote to sludging through a muddy pathway. Don’t know where to go for inspiration? Fortunately, my book Muddy Boots: outdoor activities for children (just nominated for an indie award!) includes a section on mud pies. 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.
Some Items for Your Mud-pie Kitchen
- Large buckets of water
- Recipe cards and pencils
- Pots, pans, cooking lids,
- Large metal or plastic bowls
- Cooking utensils
- 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
So now you have your mud and your supplies. What to make? Here are a few of my favorite recipes from the wonderful book Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow:
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.
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.
Right now, the snow is almost melted so grab your boots, some tools and get to work! Bon appetit!